Menu Plan for the Month of December

I loved the simplicity of my repeating weekly meal plan last month. While I love to menu plan, it was getting stressful trying to think of different meals for each day of the month. When I realized that I was the only person who wanted that much variety in our meals, I decided to do things differently. ūüôā I came up with a week’s worth of meals and repeated them each week for the entire month. And I loved it! So I’m doing it again. The month of December is even busier than last month, so once again I’m loving the simplicity of a repeating weekly menu.

1. Pancakes
2. Waffles
3. Pumpkin Muffins
4. Bagel and Cream Cheese or English Muffins with Peanut Butter
5. Cookie Dough Baked Oatmeal
6. Oatmeal
7. Baked Pumpkin French Toast

1. Hummus and Veggies
2. Meatless Meatball Heros
3. Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Pitas
4. Zucchini Alfredo
5. Peanut Butter and Jelly
6. Mac and Cheese
7. Bean and Cheese Taquitos

1. Tostatdas
2. Shepherd’s Pie
3. Pork Loin Night (I bought pork loin in November when it was a good price and I’m going to try out several different recipes this month.)
4. Pizza
5. Shells with a Dark Sauce
6. Chicken Enchilada Chili
7. Chicken Alfredo

Even though I’ve planned and bought most of what we need for these meals, we will still have a little bit of variety. I have odds and ends of ingredients in my cupboards, which I use to make a fun meal when I get to the point of needing some variety. ūüôā

This post is linked to The Org Junkie, Desiring Virtue and Ponder the Path.

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God’s Will be Done

One night last week I lay in bed. The boys were sleeping soundly. Tim was asleep. We had to get up rather early the next morning. I had been so exhausted during the day…why wasn’t I falling asleep?

As I lay in bed trying to relax, my mind was moving along at a breakneck speed. As usual my mind went back to September 11, 2011. It never occurred to me that 3 months after our miscarriage that I would be thinking of my baby and those sad hours where I knew I was losing my baby…and could do nothing about it.

As I lay in bed, I cried. Three months and the grief is still there. It’s not on the edge, waiting to spill over when someone asks me how I’m doing. But it’s still there. How can it be otherwise? My baby is gone. My arms are empty.

A week ago after church a friend came up to me. She told me she had been wanting to talk to me for the past two weeks. She had just had a miscarriage. My heart broke for my friend, who has just gone through such pain without the support of someone who had also been through the experience. I spoke with her. I gave her a hug.

It doesn’t make the death of my baby any easier, but it reminds me that there is a purpose in everything God does.

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed by Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:9-10

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Replenish Your Soul: Finding Joy in the Wilderness of Sickness

When the session with Rachel Martin began, I realized that I was sitting listening to an amazing woman of God. A woman who has encountered big struggles in her marriage in the form of severe illnesses. And yet, as she spoke I could see and hear the peace, trust, and joy she had learned to find in God through the midst of her trials. Throughout her entire talk, I was taking copious amounts of notes. ūüôā

The emotions we feel are not us. Our emotions do not need to direct our path.

With sickness and trials come many emotions. Some emotions are uncontrollable. Sadness, frustration, and panic. While these emotions can be normal, they should not define us or our lives. In fact, we must work to intensely guard our hearts to keep these emotions from taking root and opening the door for bitterness and anger.

While emotions shouldn’t be controlling us or our marriages, there is a time and a place to mourn. With illness comes a new way of life filled with uncertainty about the future. So let yourself mourn and give your husband the time and space he needs to mourn as well.

Matthew 5:4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

Even in the midst of an intense trial, our relationships with Jesus must still come first. Because the closer we are to Jesus, the stronger our marriages will be. Trials, such as illnesses, can take a big toll on our marriages. They can cause walls to be built up, but this does not honor God. In fact, allowing the trial to mold your marriage allows Satan a foothold to destroy your marriage.

2 Samuel 22:2 “And he said: ‘The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer.'”

How can you work to strengthen your marriage even in the face of what seems to be insurmountable odds?

1. Keep communication lines open. Don’t let things build up inside of you. Share your heart with your husband and allow your husband to share his heart with you.

2. Establish time alone. When a family member needs you, it’s easy not¬†to¬†make your marriage a priority. But time alone just the two of you is important to build a strong marriage.

3. Be honest. Let your husband know your struggles and let him share his struggles with you.

4. Pray together. Once you share your struggles give them over to the Lord.¬†Philippians 4:6 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God.”

5. Incorporate laughter into your home. Proverbs 15:13 “A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance, but by sorry of the heart the spirit is broken.”

It is so important that in the midst of a trial like this that we, as wives, don’t look to our husbands to provide joy. They can’t. In fact, no one can give us joy except God. And God is the One who takes a mess and can turn it into gold. He is the One who can redeem the situation.

Hebrews 12:1-2 “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

What are some ways to find true joy during an illness?

1. Find joy in the little things. Ask God to open your eyes to the blessings He gives you each day. Look for ways to bring joyful moments to your family and then write them down. Don’t forget what God has done and is doing in your life.

2. Look to Jesus in the midst of your storm. Remember the disciples on the boat with Jesus in the middle of the storm. (Mark 4:35-41) When the disciples looked at their surroundings they grew fearful. But when they turned to Jesus, He calmed the wind and the waves.

3. Give each and every day to the Lord.

Exodus 14:13 “And Moses said to the people, ‘Do not be afriad. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever.'”

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Replenish Your Soul: Out-Love Your Husband

Whenever I am reminded of the vast responsibility I have as a wife, I’m humbled and convicted. Lynn Donovan¬†provided that reminder¬†during her talk at Replenish Your Soul.

Wives have the power to make their husbands a hero or to tear him down.¬†A wife should be her husband’s cheerleader, because if she is not in his corner then who is?¬†Genesis 2:18 “And the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.'”

How can wives encourage and build their husbands up?

1. Put your hand over your mouth. ūüôā Women love to talk. It’s how we destress and work through problems. But we need to be careful. Is what we want to say edifying? Does it encourage or tear down? (Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever htings are noble, whatever htings are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy-meditate on these things.”) Once we’ve filtered our words through Philippians 4:8, then we still need to be careful. There is a time and a place for everything…and when your husband walks in from work is not the time to begin chattering up a storm. ūüôā

2. Words of affirmation – It’s so easy to take the little things for granted. So begin noticing the little things your husband does for you…and thank him for it. Does he take out the trash regularly? Does he spend time with your children? Does he make it a priority to go to church on Sundays? When you expect something, you forget to be grateful…and when he forgets to do that little thing, you get upset. So appreciate (and tell him!) the little things.

3. Acts of kindness – Oh…it is so easy to be kind to everyone…except your husband. The little things that often are left undone. There are children to take care of, a home to clean, responsibilities with church, family and friends and before you know it you’ve forgotten about the most important person in your life. So love on your man with your actions with purpose and intent.

4. Love Jesus – God should always be first…in your life and in your marriage.You should love and respect your husband because God commands it. Open your heart to Him and become a conduit of God’s love to your husband.

Philippians 2:13 “For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”

“A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers.”
~Ruth Bell Graham 

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Replenish Your Soul: How to Love Your Husband When He’s Not Home

Note from Carrie: This is a guest post from our sister Bonnie. We attended the conference together (and enjoyed IMing during the one session we attended together :-)).

I was so excited to have the opportunity to attend the first live Replenish Your Soul conference. ¬†I definitely came away so blessed and encouraged! ¬†While all the sessions had great content, my favorite had to be Honoring Your Husband When He’s Not at Home. ¬†When I entered the chat and video room, I didn’t quite know what to expect from the session, but I’m so glad God had me there!

¬†Tiana Krenz was the speaker, and she definitely has experience with her husband not being at home. ¬†Because he’s a truck driver, he is often gone for two week intervals and only home for a couple days before the next job. ¬†Tiana spoke about 7 temptations a lonely wife might face…how to deal with it Biblically…and how to take that temptation and turn it instead into an opportunity to honor your husband.
One of the ones that stood out to me was the temptation of self-reliance. ¬†As a military wife, there will be seasons where I will be, in essence, the only person taking care of the home and the only parent (if God wills that we have children). ¬†It can be so easy during these times to start living as if you were single…and to forget your need for God. ¬†One of the verses she cited here was Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” ¬†During times of separation, the wife does indeed have to get things done…by herself…but it should never lead to the temptation to again live as if she were single or to live as if she didn’t need God. ¬†I wrote down a quote from Tiana here…”Don’t allow having to care for everything harden you from your husband, his role, what he means to you…and from what you need from Christ. ¬†Remind yourselves daily that you are a¬†wife, not just a woman.”
To combat the temptation of self-reliance, one must remember that she can only function because of the strength God gives her…and she is still a wife under the headship of her husband.
Through all the times of separation, and through all the temptations that can arise, Tiana said that it is so important to keep the home fires burning.  Pray and ask the Lord for ways to love and encourage your husband, even if he is not at home.  Ask God to show you ways to make your husband feel welcome and loved when he is home.
The whole session was such a blessing to me. ¬†I was able to put a new light on the times of separation that Michael and I will face. ¬†It will not just be me keeping things running while he’s gone….it will be me making my husband’s house¬†a home¬†while he’s gone. ¬†It will be keeping his priorities at the top of my list even if he’s not there to see they get done. ¬†It will be creating an atmosphere of peace and love during the few minutes we can talk on the phone or email. ¬†All for the glory of God. ¬†All through the strength of God.
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Replenish Your Soul: Nurturing a Lifetime Marriage

Anyone who has been married longer than the honeymoon period, knows that it takes conscious effort and work to keep a marriage alive and well. When I saw Connie’s topic I knew that I would benefit from being reminded of what it takes to make a marriage work.

Love is not an emotion.¬†In order for a marriage to last a lifetime, you have to be committed to it. You need to choose¬†to love your husband. Even when the lovey-dovey emotions aren’t there, you need to be committed.

When marriage is difficult, giving up is not an option. Typically when someone mentions giving up on a marriage, divorce is the first thing that pops into mind. However, you can give up on your marriage even when you know that divorce is not an option. Giving up can also mean not honoring and respecting your husband or giving him the cold shoulder. Giving up could mean spending more time investing in your children’s lives than you do in your husband. Giving up can look different for each woman and each marriage. But giving up is not an option.

It’s important to show your husband by your actions¬†that he is more important to you than anything else. Do you call a family member or friend just to make sure that your husband’s decision is the right one? Do you spend more time on the computer or watching tv than you do with your husband? When he walks in the door each evening after working all day, what is the first thing out of your mouth?

Marriage is not 50/50. You need to give 100% to your marriage. As christians we are striving to become more like Jesus. Imagine what would have happened if He had said that He wouldn’t save the world through His death until people had met Him halfway. We wouldn’t have the most precious gift of all offered to us…eternal life.

Never tell your husband what to do. He is an adult, who can make decisions on his own. And never compare him to someone else’s husband. During the day, think good and honorable thoughts about your husband (let’s face it…when you are constantly remembering all of his “faults” you are not in a good frame of mind to show him your love when he gets home from work. :-)) Forgive him. Look cute and adorable for him. Don’t bring up past hurts. And finally, spend time with him every day. Just be together.

“You don’t have control over your husband, but you do have control over yourself. You can’t change him, but you can change yourself.” – Connie Hughes

This post is linked to Time Warp Wife and Wifey Wednesday.

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Replenish Your Soul: Thriving Through the Financially Lean Times

It has been a month since the Replenish Your Soul conference. It has taken me awhile to think through and process all of the information these wise ladies shared during the conference. I learned so much and I’m already looking for to At the Well’s next conference. ūüôā As I share this week about what I learned during the conference I hope that it encourages you to attend the next conference. ūüôā

Betty Eisenhour had so many practical tips on how to thrive during financially lean times. She was speaking from her heart. It wasn’t all theoretical tips, but ideas that had helped her support and encourage her husband and family when the finances were tight.

Betty shared four important points on how to not let finances harm your marriage.

1. Don’t let finances get in the way of your marriage.

Let’s face it, finances can drive a significant wedge between two people. It can be very stressful when you don’t know what your financial future holds.

Matthew 6:31-33 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

2. Work with your spouse to improve your situation.

Don’t just lay it all on your husband’s shoulders. Do what you can to help…whether it’s working from home, saving money, learning how to repair things yourself, or being willing to use items until they can no longer be repaired. ūüôā

It’s easy to want to avoid the issue, however that will not make the tight finances go away. So instead of ignoring it come up with a plan that allows you and your husband to work through the problem together.

Philippians 4:11-13 “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

3. Pray for yourself and your husband.

Pray that God would give you wisdom to know how to proceed. Pray that God would give you the grace and strength to make do with what you have. Cover the situation, yourself, and your husband in prayer.

4. Be thankful for what you have.

When you focus on what you don’t have, bitterness and anger take hold and those attitudes are not helpful for you or your family. Focus on what God has blessed you with (i.e. a hardworking husband, loving children, basic needs met) and be joyful and content with the life God has given you.

Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

This post is linked to Time Warp Wife and Wifey Wednesday.

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