Perspective is everything!

"Am I "seeing" today in God's light? Or is it a purely human agenda (my own and other people's) taking up my entire field of vision? How burdonsome that can be. And what a relief it is to let light in; that is, hand it all over to God and re-focus on His presence in the whole picture. Perspective is everything!"
~ Sister Vassa Larin

 

This part of Sister Vassa's devotion for May 19th in her book  Reflections With Morning Coffee really hit home this past week.  Often as I work myself up over recent events and anxious thoughts of the future and hurts from the past, I loose sight of this simple and obvious reality.  Perspective really is everything. When we come out of our own field of vision, the anxiety lessens.  When we re-focus on God's presence, everything looks so different!

Recent events in our lives have led me to seeking His word more often - more time alone with Him and more devotion and prayer.  And more listening....  One prayer stays at the forefront of my mind.  It's from Philippians.  It speaks of thanksgiving (gratitude) and changing perspective from anxiety to one of thanks and focusing  on things that are lovely and praiseworthy.  Perspective IS EVERTHING!

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Finally brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy- meditate on these things.  The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.           Philippians 4:6-9

 

Our struggles and challenges are real.  But we need not give all of our energy to being anxious over them.  We can focus on what is lovely.  Perspective is everything!

 

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, Have Mercy on Me, a sinner.

 

 

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.

 

Recently, I have once again read The Ascetic Lives of Mothers: A Prayer Book for Orthodox Moms by Annalisa Boyd.  Why I don't carry this book around me daily is beyond me.  If you are an Orthodox Mom and you don't have this book, get it now.  Her words are so true to heart and the pages are filled with quotes of the church fathers and prayers to suit every need.  I wanted to share some today.

 

Those times I have stepped back and taken a moment in silence, I have found many of the issues I thought were so pressing actually fall away to reveal heart issues- issues I need to bring before the Lord in continual prayers.  Of course this doesn't mean discipline may not be in order, but I will not be sinning in my anger if I take a moment to reflect , pray for my child, and address him in love. What impact might I have on my children's souls if I consistently approached them in this manner?  ~  Annalisa Boyd

 

Prayer -  Complaining

Lord Jesus Christ, let every word that comes from my mouth be acceptable in Your sight and full of Your praises.  Remind me when I feel like complaining that our Lord Jesus Christ endured the very Cross without a single complaint.  Let my mouth speak of Your goodness, and may I tell the world of my great joy because of Your finished work on the Cross.  When the worm of complaint tries to penetrate my heart and mind, let it be a reminder to me to pray for my family and those in need.  Amen.

 

Prayer - Greed/Selfishness

Grant, O Lord, Your wisdom to teach my children to be lovers of God rather than lovers of the world.  In their innocence let me not neglect these great lessons necessary for their souls.  If my heart has forgotten these lessons, or wasn't properly taught, forgive me and help me to learn in all humility.  Help us to accept the gifts you provide for us, but let us also be eager to give whatever we have to those in need.  Remind us always that this world is our temporary home, a mere shadow of the glories to come.  In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

How do you refrain from complaining in your life?  How do you teach your children to be lovers of God rather than lovers of the world?

 

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!

Lent is fast approaching and I'm not 100% set on my spiritual goals, but of course I have more in mind than just following the Whole30 and working on health goals.

Lent  begins during Vespers on Forgiveness Sunday, also known as Cheese-Fare Sunday.  This year it falls on February 26.  LIke I said, it's FAST approaching!

Forgiveness Vespers is one of my favorite services of the season.   It begins with a solemn Vespers service and when the announcement of the evening Prokeimenon is made (usually symbolizing the end of one day and the beginning of another), it symbolizes  the beginning of Lent. At the end of the service, all of the faithful go up to the priest, one by one, and the parishioner and the priest  ask one another for mutual forgiveness, and, then, the person gets in line and will continue around the church asking each person present for mutual forgiveness.  It's a lovely service and is a splendid approach to bringing repentance to mind for the Lenten season.

Each Lent I make goals for the Lenten Season with the idea of focusing on my relationship with God even more than I do during the rest of the year.  Really the idea is to build better habits that will last throughout the year and the remainder of our lives.  Some years are more successful than others.  Last  year, I didn't fare so well.  Hopefully this year will be better.  My personal goals always involve reading -  I  started my  reading this past week to allow myself enough time to complete the book I chose: Thirty Steps to Heaven by Vassilios Papavassiliou, an interpretation of the Ladder of Divine Ascent for the ordinary layman.  My goal is five pages a day, and I reach that by not allowing myself to read anything else (besides my morning devotion and bible readings) through the day until I do.  I can probably achieve this on most mornings during my regular devotion time, a habit I just recently began in the last two months or so.

I have another goal that will be difficult.  I am going to try to steer away from the social media pull.  I admit I spend too much time with it as I easily get pulled into discussions and what not and catching up on the post of my friends and family.  While I still believe that this is a good thing in and of itself, it is also tempting to spend too much time with it.  So while I can't avoid it completely as that is my main source of communicating for this blog and my Lemongrass Spa business, I do intend to curb my time spent on reading post after post after post of others and commenting back and forth.  This is the goal I am most concerned with...as just jumping on there to post my latest Lemongrass Spa update or a quote on the blog Facebook page, I see headlines of posts and am just pulled in so easily at times. So I'm not aiming for perfection, but am certainly  placing more limits on myself.  I just haven't figured out how to do it yet...wish me luck!

Most of my other goals involve my youngest son.  He is 6 (almost 7- oh how the time flies!) and I would like to make this a year that really helps him learn what Lent and Pascha (the word Orthodox Christians use for the day we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord rather than Easter, a term that began to use much later in history) are all about!  I plan on using at least one of my books from my post on children's books for Lent with my 6 year old ( From I-ville to You-ville), and will have a stack of Orhtodox Picture books in the living room for my husband to read to him when opportunity knocks.  And of course, we will be extra vigilent to be sure that the bible and our lesson from The Law of God is read before any additional school work is done and hopefully will be done even on days we elect to skip the formal 'school' lessons, of which I'm beginning to do more of and feel less guilt as I travel between more of an unschooling method while still maintaining lovely concepts from my days of studying Charlotte Mason.

We will also be revisiting Psalm 50.  This will be the first for my six year old, but the rest of us memorized this psalm about 5 or 6 years ago during Lent.  I'm afraid most of it has escaped my memory, though "Create in me a clean heart, O Lord, and renew a right spirit within me" is a favorite prayer of mine and never far from my mind.

And most of all, we are striving to get back in the habit of saying our morning and evening prayers, something we do but is not at all a daily habit at this time.  Hopefully this season will reinstill that important habit of an Orthodox family life.

I will leave you now with the words of psalm 50 - perhaps you'd like to revisit it yourself for Lent.

What are YOUR goals for Lent this year?

Psalm 50 (51)

Have mercy on me, O God, according to Thy steadfast love;  according to Thy abundant mercy.      Blot out my transgressions.  Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!

For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.  Against Thee, Thee only have I sinned, and done that which is evil in Thy sight, so that Thou art justified in Thy sentence and blameless in Thy judgment.

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.  Behold, Thou desirest truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.  Fill me with joy and gladness; let the bones which Thou hast broken rejoice.

Hide Thy face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.  Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.

Cast me not away from Thy presence, and take  not Thy Holy Spirit from me.  Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

Then I will teach transgressors Thy ways, and sinners will return to Thee.

Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, Thou God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of Thy deliverance.

O Lord, open Thou my lips, and my mouth shall show forth Thy praise.  For Thou hast no delight in sacrifice; were I to give a burnt offering, Thou wouldst not be pleased.

The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart Thou wilt not despise.  Do good to Zion in Thy good pleasure; rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, then wilt Thou delight in right sacrifices, in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on Thy altar.

 

 

One of the many books I'm reading (there's always many!) is A Beginner's Guide to Prayer by Michael Keiser. This is one I keep for my morning prayer time.  This is also, for some reason,  one of those books that have sat on my shelf for over 14 years - why I haven't ever read it all the way yet through is beyond me. But it has finally found its way into my 'Devotion Bucket' - a rustic wooden basket that sits by my comfy chair and lamp where I sit in the morning to do my devotion time with God.  Oh how I love and cherish that time.

 

If we love God, we want to get to know Him.  We want to spend time with Him.  We want to become one with Him.  This is why we pray.  Anyone who truly desires to grow closer to God must develop a disciplined prayer life.  Now what that looks like is probably  different from one person to the next.  But it's there.  And, I believe, the more disciplined you are, the closer you become. Many of us have struggled with prayer life, including me.  That's why this book was written and that's why, finally, I took it off the shelf.  I was motivated because I've recently been inspired by a friend who has gone through a terrible ordeal in her life over the past year. Despite the hardship,  through it all, she is constantly turning to God and finding her strength in Him.  She spends about two hours a day with Him.  Every morning.  I admit jealousy. To have TWO hours each day. I don't know how she does it.  But rather than brood over the impossibility of getting in two hours myself, without additional sleep deprivation, I allowed it to inspire me.  Surely, if I desire it, I can get in a half hour occasionally? Yes.  I can.  So my alarm on my phone each morning, set at least an hour before my youngest usually rises, reads "Wake and Pray".  And I stumble out to the kitchen, mumbling the Jesus Prayer as best I can, drink my first 16 ounces of H2O while I make my bulletproof coffee and head for my chair. I know that when I open my bible and do the day's readings, study a psalm or two (I'm currently trying to memorize psalm 1 - my favorite), read and study another chapter of Isaiah (my most current study) and a few pages of another book in my basket (A Beginner's Guide to Prayer, 1,000 Gifts Devotional, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Day by Day devotional, and several others), he will open Himself up to me so that I can learn about Him, so that He can speak to me and , yes, so that I can, over time and with all the other apects of a faithful life taught to us by the Church, become one WITH HIM.

There are some that don't believe we need to pray at home or at divine services, or fast or partake of the body of our Lord. But I agree with St. John Kronstadt who wrote "Why is it necessary to pray at home, and to attend divine services in church?  Well, why is it necessary for you to eat and drink, to take exercise, or to work every day?  In order to support the life of the body and strengthen it." The author of this book says, "Prayer is not an end in itself, but a means by which we draw closer to God."  We pray as a response to God's love for us, and we pray in order to show our love for God.  Just as we reach out to talk with others that we love, we reach out in prayer to talk with God.  And the more you do this, whether it is during a set morning prayer time or another part of your day, the more you can hear Him speak.

I'm so glad God woke me early this morning.  I spent extra time with him and this blog post just rolled right onto a piece of notebook paper in the comfort of my chair.  I'll be typing it up later - and more posts on prayer will be coming.  I promise.  It's important. I leave you now with the words of Psalm 1 and our Lord's Prayer.  Have a wonderful blessed day full of prayer.

Psalm 1

 Blessed is the man that walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the troublesome.

  But his will is in the law of the Lord; and in his law he meditates day and night.

 He shall be like a tree planted by streams of waters, that produces its fruit in his season; and his leaf  shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.

Not so are the ungodly, not so: but they are like the dust the wind drives from the face of the earth.

 Therefore the ungodly shall not rise in the judgment, nor sinners in the counsel of the righteous.

For the Lord knows the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

 

The Lord's Prayer

Our Father In Heaven

Hallowed be Your name

Thy kingdom come

Thy will be done

On earth as it is in heaven

Give us this day our daily bread

And forgive us our trespasses

As we forgive those who trespass against us

And lead us not into temptation

But deliver us from evil

For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.  Amen.

 

  WHAT DOES YOUR PRAYER LIFE LOOK LIKE?

Sun through trees
Photo Credit to Edge of Woods Photography

It is a time of much challenge to those that are Christians throughout this whole 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. Let me share with you then, 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.

 

Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal have mercy on us.

 

A secret prayer lies hidden within the human heart.  The man himself does not know it, yet working mysteriously within his soul, it urges him to prayer according to each man's knowledge and power. 

~R.M. French  -   The Way of A Pilgrim

 

...continue reading "Peaceful Reflections – October"

Peaceful Reflections

 Reflections in a pond, Mill Dam A peaceful spot at the north end of the Duns Castle Nature Reserve

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

 

Any Desire, no matter how good it appears, cannot rival the desire for Christ or for the Panagia.  When I give my heart to God, will not God give me His entire Self in return?  God seeks man's heart:  My son, give me your heart (Proverbs 23:26).  If man gives God his heart, God will grant him his heart's desires - as long as they will not be harmful to him.  Only  a heart given to Christ is not wasted, and only in Christ does one find - in abundance- the gift of divine love in this life, and heavenly exaltation in the next life.            

~  Elder Paisios the Athonite

 

 

The soul that has come to know God fully no longer desires anything else, nor does it attach itself to anything on the earth; and if you put before it a kingdom, it would not desire it, for the love of God gives such sweetness and joy to the soul that even the life of a king can no longer give it any sweetness.
~    St. Silouan the Athonite

 

Do not desire to hear about the misfortunes of those who oppose you. For those who listen to such speech later reap the fruits of their evil intention.                
~St. Mark the Ascetic

 

 

 

Jesus Christ, Son of God, Have Mercy on Me, a Sinner.

May this day bring you peace and thoughtful, God filled reflections to fill your heart throughout your days.

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

2010-07-18 09.50.10

 

Let our love be only in Christ.  In order to benefit others you must live in the love of God, otherwise you are unable to do good to your fellow man.  You mustn't pressurize the other person.  His time will come as long as you pray for him.  With silence, tolerance and above all prayer, we benefit others in a mystical way.  The grace of God clears the horizon of his mind and assures him of His love.  Here is the fine point.  As soon as he accepts that God is love, then abundant light such as he has never seen will come upon him.  Thus, he will  find salvation.   ~ Elder Porphyrios the Kapsokalyvite

Let us be convinced that nothing can happen to us apart from the providence of God.   ~St. Dorotheos of Gaza

As soon as your mind has experienced what the scripture says: "How gracious is the Lord," it will be so touched with that delight that it ill no longer want to leave the place of the heart.  It will echo the words of the apostle Peter: "How good it is to be here."  ~ St. Symeon the New Theologian

St. Symeon the New Theologian

 

 

 

2

 

I wasn't sure really what to call this post.... Chapter One?  No, because I  doubt that I'll go in order reading this book:

I'll probably skip around and maybe I'll just post commentaries from time to time that aren't really about a chapter at all and, after all.... this won't be the only book or source I'll use in my challenge to reduce stress and its negative effects on me.

So what to name it/them?  Well, I decided with just simply #3 since it's the third post on this topic (The other two are here and here in case you're just reading this and didn't see them...) and will hopefully be a series - more hope for more posts and more hope that I stick with it!!

So.....  onto the topic.

I read chapter one.  A lot of it was review for me.  I took psychology in high school and college.  I knew all about sources of stress, the fact that there really positive stresses, not just negative and about the fight-or-flight response, etc.  I also knew about the life events that make stress higher and how it can affect your health overall, etc., including that MOVING is certainly a big one along with several others I've been experiencing over the last year.  The first chapter did offer a chart, however, which I used to determine which chapters were probably going to help me the most as it addressed which chapters were most beneficial for particular stress symptoms.... obviously I need to read the ones that address the majority of my symptoms first.

But now onto chapter two...(The introduction recommends that I read the first two chapters before choosing on my own what to read next).  Chapter two was and has the potential to be pretty beneficial.  It was on body awareness.  Frankly, I don't have it.  Not until I am hunched over in pain from back spasms or have a major headache...though my headaches are normally from dehydration - yet another reason for developing body awareness.  Perhaps I should notice that I need liquid BEFORE reaching dehydration?? You get my point.  Our bodies register stress loooooonnnngggggg before our conscious minds do.  Muscle tension is probably the biggest way it does this.  Those of us who have particular beliefs or attitudes tend to be the ones with chronic muscular tension.  Yep, that's me.  Not the greatest self-esteem, always worried about what other's might think, always doubting myself, etc.... yeah, that leads to beliefs/attitudes that work themselves into chronic muscular tension. Anyone with me on that?

The chapter offers several 'exercises' to help increase body awareness.  I've tried them.  They seem awkward at first but I can see that if one got into the habit of doing them, it would be easier to be aware of what's going on internally.... but that will be key!  THE BUILDING OF THE HABIT! - This is the same person that sets a timer throughout the day (when I think of it) to remind myself to drink water.  Yes. I really do have to do that.  🙁  But I've taken the timer to be a reminder for something else now too.  It's sort of a body check/relax check.  It goes off, I drink my 4 ounces....and then I force myself to take a moment to breathe.  Deep breathing....at least a few and to just close my eyes and ask myself:  What's going on right now?  Am I relaxed?  Do I feel tension? Aches? What's going on around me and how is it affecting me?

I'm not keeping the diary as it suggests but I am trying to at least get a sense of how the day's events and environment affect how my body feels.  It's not a great huge leap into the world of relaxation but it's a small step and that's better than not addressing it at all.  I have, by the way, also started  to read chapter 16 on time management.  No commentaries on that today as I'm not that far into it.  But this is where I'm at with my challenge so far:

1.  Reading about relaxation and stress

2.  Getting back into my daily prayer/devotion time.

3.  Making time for writing. (So far it's just the blog here but I have reached out to my critique partners and have goals of getting back to my children's writing within just a few days if all goes well....)

4.  Drinking my goal of 64 ounces of water a day This may not sound stress related but it is!  Part of my issues, I believe, is that I don't make time for me....taking care of myself physically, emotionally or spiritually...so I need to set these things as priority!  Let's face it.  Dehydration doesn't exactly HELP alleviate stress.  With that, I weave in some deep breathing and attempt body awareness.

What changes have you made recently to reduce stress in your life and achieve relaxation?