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Photo by Pixabay
Photo by Pixabay

Back on October 6th, I published a post on time management and goal setting.  In determining those "New Year Resolutions" everyone's been talking about (including me), I've determined to go back to that goal list.

Back in October,  I had to come up with a list of my ultimate priorities.  They did 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.  I reviewed that list in the last few days and determined it has not changed:

  1. God
  2. My marriage
  3. Mothering my children
  4. Health & Safety
  5. Homeschooling
  6. Writing
  7. Friends & Other Family (outside my husband and children)
  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 but did need great consideration as I think it's the most important step), I needed to develop short-term, medium-term and long-term goals.  I started with LONG TERM- because you need an ultimate goal.  The medium term and short-term goals are what you do to reach the LONG TERM goals- so those need set in place first.  So this morning, I looked over those long-term goals and made a few minor adjustments.  For the most part though, they have not changed since October.

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 focus on LOVE and RESPECT and one that can serve as a model to others.
  3. To have my children always know - without a shadow of a doubt- that I love them, to be a Christian model to them and someone they can depend on for strength, guidance and yes, even friendship.
  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, not just academically but 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 a comfortable, 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!

 

So that's my LONG TERM Goal list.  Now I need to look over that Medium-Term and Short-Term goal list-  I'll take the rest of this week to look over it.  In short, I need to come up with a list of medium term goals or steps that I need to achieve to accomplish those long-term goals.  It's about making a plan.  I can't establish that close relationship with God if I don't take the steps up the ladder to get there!  So my medium term goals and short-term goals will obviously include prayer and devotion time and other things that I can do to make sure I keep focused on God each day and each moment of my life.

Goal Setting
Photo by Pixabay

Your Medium Term Goals are goals you can most likely achieve within the next 1-5 years while your short-term goals are the steps you'll be working on immediately and accomplish within the next few weeks up to one year. See my previous post on Goal Setting.

Remember- Resolutions don't need to be met 100%.  The idea of Resolutions is to have Goals- to establish a plan and make PROGRESS.   None of us are perfect.  We are human.  But we CAN MAKE PROGRESS!!

 

So what are your priorities?  Have you made a list a long-term goals based on those priorities recently?

 

 

 

 

Edge of Woods Photography
Edge of Woods Photography

Peaceful Reflections

Take some time on this day to just sit quietly, ponder on the words of God and His saints – reflect on the wonders of this life and all of creation.

For the past two days, my family gave me a wonderful gift.  I asked for it and they conceded.  We had two totally peaceful days of RELAXATION and FAMILY TIME in our home.  It was vacation at home- and was so wonderful.  We simply enjoyed each others company and relaxed....forgetting about our earthly worries and spending time relaxing and enjoying the people God put into our lives.  Thus, today's reflections center on family. Not all of these quotes are from Saints or the bible as I usually attempt for our Sunday reflections, but all are important for our reflection.  I hope you enjoy.

With so many and different levels of interpersonal relations, the family becomes the most dynamic and effective unit for the formation of the human personality. While in all other forms of human coexistence the driving force remains a social motivation, in the family and the Church, which is the family of God, the motivation is existential and sacramental. This is precisely why family and Church are of unique importance in the preparation of the individual as a citizen.  ~Orthodox Research Institute "Family:  An Orthodox Christian Perspective"

Family is not an important thing.  It's everything.  ~ Michael J. Fox (actor)

You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them. ~Desmond Tutu

“It is of great significance if there is a person who truly prays in a family. Prayer attracts God’s Grace and all the members of the family feel it, even those whose hearts have grown cold. Pray always.”   ~ Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica

Our family life, like our garden, requires continual care. Within our family our first care must be care of ourselves. If we don’t care for ourselves we will have nothing left over for others.  ~Albert S. Rossi  Family As Garden Resource Handbook  OCA.Org

For further reflection, check out this great article!  Resource Handbook - Family as Garden

 

Lord,  Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!

 

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I'm smiling and laughing.  So I sit down Monday morning, after waking at 4am....even though I had went to bed before my 10: 00 usual 'bedtime' and hadn't set the alarm for 4, but rather 5:45, and am irritated by my lack of sleep, open up my "BLOG folder" because I'm determined if I'm going to be awake I should at least let myself enjoy the time writing, and in what used to be the next blank spot on topics I'm posting this month is this:

My Son Loves Me
My Son Loves Me

Do you see it?  Right there at the bottom....  My husband has written in 'My wonderful family wants me to have a gazebo'.....

What's that?  Oh.  You don't get it?

Well......  several years ago....okay, quite a few actually.... I went to New York City and attended an SCBWI conference.  one of the speakers - I believe it was Katherine Patterson but don't quote me on this as I don't have it written down in my notebook - told a story of how their child's friend didn't believe that their mother was an author because she didn't have a gazebo in the backyard and 'every author has a gazebo in the backyard'....

So it's been this standing joke (I think it's a joke...we'll see) that when I'm a published author (doesn't that sound cool?) that my family will put a gazebo in the back yard for me.

I DON'T think it will be this one....
Maybe closer to this one?
Maybe closer to this one?

Either way,  I feel highly motivated and encouraged!  🙂  And loved 🙂

So I guess I should get really busy writing....because the cost of gazebos is going up (isn't everything?)!  And apparently my family wants to see it happen....

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Today is the annual Christmas get together with my family 🙂

It's a big family.  Mom and PapPap had 6 kids, 5 of which are still living and they raised me.  So Mom and  all of their kids and their kids' kids get together at Christmas for a meal and gift exchange.  It's usually a really fun time.  So I thought today I would share quotes about family.

"I don't care how poor a man is; if he has family, he's rich."  ~Dan Wilcox and  Thad Mumford, "Identity Crisis," M*A*S*H
"Families are like fudge - mostly sweet with a few nuts."  ~Author Unknown

"You don't choose your family.  They are God's gift to you, as you are to them."  ~Desmond Tutu

"Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family: Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one."
~ Jane Howard

"Family faces are magic mirrors looking at people who belong to us, we see the past, present, and future."
~Gail Lumet Buckley

Random Thoughts on Saturday:

  • I like fudge.
  • I love my family.
  • Having little children makes Christmas morning extra fun and exciting.
  • I am computer challenged....  actually I am technology challenged  🙁
  • The only problem with having lots of books stacked on my shelf is deciding which one to read first!
  • Christ is Born!  Glorify Him!  I hope you are all still enjoying the Christmas season with family, friends and faith and love in your hearts!

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My toddler, after reading a story about Thanksgiving, was asked, "What do we eat for Thanksgiving?".  He responded, "Turkey, strawberries, perogies, squash and pumpkin".  Okay, so he didn't exactly understand the whole concept of what the pilgrims ate but he got a lot!  🙂

Hopefully, we adults get a lot more out of the concept of Thanksgiving than my toddler.  Hopefully we know it's not really about the food and learn a lesson that doesn't require Snoopy making popcorn and toast and Marcie telling Charlie Brown the true meaning of Thanksgiving.

But if you're not sure, or if you are and just want a moment to reflect, here is an Orthodox prayer for Thanksgiving given to us by St. Basil the Great:

                                 We bless Thee, O most high God and Lord of mercy, Who art ever doing numberless great and inscrutable things for us––glorious and wonderful; Who grantest to us sleep for rest from our infirmities, and repose from the burdens of or much toiling flesh.  We thank Thee that Thou hast not destroyed us with our sins, but hast loved us forever; and though we are sunk in despair, Thou hast raised us up to glorify thy power.  Therefore, we implore Thine incomparable goodness: enlighten the eyes of our understanding and raise up our mind from the heavy sleep of indolence; open our mouth and fill it with Thy praise, that we may be able––without distraction––to sing and confess Thee, Who are God glorified in all and by all, the eternal Father, with Thine Only-begotten Son, and thine All-Holy and good and life-giving Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

I pray that you are with family today or at least someone who is like family to you.

I pray that you have a roof over your head and a source of warmth.

I pray that you do have food that will sustain your health.

I pray that you have love.

I pray that you have the ability to rest when you are weary.

I pray that you have good health.

I pray that you have someone who can make you smile even when the world seems dark and cold.

I pray that you have Faith, strong and true.

I pray that God blesses you this day and each and every day of your life and that you have the eyes to behold it with gratitude.

I pray that you have peace.

Happy Thanksgiving!

  

Prayer is the elevation of the mind and the heart to God in praise, in thanksgiving, and in petition for the spiritual and material goods we need.  Our Lord Jesus Christ commanded us to enter into our inner room and there pray to God the Father in secret. This inner room means the heart, the core of our being.  

~ excerpt from Orthodoxprayer.org

We attempt to always start our day, usually after breakfast, by saying morning prayers together as a family.  Not always does this happen, but I am glad that it does more often than it does not.

My favorite prayer in the morning, called the Prayer for the Beginning of the Day, always makes me think about the people and events God puts into our lives and how by looking at these people and events and  remembering that there is a purpose for those encounters can completely change how we perceive whatever happens to us in the course of a day (or week, or year or our lives)  and can be a blessing to us rather than the curse we sometimes choose to see it as.

The prayer goes like this:

O Lord, grant that we may meet the coming day in peace.
 Help us in all things to rely upon Your holy will.
  In each hour of the day, reveal Your will to us.
  Bless our dealings with all who surround us.
  Teach us to treat all that shall come to us throughout the day with peace of soul, and with the firm conviction that Your will governs all.
In all our deeds and words, guide our thoughts and feelings.
In unforeseen events, let us not forget that all are sent by You.
Teach us to act firmly and wisely, without embittering and embarrassing others. Give us the strength to bear the fatigue of the coming day, with all that it shall bring.
Direct our wills.
Teach us to pray.
Pray within us. Amen

So I start the day asking God to help me to rely on His holy will....not my own will which I am guilty of wanting so very often.  I ask Him to bless my dealings with all around me and to treat others with kindness.  I ask Him to guide my thoughts....don't let them stray God! And my feelings too...that I may feel love and forgiveness rather than disdain and bitterness.  And I ask Him, especially focusing on this part of the prayer...that in those unforseen times and events...those things I hadn't planned on or that disrupt my human will and desires...to please not let me forget that it is sent by Him... and he gives me the power to choose wisely.  I do NOT need to become unglued when something challenges my day or the way I think things ought to go or even when someone treats me unkindly.  I can choose to remember that He is there even in this 'mess' that I am dealt with and He gives me the choice to act firmly and wisely without embittering or embarrassing others (or myself!).  I ask Him for strength to bear the fatigue that the day brings to me and always, ALWAYS, ask Him to teach me to pray...as I know I should be striving for unceasing prayer each and every day.

In this prayer I am sure that I am praying for God's will...not my own.  I am praying that He will not stray from my thoughts and heart throughout the day.  I am asking that He stay close to me through all tasks and encounters with others.  I am praying that through everything that comes my way, I remember that it is an opportunity to practice His will...to keep Him always present within me.

I pray also that you are able to greet this coming day in peace and that you are able, in all things, to rely upon His holy will!

May God Bless You!

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Our story is a personal story.  Why anyone chooses to homeschool always is.  There could be a single or mixture of reasons given:  religion, health, curriculum choice, academic failure in the public schools, and school violence just to name a few I hear the most often.  But each  makes a decision that is personal to them.

We pulled my daughter out of the public schools in her 5th grade year. (We kept our son in public school for the rest of that year, despite his yearning to be home with us to try to meet our daughter's needs at that time.  The following year, we were glad to keep him home with us as well.) She desperately wanted to be homeschooled at that time for various reasons.  It was a decision that changed our family....  little did I know at that time how much it would and that I would be truly grateful for God leading us to do that.

Our family is closer.  We talk often. Not just at meal times, though our family dinner hour is always sacred, but here and there throughout the day.  It's an advantage most families don't have. And we spend lots of quality time together - time we simply wouldn't have if we had to obey the public school schedule and our children were whisked away by a bus early in the morning and not brought home until late afternoon with their backpacks full of homework for their evenings.

We have flexible schedules.  While my years of teaching in the public schools have lent their dent on me in still trying to maintain a bit of a 'typical school day schedule for academics', my kids don't have to get up in the morning until the public school kids have already been on the bus allowing them more sleeping time and they are typically finished with their work before these kids get back on the bus!   And if we are sick.  or want to go somewhere?  We just don't have school. (Yes, we DO fill the 180 days required by law, but we do it according to OUR schedule, not someone else's.) And if we want to take a full week off for PASCHA?  We do!  We can attend more church services, more field trips that are of interest to us (not another entity) and visit family a little more leisurely.   Now this flexibility IS harder in the higher grades with more inflexible choices we make such as volleyball, piano lessons, gym classes with the local homeschool co-op, online classes, etc. but it still remains more flexible than the public schools schedule.

Flexible Curriculum/Classes: Naturally we teach reading, writing and math but we are not held to the rigidity of particular curriculums or particular classes for particular years.  If my child would rather study zoology in 8th grade rather than general science, he can.  If he wants to take Russian rather than the typical French or Spanish, he can.  If he wants to do two histories in one year, he can.  If he wants to take an online class or even an online college course or a college course at a local university, he could!

We teach our children according to OUR beliefs. We teach them God is first, ALWAYS.  We are human, of course, and sometimes fail in demonstrating this.  I have. in the past, missed attending a feast day at church or other event because we are behind in academics.  But in this too, we are teaching God forgives.  But we must always, ALWAYS strive to do better.  This year I blocked out the feast days first on the calendar when I planned school days. So we teach them our faith.  We teach them the teachings of the Orthodox Christian Church.  And we teach them to love and forgive.

We maintain our HEALTH. My family has completely eradicated illnesses that conventional medicine claims there is not a cure for through eliminating MSG, other neurotoxins, and artificial additives and preservatives from our diet.  Because of homeschooling, my children were an integral part of our conversion from the Standard American Diet (SAD) to a more whole foods approach and eliminating dangerous toxins from our daily consumption in food products and other sources.  They enjoyed finding new recipes and trying new foods.  They learned to read labels and make determinations on what to consume and realized the detriment these food products had been causing us.  Because of homeschooling, my children were able to delve deeply into our learning process and do not need to be fed nonsensical information in a public school health class.  Nor do they need to fight school policies on school cafeteria food that is full of the very toxins we avoid.  (More on our food habits and our food choices in posts to come!)

These are the highlights of why we homeschool.  I wrote this, I have realized, as though I'm still homeschooling both my older children.  It's a hard habit to break.  My daughter is actually not at home this year because she is attending college at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. (Yes, homeschoolers CAN go to college - this in answer to an actual question my husband received recently from a well-educated man.)  Currently, it is only my older son that is being homeschooled.  Of course, while he's only 3 1/2, my youngest is also being educated...but in a much more relaxed, fun approach and not really 'school'.  We are enjoying just exploring his world and teaching the concepts that come up as they come up.  He actually has learned a few words already!  Nothing like GOOD BOOKS to captivate a child and give the desire to find out what those letters on the page are doing!

My older son is in 9th grade... his first year of 'high school' and keeping track of credits.  It's a challenging year but he's keeping up well and still active in Scouts and got a doe while hunting the other day (while public school kids were confined in a brick building).

So again, these are the highlights.  I'm looking forward to sharing more about what we do and what we have learned.  There's so much to tell!  🙂