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,