Wednesday, December 21, 2005

A Christmas Greeting to share

I just recieved a greeting yesterday from a couple at Church. There are a few of you who know who this amazingly inspiring couple is. This Christmas Greeting was quite inspiring and encouraging and I had to share it.

Beloved Friends, Near and Far...
Like a silent mist descending upon a valley, the holy season of Advent has settled over our lives once again. As it has throughout the centuries, these blessed weeks of waiting help us focus on the holy birth soon to take place, a gift of time to prepare the manger of our hearts. This year especially, Advent provides our troubled souls a chance to pull away from the ceaseless images of suffereing thrust upon us throughout the past many months, and the vague feelings of apprehension, disquiet, and helplessness that yet remain. Dictionaries of facts and pictures have pummeled our tired ears and eyes; we drop our donations in the offereing plate or mailbox, but still the strange unrest lingers. And around the corners of our minds, unnamed and invisible, creeps a pervasive fear: will it-- can it-- happen to mine?
Why should we not be afraid when gale force windes pick up cars and buildings; city streets turn into navigable rivers; the cost of heating our homes and driving our cars mangles the budget; the earth roars, splits, and tens of thousands perish; and bird flu may be just a flight away? Fear marches in the forefront of our minds; behind it, like ominous shadows, slink its elusive cousins named anxiety and worry. what if the layoffs include me? What if the blood test isn't normal? What if the furnace gives up for good, and a new one wipes out the savings for Sam's braces? What if he, or she, or they...?
" not be afraid," the angel commanded Joseph, who being a just and merciful man was unwilling to expose Mary's supposed sin when she was found to be with child. "Do not be afraid," the angel Gabriel reassured Zacharias, after telling him that his years of prayer for a son would be answered. "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God..." the angel said, comforting Mary when she was troubled by his words. Do not be afraid...Do not be afraid! In every possible situation of life, God commands us not to be afraid. Why?
Because when the radiant star appears in the black sky and Christmas dawns at last, a Virgin shall bear a Son who shall be called Immanuel, "God with us." Always, He is with us-quiet, infinitely courteous, patient, listening for our words as a parent bends low to hear the whispers of a small child. He answers the cry of our hearts through the balm of holy Scripture, in the sacred sameness of our daily lives, and always, as we kneel or stand before Him in silent adoration and wordless prayer. He is everywhere, He has spoken, He speaks to each of us this very day, this very moment. Immanuel! God is with us!

Monday, December 19, 2005

A Blessing in Disguise

Every once in a blue moon Mr. Paradosis will pull his acoustic guitar out and start playing some of his favorite songs. He's gotten pretty good at many of The Lost Dogs songs we listen to frequently. Who am I kidding, he's gotten amazingly good and it is quite impressive and I have to say I absolutely LOVE it when he does his "every once in a blue moon" playing and wish he would do it more often. One of the things I fell in love with instantly was his voice, some 17 years ago (well before the time of our courting).

The other day when he was playing and singing I paid close attention to a song called "A Blessing in Disguise" and some of the lines in it really struck my heart. As I pray for the salvation and healing of my father who has recently been diagnosed with cancer I read the words of this song and see hope; hope for a man who has denied God for the last 35 years. "Sometimes the dark can move our hearts to long for the light of the Son. And our ways don't become His ways until we are undone."

A Blessing in Disguise

from the album "Gift Horse"

(Words and Music by Terry Taylor)
How often do we spot the angels?
Or feel the unseen hand?
Most times are tough, the going rough
Like there never was a master plan
Those steadfast doors won't open
And you pray...but you don't understand

Hold fast the hope that's in you
Don't always trust your eyes
Sometimes it takes a long time to see it as
A Blessing in Disguise

We live upon this dark surface
And God, He moves upon the deep
What is concealed will be revealed
There is no promise He won't keep
Still, we're confused by the shadows
We're awake, but we're half asleep


Sometimes the dark can move our hearts
To long for the light of the Son
And our ways don't become His ways
Until we are undone


And after you've been broken
You may not realize
That you are grace to the broken hearted
And a blessing in...
A blessing in...
You are a Blessing in Disguise

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Update on my dad

Thank you all so much for your prayers and for so many who have been asking about him.
Here is the latest.

He received his biopsy report this week and now has a name for his cancer, Squamous cell carcinoma involving supraglottic larynx. (There is some great information here if you are interested.) He has an appointment now with the oncologist at a cancer center for January 5th but is on a waitlist to hopefully go sooner. The doctor that gave him his biopsy results thought he would probably go through radiation for quite sometime to shrink most of the mass away (they are quite small) and then they would go in and clean the remaining out. But that is not coming from the oncologist who makes the final assessment and plan of action. His spirits are high as this seems to be quite treatable.

My specific prayer for him is 2-fold:
1. That this will bring him back to God
2. He wants/needs to quit smoking and is very concerned about the success of that. He says he doesn't worry about missing the nicotine as much as he will miss the "companionship" of it. It's his "friend" and he will miss it when he drinks his coffee, when he drives, when he reads, when he....(fill in the blank). He said it will be harder then any of this other stuff he is going to go through and I sensed a great concern on his part but yet he feels it's essential to his healing. He needs to do it before radiation starts. He says that 2 others in the park ( senior mobile home park) will be quitting with him so he's hoping there will be a support group of sorts.

Thanks again.

Also, I just thought of another prayer request...for the first time in 20+ years my dad will not be spending Christmas Eve with my Minnesota family. Since my parents divorce 20+ years ago we have always spent Christmas Eve with my dad. Since my move to WA I've missed it the last 10 years so it won't affect me as it will my brother and sister. He spends winters in FL now but always returned home for the holidays. This year he is not. I'm not sure my brother and sister realize how this may affect's going to be awefully weird not having dad home for Christmas. My brother said, "At least we know where he is." Good point. But please pray for peace and love. THANK YOU!

Thursday, December 01, 2005


I must report that it is snowing here at my house in Bothell, WA!!!! We are all VERY excited!! It won't last but I sure love to see it while it is falling in big flakes!
I grew up in Minnesota and I MISS THIS!!!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Moving Mountains

As we start our Advent here on the New Calendar I came across this article that has some REALLY good advice. Advice that is practical! And for me, I hope, will open up some room for growth! I read this and finally feel, hey maybe there is hope for me to grow and learn to be closer to God. It isn’t as out of reach as I thought it was.

“Towards a Fruitful Spiritual Life: Reasons Why Our Intentions to Lead a Better and Holy Life Do Not Produce Results”

The first and foremost reason why our intentions to correct ourselves and lead a holy life remains without result lies in the fact that our intention is often too vague and indefinite.

A certain sinner, for example, says to himself: “It’s high time for me to stop sinning, time to mend my ways! I repent! I’ll stop sinning!” The intention is quite indefinite. And because of this, although it might be sincere, it is unreliable and may not achieve the desired correction. He who has a sincere desire to amend himself must first of all determine exactly what it is that must be corrected…thought and self-examination must come first and only then should a resolve be made, and that resolve should be specific.

This makes complete and perfect sense to me. After reading this a few times I began to compare this to what I’ve been reading about housekeeping. When we look at the whole picture, whether it’s cleaning out our heart full of sin or cleaning out our homes full of clutter and dirt, it’s the same thing. We become overwhelmed and paralyzed unable to focus on the task at hand and unable to move even a small amount. We give up thinking we’ll never change. But just like in my housekeeping book, he’s saying here we need to determine a specific thing to change.

In “Get your Act Together” she says, “Getting organized is a matter of realizing that the ONLY things that stand in the way are a few silly habits AND the way you’ve turned the thought of getting organized into such a big mountain. Getting organized is not a big deal. Jesus said, ‘If ye have faith and doubt not, ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and the thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.’(Matthew 21:21)”

(BTW...I love "Get your act together" much better then the first book "Side-tracked home executives. It's their newer revised , after 15 years of work, version. It has smaller chunks to tackle and makes more sense! IT IS AWESOME...IF you want to move mountains and resolve to do it!)

She tells us to work on one habit at a time starting, for example, with the act of hanging your coat up everyday when you walk in the door instead of throwing it on the back of the chair. You have to practice it everyday before it will become automatic but one day it will and if you don’t do it, it will feel weird. Same with sin. Pick one thing you want to work on, for example yelling. I will not raise my voice anymore. “Enough! With God’s help I am no longer going to raise my voice. I’m going to break this bad habit. Instead I am going to arm myself against it.” Instead, when I feel as if I want to yell I will intentionally whisper, or remove myself for a count to 10. Anything and everything to not yell…with the help of God.

Another reason why our good intentions fail, is because we do not hold firmly enough to our resolve. Scarcely two or three days pass by after our having made our resolution and we, in our normal daily routine of life amidst our worldly cares and pursuits, have already forgotten our intention…For this reason if we truly wish our good intention to be realized…we must immediately bring to mind and renew our resolution…DAILY.

The fourth reason that our resolution to lead a better life often fails, lies in the fact that we want to immediately to become saints… but because this doesn’t happen as quickly as they would like, and whether by habit or rashness they often fall into their old sins, they lose heart and come to the conclusion that it’s impossible for them to change their ways.

Brother! Sister! People don’t become saints overnight, our old man does not easily yield to being transformed into the new man.

Tackling just small hills at a time, we need to renew our commitment daily and we need to ask God for strength to persevere.
Then we can move mountains! Both in our hearts and in our homes!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

My Dad

My dad is 66 years old and was raised in a strict Mennonite family in Ohio and Wisconsin. His father was a preacher. My dad and mom married had 4 kids and then he decided he didn’t need God anymore, and has been running from him ever since. Or maybe it’s just denying him. I don’t know. I’ve often wondered how one can be raised with God so important to life and then deny it. I know I’m just naive and ignorant…I’m sure it happens all the time.

For the last 40 years my dad has smoked 2-3 packs of cigarettes a day. For the past 5 years or so he has been drinking like there is no tomorrow and I’ve watched him dwindle into nothing. Every time I saw him, once a year he flies out to spend time with me for a few days, I would notice his health worse and worse but he would always say “I’m doing great!” Never could he leave the cigarettes behind. Two years ago his doctor told him he needed to stop drinking or he would kill himself, his liver was quite a mess. So he cut way back and his liver function improved significantly but he never quit. I just couldn’t help but wonder how long this could last.

Every time he’d call over the last few years I would wonder if "this" was the call. Every time he'd call I'd ask "how are you?" and he'd say "pretty good." Today I asked as usual and he said, "Well, I don't know." I stopped in my tracks...THIS was the call.

Today my dad called and told me they found a mass in his throat. “It doesn’t look good” he said. But they really don’t know anything definitively until they do a CT scan and PET scan on Friday, the 18th.

As I’ve sat contemplating all of this this evening two things have come to mind. The first and foremost is that with all my heart I pray that he will find God once again. The other thought just came to me and that is not only has he isolated himself from God, the comforter, the spirit of truth who art everywhere and fillest all things, but he is at this time many states away from any of his immediate family; his children and his siblings are all very far away. They all love him and are there for him but can’t be NEAR him. I all of a sudden feel very sorry for him, it saddens me deeply to think how he is going to be feeling going through all of this. I pray, and beg for you to pray, that this extremely low time in his life will find him reaching for God.

Your mercy endures forever, Oh Lord. Despise not the works of your hands, to You belongs worship, to You belongs praise, to You belongs glory: To the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

S.H.E. Humor--I laughed so hard I couldn't breathe!

So I really can relate to the women who wrote the "Side-Tracked Home Executives" that I blogged about before. So much so that I bought another of their books called "Get Your Act Together: A 7-day Get-Organized Program for the Overworked, Overbooked, and Overwhelmed". (I fall into the overwhelmed catagory.)
I lay in bed last night reading this book and read the chapter of their story. I almost skipped it because I thought that I had read about their life in the last book but boy am I glad I didn't skip. It felt so good to laugh so hard. And it feels good to see that I'm not as disorganized as others out there! LOL
"We became masters at creating the illusion that we were successful homemakers, but all too often our deeds would lead to public humiliation. There was the time the car mechanic dislodged a petrified Big Mac from under the front seat of my car, solving the mystery of why the automatic seats would not work."
These next two are what had me rolling!
"Before she had kids, Peggy worked for The Columbian newspaper. The usual backup on laundry often left her without underwear. Whenever that happened, she simply wore a pair of her husband, Danny's, shorts. One day she got caught. going down the stairs at work, she slipped at the top and bounced to the bottom, where her boss stood in helpless horror....
'Well, it's company policy that we take you to the doctor just to make sure you're fine.' He was insistent. They went straight from the bottom of the stair to the doctor. By then Peggy was beginning to feel stiff and sore. an X-ray was ordered.
'Strip down to your underwear and lay on that table,' a cranky old nurse ordered. The humiliation of having to lay lie on a stainless steel x-ray table in a bra and men's Jockey shorts defies comment."
"Shortly before I got organized we moved from Fresno to Vancouver, WA. We drove a few weeks ahead of the moving van. My husband had told me to get some tranquilizers for the cat because she hated riding in the car. I had forgotten to get them. Knowing how volatile he could be...I had to make an emergency call on my right brain, when, just as we were leaving , he asked for the tranquilizer. I brought him a capsule. I watched him poke a Dexatrim down our poor cat's throat. During the trip, the cat was a nervous wreck, and she didn't eat for days."
I can't stop laughing!!!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Determination and Perseverance

That's what it boils down to. I need determination and perseverance to accomplish the tasks I have been given as a wife, mother and homemaker.
I've blogged a lot about homemaking and motherhood. I was going to sit down here thinking I had something new to say but as I was looking through my archives to link to some of them I am came across this post from August. It really does say it all. I've come up with routines and plans that I like a lot. As in this post about the Side-Tracked Home Executives, boy is that me to a "T"!!! But I guess I know now that no matter what method you might choose, whatever it is you think might be the best for your takes determination and perseverance. Because you see I'm still really struggling with making it all work. I have the plan and routine! But I'm not diligent enough at it.
St. Juliana is my newest hero. I read about her and pray for her intercession. She was the mother of 13 children (6 of whom died in childhood)! Plus she was in charge of the entire household and it's economy earning this position with her husbands family through her kindness and meekness. I only wish to emulate her perseverance and diligence to her tasks. She was pretty amazing!

Oh Most Holy St. Juliana, please pray to God for me.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Something to think about

This comes from the editorial of the most recent Divine Ascent put out by the Monastery of St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco. This is written by Abbot Jonah who is speaking about Orthodoxy in America and "Where do we go from here?". The entire editorial is well worth the read...if interested it is the Summer 2005 Number 10 issue available here. This section is speaking against secularization...but I really feel that it can be taken to heart on a very personal level as well. Which is why I've bolded the section I did. The entire paragraph is important but the bolded is what really stirred in me deeper thought. To me that short little bolded are was HUGE.

"The reduction of faith to observance of religious forms is a foundational element of secularization. The forms divorced from their content become meaningless, or at best nostalgic reminders of bygone days. They can thus be compartmentalized or discarded, having no real impact on how we live our lives. The only way to fight secularization is to emphasize that faith is about how we live our life, not only remembrance of God but how we treat other people, and that how we treat our neighbor is the criterion of how we love God. Then, we cannot compartmentalize our faith into an hour or so on Sunday morning. Rather, it impacts every encounter with other people, and every relationship we have.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Photo Blog

I have a photo blog! Yeah!
It's here at Ferrenberg Photos!

The Beast of Anger

I got an email from John today, his typical forward of "Wisdom" from Fr. Wayne. But this one caught my attention and I printed it and read it numerous time. Maybe I'm revealing a little too much about myself but I really want to share this. Some of you may have gotten it and if you didn't read it I really encourage you to. If you didn't get it and would like the whole article I would be happy to send it. The article "The Beast of Anger" was written by Fr. George Morelli, and I'll put the article in italics. It's quite long so I only have a small part of it here, the parts that really grabbed my heart.

In order for us to perceive ourselves to be "intruded on" to the extent that it justifies, anger, vengeance, and retaliation we have to have to see ourselves as 'important.' St. Basil tells us "Anger nurses a grievance.” The soul, itching for vengeance, constantly tempts us to repay those who have offended. I am so important, so above others I have the "right" to act uncharitably toward others.

Wow! Every time I get angry it is because I feel intruded on. Over the last few days this statement has pushed me to look at things from a whole new perspective. Do I really think that I am all that important? I never thought so…but???

… the theme of anger is "significant intrusion." We feel some one has intruded on us … Situations (something that someone has said or done or events that have happened) do not produce or cause our upset.

We upset ourselves over people and events, by our "interpretations" of them, thereby making ourselves dysfunctionally angry, anxious or depressed or simply functionally annoyed, concerned and disappointed.

What has really been laid on my heart is this idea that I cause my anger!! And this anger stems from pride! I can easily say, “Who am I to feel this way.” But it is obviously rooted in me somewhere because I so easily get irritated over little things. This has really made me think about my reactions to situations I face on a daily basis. “mommy, mommy….”, “I need this or that.”, “Please stop jumping on the sofa.” “Please hang up your coat.” “I can’t find my book.” “I don’t want to!” The list goes on, but what I see is that really each of these statements, after time, seem to rub me the wrong way. Why? Because they interrupt ME! I feel intruded. How can I look at each situation differently?

Cognitive psychological research has found support for seven cognitive distortions relating to anger and the other dysfunctional emotions:

I can’t list them all but the last one really stung!

  • Demanding Expectations, the belief that there are laws or rules that must or have to be obeyed. A mother believes her son should not talk back because she is his "mother." She has the "right" to be angry. (Note God gave us free will, He 'asks' us to obey His commandments. Like Christ, parents can 'prefer and constructively work' toward obedience from their children, but they have no guarantees their children will respect them.) Of spiritual help here is to reflect on the life of Our Lord. He was bruised, derided, cursed, defiled, crucified and died for our salvation. He Himself told us: No servant is greater than his master (Mat. 10:24) ---why would we expect to be treated any differently than Our Lord. It is a blessing if we are treated and honored, but we have no guarantee) A program of rewards for appropriate behavior and punishment, without anger, for inappropriate behavior would be constructive.

Clinicians aid patients in recognizing their distortions and restructuring their responses by asking themselves 3 questions: 1) Where is the evidence? 2) Is there any other way of looking at it?. 3) Is it as bad as it seems?

These psychological techniques have to be applied rigorously and consistently. They should be used whenever we find ourselves starting to become angry

We can reflect on the words of St. Mark the Acetic: Do you want the tree of disorder -- I mean the passion of bitterness, anger and wrath -- to dry up within you and become barred, so that with the axe of the Spirit it may be 'hewn down and cast into the fire' together with every other vice (Matt. 3:10) ...If this is really what you want keep the humility of the Lord in your heart and never forget it...

This active approach toward our becoming like Christ is our vocation as Christians.

It takes WORK to make changes to become more like Him! All the wishing or prayer we do, if it does not lead us to actively make ourselves like Christ, is empty. I do not want to do empty wishing! I think for a long time I’ve been making empty wishes. “I wish I didn’t…why do I act like that…I can’t stand it when I act that way. I wish I could be more…I wish they would…I just don’t know how to stop being so…” Fr. Tom Tsagalakis, who is not only a priest but a licensed therapist, frequently talks about our life being a series of stories. We write our own stories. And if we want to change our story we can close the book and start a NEW story. We are capable of writing a new story and we can control the way it goes. But it takes WORK!

"Since you are God's dear children you must try to be like him, Your life must be controlled by love ..." (Eph. 5: 1-2). Work, vivified by prayer and the sacraments, is the way to advance in our likeness in Christ. Only then will we be able to say with Christ: "Father forgive them for they know not what they do" (Lk 23: 34) This is true anger management.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Thank you!

I've recieved so many wonderful replies to my post. Each and every one of them have been very helpful. I can't thank you enough. I'm sorry that I can't respond to each one, but know your input is very appreciated.

You can read the comments here...if you have this decision to make in the near future I encourage you to read them.

With prayer and thought we will make the right decision for our family. I will keep you posted!

Please pray for us!

Susan Sophia

Friday, October 14, 2005

Children and school

Ever since my oldest, Kelsey Anna was about 3 I have debated in my mind and heart the issue of education. I started out homeschooling her in preschool, but by the time we were half-way through her 1st grade year I was completely overwhelmed about life. At that point I had Kelsey, just turned 7, Charissa- 4 1/2, Nicholas- just turning 3, and Joseph 1- 1/2. Boy was it crazy. And as you've read in previous posts I'm not the most organized person in the world. So we went to public school half-way through 1st grade. We've been there ever since and now Kelsey is in 3rd grade and Charissa is in 1st. Everyday I question whether or not this is really the best thing for them. I see them struggle with things and I know it's normal, but society does not support in any way, shape or form the way we as Orthodox Christians are to learn to handle life. Charissa especially, is always so worried (and has been for far too long in her short little life) about what people think, about making sure things "look" right. (I'm wondering if this isn't a side-effect of the amblyopia and her bad vision---if you haven't heard James wrote about it here.)
I just read an article from the Orthodox Christian Information Center titled "Young Children in the Orthodox Church". My husband has always told me that this website is quite conservative and that I need to be careful what I read, but it is an Orthodox site and has really great articles to read. This is a very conservative article to a certain degree but I think it has some great advice to consider. One small part of it has grabbed my attention and has really made me ponder education even more. I have a tendency to believe that what it says is so true. But it is hard for me to really see it as my children are only beginning their public school adventure. Please tell me what you think....not about YOUR education that took place 20+ years ago, there has been way too many changes in our society for this to be of equal comparison, but if you have children in public school NOW and they are late elementary and older. What have you seen? Do you agree, disagree, indifferent? If you homeschool...why? And how? I really could use some input! I know people read my blog sometimes...I know you are out there. What do you think? Pass this on to others to answer....I'd love it!
Quote from Presbyter Julianna Cownie:
To be honest, the atmosphere which prevails in the average public school is not exactly conducive to promoting civilized behavior, much less Christian conduct. The greater part of what the Orthodox parent tries to convey to the child at home will be quickly unlearned at school because of the child's desire to fit in with the herd. Hypocrisy and shame will often have the child leading a double life if the parents are not extremely vigilant and careful.

You can email me personally as well if you'd like.

Thank you so much for you input!
In Christ,
Susan Sophia

Monday, October 10, 2005

I'm a S.H.E.

One week ago I picked up the book my aunt recommended, Side-Tracked Home Executives,
and within 4 days I had read it from cover to cover. This does not happen often.
Today, I have the 3x5 system set up and my daily cards being used. The weekly and monthy cards are on hold until the house is culled and cleaned from top to bottom. The book tells you the best way to do this and I will follow suit. This is very exciting and seems quite doable. For the first time I am not overwhelmed. I have a plan in front of me and I see the light. I'm not too much of a pack-rat so it shouldn't take too long to cull and clean each room. But I hope to do quite a bit of donating and freecycling between now and Christmas. From an Orthodox perspective...I'll ready my house(and hopefully my soul) for the coming of the Messiah. I've read lots in the past about it being a tradition for some to clean their houses to be ready for the's part of their advent routines. Same with Pascha.

Great Book!

In Christ,

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Time Flies...

Once again, I am truly amazed at how long it has been since I've blogged. I get the site meter reports and it reminds that "Sophia Says" exists AND (what's most amazing) that there are actually people who purposely go to my blog regularly. Please forgive me for the disappointment of not writing very often.
Since my last 2 posts life has done some changing for me. The girls are back in school...a mixed blessing. I worry dearly about them but also don't trust myself enough to bring them home. They are in a new school this year, a parent co-operative and I'm really quite impressed so far. My only concern so far is boredom...there is too much time in the day for idle hands. We'll see what the future holds.
I wrote my Aunt whom I adore and look up to as an amazing homemaker and mother. I sent her my last blog and than was pleasantly surprised at her reply! Nearly 20 years ago she read the book "Side-tracked Home Executives" and developed much of her 20 year routine from that! If you aren't familiar with that title, it is the book that spawned the very famous Flylady.
But I couldn't believe it, my aunt, who has raised 3 wonderful children, been a S.A.M. since their births, has a garden about an acre large, and raises chickens is a S.H.E. and was probably one of the first persons ever to read that book! I immediately ordered the book from the library and intend to read it again! I've also been perusing the FlyLady website again...I used to get their endless emails of reminders to do this and that but I found them too much of a distraction. The computer for me is one of my biggest hurdles, so the more I have it off during the day the more I accomplish.
Another difference I've seen in myself the last 2 weeks is that I eliminated sugar from my diet. I've done a lot of reading about candida(sugar overgrowth) and the effects it can have on you and instantly became convince that it was much of my problem(health). Well, half way through my 2nd week of no sugar I fell wonderful! I fell energetic and my mind feels clearer. My goal is to learn to eat more healthful. At the end of this week I'll slowly introduce WHOLE GRAIN breads and fruits back into my diet. But it feels good to get off of the sugar/craving rollar coaster. When we eat too many processed foods and simple carbs (those that break down quickly into your blood) we create a craving/hunger rollar coater that is nearly impossible to get off of. And when you have an overgrowth of yeast/sugar (which is easy to do in our simple carb society of goodies and antibiotic overdosed society) it is impossible. Some of the books I've read to spawn this adventure are: The Yeast Connection by William G. Crook M.D., The Yeast Connection and Women's Health by the sam author. He also has a website with great information. I essentially started the SouthBeach Diet because it has a 2 week initial phase of no sugars or breads. After 10 days I have lost my desire to eat all day...I can actually watch tv without eating anything and it isn't difficult at all! I used to think about food all the time, it seems, and now I just go about my day and eat when I suppose to eat. I am nervous about adding the good carbs back in, but if they are good carbs they shouldn't cause the spikes in bloodsugar to induce cravings. I hope my body has balanced the yeast to a normal level to eliminate those cravings as well. I know I've rambled enough, but I'm truly excited about my findings about yeast and also AMAZED at list of symptoms yeast overgrowth can cause. If you have taken antibiotics even a couple times a year, have had to be on steriods, have hormonal problems(pms, etc), have been diagnosed with fibromyagia, chronic fatigue syndrome, if you feel sick a lot but can't explain it....check out these books or others. It's worth it! Although I couldn't bring myself to do the "candida elimination diets" I am doing my best to eliminate the sugar overgrowth.
Enough, Enough, Enough!
Please forgive my rambling!
Susan Sophia

Thursday, August 18, 2005


I’ve posed some questions on my last post that I truly would like to try and get some answers for. Or maybe not “answers” but ideas or advice and encouragement.

I KNOW that I need a routine or schedule to really accomplish things beyond the everyday tasks. I do get the dishes done and the floor vacuumed and beds made on a pretty regular basis. But anything beyond this is VERY difficult for me to get done or even face. I’ve written my schedule or “to-do” list but HOW do I face it and stick with it!!?? I have “desire” to get rid of the clutter, “desire” to do some remodeling, “desire” to have a garden so big it feeds my family of 6 all year long and a “desire” to home school my 4 children exclusively. BUT for some reason the “desire” isn’t enough to motivate me and I DON’T KNOW WHY!! Lately it really is frustrating to me.

Does anyone have and answers or ideas? I probably know the answer. It’s probably staring right at my face…but please, if you have any ideas, advice, encouragement or even quotes. Share!

And please pray for me, SusanSophia, a slothful sinner.

Thursday, August 11, 2005


Well, it’s been too long since I’ve blogged. I’m not sure I’m of the blogging mindset. Anyway, much of what I’ve been blogging about is motherhood and homemaking and how to find a balance or some semblance of sanity in my home. After all this time and reading and research I’ve come to a conclusion. Over time and practice you need to develop a ROUTINE that works for you and yours. Regardless of what it is we want to accomplish in the day we must have a routine and STICK with it. ( I do think that there are certain things that are important to include in our day...prayers, child training, etc.) I highlight ROUTINE because I believe that for a majority of us it is extremely important to set a routine or schedule and be consistent with it, regardless of whether or not we feel like doing it! In the “good old days” so much of their routine was built out of necessity. They NEEDED a baking day and a laundry day and there was always something that had to be done to make a home a home. But in today’s age and specifically in our society there are so many distractions available to us, so many things out there to take our minds off of what they should be on. The message of the society is comfort and convenience and most especially ME.

I’ve found that I need to build a routine out of necessity and stick with it out And lately I really think it is of the greatest necessity. But how does one stick to it? How do you follow it religiously when you have no desire to? I guess it is just like any other thing you are trying to conquer. Here I’m trying to conquer the passion of sloth and MUST persevere!!!!

Lord, have mercy on me!

Sunday, June 26, 2005

More from Mrs. Sharp

Mrs. Sharp is talking about the women's literary world of the late 1800's when she introduces us to "Jenny June" a popular columnist for Demorest's Family Magazine.
One of the most appealing aspects of of her column, "Talks With Women," as well as the work of numerous nineteenth- century advice columnists, is her self-assured, cheerful, and always optimistic tone even when addressing sensitive subjects. Perhaps this is because Victorian women were not torn about their priorities and society supported their efforts in the home and raising a family.

I'm swooning as I read on.....

In August 1867 culumn by Jenny June--" It is a high and important office, that of mother, and requires all the best and choicest qualities which belong to womanhood, trained and perfected. Much love, much patience, wisdom, knowledge, judgment, self-control, with body and soul attuned to, and kept in harmony with, the laws of God and nature, compose the divinity which should hedge about a mother, but alas! too often does not... It is no light thing, no easy task to be a mother and fulfill a mother's duties. Incessant care, incessant watchfulness, and all without fussiness, or too conscious restraint, is the price of success...The making of a happy home is the first duty of a wife and mother, and the most important question to her is, How to do it?...Even under the present imperfect conditions, home is the central attraction of every human heart, the inspiration of nearly all effort, the haven of all our hopes and desires. What would it be were women true to themselves, to their high destiny, to their great work? [What would it be] were the influences of home charged, as they might be, with the electric current of active love, faith, knowledge, strength, courage, and devotion to the interests they are bound to protect?"

Oh where has our society taken us from??
Oh Lord, help me to recreate the "art of domestic bliss" within my everyday life!

If you can relate or desire as I do to feel the way that paragraph reads I cannot urge you enough to read Mrs. Sharp's Traditions by Sarah Ban Breathnach (I found it at the library =free)

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Outlook on Life

I've realized lately that my big problem in being a homemaker and mother is that I just don't know how to do it! I didn't go to school for it, my mother (whom I love and respect more than I can say) didn't have time to show me how (she was forced into the work world when I was 7). I grew up in the age of blossoming feminism and rising rates of divorce. And now I find myself smack dab in the middle of the 'me, me, me' society.
On top of all this one of my greatest struggles on the path to salvation is sloth. Don't get me wrong; I do not sit around watching soaps and eating Twinkies. I just find it much easier to sit here (at the pc) than to try and dive into one of my many piles of clutter. Or to try and create some semblance of organization. I am always saying that I wish I were more organized, consistent and simplified, but to actually make it happen is like trying to fit a square into a round hole for me.

I’ve decided what I need to do, as hard as it will be, is to rewrite my outlook on my life. I need to prioritize and decide what it is that I really want, kind of like writing out a business plan or creating a mission statement. But to get to that point I need to really try and understand the importance of my “job”. The responsibility I have as a wife and mother.
I’m reading a book right now recommended by Katherine Levison who has written several books on the Charlotte Mason education methods, called Mrs. Sharp’s Traditions.

The first couple of sentences on the back cover read like this: “A sage of the Victorian Age resurfaces with Mrs. Sharp’s Traditions. Are you pleased with your family life? If your answer is ‘no’ or ‘I don’t know,’ Dear Reader, welcome home to Mrs. Sharp’s Traditions, an old-fashioned resource created especially for modern families.” I’ve only just begun reading this book but I highly recommend it! It talks a great deal of the changes that took place for woman in the 19th-century. She introduces me to Mrs. Beeton who was the author of a book written in 1861 titled The Book of Household Management. I did a google search for this book and was pleasantly surprised to find an Ebook copy here. I MUST share the first section of the first chapter (titled The Mistress) before I close for today.

AS WITH THE COMMANDER OF AN ARMY, or the leader of any enterprise, so is it with the mistress of a house. Her spirit will be seen through the whole establishment; and just in proportion as she performs her duties intelligently and thoroughly, so will her domestics follow in her path. Of all those acquirements, which more particularly belong to the feminine character, there are none which take a higher rank, in our estimation, than such as enter into a knowledge of household duties; for on these are perpetually dependent the happiness, comfort, and well-being of a family. In this opinion we are borne out by the author of “The Vicar of Wakefield,” who says: “The modest virgin, the prudent wife, and the careful matron, are much more serviceable in life than petticoated philosophers, blustering heroines, or virago queens. She who makes her husband and her children happy, who reclaims the one from vice and trains up the other to virtue, is a much greater character than ladies described in romances, whose whole occupation is to murder mankind with shafts from their quiver, or their eyes.”

This statement has greatly opened my eyes to the significance of my role.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Are we really better off? (Idle hands make mischief?)

Although it has been ages since I’ve acknowledged my purpose for this blog—“Homemaking and Motherhood”—I would like to continue with answering another question that I set out to answer. But let me preface it by saying when I sat to write what you’ll read below, it was not for the intent of continuing my quest into “Homemaking and Motherhood”…it just so happens it fits. I’d love some feedback if you feel so inclined to share your thoughts.

I have been wondering lately whether or not we really are better off these days with all of our timesaving luxuries; “gadgets and gizmos aplenty”. All around us we see ads and commercials, billboards and storefronts telling us that we just can’t live without. Simple things like an electric can opener, a dishwasher and microwave…these have become commonplace and just a part of life. They aren’t even looked at as luxuries anymore. A washing machine and clothes dryer are a necessity! Are these things really making my life easier? Maybe easier isn’t necessarily better for my soul! We’ve been reading the Little House series in our home lately and watching things such as “Colonial House” on PBS and I think there is something frighteningly comforting to me about living in those times. Everything you do in a day was to ensure your survival! Proverbs 16:26 says “The person who labors, labors for himself, For his hungry mouth drives him on.” You worked to provide food and shelter for you and your family or for you neighbor. There was NO room for idleness and sloth. They taught their children survival skills as early as they could. Young boys chopped wood and plowed fields; young girls baked bread and milked the cow. The children had their times of play but when they did they enjoyed themselves because it was relished. There was very little room for mischief.

I see my life as one long spare moment followed by another. The dishwasher washes my dishes, the washing machine washes my clothes and dries them. And the biggest and best thing of all—the market provides EVERYthing else. I don’t need to bake bread or grow vegetables or milk the cow…what a waste of my time. Time that can be used to PLAY…and to teach my children to play! We watch TV, play video games, sit and do nothing because “there’s nothing to do”.

Proverbs is full of caution against being lazy! “Laziness casts one into a deep sleep, And an idle person will suffer hunger.” Proverbs 19:15

“He who has a slack hand becomes poor, But the hand of the diligent makes rich.” Proverbs 10:4

“The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing; But the soul of the diligent shall be made rich.” Proverbs 13:4

I truly wish to escape this vicious cycle that seems to have overcome my life. It’s overwhelming at times. I wonder why I feel so paralyzed at times with confusion of what to do next…it’s not because I have too much to do, but possibly because I don’t have enough to do to keep my hands from mischief. Or that I don’t know what to do to keep my hands from mischief. Yes, I think to most it may sound like I’ve gone off the deep end. You might say, “Well, you have a choice, you don’t have to use all those gadgets and gizmos aplenty.” But I never gained the knowledge or know-how to even know where to begin.

May God grant wisdom, courage and diligence to a struggling sinner.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Food for thought

It is no secret that one of the sins I struggle with most is gluttony, because gluttony is one of those sins that very few people can hide. As I read The Path to Confession and a health book I picked up at the library recently I was relatively surprised to find a common declaration between the two. One is a holy book meant to help me to understand confession and the sins I should confess and the other is meant to help me to establish better habits and show why and how.

Excerpt from Food Smart! By Cheryl Townsley (btw, this is a very good book):

“Knowing when to eat is as important as setting aside enough time to eat. The body operates on a schedule, whether we are aware of it or not…one part of the body cycle is this…8:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. is assimilation time. Food is absorbed and used during this part of the cycle. Food should not be eaten at this point. All of us have eaten a late-night meal. The next morning we feel extremely fatigued. The reason is because during the nighttime cycle, the body is supposed to be absorbing nutrients and repairing the system from daily wear and tear. Eating during this period robs the body of energy necessary to absorb and digest nutrients. Digestion is a very energy intensive mechanism. The body has little time for healing and rest while it’s digesting. When the body has to digest food during this digestion-absorption cycle, the person feels tired.”

I really thought this to be interesting and wanted to find out where this lady got her information but couldn’t really find anything more online about our body’s cycles. But it made sense to me…it could be an endless cycle for those of us who like to snack while watching TV at night.

Then weeks later I opened up The Path to Confession and this from a completely different perspective:

“The harmful habit of eating too much brings many misfortunes upon people: overweight, laziness and sluggish thinking. Nightmares, or not being able to sleep at all, are often the result! How difficult it is to get up in the morning for those who eat late at night, who don’t just snack but stuff themselves with a hearty meal. Because of gluttony we sleep away the priceless unrepeatable morning with its clear, quiet sky, lovely sun and joyful birdsong.”

Aren’t they saying the same thing? One from a health standpoint and the other from a spiritual standpoint.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Envy Masquerades Itself

Ever since I became a mother and homemaker I’ve been fighting with gloomy feelings. I feel like something isn’t right but I can’t put my finger on it. I usually blame it on depression and/or being overwhelmed with so much responsibility. That seemed the most logical to me. And maybe to a certain extent that is what it is. BUT, as I read “The Path to Confession” with Kelsey Anna (my 8 year old who is preparing for her first confession this Lent) something else was revealed to me. Here is what I read:
”The defilement of envy is one of the most disgraceful of all human sins, and enviers are undoubtedly the slaves of an impure spirit. It is said that every human passion leaves its stamp upon a man’s face. The mark of envy is that it sucks the joy of life out of a Christian, leaving his face pale and sometimes even tinged a sickly shade of green.” And then later says, “You all sense how close envy and anger are—they are brother and sister, and their father is the devil himself. Perhaps envy has plunged some of our readers into meanness, dissatisfaction and fruitless complaining, making them unhappy and resentful of life itself?” Could the deep core of my gloomy feelings be envy? I’m beginning to think it is. I always thought that envy was simply wanting something else that someone else had. And as long as I knew I really didn’t want that persons new SUV or that persons huge wardrobe or a big fancy house (because I have no desire to have those things) that I really wasn’t envious of anything or anybody. BUT…I really think that at some point in my life the sin of envy buried itself so deep in my heart that it is rearing its ugly little head in ways that are completely unrecognizable to me. As a young girl I can say without a doubt that I was envious of those kids who had what I perceived to be everything. And as an adult I can think back and remember times where I was definitely envious of others. But I had no idea that “envy” in it’s full definition was “A feeling of discontent and resentment aroused by and in conjunction with desire for the possessions or qualities of another.”(definition from I don’t think I am envious of any one specific object or person and I think that is why I have been so blinded from what now seems so obvious. But “Discontent?” and “Resentment?” I think those both abound in me at times. What do I do when I am “gloomy”…I daydream about living near my mom, because then I won’t be so lonely. I daydream about when all my kids are in school all day so I have more time to myself. I daydream about lots of different things that are completely impossible for me to do because I have 4 small children to take care of. Am I resentful? It kind of sounds like it! But a few days ago I would have said…”NO WAY!!! I love my kids! I wouldn’t trade them for the world.” And I still do, that hasn’t changed and never will. But maybe deep down inside I resent them for stopping me from doing what I want to do. Am I discontented with the vocation God has chosen for me?

Lord have mercy on me, a sinner! This hurts! But I know it’s there now…I can confess it (again and again, I’m sure.) and ask God for strength to fight against it…DAILY.

“The Path to Confession” goes on to say, “Do you want to be healed of this vile feeling? Try to always be pleased and grateful to the Lord for what you have without daydreaming about things that haven’t been given to you.”

The first thing I know I need to do is confess! But after that I will begin a journal…a journal of Thanksgiving to the Lord. May God reveal to me so much more through the blessings that I know I receive on a daily basis.

Thank you, Merciful Lord!

Friday, March 25, 2005


As many of you know from reading Paradosis, last weekend (March 18-20) I visited the St. John the Forerunner Monastery at Goldendale. I really wanted to talk to the Abbess about some of my frustrations in regards to my family, how could I handle the ever-increasing load of responsibility that seemed to face me on a daily basis, so I requested to do so. As I sat Saturday morning very nervous about the impending meeting I thought I’d write some thoughts down on paper. But what came out seemed so trivial… and as I wrote it became ever so clearer that I already knew the answer to all these trivial matters and complaints. PRAYER

No matter the complaint, frustration, problem or job we can go to God for strength, for answers, for support, for direction. Or to take our focus off of our own pitiful self and back on God where it belongs…only through prayer can we do that.

Lord, be merciful to me sinner.

But as Gerontissa pointed out to me, prayer can be or NEEDS(for some such as I) to be as simple as using the Jesus Prayer throughout the day while working. She told me not to be so anxious but concentrate on the Jesus Prayer.

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

Saturday, March 05, 2005


Fruits of my labor

Some days, or even weeks, I feel like everything I've done is completely fruitless, for nothing! It can be so disheartening sometimes. But I see the fruits of my labor! God is good! He knows just when I need a boost in my confidence!
We went to a house blessing of some dear friends/family (I consider them more family because they are the godparents of 2 of my children and we love them dearly.) today and were there right up until Great Vespers. We typically don't go to Great Vespers with ALL the children because of the timing...bedtime is 730pm/8pm and Vespers isn't over until 715pm-730pm. BUT I have been wanting to really start going because Lent is fast approaching and I want to take my children to at least a few of the PreSanctified Liturgies (they are one of my favorite services!). Anyway...of course my kids groaned and groaned and fought and groaned some more. I was soooo close to giving up, but was determined they weren't going to win this one! (Where do they get their stubbornness?)
I am sooo glad that we went! First pat on the back from God came when we were singing a very beautiful part of the service and Kelsey (8) looked up at me, paused her beautiful voice, and said "I want to come every Saturday". I think she was reminded how much she loved some of the hymns on Saturday. Ten minutes later, she looked up again and said, "I want to come Wednesday's too because that's in the middle of the week."
Pat # 2: We sat listening to Fr. James read about the Saint commemorated tomorrow and Nicholas (4) was sitting on my lap and his brother Joseph (2 1/2) next to us. They first started fighting over my lap but suddenly stopped and were holding hands and smiling at one another. Joseph whispered (imagine that..a whisper...i was shocked at that alone) "I wike you gecho." Nicho whispered to me "Mom, he likes me." and turned to his brother and said, "I love you Joe." "I love you 'gicholas'," Joseph said in return. My heart melted!
Pat #3 came while we were driving home, the 3 youngest in the back seat jabbering and I barely hear Kelsey say "OH I love the Lord! I just really love the Lord." She went on and on about how she is ready for confession, she just knows she is ready. She wants to go to confession once a month so that she doesn't forget her sins. If you only go twice a year that's too long and your list will be too long and she doesn't want to have a 2-page list of sins to confess. Then we got home and she lined up the prayer book, the bible and said she was going to pray. "I just love to pray. I'm going to pray for a long time." We read the gospel together for tomorrow and read Path to Confession. She loves that book!
And last but not least, Pat #4 came from Charissa (5 1/2). We had just, together, broken a bell she made at school and she was pretty upset. I told her it wasn't her fault, but she wouldn't hear it. It was and she tearfully said, "I didn't listen to my heart, I should have listened to my heart because it can be so helpful."

Thank you most Precious Lord, for Your grace, Your faithfulness and Your LOVE!!!!!

Thursday, February 24, 2005


This does not come from a Church Father but very thought provoking nonetheless.

All sins are attempts to fill voids. - Simone Weil

Friday, February 11, 2005


Why are traditions important? Why should I emphasize traditions in my home?

I’ve been reading an article I found in the Handmaiden, Fall 2002, written by Ginny Nieuwsma titled Lest We Forget: Keeping Traditions. I really like was she has to say about small ‘t’ traditions and there importance. Knowing what traditions are important to my family and me, will help me map out the vision of my family that I am trying to determine. But why should traditions be important? Why do we do the things we do? What difference does it make if our dyed eggs on Pascha are red or green? Or whether or not we buy our communion bread or not? Why celebrate and honor our patron saints? The list could go on for a VERY long time.

Nieuwsma say “Those who have come before speak with a collective wisdom about life and eternal truths, and about how to pass those on to the next generation. We must keep this process of handing down the faith active. Strengthening this link between the past and the future is the best way to guarantee that our children will know what’s important, and what must be cherished.”

I love it when she says, “As human beings, we crave events to look forward to, and anticipation sparks joy and creativity.” There is no better place to be to anticipate events throughout the Church year. What JOY!

“Keeping the traditions of the Church will help us remember God and keep Him at the center of our lives. This will not happen by accident. We must be deliberate and determined to repeat those things that have been given to us, and repeat them, and repeat them. Why? Because as humans, God knows we are so inclined to forget.”

“The small, everyday traditions that we embrace help guide us down a straight path.” Which is what I NEED; guidance!

Share with me what some of your family’s small ‘t’ traditions are that you’ve developed over the years. What ways are you teaching your family to always remember God and to keep Him the center of your lives?

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Quotes I found on "Children"

"Many teach their children about worldly politics, others teach them to speak foreign languages: French, German, Italian, and in this spend no trifling sums. Others endeavor to teach them commerce and other arts. But hardly anyone teaches them to live in a Christian manner. However, without this, all learning is nothing and all wisdom is madness. For what does it profit a Christian to speak Italian, French and German, if he lives in an ungodly manner? What use is it to be skilled in commerce and the arts if one lacks the fear of God? God will not ask you whether you taught your children French, German or Italian or the politics of social life--but you will not escape divine reprobation for not having instilled goodness into them. I speak plainly but I tell the truth: if your children are bad, your grandchildren will be worse, and the evil will thus increase...and the root of all this is our thoroughly bad education. "
St. Tikhon of Zadonsk


First give your children virtue as an inheritance and then distribute your estate also.
Saint Basil the Great


The simplest means for confining the will within its proper bounds lies in disposing children to do nothing without permission. Let them be eager to run to their parents and ask: May I do this or that? They should be persuaded by their own experience and that of others that to fulfill their own desires without asking is dangerous; they should be put in such a frame of mind that they even fear their own will.
St Theophan the Recluse, "The Path to Salvation" p 58

Saturday, January 29, 2005

What is education?

As I read and contemplate what my vision is for myself and my family, one of the questions that I felt that I needed to answer was "What is education?". Our society has such a broad spectrum of personal definitions of this question but what is it for me? As a mother and an Orthodox Christian how do I go about defining this term and applying it to my life and vision? defines it as:

  1. To develop the innate capacities of, especially by schooling or instruction. See Synonyms are teach.
  2. To provide with knowledge or training in a particular area or for a particular purpose: decided to educate herself in foreign languages; entered a seminary to be educated for the priesthood.

In St. Theophan's "The Path to Salvation" he devotes an entire chapter to St. John Chysostoms thoughts on education. (Chapter 9 Lessons By Our Holy Father John Chrysostom on Education) He emphasizes "educating our children's hearts in virtue and piety". Numerous times throughout the 26 page chapter he quotes Ephesians 6:4 And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.

I found another noteworthy quote from this section of book that I feel should not be ignored.

“If a child learns a trade, or is highly educated for a lucrative profession, all this is nothing compared to the art of detachment from riches; if you want to make your child rich teach him this.”

Note the word “art” in this quote. I found that very interesting.

In the The Handmaiden, Fall 2001, I quote Kathleen Lewis:

“Jonathan and I came into marriage at 22 years old, knowing few life skills. It has taken us 12 years to get even the basics learned, and the lack of knowing them caused conflict in our early years. We hope to give our children the skills necessary to run an efficient home.” She goes on to write out a very thorough list of goals for their family home school education. I like it:

q Cooking, meal planning

q Cleaning a home properly

q Car maintenance

q Home repair

q Laundry

q Money management

q Sewing, handiwork

q The three R’s

q Time management

q Organizing their tasks

q Setting goals

q Parenting skills

q Art

q Church History

q Lives of the Saints

q Church Feasts and Troparia

q The order of services

q Memorizing the Psalms

q Love and devotion to God’s word

q Heart of service to others

q Works of mercy

q Daily exercise (prostrations)

q Yard work, gardening

q Animal car

q Appreciation of beauty

q Classical music

This is a pretty extensive list and as I have chosen to send my children to public school I might feel defeated in thinking that I could even touch a small portion of this list. But I feel strongly that if I can accomplish what it is that I endeavor to do that my vision will lead me to use my time that I do have with my children very wisely. The times before school and after school and into the evening can be very wonderful and loving teaching moments. Learning about organization, cleaning, meal preparation, memorization, the Saints, etc. And the number of days throughout the year that they do not go to public school is numerous! Summers are full of lessons in gardening and canning, home maintenance and fishing.

“Orthodoxy spread by example” (and the love for God –added by me), writes Alvin C. Currier in his self-published, lyrical book, Karelia. “It always arrived being lived out and practiced by a person. It never came as a concept or an idea.”

An article from the Orthodox Family Life called Reinforcing Religious Education in Family Life says:

“Religious instruction was not something understood as an optional addition to a secular education—as it is today in our society. Rather the entire process of education itself was seen as something intrinsically divine because it dealt with all dimensions of life in an integral way: ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge but fools despise wisdom and instruction.’ Proverbs 1:7”

So what is MY definition of education for MY family?

Ephesians 6:4 which says “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” Coupling this with teaching my children skills for life and the “art of detachment”.

I need to add a side note of this and how I plan on handling “adding” to my children public education. Alana brought up the question: “What is my role now that they are all in school? Is it still worth it to the family to have me at home?” I answered her briefly in a “comment” reply but feel this is a very important question and needs addressing as I try and determine my vision for my family. While my children are in public school my hope is that they will begin a cooperative education next year in where parents are required to put in 80 hours a year to help out. These are mostly worked in the classroom but there are other ways to help. When you have a classroom full of students whose parents really do care about their education and want to be involved I think it really changes the atmosphere. I will be very involved in their secular education. When they are at school and I am at home my hope is to become very diligent in my prayers FOR them. My hope is that my prayers offered up FOR them more often and more consistently will help to make the road they travel more bearable. Some may say, “why aren’t you praying for them now?” but my only reply would be that I am but it’s far more difficult to do the amount of prayers that I really wish I could do when there are yet two very young and active little boys in the home. I try to do my best and I try to whisper the Jesus Prayer throughout the entire day but I would love to be able to pray the entire Akathist to the Nurturer of Children EVERYDAY. Can I do that now? No it would be unrealistic of me to even try. Bits and pieces here and there float up to our Awesome God, but oh how I wish for more. “In time” is what I’ve heard from others who’ve been where I am now.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Homemaking and Motherhood II

I just read an article in The Handmaiden by Fr. John Mack. It was a question/answer style article and the question asked was "What are the problems causing the breakdown of marriage today? Has that changed from, say, fifty years ago?"

His reply:
"I've done a lot of thinking about this one, especially as I talk to couples. I really believe that the number one problem today is the fact that most of us live seperate from our extended family. We live in a world in which the family unit, the nuclear family, is very often isolated from an extended family, from a community. We don't see our extended family often, we don't even know our neighbors. We're so busy going back and forth to work that there's not a sense of community. What has happened is that the individual relationship between husband and a wife has to be so much more than it was eighty years ago. When I talk to people who have been married 50-60 years, they have a realistic attitude about their marriage--'My husband is wonderful, but there are some things that he doesn't do well.' But most of those people lived in the context of a larger family or community in which they never expected their husbands or wives to meet their every need. Thus they were able to support each other and receive from each other, without demanding that the marriage be everything.
It seems to me in our modern day, when we're so isolated from our extended family and community, there's so much more pressure on the relationship. Especially when you add kids. In the old days, when your child was driving you nuts, you could say, 'Would you go across the street and spend some time with Aunt Jane?' You could pass your child off and have some time to reflect. Now, in most families, we live in our little houses. We come home and we're tired from work. The nuclear family has to do everything. God never intended the nuclear family to be everything. I often say to husbands and wives that there is no way that one person is going to meet all of your emtional needs. It's not possible. We have to live our marriages out in light of a larger community."

This short paragraph speaks VOLUMES! (The bold within the quote was my emphasis.)

And makes me wish even more desperately for the gap of 1700 miles to close between my extended family and me.

Homemaking and Motherhood

I've been thinking for quite some time about my "job" as a mother and homemaker. I struggle almost daily with thoughts about what I am to be doing day in and day out. In 8 years of being a mother and homemaker I still have not really figured out how my day should run. I know there are certain things that ought to be accomplished such as dishes and laundry and general cleaning, but I do spend a great deal of time feeling overwhelmed with thoughts of "where do I start?" and "what do I do next?" Fifty or more years ago our families had the help of their extended families.
(I want to share something I just read about extended families a little later.)
If you didn't have your extended family, even as little as 30+ years ago, you had community. People knew their neighbors! They helped one another. Our extended families not only helped us with our families, but they taught us! Children were taught from an early age to do things around the house. As they got older they were then given responsibilities, not because it was good for them but because it was expected of them. EVERYONE helped. They were taught how to cook, clean, milk, sew and garden. They helped with younger siblings. It wasn't a burden to have a big family but actually helpful because they typically had so much more to do in a day. They did not have all the modern conveniences that we do which, in my opinion, leaves us with so much time on our hands (wondering what should be done next). The we fill our time with empty activities; tv, computer, extracurriucular activities. We feel like we must 'entertain' our children rather than teach them to take care of themselves AND others. They have PBS and Noggin as early as two and three-years-old. The finger is pointed directly at me for I am the perfect example of one who uses the black box way too much!

As this has been on the forefront of my mind the las few weeks and as I've also been thinking a lot about my children and the world that they must face, it's come to my attention that I have no vision for myself or for them.
I know that this is the most important job I could ever have. I know that I want to raise my kids love and obey God and so much more, but what does this all really mean? I think that if I plug along day in and day out but have no vision for myself or my family then I am really missing out on a lot. If I were to create a vision, it would create a path for me to follow, it would turn on a light.

What is my vision for my family? To know the answer to this question I think I'd like need to understand the following a bit better:
-What does it mean to Love?
-Why do "idle hands make mischief"?
-What is orderliness? and why is it so important?
-What traditions are important to me?
-What is education?

I hope to answer these and more in future posts. My goal is to develop a vision in order to help better prioritize my tasks and responsibilities.

Now, I must run to clean up lunch, vacuum and fold laundry.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

My thoughts overflow....

I really need to get on here more often and write! My thoughts are just overflowing with jibberish stuff.

We woke up to snow today!!!! It was SO wonderful and beautiful and pure! The snow cleansed my yard with beauty once again. Charissa woke up about 630am and I drag myself out of bed....I did NOT want to get follow her out of the bedroom. We walk into the dark dining room and passed the slider, she stops, yells "MOM" and points out the slider where the porch light is shining on a beautiful layer of snow. Her jaw dropped to the floor she melts to her knees. She stays there for quite awhile talking about how beautiful it is as if she is in love. It was angelic! Well worth dragging myself out of bed way too early.
My kids love the snow so much they spent a great deal of the day outside building snowmen...i think there were 4 1/2 total by the end of the day. And they spent a good deal of the day talking about wanting to live in MN or AK and I kept telling them Grandma Faith (who lives in MN) didn't even have snow.
Later in the day on the way to Great Vespers Kelsey's eyes were glued to the thermometer in the car as we drove....34*, 33*, 34*, and every time it dropped she'd squeal and every time it rose she'd moan knowing that if it went to 32* it was freezing and more snow could come. I had to keep reminding her we needed moisture too. On the way home it hit 32* and she squealed with delight, laughing and giggling. It was sooo funny.
Presently it is 31.5 degrees and there is a slight chance of precipitation. I would give anything to be dragged from my bed again at 6:30 tomorrow morning to squeals of delight!