Monday, June 30, 2008

Menu Monday: "I've Been Expecting You"

Another Monday! And the last day of another month. I don't know about you, but I can hardly believe June is already drawing to a close. This weekend will be 4th of July weekend and then all of the back-to-school stuff will be out at Target. Ack!! A friend of mine said she saw Christmas wreaths at Hobby Lobby the other day. I'm glad I didn't see that. My head just might explode.

Each summer I pull familiar books off of the shelf and read through them at the pool or when I get some "down time." I love it because these are books that God has used to speak into my life, written by authors who have shaped who I am as a wife and mother. It's so great to read through them again and refresh myself on some of the advice and do an inner "check up" and see how I'm doing. It's handy because they are already highlighted (high-lit?) by a much younger woman, dealing with younger kids and different issues... but the truths are true nonetheless.

This summer I'm reading back through A Woman After God's Own Heart, by Elizabeth George. Last night as I was winding down, getting ready to go to bed I read through her principles regarding home management. The third one is what I read last night, but I'll list the first two:

1. Understand that home management is God's best for us.
2. Decide to take home management seriously.


"Third, live as though you will be held accountable for the condition of your home and the use of your time because you will! In fact, when our husband (or anyone else) walks in the door and looks around the house, we have just revealed what we've been doing in response to God's call to us to manage the home. What do people see when they enter your house? Do they find calm- or chaos? Peace- or panic? Palace- or pigpen? Evidence of preparation- or procrastination?"

Ouch. that last sentence is what gets me every time. Preparation or procrastination? I have shared before how I tend toward procrastination. I always have. I love to plan and think ahead, but I don't always kick it into gear and execute those plans. In recent years that has been something at which, by God's grace, I have gotten better. Meal planning has been in that category for me. I had to go from procrastination to preparation in the kitchen. And it has made our life so much better!

She then uses a great example: a hotel. George says, "Think for a moment about the feeling your get when you enter a hotel room. What greets you? Order. Quiet. Cleanliness. You can still see the vacuum tracks in the carpet. The bed is made (and remember it occupies 80% of visual space of a room!). The last sheet of toilet paper has been folded to a point. No TV or stereo blares. Order reigns. Someone has done the work of effective management, and their efforts make the room a sanctuary."

I am hardly an example of someone who's home is always a "sanctuary," believe me. Especially during the school year. There have been many days when my husband has come home to piles of laundry, me with my hair piled on my head and wearing either all or part of what I slept in the night before, and an exploded science project still awaiting cleanup. So, anything orderly I post on here needs to be seen as an example of God's grace being sufficient for me in my weakness!

But, through all of the chaos that ensues at our house (or at anyone's house who's in the business of raising a family in the home all day every day) there can be preparation rather than procrastination. When my cute husband gets home there may be piles here and there, but also a single candle lit on the kitchen counter and some sort of dinner either ready or almost ready -- evidence of preparation. Something that says, "I've been expecting you."

I love thinking of the hotel example. I LOVE walking into a hotel room (okay, a nice one) and taking it in... the feeling that someone prepared for me to be there. I've been working on doing that for my family. I heard many years ago, "Treat your family like guests and your guests like family." We may not go so far as folding the toilet paper to a point, but there are big and small ways we can prepare for our families and give them that feeling each day. The feeling of being anticipated, expected, and desired.

This morning I've got muffins ready for my kids and the devotional book ready on the table. That says to them, "I've been expecting you." I've got my menu planned for the week and the ingredients in the pantry. That says to me when it's time to prepare the meal, "I've been expecting you." Each evening when the meal is on the table for my family, they will know I was anticipating them. Every morning the coffee pot comes on (because we made it the night before!), I can come in early for a great cup of coffee and that says to me, "I've been expecting you." I can take that cup of coffee, grab my Bible and have time with the Lord Who says to me , "I've been expecting you." In our home we are in the midst of preparing our home and family for our precious new son whom we are adopting, and in many ways my entire life right now is gearing up for one big, "I've been expecting you."

Isn't that what meal planning is? A way of saying to our families, "I've been expecting you?" And it doesn't have to be that hard, really. Think back to the hotel example. I love staying at one that's got the continental breakfast bar waiting in the morning. All it really is is cereal ready to pour, fruit that's already been cut and washed, juices available and bagels cut in half. (Oh, and coffee, don't forget the coffee.) It's not expensive or time-intensive, but we can do the same for our families. Just have it ready and show them that we've been expecting them. I think any area of our homes in which we can do that (laundry, craft activities, games, etc.) will really bless them. The kitchen is a great place to start!

So, here is my menu plan for the week. I just joined a great farmer's market co-op for the summer, so I've got some wonderful summer fruit and vegetables to use this week. To use some of the plums I received in my basket, I found this plum pie recipe that I think I'll try. Yum!

Monday: grilled pork chops with grilled lemon-pepper zucchini
Tuesday:Mexican Stack Dinner
Wednesday: Georgia Peach Chicken Sandwiches
Thursday: YOYO ("You're on you're own"/leftovers)
Friday: Summer Squash Chicken Alfredo (unless we make other dinner plans... I may bump this to next week)

Since Laura is on vacation, MPM is being hosted at Heavenly Homemakers this week, so head on over there to read more menus and some great homemaking tips. Have a terrific week and a fun Fourth!


Bev said...

Your menu looks wonderful! I am going to have to try the grilled lemon pepper zuchini!

Much Ado said...

What a great post Cyndi, you gave a lot to think about and also reminded me of why that particular book by Elizabeth George had such an impact on my life. I always remember how practical she was and the sentence that stuck in my mind from one of her books is to simply try and remember to ask your husband "What can I do for you today?"

I had forgotten about that Hotel illustration, it's a really good one. There will be no shadow of a doubt that your son will know that you all "have been expecting him" when he arrives home with you!