2

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.

4

So while I'm on my quest for imperfect progress, I'm still on my quest for stress management which really coincides well.  I know when I'm stressed, I become unglued more often.

The first chapter I completed in my book on Stress Management was titled Goal Setting and Time Management. I figured it would give the basic time management strategies one usually hears:

  • Make a daily to-do list
  • Block out media distractions
  • Get up earlier
  • Go to bed earlier
  • Be reasonable and don't over plan your day.

You know, basic stuff. The stuff everyone knows we should do but don't always do it.But the chapter really actually spent a lot of time on goal setting which is pretty important.  So I made some goals.

First, I had to come up with a list of my ultimate priorities.  They do not consist of the only things I find important in life but they are the most important. While the first 3 are in numerical order, the others could be interchanged. These are the things that I simply could not accept having to live without:

  1. God
  2. My marriage
  3. Mothering my children
  4. Health & Safety
  5. Homeschooling
  6. Writing
  7. Friends & Family
  8.  Comfortable, nice clean home
  9. Financial Security
  10. Fun & Relaxation (Yes, some would be surprised this made the list as it's the one that is overlooked most often - but it really is a priority for me)

Once I determined what my priorities were (that part did not take long), I needed to develop short-term, medium-term and long-term goals....starting with long-term.

LONG TERM GOALS:

  1. Develop a union and closeness with God - keeping Him ever-present in my mind and heart, allowing Him to control ALL - Choosing to always be on His side.  In Orthodox language - staying on the path of Theosis and climbing the ladder of divine ascent.
  2. Have a strong lasting loving relationship with my husband that will strengthen one another that can serve as a model to others.
  3. To have my children always know - without a shadow of a doubt- that I loved them and to be a Christian model to them and someone they can depend on for strength.
  4. To feed myself and my family, REAL food as provided by God and provide a safe healthy environment to maintain all of our health.
  5. To educate my children to the best of my ability throughout their elementary, middle and high school years and prepare them for life, especially by way of heart and soul.
  6. To write and publish several children's books and have a blog of several thousand followers (blushing a little here....wondering if I sound vain??).
  7. To engage in pleasant activities and communicate well and often with friends and family and also help them in whatever ways I can.
  8. To maintain an orderly clean and , yes, stress-free environment in our cozy well-maintained home (finding this current cozy little house in the woods is a great start to this goal!).
  9. To live within our means and not only have a security net but also be able to help others in need.
  10. To enjoy life and remember to have fun and RELAX!  (this is actually the hardest one for me---  but I think my Stress Reduction and path of imperfect progress I have myself on will help achieve this goal!  But I may need a LOT of encouragement here- so please feel free to comment on these posts and offer words of wisdom and encouragement and your own tales of imperfect progress!

From there, I did establish some 'medium term goals' that I hope to accomplish within the next 1-5 years as well as short-term goals that I hope to accomplish within the next few weeks up to one year.

Obviously for my first goal - forcing myself to get up at 5:30 each morning for my quiet devotional time and reading Unglued and working on my imperfect progress will help me to do that.  I must remember that my goal is not to be perfect and I must forgive myself when I fall.  That's the hardest part I think.  I have this deep inner voice that ridicules myself when I mess up.  It's actually NOT nearly as bad as it used to be... but I must focus more on remembering that God will forgive me - but I must forgive myself also.

I also set goals that were specific to the Unglued Participant's Guide to describe what I would like my 'new normal' to be:

1.  I do not yell or raise my voice when frustrated, angry or confused.

2.  I make it through my days without regretting how I've spoken to someone.

3.  I find ways to acknowledge what I'm feeling without doing either of the above and without stuffing those emotions down to boil over later.

Whew.... that's a lot of goal setting!  Now on with my day and hopefully make some progress!  Are you with me?

 

 

7

I’ve got quite a variety of books going now. I’d thought I’d write a bit about my current ‘list’.

Book # 1 - One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

This is one I actually started during Lent but did not get far into at that time. I was a little hesitant as I thought it may have a bit too much of a Protestant twist to it, but finding out that it is being read in quite a large Orthodox circle deepened my intrigue and I decided to give it a shot. I was impressed that she has quoted Alexander Schmemann. I am only into the third chapter or so of the book but really like her style of writing and am enjoying her thought process. While she does display some Protestant thought I am awed by her “Orthodox” thinking as well and wonder at how she isn’t Orthodox and think that her faith could be so much more were she to explore the Orthodox Church and not just read a bit of words by it’s theologians….. Her concept of a list is interesting and brings to mind the list I started a year ago. I wonder where it is. In a notebook with a brown cover I recall….but where is that notebook now? I have a feeling in the next day or so I may be searching for that notebook…or perhaps I may need to just start a new one.

Book # 2 - Dance of Anger by Harriet Lerner

I was hesitant on this one. Self-Help type books make me leery. I’ve been swayed entirely in the wrong direction by them in the past….of course, that was prior to my conversion to Orthodoxy and the wisdom it has granted me. With my faith in mind, I am sure to be less taken in by sheer nonsense of the self being more important than anything or anyone else, etc. but still remain suspicious of anyone lending help to perfect strangers when they do not possess that same faith. I was swayed into reading this one by the intensity of the description of the book by a loved one who is reading the book. It sounded like an interesting perspective of the anger concept that is so often experienced by many, if not all, of us. Some of us more so for various reasons. The first two chapters thus far have been touch and go. Interesting concepts mixed in with de-self talk that raises my eyebrows a bit. In the second chapter, I had to shake my head….the author tells of a ‘hypothetical’ issue between husband and wife who is seeking a job outside the home. The author assumes that though the husband says 'the children need you at home. I support your working, but I do not like to see the kids and the household neglected" that this is not the real issue? I don't know the couple she is talking of. It's probably a hypothetical couple. But the issue is not a hypothetical issue. I think it's wrong for her to assume that there is a different issue at hand. I KNOW that this is truly an issue in households and that it does NOT always mean there is an underlying issue rather than the one the husband states. I just dislike that psychologists ALWAYS seem to think there is an underlying issue. (I agree, there often is....but not ALWAYS) and this particular example irritates me. I think it is justifiable for a husband to be concerned about his children needing their mother at home, etc. and that it does NOT necessarily mean that his wife seeking an outside job puts him in touch with his dissatisfaction with his own job as the author implies.

The third chapter had me laughing the whole way through…but not from absurdity…because I was wondering when the author snuck into my home and hid in the corner watching my husband and I. The chapter described our relationship quite well! So I shall continue reading, staying leery but interested.

Book #3 From a Buick 8 - Stephen King

Stephen King has always been a favorite author of mine. Well okay, not always. Reading one of his books really irritated me and I actually stopped reading them for a period of time. I took personal offense to The Regulators in which he had an autistic boy be the evil character. I have a personal affection for the autistic. I couldn’t get past the ugliness of making such a person evil - not even from the great Stephen King. In time, I moved on and realized even a great talented writer can make mistakes. So while I still don’t like that book or his choice to use this disability for his writings, I still enjoy his creativity overall. This is a book that has actually been sitting on my shelf for quite awhile. I believe I recall hearing it was something that entered his mind while recovering from his accident while running (he was hit by a car). I’m not sure if that is true or not, but that’s my new just for entertainment fiction reading.

Book #4 Hatchet by Gary Paulson
This is the read-aloud book I am enjoying with my son. I read it a long time ago while teaching in an ‘inclusion classroom’. I’m enjoying it more with my son than I did the first time. J I love reading with my son.

Book #5 Windows to Heaven: Introducing Icons to Protestants and Catholics by Zelensky and Gilbert
This should be a good read. I am always struck senseless when I hear of Protestant thoughts on our icons. I don’t get it. I don’t understand why they don’t have visual images of our savior in their homes as a daily reminder of what we are to be grateful for and how we should be living our lives. I don’t understand why they don’t have a picture of the One we should love even more than the family members we picture and frame? While the book title addresses how to present these sweet images to Protestants, the book also addresses their misconceptions and why they struggle with understanding our veneration (NOT worship) of these images.

Book #6 The Pearl of Great Price: The Spiritual Journey of a New Age Seeker to the Light of Christ and the Eastern Orthodox Church by Veronica Hughes
This, I believe, is just as the title implies. I have only ready the introduction and forward thus far but am eager to get further into the story. I love reading about other peoples’ journey to the Orthodox Faith.

Yes, that’s six books. This is not unusual for me. Some of them may take me awhile…some may be done in a few days…perhaps they will all be done soon. It varies. It varies on how much they grab my interest and of course, my daily life. Sometimes I only get a few minutes a day that I can force myself to read. Sometimes more. I may put one on a shelf for awhile….I may add more to the list. I may just have this list for quite some time if life keeps me too busy. Of course, the only thing I can guarantee is that the book I will read almost daily but didn’t include on this list is the Holy Bible. And it WILL be read. Right now I’m working on three books in that one….Genesis(again) and Matthew (again) and ACTS (again….but with my family this time.) We hope to complete Acts before Pentecost.

Well---- that’s enough for now. Now it’s time to read…….

1

Well, it's been awhile since I posted anything. This past week has been rather busy with our Church schedule during Holy Week and Pascha. And we all seemed to come down with some minor cold symptoms (which is rare but then I realized we have slacked off on our vitamins and then had more contact with the outside world than we usually do so ......) But it wasn't anything major and didn't stop us from attending services so that's good.

I finished my books that I was reading towards the end of Lent. Now I have FINALLY read Twisted, a book by Laurie Halse Anderson that I've had on my Amazon wishlist for over two years. So I finally bought it for myself and read it in just over a day. It is my third book to have read by her and I am a huge fan. Her characters totally pull you in. I have also started a book about anger. I think, after this Lenten season especially, that I have dealt with a lot of my anger issues - and boy did I use to have a lot of them - but someone close to me was reading this book and expressed a lot of interest in it (Dancing With Anger) and so I thought, why not. I always cringe at self-help books because they can sort of go against a lot of Orthodox Teachings and obviously stress too much SELF SELF SELF....but I thought I'd give this one a shot and I try to just glide over the whole part of putting yourself completely ahead of others part of it and see what she has to say about dealing with anger.....I'm only into the second chapter so far, so we'll see. I'm also reading One Thousand Gifts...it's written by a woman with some sort of protestant background but is being read by a lot of Orthodox people. She seems to have some major Orthodox percepetions and I can't help but wonder how her life would be even more complete if she were to find the Orthodox Faith. Besides, these two books I have a huge stack of books in my room that I have not read yet of all varities and it's so hard to choose which is next. Which is why I'm usually reading at least three if not 4 or 5 books at a time. Sometimes even more. Nuts, I know, but it works for me most of the time. I haven't decided on what my current Orthodox book will be yet....I have several calling my name...

So now I thought I'd post a few more random things about me:

1. We just celebrated PASCHA. Pascha, to give an understanding, is Eastern ‘Easter”. I don’t really like giving it the name Easter because it does have some pagan connotations but I do use the term among my Catholic and Protestant terms simply so they understand what I’m talking about. We stayed up all night…or should I say morning? The service starts at 10:30 and ends around 2:30 with lots and lots of feasting afterwards. I’ve had a sleep deprivation headache most of the week but it is so TOTALLY worth it! I love the way we worship our Lord. The way we go all out for Him. The way we understand Salvation and Theosis!. I am so thrilled to have found Orthodoxy.

2. I LOVE LOVE LOVE to read. I read a vast array of materials too. I’m thrilled to have a toddler again so I have an even bigger excuse to read picture books and classic fairy tales and nursery rhymes again. And I’m looking forward to reading the Junie B. Jones series again someday. But I also love middle grade, young adult, and of course adult fiction as well. I love reading about Orthodoxy and learning more and more about my faith and its history, its saints and its perspective on today’s worldview. I also, of course, love reading Holy Scripture, though I prefer reading it with Orthodox Commentary so I have a better apostolic understanding of what I’m reading. I also read things on whole foods, natural living, and things that pretty much go against the usual American Diet. I sometimes read things related to history and science, but those are usually connected to our home schooling rather than a random book I select on my own. There’s other things too….but I’ve realized I could make this a whole blog piece on its own! LOL

3. I don’t do well with dairy. During the fast we gave up dairy of course. I was the most ‘congestion free’ that I have been in the last two years - since the last time I gave up dairy completely. This week already, after just three days of non-fasting, I have already awoken with some congestion and , I’m afraid, been having more digestive issues. I really should let the dairy go, but….it’s so yummy.

4. I have freckles. I use to hate my freckles. I mean, they are like, all over and I used to get picked on about them so I hated them. But then my sister got me this mug that says ‘These aren’t freckles, they’re just a whole bunch of teeny tiny tans.” I just love that mug and I love that freckle philosophy. So I’ve adopted it as my own and shrug off my freckles now with a chuckle.

5. Our dog is a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog. She is a cousin to the Burmese....most people know that one if they are a dog lover. But the Greater Swiss has shorter hair and, supposedly, sheds less. HAHA. She's a good dog, but is very hyper when people visit, which makes her not so popular with some of our friends. She's not mean, just jumpy and wants to be in their face. We have tried several tactics. But since we live in the country and don't have visitors so often, its sort of hard to do any type of real training method consistently. Well, we love her. She is a devoted animal, that's for sure. 🙂

That's all for today. I really need to figure out a schedule for me again and try sticking to it. I do much better with a schedule. There's just too many things pulling me in all kinds of directions and I really need to find a balance. I don't want to give up on the blogging. I love it so. But I need to find a way to fit it into a bunch of other things too.