2

Cheers to New Beginnings...

I have been planning for weeks, well maybe months, to get back to blogging. Being away has been a torment to my mind and heart as writing is such a natural part of my being and helps bring peace to my heart as I discovered the love in fifth grade.

The blogging though, seems to come and go. Time is always an issue. But I guess that’s to be expected when one is a wife and homeschool mom. Hopefully, I’ve gotten to the point of getting a better handle on things and can balance everything a little better now. But life does have its ups and downs so we shall see.

I have decided to narrow my focus a bit. Most of my focus will be on homeschooling. I have really changed gears over the last couple of years in my approach.  I’d love to share what we are doing in our days and my thoughts on education. And since homeschooling is an everyday experience, not just 180 single days, it stands to show that there’s a lot to write about.

And of course, there’s our faith. Our faith is as much a part of our lives as the air we breathe. It is the air we breathe. And I want to share that truth with you.

And my last focus will be on health. Health obtained by food, physical and spiritual nourishment as God provided to us. My family has changed so much over the last 12 or more years.   A lot of that has been through God’s provisions,  bringing us to sources that have educated us about our food and nutrition. I wish to share that with you as well.

In the past I have done book reviews, written about writing and other subjects. I’m sure over time I’ll touch upon those subjects but they are taking a backseat for now. I’ll still be reading of course.   And hopefully I'll get back to the manuscripts, but for now the blogging will be my main writing and I’ll weave the reading into my homeschool posts.

I actually considered wiping out all of my past posts and starting fresh... new beginnings and all.  But I guess that doesn’t necessarily serve a purpose other than wiping the slate clean for a symbolic gesture of starting over.  Of course it would also erase the past work I’ve put into this. So at least for now I’ll let it stand. I might go back and delete or edit some posts that I don’t feel apply to where I stand in life now, but for the time being,  I’ll focus on "New Beginnings."

I hope my past readers have hung in there and will send me a note as to how they are doing and what they are looking forward to seeing from me. And I hope some new readers will stop by and decide to hang out for a while and share with us too. I love you dear readers!

 

gratitude-1251137_1920

Develop an attitude of gratitude, and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step forward is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than your current situation.

                           ~ Brian Tracy

 

Consider This:

Matthew Kelly, author of The Seven Levels of Intimacy, tells us in addition to the need of a disciplined way of eating to fuel the body and bring it to maximum performance, we also need a diet of mind, heart, and soul.  I believe gratitude is a part of this diet.  We must have gratitude for not only the big things in life - new job, new home, new baby - but we must have it for the little everyday things as well - the smile of the person in your office, the dishwasher working one more day, the giggle of that sweet baby.  Seeing all of this with a heart of thanks will change your perspective.  It takes discipline to stick to any diet, including the diet of giving up negativity and sticking to a heart of gratitude.  Make it a daily habit.  It will change your life.

2015-10-18 14.14.25

Gratitude Sharing:

  1.  Foods on the earth - God's creation!

  2.  Morning coffee time - reflective, encouraging, intimate, time with God.

  3. Glue - to show that pieces CAN be mended!

  4. Weeding away the old to make way for beauty and newness underneath.

  5.  The Lamentations of Good Friday....piercing the soul, weeping that leads to the glorious resurrection!

What's On Your Gratitude List This Week?  

4

I have challenged myself to become a woman of gratitude.

gratitude-1251137_1920

I want to train myself to see the beauty all around me.   To see GOD all around me.

I want to take notice of the things I so often miss – from the warmth of the sunshine on my skin as the sun rises in the east to the mess in the living room as a sign of an imaginative child experiencing creativity and joy to even the blessed changes that occur in people going through struggles and grief.

nature-768458_1280

Joy is there.

Abundance is there.

God is there.

And a grateful heart can see this- find love and strength in this.

I WANT THIS.

I want it to be a part of me- of who I am.

I want to find it easy like breathing.

 I’d love for YOU to join me.

My purpose in sharing this on the blog is twofold:

1.) I want accountability. I want to put this out there for others to HELP ME – mold me, please? I want the accountability to share what I’m noticing to increase the chances of the change I’m craving to really happen. And what better way to obtain accountability but to check in here under my public eye of family, friends and beloved blog followers than to ask you to join in and keep me on my toes?

2.) I want you to find this joy too! Gratitude can give such a different- and better- perspective of everything around us It brings joy to our broken hearts and souls. I want to give YOU the opportunity to feel that too. What’s more- we are then helping one another! If you participate in the challenge – YOU will reap the benefits. If you share here, OTHERS will reap too! Sometimes, sharing with others what WE are grateful for will remind them of their own joys and blessings in life that are often overlooked.

 

HERE IS MY CHALLENGE TO YOU:

  1. Get some paper. It can be a few sheets of scrap paper, an old unused (or partially used) notebook, a pretty fancy notebook (which can sometimes add to the motivation), or whatever you have or speaks to you.
  2. Keep it in a handy spot with a pencil or pen.
  3. Write on it!!!   Give yourself a goal- I suggest no less than 3- I’m personally going to strive for 5, but I’ll refer to the number 3 in my directions. Write down 3 things each day you are grateful for. 3 things you see or observe around you that are a blessing to you or bring a smile to your face. You can do this all at once, first thing in the morning or last thing in the evening or anytime that suits you, OR take that paper and pencil with you and write things down as they strike you (pull over if you’re driving!).

Sometimes, you’ll be tempted to just keep writing. Do it! Just be sure to still obtain your goal daily, as it’s important in order to become a person with deep gratitude in your heart – to change your perspective- to practice this each and every day. This routine will CHANGE you. Try it, you’ll see!

  1. In addition to writing your list, USE IT. Use it not only as a place to write more examples of the blessings that surround us, but to reflect on in times of need. If you are having a moment of anxiety, use your list to read over and remind yourself of all the blessings you have. Give this list a chance to bring peace to your soul.

IMG_3144[1]

 

In the book, One Thousand Gifts- a guide to giving thanks and finding joy in all aspects of life- Ann Voskamp was challenged to write a list of 1,000 gifts- blessings she had in her life so as to take better notice of everyday graces. She found she could not stop after reaching 1,000 and found, even before reaching her goal, that she was changed in the process. She kept seeing more and adding more. I challenge you to also exceed that challenge. Don’t put a final number to this challenge. Just keep adding!

Each week, I will post a reflection post on gratitude and share 3-5 things from my own list over the week. For I believe in sharing from our own gratitude lists, not only do we gain accountability, but it will help others in finding a perspective of gratitude. So I ask you to follow suit. Share the everyday graces and moments of gratitude you find to motivate others to see the blessings around themselves. Strengthening our ability to see these blessings can change us as individuals and through that, it IS possible to CHANGE THE WORLD. But we must start by changing ourselves. Start looking for joy daily and become a man or woman of gratitude.  Join me in this change!

 

So to get things started:     5 Things from my gratitude journal

1.)   Eggs-   beautiful delicious eggs.....   not just that they give sustenance created by God, but the love of the man who made them for me this morning!

2.) Bad dreams are not real.

3.) Presanctified Liturgies.... nourishment for soul, body and mind.

4.)  Rays of sunshine upon my face.

5.) Rain....washing away the muck.

WHAT ARE YOU GRATEFUL FOR THIS WEEK?

2

It's been a long time since I have posted here.  I am happy to say that I think that will be changing soon.

I call this blog The Many Hats of an Orthodox Mom because I wear so many hats in my home-  that of an Orthodox Christian, Wife, Mother, Cook, Housecleaner, Organizer, Friend, Book Reader, Writer, and the list goes on....  Now I add woman of gratitude.  Or, at least that's what I WANT to add.

I am beginning a challenge.  I am challenging myself , and hope you will join me, to become GRATEFUL.

This lent has been quite a journey for me.  I have to say I have grown quite a bit- and no, not in the waist!  Part of that growth has been learning to realize how much I did focus on negativity- especially in the last few years.  Earlier in my life, I recall people telling me how positive I was.  That I uplifted their spirits.  That I always had a smile to offer....  what happened to that girl??  Many things.  But I wish to not only find her again, but increase that positivity threefold!

I will be starting weekly posts on gratitude....in which I will ask you to join me.  Join me not only in reading the posts, but start your own list!  Start your own quest to become a woman or man of gratitude.

I WANT TO BE A WOMAN OF GRATITUDE..... A woman who sees blessings everywhere, in everything.  Will you join me?

Wrapping It Up:  December

Yes, it is a bit early.  But with the holidays here, there's so much going on and I wanted to be sure to get the wrap up out before the New Year is actually upon us.

My Writing World

Well, here on the blog and manuscript writing, things have been pretty much non-existent! But it's December and my extra time has been devoted to online shopping ( I really love to get it done in early December so I can relax and enjoy the season with my family) and planning for the holidays and trying to get back into a groove with homeschooling.  So while it's frustrating, I feel like this is just a non-typical month and isn't necessarily a predictor of the months to come....I hope!  AND, as I actually work on this blog post today- I have a babysitter in my home as I speak...and hope to at least start on a new manuscript- even if its just some basic brainstorming on an idea or two I formed during PiBoIdMo.

My Book World

This is pretty slow too, at least in comparison to my usual.

I did get two new books for my birthday earlier in the month!

   This made it onto my wish list as soon as I heard about it.  Have you read it yet?
 I guess I'll just always be a fan.

I haven't had time to start either, but I have slowly been getting through The Living Page by Laurie Bestwater and I really feel like I'm understanding the concepts behind all the types of notebooking in the Charlotte Mason method of homeschooling.  I'm glad that the Book of Centuries isn't supposed to officially be started until about age 10, because that's the one I think I understand the least. But I'm eager to really start vamping up our nature journals and develop a Calendar of Firsts and work on my own Commonplace book.... but now it sounds like I'm writing about my Homeschool World!

The only other book I've been reading consistently is the Bible.  The version I use is this one:
  I just love the notes and extra commentary that I find to be indispensable!

Along with the bible, I've been using The Gospel of St. John by Lawrence Farley.

Our Parenting/Homeschool World

Homeschooling has taken a bit of a break, or shall I say, a change of pace?  With my older son, life has revolved around 2 courses and left the others sort of temporarily fall by the wayside. Anatomy and Physiology required a presentation and much of his time has been spent in preparation and becoming increasingly nervous for his time in front of his class.  The other course he's focused on was a sudden addition to his fall semester; a research class was offered by a local homeschool mom and I just had to allow for his opportunity to take part in this introductory course to that dreaded ordeal of the research paper.  Yes, I'm a writer at heart; but research writing is not my passion...at least not in this format!  So to have someone else offer their time to do this FOR me?  Yes! Sign me up! Here's my money! GO!!  So, needless to say, his time in December has been focused on Anatomy & Physiology (the presentation and studying for his second big test in the course) and in researching his topic for his paper - the benefits (and disadvantages) of recycling.

For my younger son?  Well....  I've been spending a lot of time cleaning (we don't currently have a housekeeper and that has it's own advantages and drawbacks- but should be rectified soon!),  planning for Christmas, and reevaluating my current expectations and goals of homeschooling.  I am still a dedicated Charlotte Mason homeschooler.... but I think I'm gaining a deeper perspective of what that means and what I want our homeschool world to look like.  More on that in a future post... I hope!  Needless to say, we haven't done much, BUT what we have done is priceless and I am watching my son realize he loves to read (and not just at bedtime when he'd rather not be sleeping) and he really does have an interest in pretty much all of the materials I have provided.... just not necessarily to sit down to a particular schedule every day.  And THAT's OKAY.

But we do need to work on those HABITS.  Oh my.... he's developing some not so great ones.  I really need to find a method of teaching him how to handle his frustrations in a healthier and, uh, shall we say, more 'pleasant' manner??

Our Food & Health World

I continue to watch my husband stick to his dedicated efforts of eating Paleo and changing his habits of stress eating to that of exercising!  Yes, it's December.  I think he's been tempted more and may have even given in a time or two.... but certainly not as often or to the degree he has in the past and I commend him.

It's ironic- now over a year later of getting our Fitbits, it's he that is usually in the lead now with steps.  Originally, I got them for us to motivate him to keep up with my own steps- knowing that what I did on a day to day basis of just household tasks, running errands, etc. was more than his own steps.  Well, it must have worked because I can't seem to keep up with him anymore, despite my best efforts!  That's okay-  I LOVE seeing his motivation!

Our Faith World

On December 6th we celebrated the Feast of St. Nicholas Day.  According to Church Tradition, Nicholas lived in Asia Minor and became known for his generosity.  He was consecrated as Archbishop of Myra at the beginning of the 4th century. He was noted for his defense of Orthodoxy against the Arians and is said to have been one of the bishops preset at the famous Council of Nicea, though apparently there are not any written documents to prove this.  He died in Myra on December 6th.

Many Orthodox children put out shoes on the eve of Saint Nicholas Day in hopes of candy or gifts to be found in the morning.  In recent years our children have started this tradition.

At church, families bring items to fill baskets that we take around to several families in the neighborhood....a usually cold, but very enjoyable tradition for all.2015-12-05 22.50.55

 

 

 

 

Sun through trees
Photo Credit to Edge of Woods Photography

It is a time of much challenge to those that are Christians throughout this whole 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. Let me share with you then, 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.

 

Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal have mercy on us.

 

A secret prayer lies hidden within the human heart.  The man himself does not know it, yet working mysteriously within his soul, it urges him to prayer according to each man's knowledge and power. 

~R.M. French  -   The Way of A Pilgrim

 

...continue reading "Peaceful Reflections – October"

Well it's my first time to sunny Florida.

2015-10-18 19.07.31

And I'm not really sure what to do!

Like last year's trip to Vegas, my husband and I have stolen a few days away.  He's attending a conference during the day but we'll have the evenings together.  So while it's conference time for him, it's definitely vacation in Florida for me! Yesterday, we attended Liturgy at a church in Dover, Florida and spent most of the day with a lovely family - actually the family of my son's girlfriend.

2015-10-18 16.05.50 HDR

From there we traveled to the Gulf and made it to see the sunset at Clearwater Beach.  The water was so warm!  Oh, so heavenly.  I can not help but marvel at God's creation while standing on the shores.

2015-10-18 18.54.35

This morning he is off to his conference leaving me on my own until around 5....  alone.... well, that hasn't happened for...well a year I guess!  At least not for this length of time for this many days in a row.  Nope- that hasn't happened since Vegas.... nothing came unglued there and I'm pretty sure things will stay rather peaceful this time as well-  nothing for me to do but read, write, lounge by the pool or ....  ??  maybe take a nap?  We shall see!

But I'm looking forward to definitely catching up on the reading and writing and the quiet evenings together.  We're NOT Disney people so we'll be staying away from the big theme parks.  I do sort of hope to see an alligator or two 😉   In the meantime, I love seeing the pretty flowers that remind me of springtime at home and the birds!  Oh, the birds!! Sorry.... didn't get any shots of them yet, but maybe tonight!  Off to the pool with books in tow!

2015-10-18 14.14.25

 

It is a time of much challenge to those that are Christians throughout this whole world.  It is a time for us to remember that 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 and courage and wisdom. Let me share with you then, 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 them as I do.

Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal have mercy on us.

 

icon-540784_1280

“The grace of the Holy Spirit which is given mystically to every Christian when he is baptized acts and is manifested in proportion to our obedience to the commandments of the Lord. That is, if a Christian obeys the commandments of the Lord more, grace acts with him more, while if he obeys them less, grace acts within him less. Just as a spark, when covered in the ashes of fire becomes increasingly manifest as one removes the ashes, and the more fire wood you put the more the fire burns, so the grace that has been given to every Christian through Holy Baptism is hidden in the heart and covered up by the passions and sins, and the more a man acts in accordance with the commandments of Christ, the more he is cleansed of the passions and the more the fire of Divine grace lights in his heart, illumines and deifies him.”

...continue reading "Peaceful Reflections"

This weekend marks a two-day celebration of two important events: the raising of Lazarus and the entry of Christ into Jerusalem.  I am looking forward to Lazarus Saturday this year as I want to see my son's reaction when he sees the icon of Lazarus displayed at the front of the church.  You see, the story of Lazarus was the first Bible Story that I've seen him get REALLY excited about.  We read it just a couple of weeks ago and he still talks about it. I told him that one day soon Fr.Dan would tell this same story in church and we would see the icon depicting the story there.

Bible Readings:

Lazarus Saturday:  Hebrews 12:28-13:8   John 11:1-45

2015-04-03 16.43.16

The story of the Raising of Lazarus is only found in the Book of John. The story tells of Jesus returning to Bethany a couple of days after he learns of Lazarus being ill. He tells the disciples ahead of time that Lazarus has fallen asleep and He must go to waken him. The disciples are confused as they believe Lazarus is only sleeping and should be left to rest. After arriving in Bethany, it is discovered that Lazarus has been dead in the tomb for four days.  Jesus says to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.” Asking that the stone be  rolled away from the tomb,  Jesus then commanded, "Lazarus, Come Out!"  Lazarus walked out of the tomb!

This event is commemorated the Saturday before Palm Sunday the because of its actual occurrence just before the Lord's entry into Jerusalem  and because the resurrection of Lazarus is a 'type" of the resurrection of Christ.

Palm Sunday:  Philippians 4: 4-9    John 12: 1-18

2015-04-03 16.43.21

Palms (and Pussy Willows in Russian tradition) are handed out after being blessed for the Palm Sunday service as symbolism for this important event.  It was the custom of the Jewish people at the time of the original entry into Jerusalem to greet people of high rank with palm branches.  The Jews who greeted Jesus believed Him he was the Messiah.  Since Palm branches are unavailable in Russia, it became the custom use Pussy Willow on the Palm Sunday celebration as it is the first plant that blooms in spring.

While all the Gospels tell this story, we read from the Book of  John which tells us about how the people, aware of Him approaching Jerusalem, went out to meet Jesus and welcomed Him with shouts of praise, “Hosanna! Blessed is he that comes in the Name of the Lord, the King of Israel!”  On this Sunday, we worship Christ, holding our palms (or pussy willows) in a similar fashion.

The Lord is God and has appeared to us; let us keep the feast together. Come, and with great rejoicing let us magnify Christ with palms and branches, and let us cry aloud. Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord our Savior.  ~  Orthros of Palm Sunday

"Having completed the forty days that bring profit to our soul,  we beseech Thee in Thy love for man: Grant us also to behold the Holy Week of Thy Passion, that in it we may glorify Thy mighty acts and Thine ineffable dispensation for our sakes, singing with one mind:  'O Lord, glory to Thee."  

How Do You Celebrate Lazarus Saturday & Palm Sunday?

 

Photo By Pixabay
Photo By Pixabay

 

Wrapping It Up  

March 

March has been a busy month and honestly, I almost forgot to do my wrap up post!  I was so excited that I found the time to write a post last night and was working on getting time to work on another upcoming post, that it almost slipped my mind that my monthly wrap-up was due!  I haven't written much, I know, but I do want to touch base with you all and ask how the rest of you faired this month?

My Writing World

Well, for those of you that follow the blog, you know the blogging part of my writing world isn't all that much these days.  I've kept up with my Sunday posts but that's almost all I've done.  My manuscripts have suffered with even less time.  I didn't even send anything in for critiques this month, but am currently working on something for April. I didn't get my two days away last month for writing (I used them for some spiritual reflection instead) but am in the middle of that two day get away for March right now.  So that's why I had time to do the extra post on food (see below)the other day, the one on reading aloud to your child and am able to write this one now.

My Book World

Here I've kept busy!  In the area of fiction, I finished up A Prayer For Owen Meany.  I'm not sure how I feel about the book.  I didn't love it but I didn't hate it all either.  It was a good read and certainly different from my regular genre which was a nice change of pace.  ...continue reading "March Wrap Up"