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The fact seems to be that children are like ourselves, not because they have become so, but because they are born so; that is, with tendencies, dispositions, towards good and evil, and also with a curious intuitive knowledge as to which is good and evil.  Here we have the work of education indicated.  There are good and evil tendencies in body and mind, heart and soul; and the hope set before us is that we can foster the good so as to attenuate the evil; that is, on condition that we put education in her true place as the handmaid of Religion.

I found this quote in the book, For The Children's Sake (chapter three on Authority and Freedom), taken from Towards a Philosophy of Education (p. 46) which is volume 6 of the Charlotte Mason's homeschool series.  I have not ventured so far as to read many pages of the Charlotte Mason 6 volume set yet.  I found it very overwhelming at first (I bought it well over a year ago) but am now eager to begin again as soon as I am through with For The Children's Sake. I 'think' it's serving as a good prelude to Mason's own works.2015-04-01 15.36.44-2

I have reread the above quote over and over.  It resonates with me.  As the author, Susan Schaefer Macaulay, points out , "the first task of education is a moral one".  I wholeheartedly agree.  I can't possibly say I have educated my child if I ignore morals and the teaching of our faith and  don't spend time to foster the good heart that my child was born with as well as attempting to weaken the tendency to do wrong. So while I strive to offer my child all that I can in the way of reading skills, math skills, knowledge of history and science and the other academic areas, my ultimate goal is to weave our Orthodox Christian faith in God along with good habits and morals into those lessons and all parts of our day.

Bible, Religious Studies and Habit Training
Bible, Religious Studies and Habit Training

We do not start our day without morning prayer and our bible story.  It simply isn't done.  I feel I failed my older kids on this current determination of mine.  We often did our morning prayers as a family and occasionally did some bible reading, especially during Lent; however, too often we also skipped this important part of our day in our rush to an outside activity or the chaos of the morning.   My priorities are set right now.  Bible and prayer comes before any academics.  If I get nothing else done in a day, it must be that.

Right after bible stories with my younger son, we go over our habits list.  I printed out a list of habits that I want to currently instill in my son.  While Charlotte Mason followers believe in working on one habit at a time, I realize there are smaller habits that must be worked on continually.  So my list may be a little long, but it's the goals we are specifically targeting right now (my son is 5).

  • Say “Excuse Me, Please” when interrupting
  • Say “Please” and “Thank you” when asking for something
  • Do morning and evening chores daily
  • Always Hang Up Your Coat
  • Always put shoes in closet basket
  • Always put dirty clothes in laundry in hamper;
  • Pay Attention -  Always listen and only ask ‘what’ one time IF NEEDED. (Adults avoid repeated directions; say “Alexander, pay attention to what I’m about to say…)
  • Place tissues, wrappers and other trash in the garbage.
  • Use a fork or spoon when eating a meal.
  • Use a napkin to wipe your face and hands when eating.
  • Always be honest.
  • Be kind to others and our pets.
  • Always do the right thing even when you don’t want to do it.

As you can see, some of them are pretty basic while some are a bit vague.  Where is God in this?  Good Manners.  Kindness.  Honesty.  Always Do the Right Thing.  These are things taught in the bible.  When we talk about them, we talk about bible stories and what God wants for us.  We were made in His image.  What does that mean?  It means we are to be loving, kind, honest people who always strive to do the right thing.

Will my son always do the right thing?

No.

Do I?

No.

My son is a person.  Just like me.  And we are all sinners.

So what do I do when he falters?  Shall I chastise?  Shall I send him off to a corner? Tell him he's lazy or bad?

No.

Children can be helped to acquire habits of Godly beings.  The habits of being respectful, being honest, doing the right thing? They need to be modeled.  So when he lapses in his own display of these moral habits, I must use the habits I'm tryining to instill in my approach of correction.  I must be kind.  I must respect and care for my child in a way that not only teaches, but fosters the love I want him to display.

It's not always easy.  I sometimes falter too.  And then what?

Apologize.

Always, Always, ALWAYS apologize to your kids when you have wronged them or fallen short of the habits you are trying to instill in them.  What good is it to tell someone what they must do if you do not display that habit yourself or to arrogant to admit your failures?

And now to my main point of this post:   Foster the Good!

When I notice my son has done something in accordance to these habits- I bestow praise.  I take notice.  "You put away the silverware so nicely today- it makes it so much easier for us to find a spoon when we need one."  "You were so kind to your friend at church today.  I'm sure you made him very happy."  "I like the way you said your prayers without jumping around today."  "THANK YOU for using good manners!"

We help a child the most when we notice and focus on their strong points and demonstrate a real liking and loving of his personhood. My son has an avid imagination. And he loves, loves, LOVES to draw and write!  There are signs and drawings posted all over our house.  That's one way I try to demonstrate a liking of his personhood.  I can do this by listening avidly to his wild crazy stories and by respecting his love of making all these signs and drawings.  As much as the clutter on the walls and fridge drive me insane (I'd much rather the fridge be bare!), I realize this allowance is honoring him for who he is. Eventually, they do get taken down, but there are ALWAYS MORE.

Appreciation of the person they are  helps them to learn self-respect and self-confidence.  We must love the person they ARE. The person they ARE was made in the image of God.  There IS good there and it must be recognized and tended to.  If I focus on all the times (and there's been plenty) he's drawn on the table, floor or wall, then I am not focusing on the good.  Rather I focus on the times he's done right and drawn and written marvelous things on paper- paper I must provide often so that he's not tempted to draw in the wrong places!

2015-03-27 21.11.36My son loves to be read to and he loves to play games and he loves to be a part of what I am doing and he LOVES me to be a part of what he's doing.  So I need to make sure these things are happening.  I need to make sure he is read to often (rarely a problem) and I need to make sure I sit down and play a game with him from time to time (a bigger problem I need to tackle) and I need to figure out more ways to let him be a part of helping me out through the day so that it doesn't kill my nerves. 😉  And I need to take a few minutes here and there to watch him and join him in his free play time.  All of these things are ways to show him love, respect and opportunities to practice the habits and moral attributes we are trying to teach.

As Susan Shaeffer Macaulay states, "...everything seems to come back to love and moral framework".   When we demonstrate the morals and values we want our children to have, when we treat them as persons and love them for who they ARE, they will shine.  Macaulay contends, and I agree, the curriculum is all that goes on outside of school hours as well as what we do in school.  It is the balance that counts as education takes place during all of the waking hours and in all of our waking actions- not just the math lesson, science lesson and bible reading.

We absolutely must foster the good in our child every day in every possible moment.

What are some ways you foster the good in your child?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today marks the Sunday of the Last Judgment in the Orthodox Church. Often called Meat-Fare Sunday (as we begin our abstaining from animal products this week with meat only), it is the third Sunday using the Triodion (the liturgical book containing the prayers and hymns for the entire Lenten season leading up to Pascha).

In Matthew 25:31-46, a parable is told by Christ about His second coming and the Last Judgment.847315000_13adb5a483_z

“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one form another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me. Then the righteous will answer Him saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me. Then He will say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me. Then they will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You? Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these you did not do it to Me. And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

What is the criteria for the Last Judgment? What is the meaning of this parable? LOVE. It is imperative that we love any person that God places in our path during this earthly life. Not just our parents, children and spouse.  We, as Christians, are called to care for all of society, every person, every walk of life. Christian love is the ability to see Christ in everyone we meet – YES, even those that do not show love to us. Even those that show us only contempt. Even those whose physical appearance, social status, and way of life does not match our own. For in each person we encounter, each relationship we have, is an opportunity to not only bring us close to that person, but to God Himself.

There are people who are hard to love or show love to. Whether it be our parent, brother, neighbor, or the politicians practicing ways of life in opposition to Christ.  Whether it be a sister, a child, a cranky clerk at the store, or someone who has physically harmed you. Whether it be a spouse, a cousin, a beggar, or someone that has been responsible for the death of another.  What of these? You know who they are.  That person or persons that bring up anxiety and pain within your heart.  What of these?  These are the ones we need to pray for - for in prayer we are loving them.  We are lifting them up to God.  And in that prayer, we just may find other ways to show love to them - for not only are we lifting them up to God, we are lifting up ourselves to God.  For in loving others, we are loving Christ.

 

  Kondakion (Tone 1)

When You, O God, shall come to earth with glory,

All things shall tremble

And the river of fire shall flow before Your judgment seat;

The books shall be opened and the hidden things disclosed!

Then deliver me from the unquenchable fire,

And make me worthy to stand at Your right hand, righteous Judge

Resources and Other Sources of Interest:

Sunday of the Last Judgment

The Third Sunday of the Triodion Period: Sunday of the Last Judgment (Meatfare Sunday)

Great Lent: Journey to Pascha

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I love being a mother.

All Photos by Pixabay
All Photos by Pixabay

I love raising my children.  I love nurturing their every need: protection, food, shelter, love and all that this entails.

I also love bears.

black-bear-50293_640Maybe it's because I can so closely relate to the stories of how a mamma bear will protect it's young.

abcnews.go.com  - woman plays dead

newser.com   - Mama bear mauls jogger

Is it any wonder that they use the term mamma bear in a parenting safety app on phones?  (  http://mamabearapp.com/ )

In my life as a parent, I've played all sorts of 'mama bears':

The mama who goes about doing her own thing, but always watching with those eyes in the back of my head.  Oh yes, young ones, I know what you are doing...

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The mama bear who convinces the young child it's quiet time, so that I CAN TAKE A NAP!

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The mama bear who trees her cub (time-out in human terms) to teach them a lesson or protect them from harm.

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The mama bear who GETS RIGHT IN  YOUR FACE and says "Hey! That's my kid - don't you DARE treat my kid that way!"

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And the mama bear who will FIGHT.  The mama bear who  will stop at NOTHING to defend her child and protect that child from ANY PERCEIVED harm.  Yeah, that's the one.

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Don't mess with mama bear!

And it doesn't really matter what that perceived harm is, does it?  Whether it's the bully on the bus, the stranger who makes a nasty comment, the neighbor woman who somehow thinks it's okay her child tripped yours, the doctor who wants to inject toxic poisons into the bloodstream,the librarian who doesn't get your child's special needs, the guy next door, the boys walking in the mall,  the school district that doesn't truly know the educational needs of your specific child,  or the chemicals that wreak havoc on your child's brain that so many people are fooled into thinking is actually 'food'....

We mothers can all identify with those protective instincts of a mama bear.  We will leap in and defend our child from whatever we perceive as harmful. Don't mess with this mama bear's cubs.  Don't toy with them, don't hassle them, don't mess with their brains.  I'm watching.

 

Can you identify with Mama Bear?

Peaceful Reflections.....for those times you just need some quiet time to sit, read a short bit and reflect.

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Pay attention to yourselves, lest your hearts be burdened with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day come on you suddenly like a snare;  for it will come upon all those sitting on the face of all the earth. But keep awake at all times, beseeching that you may have strength to flee away from all these things that are about to happen and to stand before the Son of Man.  ~ Luke 21: 34-36

Though I speak with tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.

St. Paul

~ I Corinthians 1-3

 

 

Remember, never to fear the power of evil more than your trust in the power and love of God.  ~Hermas, one of the Seventy

 

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

 

 

 

Twenty Two Years Ago.

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                         We invited others to share in our joy and our commitment.

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I married my best friend.

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He is still the one I laugh with, live for, dream with and love.

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Hand in hand, we will venture forth - sharing in the sacrament God led us to and leads us in every day.

I love you Theodore Federoff.  YOU are my one and only.  Forever.

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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!