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As parents, we can simply SHUT UP! If we can sit back and listen to ourselves, we can hear how much negative harassment we throw at our kids.  If a parent would seriously and objectively listen to what he says (through his child's ears), he would be appalled and could probably with some effort change that kind of "No".

I think here of Lisey (then 3) who was pouring herself a glass of milk yesterday.  She had gotten it from the fridge, opened it, poured from a fat 2-quart carton a very small juice-glass of milk, had drunk it, then had gotten a paper towel and was wiping up the milk spilt on the table.  There was more milk spilt than the towel could absorb so as she wiped now, the milk was being pushed off the table onto the floor.

I walked in at this point and started with the running "No, No" commentary in a whiny voice:  "oooooh, no, Lisey, you should have asked someone to pour you a glass of milk-no, don't wipe it up, it's going on the floor; now stop, don't do it, I'll do it, it's bad enough on the table- look, now you've got it on the floor- you're making more work for me."

Happily at this point I was struck by a rare beam of sanity and it said to me, "Oh, quit being such a bitch, Lisey has just poured her first glass of milk all by herself and you're ruining the whole thing for her."

And suddenly I looked and saw a very little girl trying very hard to grow up- trying to wipe up herself the mess she had made getting herself a drink of milk.  And I said, "Lisey, I think Sparkle (dog) would like this extra milk."

Lisey stopped and looked at me.  I had finally said something of meaning.  All the negative harassment up till then she had been trying to ignore.  I said, "If you get Sparkle's dishe, we can put the milk in it."

She got it and we did.

And immediately she began an animated chatter about how Sparkle would like this milk and how she had poured them both a drink of milk, etc.  Until then, she had barely said one word. In fact, if I had pushed her far enough- "Ok, Lisey, get out of the kitchen while I clean up your mess"- she would have probably ended up crying (over spilt milk!).

But the happy ending here did not require much effort on my part because I wasn't very emotionally involved.  My mind could still be objective about the situation to the extend of being ale to control and change it.

The above was taken from Teach Your Own (The John Holt book of Homeschooling) by John Holt.  It really struck me this morning as I read this passage, recognizing my own self in the story, both as a parent and as a child and the view of the child in today's society.

There is beauty in a child.  They are gifts.  Gifts from our creator.  And they can be the most joyful blessing if we open our eyes to see it.  They can teach us by far more than any textbook, lecture, magazine article written by a scientist, lab experiment, or intellectual conversation.  A child can change us, mold us into the beautiful work of art intended by our God. But if we take society's stance as an unborn child has no right to live and that toddlers are A**holes (yes, a real book title that totally appalls me to the deepest core) whether it be in a joking manner or not, we miss the true essence.  We miss the chance to be shaped and yes, even work through our salvation, through the experience of carrying a child to term, giving birth, raising or even spending time with a child and enjoying that child to his and our fullest potential.  That is a great tragedy.

Today's society seems to tell us that children are born trouble makers....even viewed as a problem from within the womb.  It is not the child that is the problem.  It is our selfish worldview that is the problem.

When I walk into a room cluttered with my son's toys and artwork, it is me with the problem.  It is me that has trouble with how to accept that clutter as beauty.  It is me that grimaces at his noises and interruptions as nuisance to my ears rather than music and opportunity for my betterment and growthn. It is me that worries over insects or a cool wind as he goes in and out the door enjoying his world. It is me that doesn't take the time to observe the things he is learning as he builds the mountains of blocks or stacks his 20 animals around him in the living room or the mountains of papers on the kitchen table and floor surrounding it.  It is me that is not grateful for the messes.  It is me with the problem.  It's not my child.

As a child,  I was raised in a situation in which everything I did seemed to be a problem...  whether it was an accidental spill, noise, moving my lips when reading, a thought of my own, forgetting to pick something up off the floor or table, a question that wasn't wanted to be answered, or simply not performing to the adult perfection or timely fashion expected of me.  No and consequences for simply being a child and doing things that children do, did not shape me in a  positive manner. I grew up, even after that environment changed, believing I must perform perfectly (in the eyes of others and myself) to be worthy of love or acceptance.  Which means I often gave up many things before even trying due to fear, or didn't and still don't give myself credit for a job well done.

Is that what I want for my child?  Is that what we want as a society for our children?  For the young men and women that are growing up who will become the leaders of our society? I see myself, though over the years I've certainly changed for the better, still saying no when it could really be a yes.  There are still so many cases where I really just need to shut up and listen. I need to stop condemning my child for being a child and just shut up....listen, observe and soak it all in like a beautiful symphony. Listen to my child and realize he (they) is there to teach me just as much if not MORE than I am to teach him.  Observe from his perspective and see the beauty that God has given me through the eyes of this child.  Yes, we are here to guide our children-  but how do we do that?  It need not be in the words of "No", "Get out of there," or "Not now". Learning not to say no in a way that demeans or stifles their spirit is a challenge but so necessary for them to be themselves and freely learn more than a school room or academic lesson will ever teach them- or ourselves for that matter.   We don't HAVE to panic at every mess (though I still stick to my rule that he has to ask before he tapes one more thing to my walls.....) or assume the worse at their every move.  We can enjoy these moments.  Savor them really.  Use them to awaken and change our spirits.

 

Create in me a clean heart O Lord, and renew a right spirit within me.

Psalm 50:10

 

"Salvation is our cooperative effort with God's grace through keeping of the commandments and the acquisition of the beauty of the virtues, which bring man, who is in the image of God, to the likeness of God."

~Taken from Acquiring The Mind of Christ by Archimandrite Sergius (Bowyer)

 

This, to me, has got to be one of the most profound and wonderfully simply stated explanations of the Orthodox view of salvation I have ever come across.  It is short and simple and to the point.

Salvation is not a one time experience and guarantee.  It is a process.  And while I can say I was saved when Jesus died on the cross, I also know that it is, indeed, a process.  I can mess up that salvation for myself if I part from God- my relationship with Him and His commandments.  For in parting from those, I am furthering myself from becoming like Him.

Yet as I go through the day-  seeking Him in prayer, attending Liturgy and taking part in the sacraments, reading the bible and books that encourage my faith, surrounding myself with others of the faith, teaching my children about the faith, singing hymns, practicing gratitude, and attempting to avoid sin,    all of those things bring me closer to Him and, therefore, is me demonstrating that cooperative effort with His grace.

I've always enjoyed reading explanations of salvation.  This one really struck me this morning and I was compelled to share.  Hopefully it gives you as much to ponder as it did for me.

What are you doing today to keep that cooperative effort going?

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

 

 

 

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The conference started on Thursday.  Unfortunately we were running behind schedule and did not make it in time to attend the Akathist service- this one being a prayer service to the Mother of God as the nurturer of children.  It is a beautiful service as we have attended them in the past.

We did make it for dinner and were happy to see familiar faces and see many new faces as well. After dinner was a nice group photo session and orientation activities including the phenomenal display of photography by Jocelyn Mathewes in the museum at Antiochian Village titled Women With Icons.

Friday brought us a beautiful Pre-sanctified Liturgy service followed by the first sessions!  I attended one called "Maneuvering through the High School Years" given by Dianthe Livanos.  Dianthe shared her wisdom and reminded us that life is NOT about a title, position or amount of money we make and that we must remember to place Loving God above everything and teach this to our children. I had a wonderful discussion with Dianthe after the session about refocusing my outlook on some recent challenges - we truly must set our sights on God as parents - in doing this our children will hopefully learn to do the same.

Another session was conducted by Susan Papademetris on setting goals and following through.  Susan reminded us to set goals- have them in writing - something I use to do but haven't actually done this for several years.  It's something I certainly intend to work on.  I have writing goals but not written homeschool goals...something is wrong with that picture! We need to review these goals annually - some of us may be fine doing this monthly or weekly...others may need to do it daily.  I think the overall goals - especially our goals involving our faith- should be reviewed quite frequently! Susan provided a wonderful handout that I still need to reread to get it all. It will definitely be put in my pile of planning materials for next year as I want to keep it all in mind as I plan and organize.

My session 3 was on Free Online Resources for Education and I'm looking forward to the list of sources Bob Weaver will be sending to those of us in the session!  He did a fabulous job  of presenting a list of places to look for information and the questions to ask yourself about your sources (Is it authoritative? Comprehensive? Reliable? Current?) and how to go about answering those questions.

The Keynote Speaker, Dr. Christopher Veniamin, spoke on The Orthodox Understanding of Salvation:  "Theosis" in St. Silouan the Athonite and Elder Sophrony of Essex.  Orthodox theology is personal and unique and Dr. Veniman thoroughly covered this topic and hit many important points including:  We must pray or our enemies just as Christ did, If you don't feel bad for the sinner destined to experience the fire then you lack the spirit within you, and before we say, do , or even THINK anything - we need to refer our minds and hearts to Christ!

Saturday brought 2 more sessions and another talk by Dr. Veniamin on  Salvation. My first session on Saturday was given by Monica Klepac on "Holding and Letting Go - Sanity and Sustainability in Homeschooling".  Monica did a fabulous job at reminding us about setting goals and prioritizing those goals - always remembering which are the most important.  She also reminded we moms to remember to put the oxygen mask on ourselves first! - just as in procedures for an airplane emergency-  we need to get time for ourselves and take care of ourselves or we won't be able to care for our children - this is something I wished I would have learned years ago.

My second session on Saturday was given by Dr. Veniamin (with a rather humorous opening act by Andrew Kern I may add) on Repentance.  This is an important topic as our society really does not seem to understand repentance nor does it offer real support to a soul which desires to repent and yet we are ALL in need of repentance.  Dr. Veniamin talked about loving our enemies, laying aside our own will to learn the will of God (a really hard challenge!), and remembering that none of us can discern the will of God by ourselves - we need guidance from others that are further along the spiritual path - namely our spiritual fathers...

Of course, these are just the sessions that I went to.  Each session has three choices of speakers and topics.  Sometimes it's hard to pick which one to go to!  I'm glad my husband is with me so he can go to some different ones and take notes for me.  It gives us a lot to talk about in the days to follow.

And of course - there was the late night with other homechool moms.  I was tired -  plus my teenage son was close by - so I didn't really share that much but I still enjoyed the time with them that evening.  We stayed up way to late but it was worth the time with these dear people who I so rarely get to see and get to know.

Thank you to all that had anything to do with setting up the conference and presenting to adults as well as a big thanks to all that took on the children's sessions keeping them safe and wonderfully occupied!

I am already looking forward to next year...  so set the date on your calendar if you want to go!  People have come from all over the United States, even Canada! It's so worth it! It is to be held two weeks AFTER Pascha next year - April 23rd- 26th!!!  I hear  a certain father may be giving a talk just for Dads!  And I'm sure, as always, there will be lots of good sessions to choose from!  Will I see you there??