Saturday, June 21, 2014

Of Great Significance

“It is of great significance if there is a person who truly prays in a family. Prayer attracts God's Grace and all the members of the family feel it, even those whose hearts have grown cold. Pray always.” Elder Thaddeus

I don't know about you, but I am running into a lot of suffering people lately.  In my own home we are experiencing struggles and challenges.  For many it feels as if they are standing at the edge of an emotional or spiritual cliff in the dark with winds gusting up to 150 mph.  It can be so hard to trust the Lord for one more second when one is in emotional or spiritual pain.  But cling to Him we must, for there is no other way.  Of course there are things we can do to dull the pain or distract us from the challenges, but at the end of the day it's all still there.  Thankfully, God is still there too! 
When we approach the Lord with heartfelt prayer for our situations, and for those we love, it is like we are shooting off a flare gun.  When there is a ship wreck it is not necessary for everyone to have their own flare gun to signal distress yet all those stranded benefit from the one who possesses the gun.  In the same way our prayers send up a "mayday" to heaven petitioning not only for our own rescue but for the deliverance of all those trapped in our present dilemma.  When all feels hopeless, prayer is our lifeline, our only true hope. 
I was explaining to a dear friend today that if I was given a vote about entering a difficult patch with my children or within my marriage, I would vote NO!  However, we don't always have choices as to what challenge befalls us, but we do have the choice to follow or not follow our Lord.  He's the only one who knows the way out.  He is the only one who can heal and give the strength to take the next step...and each step to the very end.
"O Lord, grant that I may meet this new day in peace. Help me in all things to humbly rely upon your holy will. In every hour of the day reveal your will to me. Bless my dealings with all who surround me. Teach me to treat all that comes to me throughout the day with peace of soul, and with the firm conviction that Your will governs all. In all I do and say, guide my thoughts and feelings. In unforeseen events, let me not forget that all are sent by You. Teach me to act firmly and wisely, without embittering and embarrassing others. Grant me the strength to bear the fatigue of the coming day with all that it shall bring. Direct my will. Teach me to pray. Pray Yourself within me.
Most Holy God, I pray and beseech you, give me a pure heart, a way of speaking that befits the faith I profess. Grant me uprightness of purpose, powers of reasoning unhindered by passions, conduct that becomes those who fear you, and perfect knowledge of your commandments. May I enjoy health in body and in spirit. Grant me a life of peace, genuine faith and living hope, sincere charity and bountiful generosity, patience that knows no bounds and the light of Your truth to proclaim Your goodness to me, that forever and in all things placing my trust only in You, I may abound in every good work, and that in Christ Your gifts may increase in every soul. For to You belong all glory, honor and majesty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen"
-Metropolitan Philaret 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Christian, Moral or "Other"

"Would you say you were raised in a Christian home, a moral home or some other kind of home?" 

This is the question my friend asked her eldest daughter.  Of course the answer would be "Christian home" because, after all, I am a Christian and I love Jesus.  Right?  Is teaching our children right from wrong and taking them to church (most of the time), and making sure they dress modestly, mind their words and manners and keep their eyes from watching filth, perhaps even that enough? 

This question was stuck fast in my brain and I knew it would drive me crazy if I didn't find out the answer, so I decided to ask my daughters, 20, 18 & 16, the question. (I didn't ask my sons because I have not finished, or nearly finished, parenting them yet).  I was very nervous.  I honestly couldn't be sure what they would say.  Like my friend, I wanted my children to love the Lord, but did that desire play out in word and deed in my home? 

Now each time I call one of my children they think they might be in trouble for something.  I have to announce, "you're not in trouble I just want to ask you a question."  Apparently "questions" are just as much to be feared as being in trouble.  I asked my 20 year old first.  She said she felt she was raised in a Christian home.  Why?  Because, she said, we always made it a point to get to church and teach them about Jesus at home.  We weren't always consistent, but we prayed together.  She has seen us read our Bibles on our own and struggle to work out our salvation outside of the church setting. 

My 16 year old said she felt she was raised in a moral and Christian home for some of the same reasons but also because, she said, we kept God and Christianity in the things we did and taught them morals. (She's very short, sweet and to the point) 

Miss 18 year old, to my surprise (she tends to be my more pessimistic Eeyore type), agreed that she had been raised in a Christian home.  She thought for a moment and said that even though we certainly were NOT perfect (emphasis hers!) she could see we were trying to pursue Christ even through the challenges and we encouraged them to seek Him when they were struggling as well.  (she did add that she still doesn't agree with everything we did and she may not raise her children just the same...they may get to play video games at a younger age ;)

I was happy to know they think they have been raised in a Christian home and I am THRILLED my grown/nearly grown children are all choosing to follow Christ on their own.  I'm not off the hook yet though, I still have 6 chickies left in the nest.  I know there have been seasons of existing.  There have been seasons of anxiety or other emotional challenges in our home.  There have been seasons of feeling empty as a mother or running in my own strength on an empty tank.  Sometimes I have been controlling and legalistic in my endeavor to present the Lord to my children.  Anything good that has resulted from my mommy-ing is because of the grace of God in my broken little life.  The striving and struggling and failing and repenting and standing up again is worth it and I am thankful!

Our salvation consists in faith and hope in the mercy of God, and the devotion of ourselves and all of us to His holy will.  -St. Macarius