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.