Thursday, January 3, 2013

Slower Pace

As 2012 turned into 2013, I realized that for much of last year my life, I have lived flying by by the seat of my pants. No planning. No organization. Praying that at the last minute, everything would work out perfectly.

Life isn't like that.

It takes planning.

It takes organization.

It takes...learning to live simply.

Here are just a few of the goals that our family is working towards as a team in 2013:

#1 - Reading the Bible Through as a Family
Our pastor has challenged us, as a congregation, to make 2013 the year of the Bible, and to read our Bibles through. We have a daily reading plan that we are following that will help us to achieve this goal, and all the while, drawing us closer to Him. After all, isn't THAT the real goal? :)

#2 - Meal Planning - ugh!
How many times a day are you asked, "What's for supper?" Better yet, how many times a day are you responding to that question with, "I haven't even thought about that yet," or "I have no idea." I found blank calendars and blank grocery list forms online, and printed enough out to carry me through June, and got busy planning our family meals, so that I will always know how to answer the question of what's for supper.

January's calendar already planned out and ready to go.
How I plan for each meal:
*Refer to Pinterest for new recipes instead of opting for the same old tired meals.
*I plan for leftovers twice a week.
*I am planning for two meals eaten out per month.
*I have switched up meals of chicken, beef and pork for variety.

January's corresponding grocery list.

Grocery list for one week's meals. As my pantry gets restocked through couponing, I plan to only shop once or twice per month.
I have placed all of my blank calendars and blank grocery lists, along with printed copies of all of the recipes that I'll be using for the month in a 3-ring binder. I have the recipes in plastic sheet protectors to keep them from getting splattered on during the cooking process. :)
Tonight's recipe - Farmers Pork Chops. Check out the handy dandy recipe holder (old hanger). I found this ingenius idea on Pinterest. When I complete the meal, I can simply take the page, and reinsert into my binder for later usage. 

#3 - Coupon, Coupon, Coupon!!!
Before Harris Teeter stopped regular tripling of coupons a little over a year ago, I was a stockpiling crazy woman. If I spent more than $30 on two weeks worth of groceries, I was upset. Most of the time, I left the grocery store feeling like I'd stolen from them with how cheaply I got out. Since that came to a screeching hault in 2011, I haven't couponed at all. :( I have since been introduced to my sister's grocery store - Ingle's. Ah, the couponing fire is alive and well again, and I'm ready to rebuild my stockpile - cheaply.

#4 - Planning for a Vegetable and Herb Garden
Let's be honest. Fresh fruits and vegetables are priced outrageously in grocery stores. If you have a local farmer's market, you can score these items for really good prices, but not always. To alleviate the added expense, and still feed our family well - and economically - we will have our first garden in 8 years this summer!!! I am beyond excited!!!
Here is our plan for our raised and climbing beds for fresh veggies and herbs.
While it's obviously not a professional plan, the fact is, I have a plan in place. :) From this bounty, I plan to feed our family, share with extended family, can up a storm, and dry herbs for winter use. I can't wait!!!
Our plan for watering our vegetable and herb garden without it costing us a penny - a homemade rain barrel.
#5 - Continue making homemade laundry detergent.
If you have never tried making your own liquid laundry detergent, I highly, highly, highly recommend you try it. We have used homemade only for a little over a year now, and I will never again use anything else. The recipe that I use makes 5 gallons at a time. I then separate it into 1-gallon milk jugs for easier pouring and storage, and that will last our family of 4 for about 3-4 months. Over the past year, I have spent less than $25 on the supplies for making this detergent. (More like $20, to be honest). I have started adding in essential oils for scent. (You can find these in the soap making area at any Hobby Lobby for $2.99 per bottle. If making a full 5-gallon run of the detergent, I recommend purchasing 2 bottles to add to the batch.) Here is a link to the laundry detergent if you'd like to try it:
(I also have this recipe, along with step-by-step instructions on how to make it in an earlier blog post.)
So, there are the first five ways that our family plans to draw closer to God, and revert back to a more simple way of life in 2013. In my next post, I'll share five other ways that we are planning to make our lives easier, more frugal, more organized, and all the while, walking closer to Him.

God bless,

Monday, July 2, 2012

What's Cookin' - Menu Planning Monday

I'll admit that I have been in a rut with using the same go-to meals over and over and over in recent months. Thanks to Pinterest, those go-to meals are a thing of the past. My "favorites board" is loaded with yummy entrees, sides and desserts that the whole family can enjoy.  

If you're in a rut of having the same dishes over and over, I encourage you to check Pinterest out! :)

Here is what we'll be enjoying in the Murphy home this week:

MONDAY -           Baked Pork Chops with Mushroom Gravy. (Served over steamed rice).
                               Summer Corn Salad

TUESDAY -          Roasted Chicken and Veggies
                              Pasta Salad

WEDNESDAY -   Hot dog supper at church this week, so no cooking tonight. :)

THURSDAY -       Coconut Chicken
                              Cole Slaw
                              Baked Macaroni and Cheese

FRIDAY -             Cheeseburger Soup

SATURDAY -       Ranch Chicken, Baked Beans, and a side salad

Have a Blessed Week!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Do you ever wish that you had the opportunity to go back in time and right a past mistake? Maybe word things differently? Spend more time on things that actually mattered? Make some better choices during the difficult teen years? While I know that our past makes us into who we are in the present, I still have regrets that I'd love to see my children avoid having when they're my age.

What would I do differently if I had the chance?

I would've been nicer to people. 
I am not a mean person by any stretch, but I would be a better listener to people that spoke to me. I mean, REALLY listen to what they were saying, and look them right in the soul as they shared something with me....positive or negative.

Be nice. Always.

I would've given everyone a chance.
People can't always help the road that they are walking in life. There have been times in the past when I had the opportunity to help people, and didn't, because they made me uncomfortable. Who says you have to be comfortable in life?

Take a chance. Everyone deserves it.

I would've started saving money with my first job.
I remember how "rich" I felt getting my first paycheck from the Crown Cinemas. It was really very, very little, but to someone who'd never held a job before, it was a goldmine. Instead of wasting my earnings on frivolous items like magazines, clothing and records/cassettes (I'm showing my age now), I would SAVE it. We have had to struggle financially almost daily since our marriage. I don't want that for our children. I want them to be able to lie their heads down at night, and enjoy a restful night, not worry about how they'll pay for this or that, or how they'll come up with money for an unplanned expense. 

Save money. You truly won't regret NOT buying that CD that was THE CD to have for a brief week or two. As Mama says, "A rainy day IS coming." Plan for it. Be ready for it.

I would've spent more time with family.
At the age that my children are right now, it's not "cool" to WANT to spend time with your parents, and that's okay. That's normal. However, this is one of my biggest regrets. Life flies by in a blink, and before you know it, your parents are aging, your siblings have families of their own, and have moved away. Enjoy each moment.

Spend time with your family. Cherish each moment. Soak it all it.

I would've been more outgoing.
My weight has always held me back...physically and emotionally. I never felt like I was good enough in high school, and tried to make myself as invisible as possible. I missed out on a lot of events and fun times with my friends, because I was trying to be invisible. No matter your differences in life, weight, color, height or a handicap, we are all worth getting to know. Everyone has a story. Everyone has a heart that needs to be loved.

Be outgoing. Don't stand in the shadows, and blend into the background.

I would've been more selective with my friends. 
I'm still learning this one. You will have many friends over the course of your lifetime, but a TRUE, honest-to-goodness friend that you can call at any hour, or only have to ask, and they'd be right by your side? Those are the types of friends that are few and far between. There are many people that will pretend to be your friend for whatever reason. They'll make you appreciate and value even more a TRUE friend.

Choose good, uplifting friends. You'll only benefit from a great, honest, true friendship.

I would've been in less of a rush to grow up.
How many times have you heard a young person say, "I can't wait until ____________." We've all done it. You miss a lot of opportunities and experiences anticipating something into the future. Enjoy now. Don't be in such a hurry. The bills, jobs, and responsibilities will come soon enough, and you'll be wishing you were a child again without that weight on your shoulders.

Enjoy your present. Don't wish your life away.

Most importantly...

I would've prayed more.
Pray. It's that simple. When it seems like no one else in the world wants to listen to you, or even cares about what you have to say. God is always there. He is never too busy to listen. He won't put you on hold, or ask you to come back later. You have His full, undivided attention - ALWAYS.

Pray, and watch Him work.

The great thing about having regrets is that you can learn from them, and do things differently in the future to avoid the same outcomes...and same harsh lessons. We all have regrets, and we all have the opportunity to do things differently, speak with a little more thought next time, and choose a different path in the future.

God bless,


Monday, June 4, 2012


Monday, June 3, 2012

As I was looking back through past sermon notes, one caught my attention, and I was reminded of how it continues dominate my thoughts, and penetrate my heart. Several events have occurred in our home since the weekend that have continued to drive home my pastor's point from several months ago.

From the time we wake up in the morning, we're in a race. Race to get dressed and ready. Race to get to the bus. Race to work. Race to pick up children from school. Race to fix supper. Race to get baths. Race to get to bed. Ahh..then it's time for relaxing. How sad that I have been so rushed to finish each day, that I'm missing all of the good things throughout that day. 

As I pray in the morning for God to place someone in my path that day, did my racing through the day cause me to totally miss that opportunity? 

As I pray for my children to realize that I'm not being mean by parenting choices made, did my racing through the day cause me to miss the opportunity to share with them from MY experience in why my decision was so important? 

As I pray for the lost to come to know Jesus, did my racing through the day cause me to miss the opportunity to share Him with someone?  

I realized even more so yesterday of how quickly time (and life) are racing by. As I sat with my family in church, I kept looking at the graduates being honored in our congregation. In just a couple of years, our oldest will be sitting in that same position, wearing his cap and gown, and graduating from high school. It seems like only yesterday, we were wearing our knees out, praying - begging - for God to give us a child. Now, he's getting ready to turn 16. How quickly these past 16 years have raced by. 

My challenge to you - and myself - is to enjoy each and every moment of being a mom. Each and every moment is a blessing. 

Life doesn't have to be planned out from start to finish every day.

I want to seize each and every opportunity that comes up to soak it all in, and make memories with the ones that God has loaned to us on this children.


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

What Flag are you Flying?

What Flag Are You Flying?

A young lady from my church is currently spending a semester abroad studying in London. As I was looking through the amazing pictures that she posted recently, I was awestruck by the opportunity that she has to live where our country's history began.

As I looked through the photos, I noticed a photo of Buckingham Palace that she had captioned, "The Queen isn't in today." How did she know this?  The Royal Standard is always flown to signify that the Queen is at home within Buckingham Palace. On this day, only the Union Jack was flying, letting the throngs of people standing outside of the palace know that the queen was not in residence.

I began thinking about Jesus, the King of all Kings.

How do we let others know that He is at home in us?

Many people wear religious clothing, cross necklaces, and have the fish symbol magnets on the backs of their vehicles, but do people really see Jesus in us without all of the accessories?

If I never again wore any religious-themed attire, never wore a cross necklace, and didn't have the fish symbol on the back of my vehicle, would others still be able to tell that I'm a child of the King?

 Sadly, I know that I fall short weekly  daily  hourly each and every day of my life. Thankfully, I know that He is always there for me to ask forgiveness for my sins and short-comings. You see, Jesus is always with us. He is never away for a weekend. His phone line never rings busy. He never has someone else to stand in for Him. His presence is a constant, whether we choose to acknowledge it or not. We simply have to have faith, and stand back and let Him do what He wants to do in and through us. He's waiting on us to really see Him. He's waiting on us to let others really see Him in our lives.

A fire has been ignited in me. My heart has been convicted. My toes have been stomped on. My soul has been challenged.

People NEED to know Jesus, and as Christians, we are obligated to help them see Him in us.

Salvation in Jesus is wonderful news. If you have something amazing that has happened to you, you wouldn't keep it a secret. You'd want to shout it from the rooftops! How is the Good News of Jesus any less important?  There are people dying and going to hell every minute of every day. What can I do to change that? What can YOU do to change that?

Have you accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior? If you were to die right now, do you know without hesitation where you would spend eternity? If not, I would love to share my Jesus with you.

I will end with this thought....

What flag are YOU flying in YOUR heart today?


Monday, April 30, 2012

Stand Up and Be Counted

The past few weeks have been tense ones in the state of North Carolina. 

Our state is facing a very important vote on Tuesday, May 8th, that will put to bed the definition of marriage. Is it one man and one woman? Is it open to interpretation regardless of your sexual orientation? Is it discrimination for those on the "for" side to vote in favor of the amendment? Is it liberalistic for those on the against side to vote in opposition?

Both sides FOR and AGAINST raise passionate debates on why they personally believe they are right. It's at best, a heated topic of debate, discussion, and sadly, venomous at times. 

I see things very black and white. There is no gray area. I'm either for or against. It's right or it's wrong. I've always been that way, and at 41 years old, I doubt that that will be changing any time soon. I'm also someone that has never gone along with the main stream, what is popular, or what is politically correct. 

When you are a Christian, you ARE different. You ARE set apart. You ARE treated differently in society. Perhaps not so much on a day-to-day basis at work and school, but definitely when hot topic debates such as this amendment are brought to the surface.

Yesterday, our pastor spoke with fire, conviction, and passion from the pulpit on "The Biblical Standard of Marriage."  My husband and I had been praying for our pastor since reading the church marquee on Saturday with the sermon title. Speaking out for something that goes against what's popular or widely accepted is difficult at best, and those willing to take that stand need our prayers and support, and Dr. Yount preached one of the best messages that I have ever had the privilege of hearing. I thank God for a man of God that doesn't back down, and preaches the message that God lays on his heart.

Our state has been bombarded by so many commercials that take away from the main issue - redefining marriage. 

For me, this is a non-issue. 

Genesis 1:27-28 (NIV) states:
"So God created people in his own image; God patterned them after himself; male and female he created them. God blessed them and told them, 'Multiply and fill the earth and subdue it.' "

God himself performed the first marriage ceremony in the garden of Eden - between a man and a woman.
As far as I'm concerned, that settles this issue. God ordained marriage as one man and one woman. North Carolina doesn't have the right to redefine what God perfectly created so long ago. 

I was told yesterday that Christians are "discriminating" against homosexuals. I would challenge you to think before speaking such harsh words. After all, we do live in the United States of America where all of our citizens are born with the privilege and honor to have their own ideas, make their own opinions, pursue their own dreams, and practice or not practice the religion of their choice. My daddy is one of the thousands upon thousands of men and women who have fought and died for those precious rights to be preserved since our country was founded.

My vote will have nothing to do with discrimination, hate or prejudice. I am simply voting MY beliefs, MY convictions, MY morals, and for the society I want for my children and grandchildren. I encourage and challenge you to do the same. 

Whether you're on the for or against side of this issue, speak with kindness. Angry, heated words in defense don't do anyone any good. You're not going to persuade someone to see "your" side by being mean. We are all individuals that have our own opinions. Respect one another as you vote. You don't have to respect the side of the issue that someone else takes, but as Americans, it is your right - and mine - to have our voices heard.

Stand up and be counted. 

God bless,

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Homemade Laundry Detergent

I am so happy to report that I have made my very first batch of homemade laundry detergent...and best of only costs pennies per load to make!!! I found everything that I needed to make the detergent on the laundry aisle at Walmart - with the exception of the 5-gallon bucket. Here is a breakdown of the cost:
5 gallon bucket and lid - $4.14 (one-time expense)
Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda - $3.24
20 Mule Team Borax - $3.38
Fels Naptha - $.97
Total Paid - $11.73 + tax
*Keep in mind, the supplies are all paid for, and there are many, many more uses of all of the items for future batches!*

2 gallon bucket with lid
1/3 bar Fel Naptha Laundry Soap
(Ivory soap can be substituted for the Fel can forego the shredding of the Ivory, and put right into the microwave)
1/2 c. 20 Mule Team Borax
1/2 c. Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
Essential Oil (if you prefer fragrance over a simple "fresh laundered" smell)

Step 1:
Grate 1/3 bar of Fel Naptha

Step 2:
Put a pot of 6 cups of water on the stove over low. Add the shredded soap until melted. Don't boil. Once the soap is melted, begin adding the remainder of your ingredients as follows.

Step 3:
Add 1/2 cup 20 Mule Team Borax to the mixture.

Step 4:
Add 1/2 cup of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda to the mixture.
Stir until dissolved. This mixture will thicken to a honey-like consistency. Once you've reached this state, remove from heat.

Step 5:
Pour 4 cups of HOT water into your bucket. Add the soap mixture to the hot water, and stir. If adding in essential oil, add a few drops to the mixture now. Once this step is done, add in 1 gallon of HOT water + 6 cups of HOT water to the mixture and stir well.

Step 6:
Stir well, cover and let sit overnight. You will need an immersion blender to stir it all up the next day prior to using.
This recipe filled my 5-gallon bucket halfway.
Use 1/2 cup per load = 64 loads.
I'll be doubling the recipe next time.

I never thought that I'd utter these words, but I can't wait to do my laundry tomorrow!!!!! :) I'm having a true pioneer woman moment.