About orthodoxmom3

I am an Orthodox Christian wife and a mother of three that is loving the life God has given me. I wear many, many hats in this life including Christian, wife, mother, reader, writer, teacher, homeschool advocate, cook and so many more. I love to write about them all! See my About Page for more and be sure to follow An Orthodox Homeschool if you want just the homeschool posts or get ALL the posts on The Many Hats of an Orthodox Mom!

Ladder of Divine Ascent

I stated in a previous post that I would be reading Thirty Steps to Heaven for Lent this year.  I've always enjoyed the vision of the Ladder as it offers us as Orthodox a visual of steps to take on our journey in becoming closer to God.  For my readers who are not Orthodox, Saint John Climacus, also known as Saint John of Sinai and St. John of the Ladder, wrote a document for the monastic at Sinai in which has been known as wonderful guidance to not only monastics, but to the layman as well. Vassilios Papavassiliou has written a guide for us average person to go along with the Ladder of Divine Ascent-  a little more easily understood and relative to those of us not taking monastic vows so to speak.  In other words, ordinary folk living within the world that may have some difficulty understanding the words of Saint John or how to apply it to our daily lives as spouses,  mothers, homemakers, homeschoolers and parishioners can now more easily learn and accept the challenges offered by the words of St. John.

The author does well to remind us that the climb is not necessarily in order rung by rung.  So those of us that have not obtained the mastery of renunciation, the first step, do not have to feel we are stuck forever on the first rung.  In reading the book, I must admit I'm probably stuck on them all thus far- and I'm only halfway through. The author goes on to say that very few people will be able to climb all 30 steps of the ladder.  In fact, if you think you have, he says, you probably need to go back to the beginning.

I could probably write an entire blog on just this book alone.  I have a feeling it will be a starting point for many future posts. It will definitely be on my shelf of books to reread.  This one may become well worn in time.

In the meantime, if you haven't read it yet, I urge you to do so-  Orthodox or not.  It is packed of great wisdom on how to live this life always thinking of our relationship with God and keeping in mind that all we do or don't do affects that relationship.

God wants us to have a child's heart.  Thus St. John tells novices of the monastic life to look to infants as their example.  We can take this to apply equally to adult converts or nominal Christians who have only now decided to make a beginning of spiritual life.  God ants us, though grown up with adult minds, having knowledge, wisdom, and understanding , to be like children:  "Unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 18:3).

 

An Apple a Day MIGHT keep the doctor away, among other vegetables and healthy meats and proteins, but too many will keep the doctor coming...  and we discussed this in our very quick lesson using google finds.

My son is not thrilled that he had to give up his habit of a small dish of organic ice-cream or a small  gluten-free ice-cream cone as his bedtime snack for Lent.  We give up dairy and all processed foods during our Whole30 which we do during Lent for fasting and health reasons.

However, he does like his apples.  Add a little peanut butter/almond butter (he claims he doesn't like almond butter but I mixed it half and half for two weeks without his knowledge...we are moving on to about 1/3 pb and 2/3 almond butter this week) and he's a happy kid.

So the other night he asked what  was good about apples. " Let's make that a project for tomorrow", I said.  "Write a note to remind us and we'll spend some time looking that up."  So with apple in hand we did just that yesterday.

We found some pretty cool videos and sites.

Fun Nutrition For Kids!  Fresh Apple vs. Fast Food Apple Pie

Apples: History & Nutrition

Fresh For Kids: Apple

Apples 101: Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits   -  This one we breezed through-  and I made note of the link because I figured this will be a good base of vocabulary to start with as I begin teaching him REAL nutrition- not necessarily what you find in the public school health books (see below).  He knows about vitamins & minerals, sort of , so that's what we are starting with (apples are a good source of vitamin c and potassium).

 

Here's his summary of the most important things we learned.

-Apples have vitamin c - even more than an orange!

-There's a lot of good stuff in the skin so we should eat that.

-It's better to eat the apple than the pie.

-There's sugar in apples so don't eat too many.

I don't think that's too bad for a quick fun lesson 😉

 

 

And today, he forgot all about apples and went on to paint and ladybugs 🙂     Funny kid.

 

*****Just a side note:  I'm a little cautious about the sources I use.  So doing a cold google search was a little frustrating.  There's lots of stuff out there about the food pyramid and I do NOT encourage the use of the food pyramid at all.  I want him to know about the nutrients of foods, but also want him to learn that yes, fats are good, sugar - even in apples- isn't.  So we have to talk through what we learn.  We need to learn about the nutrients , but also about the things that counter the nutrients and how to balance it all out.  This was a good start.  Apples are good-  too many aren't. And we encourage the almond butter with it to add some protein and healthy fat to the treat 🙂

2

A few of you have asked me over the year---  what are you working on?

Well, uh.... nothing really.

This is it.

The blog has come back to life,  And that's where my satisfaction must lie for now.  And I'm okay with that....kind of.

Life just got to hectic for awhile.  I do too much.  I know.  And everything I do I attempt with this perfectionist gung-ho enthusiasm worrying that it's not good enough and then I keep adding more things to the list---  just take what I blog about here ---  the books, the homeschooling, the food, the natural products, my time to God and my faith, my family, my friends.....    all this and more and not in any particular order.  But it's a lot.  And I got caught up in it all and frazzled by not being able to do it all perfectly and not being able to please everyone (including myself) to the point that I can barely catch a breath.  Gee--- is it any wonder I have adrenal fatigue?

So I threw in the towel awhile back on the manuscript writing and the blog.  I thought somehow that would make everything else okay.  Did it?  No, not really.  Because, as I'm learning,  in my facing that my body is suffering from the stress and other health issues I had over the years, that the thing I need to learn most is just to be at peace with myself and the fact that I am not perfect and I will never be....probably even less so the more I drive myself.

So I've lowered some standards and changing my perception over the course of this year (our style of homeschooling has probably been the most pleasant and biggest change) and I'm slowly adding some things back in that bring me peace and uplift my spirit- namely reading, having fun with Lemongrass Spa and yes, my writing.  But for now the writing needs to stay with the blog.

With the blog, it allows me to write about all the things that bring me joy and the things I'm learning about.  I'll probably be writing more about my learning and experiences with adrenal fatigue and won't have a lot of time for manuscripts just yet.  I do think I might start keeping a notebook again though.  To write down ideas as they come to me.  I just need to NOT scratch out actual stories, because, for me, that just leads to frustration that I don't have time to keep at it.

But to all my writer friends.  I haven't forgotten you.  I'd love to hear from you and know what you are up to.  And someday-  I'll be back in the children's writing scene!

 

Another week has been completed of our Whole30 during this Lenten Season.  I'm so grateful that we are using Lent as a huge motivator for this one as well as my recent discovery of adrenal fatigue to further keep me motivated, as those chocolate and sugar cravings were tough this week!

I stuck with it though, with a lot of prayer and focusing on my bible  and other spiritual readings.

To know that I really need to extend this whole30 for myself, at least for the most part, seems daunting at this point, but I am grateful to know what the reasons are for my symptoms and to know that this Paleo lifestyle has helped this issue from growing worse and will keep me on track for recovery sooner!  So while it seems daunting at times, I know also it's the standard way of today's living - high amounts of sugar and processed foods, constantly being on the go, not learning how to say no or take care of myself - is a good part of what's gotten me here, and those are the things that I have control over and the Whole30 is a big part in getting me back on track.  It won't teach me to say no or take care of myself in a LOT of ways, but it does teach me to be more aware of what foods have an effect on my body.

This past week was another set of delicious meals!

Again breakfasts were mostly scrambled eggs with either hash browns, sautéed veggies or a small bit of fruit such as blueberries and strawberries. For myself, I preferred heating up a mix of leftovers in the morning. Here is one of y mixtures! It’s a combination of brussels sprouts (my personal favorite) and the roast from last week and a side of fruit.

Lunches were leftovers, salad, or what we call a lunch plate. It’s simply a few slices of organic lunchmeat (ham, turkey, or roast beef), raw veggies, cashews or another nut, and a little fruit and occasionally a Lara Bar. Lunch plates are nice for when we are in a hurry. It tends to be my 6 year old’s favorite. He’s going through a somewhat picky stage right now though and will even complain about the lunchmeat on occasion as well as the raw veggies. It’s a phase.

This was our dinner menu for the week:

Monday: Paleo Sloppy Joes over Sweet Potatoes/Baked Potatoes, Salad

Tuesday: Beef and Gravy over Cauliflower Rice, Salad

Wednesday: Hamburgers on a bed of bib lettuce, tomatoes, and fried mushrooms and onions, fries (not technically a whole30 food but we use organic fries and bake them rather than fry)

Thursday: Spaghetti Squash with tomato sauce and meatballs, Salad

Friday: Tuna Salad over lettuce greens with tomato, cucumber and dried cherries, Baked Whole30 Week 2 Tuna SaladPotatoes/Sweet Potatoes ( my husband likes the sweets, the kids prefer the whites. I like both!)

Saturday: Leftovers (the guys were away part of this week so there were more leftovers in the fridge than usual, so Saturday became a planned leftover day as well as our usual Sunday)

Sunday:   Leftovers (Sunday is often a leftover day so nothing new here!)

So next week's menu is made and the grocery list is in progress for my Monday shopping trip. Once again I've used a recipe or two from  Well Fed Weeknights, my current favorite paleo book.  The recipes are mostly all Whole30 approved or easily adaptable.

I'll be sticking the Whole30 it despite the desire for chocolate that burns inside of me as I write this.  My health is important and needs to come first.  I'm learning more each day about the adrenals and adrenal fatigue and know that I need to change some habits and make new ones.  The Whole30 is the beginning to my adrenal health and a wonderful way to stay on my Lenten journey!  If you haven't ever done a Whole30, I encourage you to try it out!  Your body will thank you!

Have you done a Whole30?  What was the hardest part for you?

 

2

So we skipped the homeschool Schole’ group today.  The little man hasn't been feeling well over the last two days and still hadn't eaten much as of bedtime last night.  So I made the decision to let him sleep in and give him an extra day of rest.  It did me good too as I decided since I had some open space, to NOT set my alarm and let me sleep in too.  So even with the hour I was awake during the night ( either a symptom of or another cause of the adrenal fatigue), I still managed to get some extra sleep!

Still we had some extra time today and I had just bought the ingredients to make laundry detergent though I had no idea when I was going to get some time to do it (I had no idea how quick it would be!).  So as he seemed a bit perkier, I thought, why not?

I got the recipe from a friend a few days ago and had bought the ingredients yesterday:

4 lbs baking soda                                               

4 lbs washing soda

1 lb kosher salt (not sure why it called for kosher but why not?)

3 bars fells naptha soap  (or 1 bar zote)    I got the fels naptha because that's what Wegman's had, though she told me Walmart has the Zote already shredded.

 

We just poured all the baking soda, washing soda and salt together in a big basin.

Then came the 'fun' part for my son.  Grating the fels naptha.  It really wasn't bad.  He used the big bars until they were about half way then I did the rest-  being cautious of little fingers with the grater but really he did fine and I need to learn not to worry so much.

As we grated, I poured the shredded soap in with the soda mixture and stirred.  He enjoyed taking some turns to stir too.

After all was said and done, we poured the mix into some empty plastic containers I've had lying around for quite some time unused.  And Viola!  The first load is in the washer!

And other than  playing a game and some reading time tonight, that's our school for today and it was great!

By the way, all the ingredients came to about $12.50, which is less than a bottle of the store brand natural detergent I've been using.  And we only need to use 1 Tablespoon of detergent per load so this will definitely last by far longer than what I use!  YAY!

 

 

Well, we have gotten through the first week of our Whole30 during this Lenten season.  It hasn't been terribly bad since I am motivated by the Lenten Season in addition to really wanting to alleviate my adrenal fatigue.

My cravings for sugar and chocolate are ever present, but I am focusing on selecting healthy snacks as my alternative.  Technically, you are not supposed to snack during a Whole30, but those with adrenal fatigue SHOULD snack, so I am focusing on snacking on healthy options rather than my usual ( you know , chocolate or sugared processed something) and not doing the no snacking option.  I'm also being quite diligent in getting my 5 glasses of water in daily and this seems to be alleviating me from needing as many snacks as usual as my body feels more 'filled' with the water intake.

Most of our breakfasts this week have been eggs.  Scrambled eggs as that's the easiest to get my 6 year old to eat.  But each day I try to serve something with them that varies so that it doesn't seem to be the same meal each day. I do this, though my son and I are really learning just how spoiled we are as we near the end of The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder, our most recent bedtime story selection.  Laura and her family had only white potatoes and wheat to make bread for the longest time, and then only seed wheat which they had to hand grind in their coffee mill for a couple of months!  Yeah, somehow I feel less inclined to worry about whether our meals feel so varied.

Lunches have been primarily leftovers with some greens or a few slices of organic luncheon meats with some raw veggies and a clementine and a Lara Bar or a handful of nuts.

Dinners have the most variation and I do believe that variation is important in regards to nutrition.  It does our bodies well to have a variety of vegetables and such to be sure we are getting an assortment of vitamins and minerals.  I want to share my dinner mealtime with you here:

Monday:  Paleo Chocolate Chili over mashed potatoes made with ghee, coconut milk and garlic   &Salad

Tuesday: Crockpot Potatoes (baked potatoes & Sweet Potatoes in the crockpot), Sausage & Peppers, Salad

Wednesday:  Sweet Potato Soup with Bacon,  Salad

Thursday:  Turkey Burgers on a bed of lettuce (no bun of course) , Brussels Sprouts, Baked Sweet Potatoes

Friday:  Clam Chowder  & Salad with greens, blueberries, green bell pepper, scallions and cucumber

Saturday:  Roast,  Asparagus and Roasted Carrots

Sunday:  Leftovers-

One of my biggest dilemmas over the years is figuring out what sides to make with my meals to make sure the meal stays easy and, yes, I'll admit it, to add variety (both nutrition and pleasure reasons).  Maybe I'm the only one that stresses over this.  But I like to have something besides the easy frozen broccoli steamed in the pan...  so here's a few of our favorite sides from the week.  I hope you try them and enjoy them!

Print

Easy Roasted Asparagus

Ingredients:

2 bunches asparagus

ghee or grassfed butter

lemon-pepper seasoning


For this recipe, simply break off the ends of the asparagus.  Fresh asparagus should easily snap about an inch or so from the bottom.  Spread asparagus out on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Simply dot the amount of ghee/butter that you wish to use.  I use approximately 3 Tablespoons.  Sprinkle with lemon-pepper seasoning to taste.  Bake in oven at 350 for 12-15 minutes until asparagus are crisp-tender.  You don't want to overcook asparagus-  that's when it gets stringy.  Enjoy this simple side dish!

Cook Time 12 minutes
Servings 4
Print

Roasted Carrots

Ingredients:

4-5 large carrots

Coconut OIl

Cinnamon or Cumin


Simply remove ends from carrots and peel.  Cut carrots into 3-4 inch pieces and slice the pieces down the middle into 2-4 sticks.  Spread sticks on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and dot with coconut oil.  For this many I use about 2 Tablespoons but this can vary according to your taste.  Sprinkle with cinnamon or cumin to taste.  Bake at 350 for 15 minutes until carrots are tender.

Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings 4
Print

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Ingredients:

2 Lbs Brussels sprouts (shaved in a food processor or quartered by hand)

4 Tablespoons ghee or grass fed butter

3 teaspoons sea salt

3 teaspoons ground turmeric

Spread the Brussels sprouts on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Dot with ghee/butter.  Sprinkle salt and turmeric over the sprouts.  Bake at 300 degrees for 30-45 minutes until tender (20-30 minutes at 350) until tender.

You can certainly half this recipe, but I always use 2 lbs to assure that I have plenty of my favorite vegetable for my breakfasts!  These are great with bacon or another breakfast meat!


Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings 6

 

I know, I KNOW...setting aside any time in the day is difficult. It's HARD.

But setting aside prayer time, time with GOD, is the most important time of your day and without it, the rest of the time just doesn't go the same, does it?

So how do you do it?

Well, for me, my best time is when the rest of the house is quiet.  And while that doesn't please my tired body at 6am when my alarm goes off, it does please my soul.   So that's what I do.  I set the alarm for 6 (or a time that I know I'll have at LEAST a half hour or more to wash my face, get that first 16 ounces of water in, maybe make a cup of coffee and start my morning devotion time in a QUIET, peaceful atmosphere).  I like to have more than that half hour, but sometimes my body is too tired.  Regardless, I like to have as much quiet time for my reading and prayer as possible.

I start out with some quiet prayer time.  I may say a few of our Orthodox morning prayers...

From my bed and sleep Thou hast raised me:  O Lord, enlighten my mind and my heart, and open my lips that I may praise thee, O Holy Trinity:  Holy, holy, holy art thou, O God.  Through the Theotokos have mercy on us.

but mostly this is quiet time for me to talking to God, thanking Him for my blessings, asking him to increase my faith and telling him what's on my mind.

I, personally, save most of my formal prayers for Morning Prayer time with my family (or, as it turns out most days, me with my youngest son).  I follow this up with my daily readings, and either studying the psalms (one that I'm working on memorizing and one or two extra), more Gospel reading or the book of Isaiah (which just happens to be the book I'm trying to work on currently, using a bible study guide to help me along and understand this prophetic book more clearly).  Sometimes I follow up with another book on the Orthodox Faith or a devotional or similar book.  Currently this is when I'm trying to read a minimum of five pages of Thirty Steps To Heaven- the book I chose to focus on for the season of Lent.

Your prayer time may look similar to mine or it may look completely different.  There is no hard and fast rule.  BUT ,  you should have a rule.  Something to guide yourself to be sure you always have that prayer time.

Now- keep in mind-  do allow for flexibility.  Your time of prayer rule shouldn't be dogma.  There are times it just won't be possible to keep it.  Times you may need to pray earlier, later. in a different place (my preferred place is my comfy living room chair) or dramatically shorten the time.  The important thing is that you do make your prayer time, your time with God, a regular routine.  It's too important to continuously skip.

While remembering to allow for flexibility, think about what time is best for you?  Morning? Afternoon?  Early evening? Bedtime?  Does it need to be a quiet time like mine?  Maybe distractions aren't an issue for you and you can be more flexible for it.  Maybe you have a ten minute break time at work where you can sneak off and have a few minutes.  Think on it. Ponder.  I'm sure you can come up with SOMETHING.

Short on time?  Even 5 minutes for now is better than nothing.

Of course, the more time you spend with Him, the more mindful and aware of His ever presence you will be.  But sometimes the course of our lives don't allow that half hour or more in a day.  What can you do then?  Well last Lent I was experiencing just this.  A dear friend of mine, my Godmother actually, mentioned again the prayer soap she had.  A special bar of soap she had that when she used it, she would pray for someone.  So I took away our liquid soaps for the duration of Lent and replaced them with bars of soap.  They weren't all fancy, but because it was a bar, it made me remember.  And so when I washed my hands, I would pray for something....maybe for my Godmother or another person, but mostly I just used the Jesus Prayer as I was washing.

Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.

It was a good habit all through Lent, and while I admit I don't ALWAYS think to do so now (and have returned to my liquid soaps), I do quite often find myself praying the Jesus prayer at this time.  It was a great way to be sure I was getting in at least SOME prayer time in my day.  So if you are really truly pressed for time, some sort of thing like this may be just what you need to get started.

What do YOU do to get in your prayer time?  I'm sure others would love some more tips!

2

I've been all over the board when it comes to homeschooling.  Well, maybe not all over the board, but pretty close to it.

We started homeschooling  way back in , gosh, what year was that?  My daughter was in 5th grade when we pulled her out.  She's now a senior in college (doing really well, thank you!) Wow.  What an adventure it has been!  When we first took her out, we spent the remaining months of the school year (it was March) in a rather relaxed state.  Not as relaxed as I would have liked it to have been knowing what I know now about all the different styles of homeschooling, but relaxed for what I knew.  Her emotional and physical health were my priority.  They were definitely more important than academics so since math and science totally stressed her out, we didn't do much with it at all.  Oh, I got raised eyebrows on that one all right.  Especially from family members and others that just don't get the concept of homeschooling or that education does NOT have to look like what it does in public schools.  I have to admit I allowed it to unnerve me a bit and I really wish  I hadn't.  I wish I would have read more about Charlotte Mason and more about unschooling back then.  If I had, we would have dumped ALL academics the rest of that year and just focused on nature study and art study. Oh well, I can't change the past.  But I can learn from it and from the experiences of others.

The following year we added my son to our homeschool (he finished out 1st grade but wanted to be home with us) and it was more of a school at home setup.  We did okay, used Sonlight for most things and Abeka Math.  We enjoyed the Sonlight materials but threw out a lot of the fluff by the end of the year.  The rest of the years was me piecing together this and that- but still looking for 'curriculum' for most subjects-  other than science the year we still lived in York and the kids did Envirothon with the homeschool group there.  Oh , THAT was grand!  I think they still look back as one of their best homeschooling experiences.

Time went by and now I have my senior in college, a senior in high school (yes, still at home!) AND an almost 7 year old.

My schooling style with THIS young man is completely different.  It's even progressed during the last year.  I started out completely on board with the Charlotte Mason approach but quickly decided, that while I love her philosophy,  a mixture of her methods and unschooling methods may be more along our lines of educational philosophy at this time in our lives.  And it's definitely more in line with my son's needs and learning style.

I'm looking forward to sharing with you the things we are doing - the reading, the memory work, the nature walks, the timeline, the US map, Life of Fred, and, most importantly, the amount of FREE PLAY he is allowed.  Oh yes, and the JOY.  🙂

In the meantime, I have dinner to cook, a Lemongrass Spa event to plan, a 6 year old to read to, and lots of things to catch up on from the week before driving my oldest son off to his girlfriend's grandmother's home where he will be leaving for a trip to Florida to see his girlfriend.  So while you are waiting for the next Homeschool Update Segment,  WHAT KIND OF CHANGES HAVE YOU MADE ON YOUR HOMESCHOOL JOURNEY?

 

 

 

Lent is fast approaching and I'm not 100% set on my spiritual goals, but of course I have more in mind than just following the Whole30 and working on health goals.

Lent  begins during Vespers on Forgiveness Sunday, also known as Cheese-Fare Sunday.  This year it falls on February 26.  LIke I said, it's FAST approaching!

Forgiveness Vespers is one of my favorite services of the season.   It begins with a solemn Vespers service and when the announcement of the evening Prokeimenon is made (usually symbolizing the end of one day and the beginning of another), it symbolizes  the beginning of Lent. At the end of the service, all of the faithful go up to the priest, one by one, and the parishioner and the priest  ask one another for mutual forgiveness, and, then, the person gets in line and will continue around the church asking each person present for mutual forgiveness.  It's a lovely service and is a splendid approach to bringing repentance to mind for the Lenten season.

Each Lent I make goals for the Lenten Season with the idea of focusing on my relationship with God even more than I do during the rest of the year.  Really the idea is to build better habits that will last throughout the year and the remainder of our lives.  Some years are more successful than others.  Last  year, I didn't fare so well.  Hopefully this year will be better.  My personal goals always involve reading -  I  started my  reading this past week to allow myself enough time to complete the book I chose: Thirty Steps to Heaven by Vassilios Papavassiliou, an interpretation of the Ladder of Divine Ascent for the ordinary layman.  My goal is five pages a day, and I reach that by not allowing myself to read anything else (besides my morning devotion and bible readings) through the day until I do.  I can probably achieve this on most mornings during my regular devotion time, a habit I just recently began in the last two months or so.

I have another goal that will be difficult.  I am going to try to steer away from the social media pull.  I admit I spend too much time with it as I easily get pulled into discussions and what not and catching up on the post of my friends and family.  While I still believe that this is a good thing in and of itself, it is also tempting to spend too much time with it.  So while I can't avoid it completely as that is my main source of communicating for this blog and my Lemongrass Spa business, I do intend to curb my time spent on reading post after post after post of others and commenting back and forth.  This is the goal I am most concerned with...as just jumping on there to post my latest Lemongrass Spa update or a quote on the blog Facebook page, I see headlines of posts and am just pulled in so easily at times. So I'm not aiming for perfection, but am certainly  placing more limits on myself.  I just haven't figured out how to do it yet...wish me luck!

Most of my other goals involve my youngest son.  He is 6 (almost 7- oh how the time flies!) and I would like to make this a year that really helps him learn what Lent and Pascha (the word Orthodox Christians use for the day we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord rather than Easter, a term that began to use much later in history) are all about!  I plan on using at least one of my books from my post on children's books for Lent with my 6 year old ( From I-ville to You-ville), and will have a stack of Orhtodox Picture books in the living room for my husband to read to him when opportunity knocks.  And of course, we will be extra vigilent to be sure that the bible and our lesson from The Law of God is read before any additional school work is done and hopefully will be done even on days we elect to skip the formal 'school' lessons, of which I'm beginning to do more of and feel less guilt as I travel between more of an unschooling method while still maintaining lovely concepts from my days of studying Charlotte Mason.

We will also be revisiting Psalm 50.  This will be the first for my six year old, but the rest of us memorized this psalm about 5 or 6 years ago during Lent.  I'm afraid most of it has escaped my memory, though "Create in me a clean heart, O Lord, and renew a right spirit within me" is a favorite prayer of mine and never far from my mind.

And most of all, we are striving to get back in the habit of saying our morning and evening prayers, something we do but is not at all a daily habit at this time.  Hopefully this season will reinstill that important habit of an Orthodox family life.

I will leave you now with the words of psalm 50 - perhaps you'd like to revisit it yourself for Lent.

What are YOUR goals for Lent this year?

Psalm 50 (51)

Have mercy on me, O God, according to Thy steadfast love;  according to Thy abundant mercy.      Blot out my transgressions.  Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!

For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.  Against Thee, Thee only have I sinned, and done that which is evil in Thy sight, so that Thou art justified in Thy sentence and blameless in Thy judgment.

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.  Behold, Thou desirest truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.  Fill me with joy and gladness; let the bones which Thou hast broken rejoice.

Hide Thy face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.  Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.

Cast me not away from Thy presence, and take  not Thy Holy Spirit from me.  Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

Then I will teach transgressors Thy ways, and sinners will return to Thee.

Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, Thou God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of Thy deliverance.

O Lord, open Thou my lips, and my mouth shall show forth Thy praise.  For Thou hast no delight in sacrifice; were I to give a burnt offering, Thou wouldst not be pleased.

The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart Thou wilt not despise.  Do good to Zion in Thy good pleasure; rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, then wilt Thou delight in right sacrifices, in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on Thy altar.

 

 

On February 27, the first full day of Lent,  my family will be starting our next Whole30.  What is the Whole30 you ask?  And why during Lent?

What is the Whole 30?

The Whole30 is a food program that allows you to take charge of your health and change your relationship with food.  It is 30 days (or longer and, in this case, with Lent upon us, our Whole30 is 40 days plus another 7 days of fasting during Holy Week- so 47 days) of eating nothing but truly nourishing    foods.  It means foods that are not damaging to our bodies in any way which, incidentally,  goes against that traditional food pyramid we grew up with and certainly goes against the Standard American Diet and will not include McDonald's or Taco Bell. Doing a Whole30 gives you an opportunity to connect the dots between what you put into your body and the energy you feel, the aches and pains that can't be explained , the weight you can't lose, the mood swings that take charge of your days and the chance to change your life.  Because let's face it.  What you eat does affect your health.  And your health affects EVERYTHING!

Recent findings have led me to believe though some may already consider my eating  healthy,   I really do need to take charge of my health and change my relationship with food. While we eat a primarily Paleo like diet, I am known to cheat a bit.  Okay, a lot.  (yeah, my husband is shaking his head as he reads this and I see the little bubble over his head that says 'she eats WAY to much sugar and dairy'....I know dear, I know).  Yes, I'm known to eat my share of raw dairy, cashew ice-cream fudge from Trader Joe's, Gluten Free Brownies (pretty much my answer to everything), chocolate (milk chocolate if it's my choice), and pretty much any sugary thing that is minus the artificial ingredients. , So no, I'm not a saint when it comes to food (or anything else for that matter) .

Anyway, I've struggled on and off for years of unexplained fatigue, sleep issues, digestive issues, etc. that just haven't gone away entirely though they improve and, yes, of course the more I stick to the healthy Paleo diet, the better the improvement.  I've started seeing a health coach and, little by little, have been piecing things together.  I've learned a lot more about what devastating effects NOT having a gall bladder can have on a body and I haven't had one for about 24 years now.  And I've learned a lot about Adrenal Fatigue (yes, it's real and yes, I have it.... probably have had it for quite a long time.  QUITE a long time.) and I've learned about genetic testing that may pinpoint a few other things about my body and how it absorbs nutrients..  But while the testing is still out, I do know about the adrenals, the low iron, and the missing gall bladder.   And that all needs addressed. And what better way to do it then knock out all the foods I have a bad relationship with.  Yep.  It's time for another Whole30.  Extended Whole30.

Is This Just Another Fad Diet?

In a word? No.  In more words?  It's not about giving up calories (I never count calories), or eating less like fad diets are. The Whole30 is about discovering good food standards and eliminating an unhealthy relationship with your food and an overactive immune system and a disrupted digestive system.  It's about eating  (a lot of) foods that feed and nurture your body - giving you better digestion, more energy , eliminating food cravings, resetting your metabolism,  and yes, maybe even shed some pounds if you have them to shed. Fad diets do not do this.  The Whole30 will.

Our First Whole30

Our first Whole30 was back in 2014 and I blogged about it here.  I posted weekly updates that included what we ate and how we felt.  That experience was quite an awakening to how much certain foods were dominating our lives, how emotionally connected we were to food, and how much better we felt (after a week or two) of being away from those so-called foods. We definitely learned about what foods/food groups cause inflammation, congestion, joint pain and other pains, digestive issues, and more.  (I already knew foods and ingredients affected my mood)

Why Lent?

2014 was our first year of being Paleo.  And we were struggling with adapting to the lifestyle and seeing the dramatic effects it was having on our health.  My husband was losing an incredible amount of weight and Lent was coming fast.  We had no idea what to do.  A typical Orthodox Christian fast involves complete abstinence from all animal products.  And while that wasn't a problem as far as the dairy was concerned, it was a problem for meat and oils (tradition has it that oils were once stored in pouches made from animals skins/intestines and therefore was also given up along with the animal products). We had been toying with the idea of doing a whole30 but kept putting it off because, well frankly, it left me quaking how to truly stick to this paleo thing 100% with no cheating whatsoever.

What to do?  We approached our priest for discussion and advice and well, a blessing.  We had ( and continue to have) amazing support.   So instead of the typical Orthodox fast, we follow a Whole30 for the duration of Lent.

What does this mean we give up instead of meat, dairy, eggs and oils?  It means no grains (none- not a one including wheat, rice, corn, quinoa, oats, etc), no alcohol, no legumes (legumes include beans, peanuts and soybeans and anything containing soy) with the only exceptions as green beans snow peas and sugar snap peas), no dairy (not even my raw cheese), no artificial ingredients including carrageenan, msg, or added sulfites, no baked goods, 'treats', or junk foods made with approved ingredients (in other words, no treats even if they are paleo), and absolutely no sugar of ANY KIND. Yep, that last one is a killer for me- making this truly harder than any Orthodox Fast I have followed.

And why , again during Lent?  Because we know we'll stick to it.  We are a family of faith and we have always taken the Lenten season very very seriously.  If we say we are doing this for God, we WILL DO IT.

In Conclusion

In the upcoming weeks I hope to keep you updated on our progress like I did week by week back in 2014.  It may not happen weekly this year, but I will post at least a few times and perhaps share some new favorite recipes. In the meantime, if you have any questions on the Whole30, check out the books I have pictured on the right of the post or any of the websites below!  And of course, feel free to ask questions!

Food Freedom Forever - (click on the image above) I haven't read this yet- just stumbled on it while looking for links to sources.  I just may put it on my wishlist soon!

Whole30 Program Rules

Whole30.com

For The Facebook Fans

Help With Home Alone Meltdowns on the Whole30