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?

 

 

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

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

So how do you do it?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Wrapping It Up: May and June

So it’s been quite a while since I have posted anything here. I am missing the blogging and writing but am also feeling a bit more balanced in other aspects of life- actually a lot more balanced. I just need to figure out if I can ever really add writing back in….and if I can, how and when! But here’s a bit of a catch up for those of you left wondering…..

My Writing World

Well- It’s been vacant. I haven’t written a blog post since the end of April. I haven’t worked on a manuscript since maybe the beginning of April- might have been March. I haven’t even corresponded with my critique groups which appear to be disappearing from the radar. It seems I’m not the only one lagging. I never did complete the course work for the class I paid for. All in all, the writing world is off the map right now. So on to other things….

My Book World

Well my reading has certainly picked up. I became determined at the end of May that I was going to enjoy my summer- and while I have LOTS of work to do over the summer- I ...continue reading "May & June Wrap-Up"

1

Back in July, I posted this:  Stress Management and Relaxation Challenge

I haven't exactly accomplished much with that challenge because, truthfully, I've been letting stress get the best of me.  While the muscle  spasms have gone away (well, mostly), stress is still controlling my life.

So this morning....  instead of sleeping in like I have been -   when my 4-year-old woke me up to let me know the bed was wet (yes, the bed he was sleeping in with ME)....  I dutifully got up, found him a new nighttime pull up in the dark, changed the sheets, crawled back in with him and laid there......   checked my alarm on my phone and saw there was only 20 minutes to go before it was set to go off (an alarm I've grown accustomed to hitting the snooze on quite a bit lately), and decided to get up.  I've been telling myself I really NEED to get back my habit of getting up extra early to give myself that quiet time I've used and even written about on here.

Now, I sit here with my book open.  The one I wrote about above titled "The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook".  It's open to the section right before the first chapter - "How to Get the Most Out of This Workbook".  I've noted they forgot to mention in this section that having this book just sitting in a box or in a pile on your desk does not actually help.   That perhaps to get the most out of it, one should actually OPEN and READ the book.  No wonder I haven't felt relaxed!  HAHA...

Honestly, this was about as far as I got with the book.  I read this section.  This morning I'm glancing over the things I marked:  Make an agreement with yourself to set aside time each day dedicated to relaxation (and I underlined the part where I should read chapter 16 on time management if that's a problem for me).  Begin the day with a relaxation exercise (for me that's my bible reading or devotion time spent on other reading that's Orthodox in nature and, no..... honestly , I haven't done much of it - Not even this morning!  So I intend to do that as soon as I'm done here....oh...and after I let the dog out too....). Use a relaxation exercise to go to sleep quickly and sleep soundly (getting to sleep lately...NOT a problem.  Staying asleep - well that's a problem...oh, and no - I don't mean just because of wet beds - that actually has not happened for a while...).

So now to reread the section, let the dog out because her whining is annoying me and yes, she probably does need to go out...., do my bible reading and then, later in the day I am DETERMINED to read chapter one as my personal assignment for the day - boxes or no boxes (Yes, there's still a tone and so much organizing still to do!).  So the Challenge is BACK ON!  Anyone care to join me?

 

 

 

6

Since I posted about challenging myself regarding stress management back on July 4th (Independence Day from stress!), I decided that I should give some updates here and there about what I have learned and what I'm doing to teach myself some stress management and relaxation techniques and how I'm fairing in actually putting them to use.

So far I've done the following:

  •  I've continued my chiropractor sessions for my back spasms.  Whether it's the chiropractor or me consciously trying to be mindful of my stress and making myself take more time to relax, the spasms have lessened in intensity and frequency. Now if I could just take that hour it takes me to drive to the appointment and back 2-3 times a week and do something for myself even when I don't HAVE an appointment...now that would be progress my friends and I'm sure it would lead to less stress induced symptoms. But.....
  • I've started reading both books that I purchased....I know...I keep adding books onto my reading list and sometimes I wonder if I'm actually causing myself MORE stress by doing that but....that's me.  And reading is supposed to LESSEN stress so that's my story and I'm sticking to it.  Thus far I've only read the introductions and breezed through to see what's there. I think I'll benefit from both.  Anyone looking for ways to reduce stress or add relaxation to their lives needs to be willing to try various approaches. There really is not a single technique that's going to produce great results for every single person, so one must be willing to try several to see what's best.
  • Promised myself to start exercising again....yeah, I know...I've said this before.  But this time I'm trying to be realistic.  I simply can not do 20-30 minute workouts.  I'm aiming for ten minutes - and that INCLUDES time on the bike, jumping rope, or walking AND weight-bearing exercises with very small weights (nothing more until I'm sure the muscle spasm thing is gone).  Exercise, they say, can really alleviate the damage of stress on the body.
  • I've made more of an effort to start my days out right.  I set my alarm earlier to make sure I get up and can follow my routine of prayer time and devotion (about a half hour of various things) as well as get in a minimum of 30 minutes on my writing before my littlest man wakes up - er, uh, well, at least before he's allowed to demand breakfast.  It does make my day seem more productive and fruitful to me.  Doing it first thing in the morning helps me feel more at peace and more control in the day.  This means getting up by 5:30 in the morning when my body just begs to crawl back under the sheet but....it's worth it - it really is.  Yes, TIME MANAGEMENT is a good way to handle stress!

What have you done recently to reduce or manage your stress load?