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!

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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? 

Our salt-phobic society has deprived millions of people struggling with adrenal fatigue of something that would decrease their symptoms and speed their recovery.  They have taught their bodies to ignore the urge for salt because it is politically incorrect to salt food.    ~ James Wilson   (Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome)

 

I've been struggling with pain and fatigue since my last post.  Being that I've obviously had stressed and fatigued adrenals for some time, I need to expect this.  Even on my road to recovery I must expect the ups and downs.

I also know that I had not been doing so well with staying hydrated or other health habits I was trying to do better with so that is probably also playing into the sleep cycle problems and fatigue and pain as well.  Of course, we're not ruling out there could be other factors to play.  I know my thyroid is sluggish as well and we are looking into other testing to see if anything else is physically stressing the adrenals and playing into these symptoms - like the MTHFR mutation which I found out I have two of and other things we are waiting on.

In the meantime,  I know I need to heal my gut health which has always been an issue, especially after losing my gall bladder almost 24 years ago (NOT a surgery I would recommend to ANYONE), and detox which is really really important to anyone with an MTHFR mutation, and learn to love and care for my adrenals!

One thing that most experts that write about Adrenal Fatigue agree on is that as much as 60-80 percent of the population probably have at least some level of adrenal fatigue.  Some of us are just a whole lot more fatigued than others.  And, most also agree,  a common symptom of adrenal fatigue is salt cravings, and there is actually a strong physiological reason for this craving.

I wrote on my opinion of salt back in 2015.  When we started revamping our food intake when

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we were trying to approach ADHD with natural methods and inadvertently discovered the cause to other mental health issues in our family (see Our Food Story), I spent hours and hours of research into foods, artificial ingredients, neurotoxins, and ended up diving into reading about many many many concepts that I had learned in health books in high school only to find out that the majority of that information was actually incorrect, including the myth that salt was bad for us.  It turns out that it's only the refined table salt with added iodine that's bad-  and the reason it's bad is due to the over processing.

Even so, while I don't fear salt, it was never my habit to over salt things.  I kept Real Salt in the cupboard and Himalayan salt or Celtic salt here and there and would always add when the recipe called for it and would dash it here or there on eggs or vegetables, but had grown up in a house where from junior high on everyone was afraid of salt and so it just doesn't cross my mind to use it.

So now that I'm struck with fatigue (of the adrenal variety), and I'm reading, once again I find that salt is NOT the enemy-  not the real kind anyway.  It's actually important, according to the experts in Adrenal Fatigue (James Wilson is one), to allow your body to dictate the salt in your diet.

When your adrenal glands are fatigued, they do not produce the right amounts of particular hormones, including aldosterone.  A low amount of aldosterone can disrupt the sodium balance at a cellular level, increasing a person's needs for natural sodium (sea salt).  So when a person has adrenal fatigue, they can often benefit from taking an additional 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt in a glass of water in the morning.  Some sources recommend the one glass, while others say to do one in the afternoon as well while still others say to add salt to every glass you drink throughout the day.

I add it to 2-3 glasses of my 5 (16 ounce) glasses of water each day.  And I try to remember to add a little more sea salt ( I actually use Real Salt, Celtic Sea Salt and Pink Himalayan through the day for variety) to my foods than I use to, as well as kelp granules (for the extra iodine).  Most people with adrenal fatigue do not mind the taste of the salt-water mixture (some even put it straight on their tongues- something Dr. Wilson suggested for at night to help with sleeping ).  As your adrenal health improves, you may find that you do start to not like the taste or find it less appealing-  it could even make you nauseous.  This is a good sign that you need to cut back on your intake.  Our bodies are smarter than we give them credit for!    Right now, I'm not minding the taste at all in my warm water (see my last post on Adrenals & Water), so I'm sticking with it as I continue on my journey to rectify my adrenal health and other related issues.

Naturally, I'm doing a lot more than just increasing my water and salt intake on this journey.  But there's only so much room in one blog post and only so much I can write about with the fatigue and struggling to juggle all the priorities in life according to my level of functioning on any given day.  But I promise to keep the posts coming!  In the meantime, if you are struggling with adrdenal fatigue, or think you might be, check out Dr. Wilson's book (see link below).  I just got another book in the mail but haven't started it yet--  The Adrenal Thyroid Revolution.

Recommended Readings:

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

 

 

A long time ago I used to do monthly updates here.  I kind of told what things I was doing in a month- a sort of update on our homeschool life, food life, my writing and book life, and more.  I'm not sure that I'll get back to that, but what I thought I would do since books are such a big part of my life (as should they be for all of us!) is share what I'm reading. So we'll see how this goes.  Maybe I'll make it a monthly thing.

Goodreads

I keep track of a lot of what I read on Goodreads.  And you'll see I usually have a LOT on my list at a time.  I used to be worried that this was strange.....then I started reading about Charlotte Mason and her methods and realized I must have been Charlotte in another life.... lol!  Just kidding!  But really, her homeschool methods teach about taking just small bits at a time from a book and giving the child time to think it over and ponder, if you will, and let it all soak in.  And she would have them read from various books each day - history, literature, nature, poetry, etc.  Some books a few pages or chapter a day, some only once a week.  So pretty much I've been doing 'Charlotte Mason' with myself all along.

Find me on Goodreads  HERE.

What I'm Reading

Adrenal Fatigue:  The 21st Century Stress Syndrome by James L. Wilson  -  This book is instrumental in understanding the reality of adrenal fatigue.  How one's health can be affected by stressors and the importance of how our food, environment and things we do to cope with stress are all important facets to adrenal health and all of this and more are discussed by Dr. Wilson.  It is written by an expert but also  it a way that is easily understood by the layman without talking down to the patient.  It is a good read thus far.

Everyday Saints and Other Stories by Tikhon Shevkunov   This is quite the lengthy read and I've been working on it for some time.  I'm about halfway through.  There is a great number of stories in this work that you will find inspiring and occasionally humorous.  And you will certainly know that miracles do happen even today.

Thirty Steps to Heaven:  The Ladder of Divine Ascent for All Walks of Life by Vassillios Papavassilliou  I've actually referred to this book several times in recent posts.  I can't say enough about it.  I personally feel that even non-orthodox would benefit greatly from this book as it talks about all of the virtues we must all strive towards as Christians.

A Beginner's Guide to Prayer: The Orthodox Way to Draw Close to God by Michael Keiser   I started this book before Lent and actually wrote a few posts in regards to prayer before Lent.   Being that I've promised myself to read my bible readings and a few pages of Thirty Steps to Heaven each day before reading anything else and my consumption of adrenal fatigue and other health related selections, I haven't had a lot of time for this one but it remains in my morning devotion pile and will be included in my morning readings again soon!

Blueprints for the Little Church: Creating an Orthodox Home by Elissa D. Bjeletich and Caleb Shoemaker    This is the selection my husband and I are reading together.  Blueprints discusses how we are to involve our children in the life of the Church from birth onward both in the church and at home.

6 Secrets to a Lasting Love: Recapturing Your Dream Marriage by Gary Rosberg  I read another book by Rosberg recently and I really enjoyed his style of writing about very intimate personal issues in a non-threatening manner and with a Christian perspective.  I have found some very good guidance in this book.  I really think every couple should read marriage books throughout their lives- always keeping discussion of the marriage and the marriage itself front and center to their lives.  My husband and I aren't currently reading this one together but I do mark spots and read them to him for discussion along with other books we read together.

The Ancient Faith Prayer Book by Vassilious Papavassiliou -  you know I didn't even realize it was the same author as 30 Steps to Heaven until I was writing this out.  I'm enjoying using this prayer book.  I think it may move into one of my favorites.

The Ascetic Lives of Mothers, a Prayer Book for Orthodox Moms by Annalisa Boyd  -  I read this book awhile back and even wrote a book review.  I just felt that while I often use this as a resource, it was time to read it through again.  Books like these always offer more every time

Delicious Blogging:  The Ingredients You Need To Create a Better Blog by Debi Stangeland  Debi is a book on my Kindle (I seldom use the kindle as I just can't resist a paper copy but it does come in handy ) some great ideas for bloggers, especially those starting out or with smaller blogs who want to have more success with finding readers and interacting with their public.

 

What I'm Reading With My Son

My son is 7. (Wow- that's the first time I've written that- he just turned 7 last week!).  He's techinically in first grade-  but I don't go by that.  We read what we think is fun and what I think he will be interested in or what I deem important.  I don't consider grade level.  It's more about age, interests and abilities.

Little Town on the Prairie (Little House #7) by Laura Ingalls Wilder  -  Actually, we just finished this one last night!  My son has been loving the Little House series.  And I still have my set from when I was young! We just started with them at the beginning of this school year.  Only one or two of them was on the Ambleside list for this year - a source I used last year and the beginning of this year.  But while I find their book lists as a handy guide, I find their style too restricting.  So while they only have a few of the books listed for this year-  I let my son's enjoyment and enthusiasm to read more lead us.  These books have lent so many lovely discussions.  We have also introduced the TV series-  we don't do a lot of TV here, but this is one series I encourage and enjoy right along with him.

The World's Worst Fairy Godmother by Bruce Coville   This is just a humerous story by one of my favorite children's authors. We are starting this tonight. I don't necessarily like all of Coville's books, but some of them have been favorites.  We recently read Jennifer Murdley's Toad.

Misty of Chicoteague by Marguerite Henry  We just started Misty.  While fictional, I chose to read it as part of our history type literature as it does talk about legendary history and the story behind the wild ponies of Asateague Island (where I spent my honeymoon incidentally).  I wanted to introduce him to the Marguerite Henry books and selected this one to see if he would like them.

Red, White, Blue, and Uncle Who? The Story Behind Some of America's Patriotic Symbols by Teresa Bateman and John O'Brien     This is a charming little book to introduce youngsters to the symbols of our country including the Statue of Liberty, The Liberty Bell, The Lincoln Monument and more. I've chosen to use picture books for the most part in our American History studies thus far but am looking to start on some nice biographies soon.

What My Son is reading TO ME

Yes-  he has started reading to ME now.  This is his choice- his desire and I love it!

The Mystery at the Taj Mahal (India) by Carole Marsh    My sister got him about ten of this series for Christmas.  I selected to allow him to read them to himself at night while I sit and read in bed. He has read one on his own, is reading another and reads this one to me every now and then.

He also reads from his Children's Bible Reader to me on the way to our Schole class every Tuesday and at other times when I'm cleaning up the kitchen before we start our short lessons for the day.

 

So--  that pretty much sums up what I'm reading.

How about YOU?

 

 

Did you know that water is important for your Adrenal Glands as well as your overall health?

Last week I wrote my first post on my Adrenal Fatigue.  The past week has been a mixture of sleep disturbances, physical symptoms (body aches, muscle tenderness and pain, leg cramps and more), brain fog, distraction and more.  As I learn more about my symptoms and how they relate to adrenal fatigue (and realize how long this has been going on and slowly escualting), I want to reach out and share with you all what I'm learning.  I'm realizing how many of us (especially stressed out moms in this day and age) probably have at least a very mild case of adrenal fatigue.  My case is more severe only because I never recognized it for what it is and never knew I had the power to make things better!  I hope I can help you avoid getting to this extreme!

I made a chart a few weeks ago-  during one of my worst week for symptoms to make a 'baseline' so I can keep track of my progress and, hopefully, have a visual to show me that progress is being made.  This way, on days like today when I am dragging, feeling so exhausted for no obvious reason (I actually slept well last night) and my body is aching, I can look at these charts and at least be grateful it's not as bad as it was a month ago and remind myself that adrenal fatigue has it's ups and downs even on the road to recovery. I probably should have included dehydration... ...continue reading "Adrenals & Water"

I am eager to get back to doing book reviews again and have soooo many wonderful books to do!  But alas, I know I won't get around to doing too many very soon so picking one to start with was hard but not too hard because this book (the first we read in the series) was so utterly fantastic and my son and I both absolutely adored it-  so here we go!

Title of Book: Poppy  (Tales of Dimwood Forest)


Author:  Avi

Illustrator:  Brian Floca

Genre:  Fiction; adventure

Publisher: HarperCollins

Pages:  176

Suggested Age Range:  8-12  but can certainly be a read a loud for a much younger age.  My son is 6 and has been enthralled by this series!

Why I Chose This Book:  This book came as a highly recommended read-aloud by Sarah Mackenzie.  I'm a big fan of Sarah's Read Aloud Revival and just about anything she's put out.  You can see some posts on her book Teaching From Rest here and here.

A Bit From The Back Cover:  At the very edge of Dimwood Forest stands an old charred oak.  A great horned owl, Mr. Ocax, waits there. With his piercing gaze, he surveys the lands he calls his own, watching for the creatures he considers his subjects. None dare disobey him, until the night a courageous deer mouse named Poppy, boldly defies him, only to find herself in terrible danger. To lead her family to a better life, will Poppy battle Mr. Ocax to the end?

My Review:  My son and I were quickly taken in by this fanciful tale about woodland creatures!  Poppy is a sweet, timid dormouse who suffers a great loss at the beginning of the story but, being protective of her family, gathers her courage to embark on a dangerous quest.  The story was simply irresistible.  The book is full of action and chances for discussion of how to handle various dilemmas.  Our favorite character was actually NOT Poppy, the heroine or the antagonist, Mr. Ocax, but the ever so funny Ereth, the porcupine!  He was a hoot!  My son just laughed and laughed at all of Ereth's antics and sayings.  It was so much fun to read a loud to him. The book not only held my son's attention captive and begging for more, but added to his desire to learn more about animals and add creativity to his drawings of such creatures!  If you love whimsical animal adventures, you will love this series.  I want to read it again!

Other Books by this Author:  Ragweed, Poppy and Ereth, Ereth's Birthday, Poppy and Rye, Poppy's Return (all from the Dimwood Forest series).  Crispin- The Cross of Lead (Newberry Award Winner), The Good Dog, Old Wolf, The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, and many others.

 

I've recently been diagnosed with adrenal fatigue.  So in between being exhausted and trying to carry on with life, I've done a lot of reading both online and in books.  I am so eternally thankful to be working with a FANTASTIC health coach (Sarah- if you are reading this- YOU ARE AWESOME!) who helped me discover the name to what's been plaguing  me and a super homeopath who has experienced adrenal fatigue herself so is well versed in treatment approaches.

There's a lot out there on the subject.  Quite a number of variations to approach too.  And while my goal is to share my story in hopes to make a difference in someone else's life, it's hard to know where to begin for treatment and where to begin to talk about this 'illness.'

 First, what are adrenals?

The adrenal glands are small kidney-shaped endocrine glands, often compared to the size of a walnut.  They are located in the lower back area just above the  kidneys. While small, they are actually very powerful and necessary. When our bodies experience stress, the adrenal glands release hormones (adrenaline, cortisol)  that help keep us alert, focused, and increase our stamina, usually assuring that we able to deal with pressure.

  What is Adrenal Fatigue?

Unfortunately, it is not yet a common term among medical doctors (though it is starting to become better known), as it's a hard to detect syndrome which often fails to show up in blood work unless your DHEA is extremely low or you have the full development of Addison's Disease.  But more and more doctors are recognizing this illness. Dr. James Wilson describes Adrenal Fatigue as a "collection of signs and symptoms, known as a syndrome, that results when the adrenal glands function below the necessary level.  Most commonly associated with intense or prolonged stress".

I guess you could say my life has been filled with stress.  While I like to downplay most of it, looking back... well, yeah, I've had a lot of health issues from day one (cleft palate that led to many surgeries and eating difficulties), childhood illnesses (I could write a book on strep! Ha-ha!), childhood emotional issues that left an impact on me and how I would relate to other relationships, multiple surgeries including sudden appendectomy, gall bladder and a loss of an ovary and other surgeries related to the cleft palate and so many ear surgeries I can't count that has led to permanent scarring and hearing loss.  Later in life physical stuff and emotional stuff played into the bipolar depression- of which I did ELIMINATE (see this post)- but of course have always dealt with anxiety (of which MTFHR might be playing a major role- but that's for another post!) and being a highly sensitive person. My education was difficult- no learning disabilities (diagnosable at that time) but it didn't come easy. Of course there were work stresses and the normal stresses of motherhood, late nights and other emotional traumas through the years that are many as well too lengthy  to mention here  and other  factors to consider.  So yes, I've had one major stress factor after another, often overlapping, and not a whole lot of rest from it. So could my adrenals be stressed to the max?  Um, undoubtedly so.

It's true that most of us experience  stressors every day. Mothers in general know what stress is  . And mothers or not, we all have experienced stress sitting in traffic, having to speak to a large group of people, or have an  argument with a spouse or  friend. Experiencing a range of physical and psychological demands can trigger our adrenal glands to give small blasts of strength throughout the day by way of hormone spurts in the form of adrenaline and cortisol.  This is all normal.

However, when someone experiences constant stress, the adrenal glands end up maintaining high cortisol levels-  not something they are supposed to be doing! And when someone experiences high levels of stress for a long period of time, without much or any rest in between, the adrenal glands become unable to respond appropriately or in a healthy manner.  Thus you have adrenal fatigue.

Adrenal fatigue can affect the body’s short term response to stress. Adrenal fatigue  impairs  the body’s ability to produce and/or  balance other hormones that will  promote health and general  well-being. If you feel unbalanced or several of the symptoms listed below, it may be time to consider whether your adrenals are functioning properly and it may be time to address whatever the stressors are in your life before you become seriously ill.

Of course, stress isn't the only factor that causes Adrenal Fatigue.  Adrenal fatigue seems to strike women most often but can certainly affect men as well. It occurs most often among chronic dieters(unhealthy diets), workaholics and perfectionists, over exercises (yes, too much exercise IS a bad thing) and those that undergo more than the average amount of emotional stress.

It's important to note that developing Adrenal Fatigue is  dependent on your personal threshold for stress and how your body reacts to it. This means that someone who works 40 hours or more a week, exercises for an hour or more daily, and eats a poor diet may not experience adrenal fatigue,  yet  someone else who might only be working less than 40 hours, walks daily, but still has other stresses or factors in their life may have their adrenals effected.

It's also important to note that  Adrenal Fatigue occurs in varying stages. It can start as what appears as mild fatigue with other minor symptoms but eventually, if left untreated,  evolve into the full blown 'crash' phase (mild cases usually will not result in any blood test abnormalities while more severe cases may show up as hormonal issues, including low DHEA) that leads to constant fatigue and 'burnt-out' symptoms.

So What are the Symptoms?

Symptoms of adrenal fatigue include, but are NOT limited to  trouble waking up in the morning, constant fatigue even when enough sleep has been had, slowed metabolism, cravings for salty foods, feeling cold often, decreased immunity, brain-fog, difficulty concentrating or focusing, feeling overwhelmed (constantly), problems handling stress and depression/anxiety, PMS and other hormonal issues, digestive issues, muscle and joint aches/pains/spasms similar to symptoms of fibromyalgia, and more. One or two of these symptoms does not constitute adrenal fatigue but a combination of several of them for an extended period of time may.  Of course, a lot of these symptoms can be characteristic of other illnesses, so one needs to consult a professional and should never self-diagnose.

I plan on writing more about adrenal fatigue, what I am doing to treat my own and what others find to be beneficial.  I hope that I can help anyone else that is fighting this syndrome.  Of course, I remind you I am not a medical doctor-  just an Orthodox Mom trying to figure out this challenge in life!

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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).