Today is Pentecost!

"The Christian Pentecost is based on the New Testament where it refers to the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus Christ as described in the Acts of the Apostles 2:1-31."

The above was taken from Wikipedia and you can read the rest of the article here.  But for today, I've chosen, for reflection, the following quotes about the Holy Spirit.  After reflecting, feel free to share some favorites of your own.

 

The power of the Holy Spirit, which is bestowed upon him who loves God and keeps His commandments, does not appear visibly in the form of fire, nor does it come with a loud sound like a violent wind - for this happened only in the time of the Apostles for the sake of the unbelievers. Instead, it is seen spiritually in the form of spiritual light, and comes with all calm and joy."   ~Guide to Byzantine Iconography, Vol. 1, by Constantine Cavarnos

 

“Everything that breathes, breathes by air and cannot live without air; similarly all reasonable free creatures live by the Holy Spirit, as though by air, and cannot live without Him. "Every soul is quickened by the Holy Spirit." Recognise that the Holy Spirit stands in the same relation to your soul as air stands in relation to your body.”    ~St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ

We may study as much as we will but we shall still not come to know the Lord unless we live according to His commandments, for the Lord is not made known through learning but by the Holy Spirit.  Many philosophers and scholars have arrived at a belief in the existence of God but they have not come to know God.  To believe in God is one thing, to know God another.  ~ St. Siloun the Athonite

If your tongue is used to chattering, your heart will remain dim and foreign to the luminous intuitions of the Holy Spirit.  ~ St John of Dalatha

 

 

Prayer to the Holy Spirit

“O Heavenly King, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, who art in all places and fillest all things, Treasury of blessings and giver of life: come and dwell in us, cleanse us from every stain, and save our souls, O gracious Lord.”

 

 

 

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit!

 

 

and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit!her and to the Son and to the

Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  ~Matthew 6:34

 

Do you often find yourself worrying about things? I mean, like non-stop?? Oh my goodness, please don't tell me I'm alone on this! Actually, I know I'm not because in talking with other moms, I know I'm only one soul among many that find themselves worrying about all kinds of things.  And yes, sometimes I awake at night worrying.  Yet there is so much scripture that tells us not to do this.  How do we stop?  Last week, I wrote about changing perspective and quoted Philippians 4:6-9.  I've made that verse my newest memory verse and I feel it's going to be a 'prayer' that I use for a very long time.  Reading these words help me focus on the pure, the lovely, and all that is good and praiseworthy, rather than my anxious thoughts of worry, worry, worry.

Worry is normal.  There's not a person alive that has never worried over something.  But we must affirm our faith that God is in control and has us in His sight at all times.

Let's focus on that list of what Saint Paul offers us in Philippian's (the pure, the lovely, the noble, etc.) and scripture that reminds us that God is there.  Let us learn to be content whatever the circumstances.

 

Be still and know that I am God.        Psalm 46:10

 

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.  Philippians 4:13

 

But Blessed are those who trust in the Lord, and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.  Jeremiah 17:7

 

What is your favorite verse to focus on whenever you are anxious and worried?

 

 

Perspective is everything!

"Am I "seeing" today in God's light? Or is it a purely human agenda (my own and other people's) taking up my entire field of vision? How burdonsome that can be. And what a relief it is to let light in; that is, hand it all over to God and re-focus on His presence in the whole picture. Perspective is everything!"
~ Sister Vassa Larin

 

This part of Sister Vassa's devotion for May 19th in her book  Reflections With Morning Coffee really hit home this past week.  Often as I work myself up over recent events and anxious thoughts of the future and hurts from the past, I loose sight of this simple and obvious reality.  Perspective really is everything. When we come out of our own field of vision, the anxiety lessens.  When we re-focus on God's presence, everything looks so different!

Recent events in our lives have led me to seeking His word more often - more time alone with Him and more devotion and prayer.  And more listening....  One prayer stays at the forefront of my mind.  It's from Philippians.  It speaks of thanksgiving (gratitude) and changing perspective from anxiety to one of thanks and focusing  on things that are lovely and praiseworthy.  Perspective IS EVERTHING!

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Finally brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy- meditate on these things.  The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.           Philippians 4:6-9

 

Our struggles and challenges are real.  But we need not give all of our energy to being anxious over them.  We can focus on what is lovely.  Perspective is everything!

 

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, Have Mercy on Me, a sinner.

 

 

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So then my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath, for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.     ~ James 1: 19-20

 

The above quote came from a devotional I was reading during my 'weekend away".  I've had some issues lately that have ignited anger, or wrath.  It's so hard to deal with angry emotions, especially when you know you are being ill treated.  It's difficult to stand up for yourself without giving into the temptation of reacting in anger.

Be angry and do not sin; Have remorse upon your beds for what you say in your hearts.       Psalm 4: 5

It is okay to be angry, but not to act with anger.  One must even be remorseful for the angry words in your hearts.  One must certainly repent of angry actions.

 

Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.    Ephesians 4:29

Be careful of the words you speak while angry.  Be sure they are imparted with grace.  Stop, count to ten and pray before you speak.

 

Oh Lord, help me to not become discouraged and to be slow to speak and slow to become angry.  Give me grace to follow the way of Your love.  Help me to not sin when I am angry but to speak  with grace, to respond with love instead of reacting with wrath.  Help me to keep my head and be careful with my words and deeds.  Help me to remember to pray continually in all moments and to seek You in the times of trouble.  Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

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I've taken a weekend away.  Well not really, it's more like a few days during the week but a few days during the week didn't make a very good title.  😉

Life has been hard as of late and I keep reading about Adrenal Fatigue and how important it is for self-care.  One book author (a doctor) actually recommended to one of her patients that she just stop everything and go away for a month and do nothing but rest and relax.  Um?  I can't do that.  But when my husband said a few weeks ago that he planned on going to see his mom for a few days in May my brain went into happy mode and I asked if he could take our youngest along with him.  The older two are quite self-sufficient and this would give me, not a month, but  a few days in which to go away.  So I left on Sunday- not a minute too soon for my adrenal and mental health- and am happily here until Wednesday.

So I have almost 3 days of taking care of myself.  What to do??

My current "Work Space" for my 'weekend away'...but only for work I want to do when I want to do it.... I'll be sad when the three days are over but hopefully well rested!

 

I brought my own food to a hotel with a kitchen (NOT a bad price, I was pleasantly surprised after doing a little searching). Good healthy food I can just throw together and not worry about whether anyone else likes it but me.  Last night's dinner was yummy!

I brought my favorite icon and my bible.

 

 

I brought two devotional books.

 

I brought my latest and favorite book on Adrenal Fatigue (to study the detox and self-care ideas suggested by Dr. Romm).

And I brought my Bullet Journal -  completely blank with lots of supplies to get it started.  Do you use a bullet journal?  I just stumbled on this idea recently and have watched all sorts of YouTube Videos and scanned Pinterest for ideas on how to make mine work.  It will be all my planners, list making and such all wrapped into one notebook.  I LOVE the idea!!!  And I've had a great time getting it started.

This is in the front few pages....a verse from Philippeans 4 and a doodle page to remind me to simplify things...
My first Weekly Planning pages... I'll be doing some adjustments for next week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I actually started the bible reading, prayer and devotionals last night as well as got the Bullet Journal started, ate dinner,  took a bubble bath, played a little solitaire for the first time in ages, played around on the internet and went to bed by 9:15.  Then I  slept for over 8 hours! I haven't  done that in            A G E S!!!  Of course, I'm sure the fact I only slept two hours the night before has a lot more to do with that than just getting away...   🙁

I know this get away will not eliminate the Adrenal Fatigue.  But it IS a step to health.  Learning to let myself know when I need to get away and acting on it is a BIG step in my path to self-care.  Also spending more time in quiet devotion and prayer is something I need to increase.

I'm also working on my food plan for the next few months--  there's 40 new foods on my AVOID list now from the ALCAT test results I got back about a week ago or so and about 15 other items  that affect some of the supplements I've been taking so I need to rethink on some of that as well.  I'll be working on detox stuff too which is VERY IMPORTANT to folks with MTHFR as well as Adrenal Fatigue and whatever else ails me (just sent in some hormone type saliva tests today and will be awaiting those results too).

Well-  there's my little catch up post on my time away and what I'm up to.  Time for a little rest now as my body is telling me to do.  In the meantime,

WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU NEED A LITTLE R & R?

 

 

It is a time of much challenge to those that are Christians throughout the

world. 

 We  must nourish our minds and souls with the words of our Lord and our Church Fathers.  For in this nourishment we will find strength, courage and wisdom.

 Please allow me share to with you some words that I find nourishing to my mind from the sources that I thrive upon - The Holy Bible, books and sources on the saints and church fathers, and various other books and sources related to my Orthodox Faith.  I hope you will gain from these peaceful reflections as I do.   May God be with you.

 

Recently, I have once again read The Ascetic Lives of Mothers: A Prayer Book for Orthodox Moms by Annalisa Boyd.  Why I don't carry this book around me daily is beyond me.  If you are an Orthodox Mom and you don't have this book, get it now.  Her words are so true to heart and the pages are filled with quotes of the church fathers and prayers to suit every need.  I wanted to share some today.

 

Those times I have stepped back and taken a moment in silence, I have found many of the issues I thought were so pressing actually fall away to reveal heart issues- issues I need to bring before the Lord in continual prayers.  Of course this doesn't mean discipline may not be in order, but I will not be sinning in my anger if I take a moment to reflect , pray for my child, and address him in love. What impact might I have on my children's souls if I consistently approached them in this manner?  ~  Annalisa Boyd

 

Prayer -  Complaining

Lord Jesus Christ, let every word that comes from my mouth be acceptable in Your sight and full of Your praises.  Remind me when I feel like complaining that our Lord Jesus Christ endured the very Cross without a single complaint.  Let my mouth speak of Your goodness, and may I tell the world of my great joy because of Your finished work on the Cross.  When the worm of complaint tries to penetrate my heart and mind, let it be a reminder to me to pray for my family and those in need.  Amen.

 

Prayer - Greed/Selfishness

Grant, O Lord, Your wisdom to teach my children to be lovers of God rather than lovers of the world.  In their innocence let me not neglect these great lessons necessary for their souls.  If my heart has forgotten these lessons, or wasn't properly taught, forgive me and help me to learn in all humility.  Help us to accept the gifts you provide for us, but let us also be eager to give whatever we have to those in need.  Remind us always that this world is our temporary home, a mere shadow of the glories to come.  In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

How do you refrain from complaining in your life?  How do you teach your children to be lovers of God rather than lovers of the world?

 

I use to do posts that I titled "reflections".  It's been a long time and I'd like to get started again.  I glean so much in my bible reading, devotion reading, prayer books, quotes from our Church Fathers and other sources.  I like to share them with my readers.  So may this be the first in a long line of Sunday Reflections!

Photo by Pixabay

It is a time of much challenge to those that are Christians throughout the

world. 

 We  must nourish our minds and souls with the words of our Lord and our Church Fathers.  For in this nourishment we will find strength, courage and wisdom.

 Please allow me share to with you some words that I find nourishing to my mind from the sources that I thrive upon - The Holy Bible, books and sources on the saints and church fathers, and various other books and sources related to my Orthodox Faith.  I hope you will gain from these peaceful reflections as I do.   May God be with you.

 

And pray ye without ceasing on behalf of other men.  For there is in them the hope of repentance that they may attain to God.  See, then, that they be instructed by your works, if in no other way.   ~  St. Ignatius of Antioch

 

 

Help one another with the generosity of the Lord, and despise no one.  When you have the opportunity to do good, do not let it go by.  ~  St. Polycarp of Smyrna

 

“Illumine our hearts, O Master Who lovest mankind, with the pure light of Thy divine knowledge. Open the eyes of our mind to the understanding of Thy gospel teachings. Implant also in us the fear of Thy blessed commandments, that trampling down all carnal desires, we may enter upon a spiritual manner of living, both thinking and doing such things as are well-pleasing unto Thee. For Thou art the illumination of our souls and bodies, O Christ our God, and unto Thee we ascribe glory, together with Thy Father, Who is from everlasting, and Thine all-holy, good, and life-creating Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.”

— Prayer read silently by the priest before the reading of the Gospel

For further soul nourishment, take out your bible and read Today's Readings:  Acts 12:1-11; John 15:17-16:2

 

What are your thoughts and reflections?  What do these quotes and prayers bring to mind? 

This icon is on my computer desktop.  Oddly it's one of my absolute favorites and yet we don't have one for our walls.  So every year I add it to the desk top and it stays there for quite a long time.  A visual reminder of what this week and what our faith is about.

So it's Holy Week already.  Wow-  and I thought Lent was hard.  Today has been full of difficult challenges- emotionally and physically,  but I keep looking forward-  knowing the resurrection is coming- knowing there is light at the end of these dark tunnels and God can pull us through anything.  But there are moments, difficult moments, in which it is very hard to keep the eye on the One Thing Needful.

 

This week will be a light week as far as homeschooling goes.  Really there are no lessons planned.  Just a pile of materials.

 

Though these will be our focus.

 

And all the days go like today even these may not be consumed in the entirety as I hoped.

But there is church services.  And there is Pascha.  What else is truly necessary?

Our Little Icon Wall in our dining room

 

 

Today is the Feast Day of the Annunciation  -  the announcement made by the Angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary that she would have a child.

The Gospel Reading is Luke 1:25-38.

"And having come, the angel said to her, 'Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women.'

Mary was blessed.  She was highly favored, Full of Grace!

She is, in fact, the most blessed woman who has ever lived because of her absolute and complete  willingness to receive God's grace .  As spoken by her son, the Theotokos, Mary, was blessed to "hear the word of God and keep it" (see Luke 11:28).  She was the first to say yes to Jesus!  Her response was of highest obedience to God.  She sets an example for us all.

Where the first woman, Eve, was disobedient to God, Mary is obedient.

This is an obedience to God we can all learn from.  And teach to others.  Especially our children.

Will I teach my 6 year old about Mary's virginity?  No, not this year.  Will we have lots of lessons to  teach him about all the details of Mary's life and about the Betrothal between her and Joseph and teach him how Jesus was her only son and that Joseph's other children came from a previous marriage?  All of this in due time, but for a 6 year old?  My focus is on the most important aspect.  Mary said Yes!  She said Yes to God and that is what we all must do.  She is the greatest woman who ever lived because she accepted God's will with willingness.

Accepting God's will with willingness.

Isn't accepting God's will  what we all struggle with?

Isn't obedience what we all struggle with?

Isn't obedience what our children struggle with?

This feast day is a wonderful opportunity to teach our children the wonderful ways of obedience-  how obedience to God can change the world.

For more about why I think Mary is the Greatest Woman Who Ever lived, see my post from November, 2013.

Have mercy on me, O God, according to Thy steadfast love...

 

We read over it daily.

We talk about the meaning of the words, the meaning of the prayer.

For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.

 

I make him aware of his transgressions and, sure enough, he makes me aware of my own.  Not so much in our lessons, but in day to day life.  Those are the most important lessons of all.

Our children are tools to our salvation.  No one can point out to me my sinful ways or humble me quite as quickly as this little being.

Behold, Thou desirest truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.

 

God gave us these children.  They teach us wisdom.  Oh but to have the open eyes of a child!  To see the glories they see-  and to see the truths that come so easily to them!

 

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.

A constant prayer on my lips, in my heart...

 

Cast me not away from Thy presence, and take not Thy holy Sprit from me.

 

I need His ever presence.  I need the guidance of the spirit.  I must look to Him to restore my joy.  I must guide this young child to always seek His presence.

O Lord, open Thou my lips, and my mouth shall show forth Thy praise

 

Oh and Lord close them when they need to be closed!

 

The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit

Stay close to me Lord- through this Lenten season and all the seasons to come.  Help me to break this prideful spirit...help me to sacrifice and show Thy steadfast love and Thy abundant mercy to all as you have given freely to me.

Help me to teach these young ones the same.

Thank you to Basil Fritts of Flickr for the photo- slight adjustments were made.