Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Prayer of St. Ephraim, to be prayed during Lent.

"O Lord and Master of my life
do not give me the spirit of sloth, despair, lust of power, or idle talk.

But give rather a spirit of chastity, humility, patience and love to your servant.

Yes Lord and King, grant me to see my own transgressions
and not to judge my brother.

For blessed art Thou unto ages of ages, amen."

It's a few days before Lent, but still...I am going to be fasting from blogging during lent, so I'll see you all on the flip side, after Holy Pascha!

Blessings and peace to you all.

Monday, February 23, 2009

I heard a rumor

That on Tuesday of this week (shrove Tuesday?), IHOP gives away free pancakes (plain ones) to anyone who comes to their restaurant.

So if you are in the mood for some pancakes, perhaps check out snopes.com or call up your local IHOP to find out if they indeed do this, and then go get some.

I'll be making gluten free blueberry pancakes here at my house.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Nice Chairs!



One of the things the Lord has been teaching us around here is how to trust Him. And how to ask Him for the things we need. We truly want to be His children, and this is a hard lesson and a fine line to walk. How to walk in trust in a "go out and get it yourself" world?

So, part of that is being content with what we have. Like shabby thrift store furniture, or old mixers. And the other part is actually praying about the things we think we might need, like that Kitchen Aid that God so abundantly provided.

Well, we weren't EVEN praying for furniture. But today we were given two very nice, very comfy and very GREEN chairs and foot stools (the green color is one of the reasons they were sitting in someone's garage for two years with no takers, I think.) Not in my entire life would I have purchased such an item for myself. Too posh. And VERY green. I would probably have picked a nice dull poop color were I buying leather furniture for myself. Perhaps green is better.

But you know what? The green seems to fit perfectly in our brown carpeted, beige walled and dark brown brick fireplace with dark wood furnishings and lots of books living room.

So once again, I have to smile and thank God and think a bit that he has a sense of humor. I guess I'll have green leather chairs in my living room for many years to come, if not the rest of my life.

Green...St. Patrick's favorite color. The color of Pentecost. The color of chlorophyll. Many good things are green.

Glory to Thee, O Lord, glory to Thee!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Something I always wanted to do

but never had the chance...is to sing in a choir.

At. St. A's there just wasn't enough room over there for me, and practice was at the wrong time no matter when because we lived too far away.

In High School, there were the award winning "Sophisticats" which I never even tried out for. I think I got discouraged from doing that, and I ran Cross Country instead. Now I understand what it's like to not have enough money to pay for kids' activities, and Sophisticats would have been expensive.

But now I'm here. And St. M's has a wonderful sounding choir, and I went to practice tonight. We live so close that I could run my kids home after vespers, and come back for practice.

I'm over the moon about it. Now I just hope I have the energy for it. We were practicing music for the Canon of St. Andrew, sung during the first week of Lent. The words were a good reminder of what is coming and boy, do I need it ever!

And then when practice was over I realized: Perhaps this is a really impetuous time of year to start singing in the Choir. But being impetuous is what I'm good at.

Please, God, let my back keep getting better...

At any rate, I'm excited about finally being in choir.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

My Big Book of Disorder and Chaos


One of the things that I often read about on the snooty and well organized homemaking blogs that I like to read when I'm not feeling bad enough about myself, is the homemaker's planner. The Binder. The Big Book. The organizational tool to beat all organizational tools, which tells the happy homemaker what to do.

One of the things that I often read about on the snooty and well organized homeschooling blogs that I like to read when I'm not feeling bad enough about myself, is the home-school mother's planner. The Binder. The Big Book. The organizational tool to beat all organizational tools, which tells the happy homeschooling mother what to do.

Hmmmm. Those two paragraphs have a lot in common, don't they? Since I do both, perhaps I need a planner?

I do have my day-planner with the spaces that Franklin-Covey thinks I need. But I always end up scrawling information in the margins and writing important things clear across the much-ignored squares on the monthly calendar page and then reading the entire thing if I want to retrieve that information.

And I tried to make myself a housekeeping binder a few years ago. I didn't use it much and it represented what someone else told me I needed, instead of what I needed. And besides: Needs change, homes even change, and home cleaning chores are not things I need a binder to nag me about. Woo Hoo...three rings of guilt. No thank you. I can tell when my house is dirty all by my self.

But I have decided that I do need something. I've chosen to call it my Big Book of Disorder and Chaos. I've yet to invest in my real BBODAC, and am using an embryonic starter version consisting of a one inch binder with notebook paper in it.

Currently the chaos part comes into play in that it is lacking tabs and dividers, and the notes I took on the kids' future school work plan (woo hoo, I've written out lessons for the next month or so and taken the un out of unschooling) are all in there willy nilly along with grocery lists, random notes I've already forgotten about, Bible notes and some journaling.

So, instead of telling you, fair reader, that you need a binder of your own, and that you, fair reader, have to make a binder just like mine...or else the homemaking/homeschooling fairies will smite thee...I'll just humbly offer this nugget:

What if, with the Big Book of Disorder and Chaos, some sort of order bubbles up to the surface that will actually be usable? What if logic and expedience is used to guide what happens next? Like, for instance, I might decide to create a tab divider for each of my kids and make it easier to find those pages where I've written down their lessons. Or I might decide that I need a place for menu planning.

Et Cetera.

It ain't rocket science. And after a few weeks of embryonic chaos with my Big Book of Disorder and Chaos I know three things: 1) I need more paper. 2) an embryonic system of Dividers would be nice. 3)Fabulous pens are worth it (I like those free flowing ink ones) and 4)nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Maybe

if I start writing I will find something to write about.

Or maybe not.

Three cheers for kids who are old enough to follow orders and get the house clean. Even vacuumed. That's huge.

I did too much yesterday, by necessity, and so today is necessarily going to be rather gingerly lived, I'm afraid. A do nothing day...that is what I need...

So my to-do list for a "do nothing" day?

-Make a massive pile of waffles for the freezer.
-take in some jeans for M.
-re-work the waistband on a skirt (for me).
-do a bit of laundry (or rather, make one of the kids do a bit of laundry)
-make the kids do some school work
-meals.
-update my blogs and work on some e-mails.

I might even run to the store and buy new batteries for my TENS unit...if I can drive.

Currently our family read aloud is Swiss Family Robinson. It's the perfect read aloud. It was written in the 1700's and is a thoroughly Christian story. We are a bit amused by certain mistakes, like there being penguins and flamingoes on the same deserted island in the tropics, but it's a very enjoyable adventure story. What is refreshing about it is not only the unabashed and blatant Christianity, but also the fact that this adventure involves a family, and not just some guys, or whatever.

Good literature should educate, elevate, make one want to strive for greater things, strive to be a more refined or better person, and help one use the English language better.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Loneliness

Part of moving to a new city is loneliness.

I found this quote the other day during a non-lonely moment, and thought I'd pass it along here.

When you are praying alone, and your spirit is dejected, and you are wearied and oppressed by your loneliness, remember then, as always, that God the Trinity looks upon you with eyes brighter than the sun; also all the angels, your own Guardian Angel, and all the Saints of God. Truly they do; for they are all one in God, and where God is, there are they also. Where the sun is, thither also are directed all its rays. Try to understand what this means.

Elder Herman of Mt. Athos

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Good Things

A lovely wind storm whipped through our area last night and yesterday.

We had a chance to go for a short walk in between the thunder storms and the wind storm, and we had a lovely time collecting detritus from the recent ice storm: Branches from a magnolia (we think!), some type of evergreen and some pinecones, holly with berries, and a bare branch-o-mystery with some rather ambitious buds, a non-coniferous ever-green shrub branch that I've seen everywhere on two continents all my life but cannot identify by name.

I really really want to find a book or something that tells me what grows in Kentucky so I can identify plants at least by their common names. I've always wanted to be a naturalist and have never had the chance to gain those skills.

By the time we were heading home with our treasures, the wind was picking up and a new bank of gray clouds were blowing in.

I'm grateful that we didn't lose our electricity, although some did.

I'm grateful I was able to go for a short walk, what with all my back problems lately.

I'm grateful for my chiropractor.

I'm SO glad I was able to get up this morning with only a bit of stiffness, and that I can gingerly move around today.

The sun is shining.

My kids get along with each other and are having a good week.

I'm grateful for doctors and therapists, psychotropic medications and gluten free noodles.

I'm grateful for dumb shows on Animal Planet.

I'm even glad that Lent is rapidly approaching.

Grateful my husband has a job at a company that is hiring and not laying off people. God have mercy!

New friends and old.

For all these things, I give thanks to God.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Worse Back

I went from knowing I have a bad back, to knowing I have a worse back.

I thought I had two degenerated discs.

Add two more to that number...and arthritis. And a reverse curve on my neck.


Yeeeeeouch!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

One God

...the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth...and one only begotten Son Jesus Christ...and the Holy Spirit...

How can Christians claim to worship the ONE God, for God is ONE and there is no other, and yet at the same time, believe in the Trinity and say that this ONE God contains a three-ness? Official Orthodox catechetical terminology says: "One Divine Nature in three Persons" . I can accept this on faith and I truly believe the ineffable and incomprehensible God and be One God in three divine persons without being three gods. It is a mystery and it does defy understanding, as it should.

But from a lecture I heard recently, I offer this apologetic as a helpful explanation of the ONE who is beyond our understanding. An analogy:

I am myself. When I speak, my word is as much a part of me as myself, for it is I who have spoken and my word is inseparable from me. My word reveals who I am and shows my true character. I cannot speak without my breath, and my breath is as much a part of myself as myself, for without my breath I am not myself and I would cease to exist. And without my word I am not myself because self involves expression, and yet without myself neither my word can exist, nor my breath. Nor can my word exist without myself or my breath, and when I breathe my word comes from me. I am one.

Scripture teaches about the Word made flesh, Jesus the Annointed One (Christ, Messiah):

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it." (John 1:1-5)

"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:14

Furthermore:

"Jesus answered: "If I honor Myself, My honor is nothing. It is My Father who honors Me, of whom you say that He is your God. Yet you have not known Him, but I know Him. And if I say 'I do not know Him,' I shall be a liar like you: but I do know Him and keep His word. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad."
Then the Jews said to Him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?"
Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM."

John 8: 54-58

And about the oneness of God, Jesus testifies:

"Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves." John 14:10-11

And about the Holy Spirit:

"And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever-the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you." John 14: 16-17

and further:

"But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you." John 14:26

So, One God: the Father who begets the Word who became incarnate, Jesus Christ and who sends his Spirit, his breath, upon us in the name of His Word. Inseparably One God, mysteriously in three persons.

Overwhelmed

If there's one thing I'm consistently known for in my life, it's telling it like it is. So I'm gonna do that now:

I'm overwhelmed. I hit critical burn out with the very intense home school curriculum that I've been using and have given the kids a hiatus. Judging by their cheers, they were burned out, too. Home school should not be like school at home, quite. Learning should occur, to be sure, but in a different way.

Not to worry, we are still doing math, and lots of intelligent reading and writing, crafts and exercise every day, too. Meanwhile, I have set myself that task of learning all I can about Charlotte Mason style educating, and figuring out whether or not this is for us. Just wading through all that is overwhelming, too.

Quite frankly, I wish I could give my kids high school diplomas for utterly un-schooling them, but if I did that, they'd only be good at watching dumb cartoons. So, I must press on, or send their tender little souls off to public school, which I don't want to do, either.

All the options seem overwhelming. This is where evil anonymous readers of my blog can write in and yell at me for having four children, isn't it? I just broke the number one mother rule: Never admit defeat, or that life seems too hard if you are a mother. "You made your bed, now you get to lie in it..." Yeah, I know. I made my bed.

Well, since I just did admit "defeat", I'll keep going with my honesty: I'm overwhelmed.

It is really really hard to have a schizophrenic daughter. It's hard to know how to educate her when half the time, or more than that, she can't even get her brain to think right. Quite simply:

I don't know what to do.

I'm also overwhelmed by the other kid's needs. I have two packets of papers to go through and fill out to start the ball rolling on potentially getting special services such as speech therapy for two of my others.

My son wishes he could take piano lessons. We have no piano, and no money for a piano, or for lessons. Sorry kid.

I have lots of cooking to do. I barely know what to make for dinner tonight and the house is a mess.

Why is the house a mess?

My back is out. (Who made up that term "out" to refer to complete and utter overwhelming back pain?????)

I went to the chiropractor yesterday, at long last. I found someone who is very good, after praying over the list and calling someone close to home. His adjustment made a difference. But I need much more than one adjustment. I go back tomorrow.

I went in thinking I had two degenerated discs, and found out via X-rays that I have four, and arthritis in my neck. We have not formally discussed it yet, but he strongly hinted that I'd benefit from some serious orthotics (custom shoe inserts) to alleviate one of the reasons my back is in such bad shape: bad feet.

I've knows since High School when my bad feet caused a serious running injury that I have bad feet. What else is new? I guess they did not just stop my running career, but have contributed to lots of other problems as well.

So I'm in a great deal of pain. Which is why I feel overwhelmed. It's hard to think when one is nauseous from back pain.

I'm trying not to complain. I hope this post does not sound like complaining. Really, I do. But maybe I am complaining. I can't even tell. How do you tell someone you are in pain, or that you are having difficulty without it sounding like a complaint? I dunno.

So there it is. Overwhelmed.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Of Snippetiness and Salvation

I spent the weekend on muscle relaxers and as much lying down as possible. My back is out, and it's such a drag. (Mostly for the people who have to live with me, I'm afraid.)

Muscle relaxers make me snippety and very grumpy. Probably they just bring out my true character, I think. I think me being on muscle relaxers makes my husband snippety and grumpy, too. So it's been one of those weekends. Not fighting, really, but lots of snippetiness and grumpiness. Walking a tightrope of misunderstanding.

I did get the book read for book group: The Meaning of Suffering and Strife and Reconciliation by Archimandrite Seraphim Aleksiev.

It was interesting reading that book while in rather significant pain. Ha ha. While being on the verge of a lack of peace with one's spouse. Ha ha ha.

So I am even more convicted of my sin of snippetiness (I think it's real moniker is selfishness and self-pity). It begets a restlessness that is not at peace. I kept searching for something that would make my restlessness all better. Perhaps if Wes were nicer, or more attentive, if the kids were better, if people could read my mind and clean up the house better...All these selfish thoughts and feelings, when the reality of the situation is that it just is. And that whether I'm in pain or not, God is still God and I must seek HIM with all my heart, and love HIM with all my heart mind, soul and strength.

Anything less and I will remain snippety and unsatisfied, even when all around me might be going my way.

And I'm thinking that if I can learn to rise above the self pity and the selfishness, I will have accomplished something grand.

And, blessed be, I have a chiropractor's appointment in one and a half hours. Yaaaaay!

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Thoughts on Vegetarianism

While I'm dong the twice monthly massive homemade chicken nugget fry my youngest comes to me and says:

"Hey Mom, B and I decided we are going to be vegetarians."

Me:

"Oh good for you. Lent is coming. You can be a vegetarian then, and when Pascha comes, we'll see how much you still want to be a vegetarian. How 'bout?"

...fifteen minutes later, a wan looking youngest daughter appears in the kitchen door, gazing longingly at the freshly made chicken nuggets.

"I'm hungry. What can I have for a snack?"

"Vegetarian, or non-vegetarian?"

"I don't knowwwww."

"Have a nugget."

"Thanks, mom."

Friday, February 06, 2009

Giving All Diligence

add to your faith virtue,
to virtue knowledge,
to knowledge self-control,
to self-control perseverance,
to perseverance godliness,
to godliness brotherly kindness,
and to brotherly kindness love.

For if these things are yours and abound,
you will be neither barren nor unfruitful
in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

--today's Epistle reading from 2 Peter 1

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Once upon a Time at the Circus...

We only got lost once on the way to the Circus.

And having gotten lost, I only started crying once, while driving around in a creepy part of town trying to find out where to go. (My nerves are a wee bit frazzled these days and I cry a lot.)

But I HAPPENED to have six dollars in cash in my purse that we (surprise!) needed to pay for parking.

Then, we only parked in the wrong parking lot just once, after we finally located the Expo center.

Ariana only started wailing once when the death defying acts of the acrobats scared her (but her wailing lasted for a while).

Bethany only got lost once on the way to the bathroom during intermission (the clowns, security guards and shriners were very helpful and we found her).

Eric melted down only once and begged to go home, due to the stress of watching me hunt for Bethany and due to the noise levels.

But fortunately I found another four dollars in quarters, nickles and dimes at the bottom of my purse to save the day with one thing of cotton candy for us to share.

And the circus ended with some posing pachiderms, who managed to charm the kids back into a good mood---so everyone is is living happily ever after.

I'm exhausted.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Sweetness

Life is hard, you know? It's hard for everyone. My particular "life is hard"-ness involves a mentally ill daughter (and I'm not just saying that tongue in cheek, she really is mentally ill.) We get the impression that she lives her life on a razor's edge between barely hanging on and total catatonia, and the only thing keeping her here is her daily dose of meds.

Stressful times, with no end in sight. Our family is finally able to explore various support options here in our new community, and God has answered every one of our prayers in regards to finding doctors and therapists and the like. Soon we shall go to our first NAMI meeting.

Well, the reality of living with a mentally ill person has really turned my heart towards the Lord, and my hope towards heaven. Every. Single. Day. What else is there, because this world sure isn't offering me the "good life".

And God's grace is there, in the midst of the difficulties, and He does pour out his goodness and his joy, even on desperate souls like us.

I've been reading the book of Jeremiah. There is so much sweetness in the heart of the Lord expressed towards His people. Here are some nuggets to feast on today:

"For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish."--Jer. 31:25

"Keep your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears; for your work shall be rewarded, says the Lord, and they shall come back from the land of the enemy. There is hope for your future, says the Lord." --Jer. 31:16-17

Well, pretty much the whole of the 31st chapter is wonderful...

The other day B asked me: "Mom, what will happen to me if the economy collapses and the pharmaceutical companies stop making my medicine?"

??????????????

"Well, I guess then I'll feed you and change your diapers and we'll pray together and I'll take you to every Holy Unction service we can find, and ask God's help." (Not that we aren't already praying, you know...).

"Oh, good! Thanks Mom!" And she hugged me.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Wishin' for Discipline

in the reading department, that is. For some reason, I never can find time to squeeze in a good read. Perhaps I ought to go walkng in the fitness cneter, on the treadmill, and read there.

I currently have an impressive stack-o-stuff to read, but alas, I've been knitting much more often.

Currently being neclected:

A book by St. John Maximovich on the Orthodox Veneration of Mary: The Birthgiver of God,

The Way to Nicea, by John Behr (about half way through this one)

Two books about St. Herman of Alaska which we picked up for B's research paper,

Turning the Heart to God, by St. Theophan the Recluse (this was for last month's book group, that I attended without having read the book and it looked so good we went ahead and got it.

And then the next book group book, the title of which I cannot remember...

It's like sitting in front of a huge stack of pastries and not being hungry enough to eat any. Except instead of hunger, the limiting factor is time.

But I must say, wool socks do keep one's toes warm. ;-)

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Dear NBC,

Many of the commercials aired during the Super Bowl were inappropriate for a prime-time family audience.

I am disappointed, but not surprised, that you decided to let your advertisers introduce the existence of internet pornography to innocent children all across America today.

The violence in the movie trailers (which are genrally supposed to be rated G) is almost not worth commenting on because unfortunately it is too common.

Nevertheless, such things should not be common in a decent and moral society, and because they are, the only conclusion is that our society is neither.

Thanks to you and the sordid commercials you allowed to be aired from your station, we did not watch but the first part of the first quarter of the Super Bowl. Fortunately, our television set still has on off switch.

Sincerely,

Tuned out in Kentucky

Fueling the Fire of Love

I has just now tending the fire in the fireplace. We are working on burning this great big log, that's about twice the size of all the other logs in the bundle of firewood we bought a few days ago.

We keep getting a fire started, with kindling and THE LOG, and at first, it would just go out. More kindling. Then it would smolder and go out. After a time, I'd try again. Take the fire apart, rebuild it with kindling sticks, twisted paper, plenty of air pockets, and THE LOG. It would burn, and then go out.

Finally today I've managed to get the log actually burning, but it still has a tendency to simmer down to burning coals after a bit, and there's just so much unburnt wood left.

Every once in a while, I just have to add more kindling to that big ol' LOG, to get it going again.

And I realized that's what the spiritual life is like. (I guess I take after my mom, who was/is forever finding "spiritual parallels".)

We must add kindling to the fire of our love for Christ. I think this is especially important for people who have been Christians for a very long time. The flames don't just keep burning on their own, even if that big old log still has a glow.

Fires must be fed, and so must our love for God.

One of my kids was asking how to do this, the other day.

The answer seems so simple and basic: say your prayers, read your Bible, go to Church for prayer, worship, communion, confession.... and yet difficult to follow through on sometimes, or too formulaic and easy.

How about this? Vicious commitment to a life of prayer (because viciousness against lassitude and laziness is what it takes...at least for me). Ferocious feeding on the Bread of Life. Reading the Holy Scriptures as if our life depended on it. Being irrationally (from the world's perspective) intentional about the things of God. Mighty confessions and tears of repentance, which is a gift from God.