Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Family Prayer

A lovely mama asked a question online about how to handle prayer time with 4 young children.  When she asked the question my mind raced back to when my oldest three were young and my desire was to nurture them in the faith.  Because I loved the Lord so much I imagined I'd just call to my children and they'd come skipping over, immediately stopping whatever they were doing, so they could pray to the God of the universe.  All would be peaceful and we might even glow a little because of the glory of God illuminating our hearts and minds.  For 11 years I had this picture in my head and for 11 years I have struggled and fought and seethed (YES SEETHED DURING PRAYER!).  Why didn't my children want to pray?  I mean some of my children wanted to pray while others seemed quite annoyed at the interruption and my "littles" got blasted with a burst of energy as soon as they crossed the threshold into the living room. I was sure all the other good Christian children were sitting at the feet of their parents to soak up whatever morsels of wisdom they might give.  I was certain all the other mamas had to find time to take care of their homes because their children were begging them to take a moment to pray or light a candle or read to them from the scriptures.  I didn't really think these things, of course, but my attitude and frustration suggest that I must have believed it at some level.

Family prayer time is a time to expose our children to our Christian faith outside the walls of the church.  It is a time to set an example.  It is not about forcing them to pray.  It is NOT about punishing them for not doing it right, not being quiet enough or even seeming disrespectful.  They are babies.  Even the older ones are still young in the faith.  When we feed babies and small children we give them first milk then solids.  When the solids are introduced they are given in small pieces so they don't choke.  It is the same with our faith and our family traditions.  Small meaningful pieces go a long way in providing spiritual nutrition for our children. Helping them ingest manageable portions of Christ's love and mercy, constantly exposing them to His gentleness and grace, will help them crave more of what is spiritually satisfying as they grow.  We don't know what our children are feeling at any given moment or even what their motives are when they disobey. Our younger children are experience life for the first time and our older children often can't communicate how they're feeling as they are constantly bombarded by hormones and emotions that seem to be misfiring.

So how can we handle family prayer time?

1. Keep it super simple.  Instead of doing the complete prayers perhaps just say the Our Father to start with, even with older children.  Slowly build as they, and you, can handle more.  The important part is true prayerfulness not how much we can do.  Don't get me wrong, there is great benefit to doing all the prayers prescribed by the Church and to pray continuously, but what benefit is there to the words if the heart and mind are angry and distracted?

2. Acknowledge to yourself the fact that they are children, they are learning, their lack of interest or ability does not suggest anything negative about them or about your dedication to Christ. God is not surprised or offended by our children's behavior.  We must teach them calmly and gently with great love and patience.  And when we don't we must humble ourselves, repent and try again in the grace and mercy of our Lord.

2. Encourage your children to seek the Lord and praise them for each small success.  "Wow you were quiet during the whole Our Father!" or even "I appreciate that you came right when I called."  Recognizing their accomplishments gives them the feedback they need to help them to desire what is good.

3. Don't act disappointed if your child can't/won't participate.  This is a great season of learning.  They need to know they are loved and wanted by us and by God no matter what.  Often when a child isn't behaving there is something going on internally.  Perhaps they have experienced some sort of disappointment that chooses to show its ugly head right at the moment of prayer.  As adults we know how distracted we can become during our prayer times, why do we expect it to be different for our children? 

5. If there are behavior issues cross yourself and continue your prayers and address the behavior at another time.  We want to embrace the peace of Christ when we are in prayer (and always).  When we try to discipline during prayer time it often becomes punishment and that negativity becomes associated with prayer time making our children dread that time with the Lord rather than desiring it. Address the behavior/attitude at another time when it can be discussed calmly, showing your child you care for their heart more than you care about their performance during prayer time. Remember, God was blessed by the heart of the Publican rather than simply the appearance of righteousness from the Pharisee.

Working out our salvation takes a lifetime.  Just being there, just being exposed to prayer and watching the example you set as you treat them, and the world around you, with love and compassion will make a lasting impression. Let us not only pray with them, but let us pray for them that they will welcome the love of Christ into their hearts, that they will embrace the faith and that they will cling to the Cross of Christ for the salvation of their souls.

A Prayerful Sighing of Parents
For Their Children

LORD Jesus Christ, Son of God, for the sake of the prayers of Thy Most Pure Mother, hearken unto me, Thine unworthy servant (name), O Lord, govern in mercy my children, Thy servants (names). Have mercy on them and save them, for Thy name’s sake.

O Lord, forgive them all their transgressions, voluntary and involuntary, that they may be perfected before Thee. O Lord, set them on the true path of Thy commandments and enlighten their minds with the Light of Christ unto salvation of their souls and the healing of their bodies.

Bless them, O Lord, at home, at school, in their journeys and in every place of Thy dominion. Preserve and shelter them, O Lord, from flying bullets, arrows, the sword, poison and fire, from mortal wounds and sudden death. Guard them, O Lord, from all visible and invisible enemies, and from all danger, evil and misfortune.

Heal them O Lord, from all sickness, deliver them from every impurity, and lighten their spiritual sufferings. Grant them, O Lord, the grace of Thy Holy Spirit and a long life; grant them health and chastity in all piety and love, and to live in accord with all their neighbors, near and far.

Multiply and strengthen them, O Lord, in mental ability and bodily strength, given to them by Thee. Bless them to lead a pious life and, if it is pleasing to Thee, grant them married life and honorable childbearing.

For Thy name’s sake, O Lord, give me, Thy sinful and unworthy servant, a parental blessing for my children and Thy servants, both in this present time, morning, noon and night, and also in Thine eternal, almighty and all-powerful Kingdom. Amen.

O God, Maker of all creation, Thou hast made me worthy to be the mother of a family, and through Thy goodness hast bestowed children upon me; and so I dare to say: these children are Thine, for Thou hast given them being, hast infused them with an immortal soul, and hast raised them to life through baptism.

And in accordance with Thy will Thou has adopted them and received them into the bosom of Thy Church. Send down to me Thy gracious help in raising my children, for the glory of Thy name. Bestow on me patience and strength to do Thy will.

Teach me to plant in their hearts the root of true wisdom-the fear of the Lord-that all their lives they may tremble at Thy words. Open to them the understanding of Thy law. Until the end of their days let them act with the sense that Thou art everywhere present.

Plant in their hearts loathing for every transgression, that they may be pure in their signs. O Righteous Judge, who punishes children for the sins, but sprinkle them with the dew of Thy grace.

O Heavenly Father, order the fate of my children according to Thy blessings, do not deprive them in this life of their daily bread, send down to them in due time all that is necessary for the acquisition of blessings in eternity.

Be merciful to them, when they sin before Thee; look not upon the sins of their youth and ignorance; chastise them and have mercy on them, but turn not Thy face away from them. Turn not Thy face from the in the day of their tribulation, that they may not fall into temptations beyond their strength.

Cover them with Thy mercy, that Thine Angel may walk with them and preserve them. Abandon not my children, O Lord, and give them that which is profitable for salvation. Amen.

From the Akathist to the Mother of God, Nurturer of Children
Compiled By Archimandrite Nektarios Serfes
Boise, Idaho
December 29th 2002

Thursday, July 16, 2015


I just did a video blog about "recomputing" when we make mistakes on the long (or short) journey of motherhood .  It was a difficult video to make.  They weren't joking when they said motherhood is not for the fainthearted! 

Last night was rough as my last daughter shared her thoughts with me about her childhood.  I cried.  I felt like a complete failure.  I thought, "I don't want to be a mom anymore.  I still have no clue what I'm doing after 21 years!"  No, I wasn't abusive.  I didn't neglect my children.  I didn't belittle them.  And yes, their perspective might change when they have children, but I own that I didn't learn how to nurture their hearts in ways they could soak it up the best. 

I'm sure you've all heard of the book The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman.  In it he discusses 5 different ways we receive love.  Often we give love the way we receive it.  The problem with that is we may not be giving love the way our children or our spouse receive/understand love and our great efforts sometimes don't produce the fruit we were intending to produce.  When we give from our love vault, their "receiving department" sometimes doesn't register as many deliveries as we've made.  Sometimes we discover how to get a good sending and receiving routine going when our children are young.  Sometimes it's not until you ask the hard questions of your older children.  And what does it mean if we are near or beyond the end of our parenting journey?  What then? 

Joel chapter 2 has a lot to say to us. The book of Joel is a book of prophecy focusing on the need for judgment and repentance.  It's only 4 chapters long but has so much to say.  He first calls Gods people to repentance.

“Now, therefore,” says the Lord,
“Turn to Me with all your heart,
With fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.”
So rend your heart, and not your garments;
Return to the Lord your God,
For He is gracious and merciful,
Slow to anger, and of great kindness;
And He relents from doing harm." Joel 2:12-14

And then he offers God's hope:

"Fear not, O land;
Be glad and rejoice,
For the Lord has done marvelous things!
Do not be afraid, you beasts of the field;
For the open pastures are springing up,
And the tree bears its fruit;
The fig tree and the vine yield their strength.
Be glad then, you children of Zion,
And rejoice in the Lord your God;
For He has given you the former rain faithfully,
And He will cause the rain to come down for you—
The former rain,
And the latter rain in the first month.
The threshing floors shall be full of wheat,
And the vats shall overflow with new wine and oil.
“So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten..." Joel 2:21-25
When we "fail" it is so easy to fall into despair.  Family is a BIG part of working out our salvation. Motherhood is a marathon we run.  There are good running days and bad running days.  There are days on the course we just sit down and weep because we're so exhausted.  Right when I was in the middle of a good cry completely doubting my abilities, my 14 year old came upstairs.  He had no idea I was crying.  He just came to get water, but his presence reminded me that I'm not done.  I have a lot more years left.  I have more opportunities to repent, confess and press on.  I have a lifetime of this family marathon to run well, run poorly, sit down utterly exhausted and then run, crawl or drag myself through over and over again.  The mistakes I've made with my oldest children may not be the issues my younger ones have, but I am confident they'll have their own interpretation of their childhood that didn't meet either their expectations or my hopes.  But we press on with perseverance the race set before us!
Understand two thoughts, and fear them.  One says, "you are a saint," the other, "you won't be saved."  Both of these thoughts are from the enemy, and there is no truth in them.  But think this way: I am a great sinner, but the Lord is merciful.  He loves people very much, and He will forgive my sins. -St. Silouan the Athonite
Dearest Lord Jesus, show me how to be a loving mother to my children. You know the desire of my heart is to mother my children in a way that will draw them to You. Forgive my shortcomings and help me not to sink into despair, but to rise up in faith with the knowledge that Your holy power is strong enough to sustain me and guide me to be the mother my children need. Help me to be slow to speak, quick to listen, and quick to forgive my children of their faults. Grant me Your vision for my children that I may know how to train, encourage, and pray for them. For You are holy, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.
We need to be gentle with ourselves, dear mothers, and embrace the life of joy, sorrow, repentance and humility we are called to as mothers and followers of Christ. 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015


Okay I may tick some people off with what I’m about to say, but I’m having one of those “moments” so I’m going for it.  God does not hate gays any more than He hates adulterers, fornicators, hate mongers, gluttons or anyone else.  We are ALL fearfully and wonderfully made and we ALL are in need of Christ. 

With the Supreme Court Ruling I have seen a lot of “ugly” displayed by Christians.   I have unfriended a few, not because I agree with the ruling or somehow want to support something that goes completely against my deeply held belief system, but because we are called to be the hands and feet of Christ.  We are called to love our neighbors.  The Bible doesn’t differentiate between neighbors who follow Holy Scriptures and those who don’t.  When we prepare to receive the Eucharist we say a prayer that includes the phrase, “I believe that Thou art truly the Christ, the Son of the Living God Who didst come into the world to save sinners OF WHOM I AM FIRST.” If I am first among sinners how can I turn on my brother or sister and throw hatred at them.  No, as the first among sinners I should embrace them and encourage them in the struggle.  

What am I saying?  Am I saying that we should just stay silent about this issue?  Am I saying that as long as we love Jesus we can do whatever we want?  Of course not!  But what I am saying is that we should love others with the love of Christ.  We should give to those in need.  We should live the Gospel of Christ and when we need to speak, we need to speak the truth IN LOVE.  How can we expect anyone to listen if we are speaking out of anger or fear?  How many times do we reinforce the belief that “God hates…” rather than reinforcing that God calls all to repentance…all to Himself out of great love.  He was not afraid of the prostitute or the publican.  He touched the blind and the lepers, the clean and unclean.  His compassion was deep and His love limitless.

I am not a theologian.  I am not a scholar.  I’m not even all that smart.  I’m sure many will have strong arguments against what I’m saying.  I won’t fight.  The Church does not support the direction the world is going or lifestyles many are living LGBT and straight, but the Church does support 100% the love and mercy of Christ and that is the faith I embrace.

June 28, 2015

To the Venerable Hierarchs, Reverend Clergy, Monastics, and Faithful of the Orthodox Church in America:

Dearly Beloved,

The recent ruling by the US Supreme Court on the legality of “same-sex marriages” has received much press coverage and has already caused some consternation about its implications and ramifications. But we Orthodox Christians must rest assured that the teaching of our Holy Church on the Mystery of Marriage remains the same as it has been for millennia.

Over the past few years, the Holy Synod of Bishops of our Orthodox Church in America has issued a number of statements outlining, detailing and clarifying the teaching of our Holy Faith on this matter in light of challenges from our American society.  These teachings remain in effect, in spite of the Supreme Court’s decision.  Links to these statements are provided below.

As we reflect on the Supreme Court’s ruling, we should thank Almighty God that we live in a country that allows us the First Amendment rights to worship freely, practice what we believe as Orthodox Christians, and live as examples of Christ our Savior and His love for others.

The ruling does not change the teaching of the Church, but it does remind us of the need to be Christ-like in our dealings with everyone. The state has the responsibility to enact laws that protect the rights of each individual.  The Church, while it does not bless “same-sex marriages” or view them as sacramental, does see the image of Christ in every individual, and his or her worth in the eyes of the Lord Who died upon the Cross for our salvation.

As the Orthodox Church in America, it is our responsibility to care for those who are in need, help those who are victims of prejudice, racism or persecution of any kind, and to provide for those who are sick, destitute, homeless or imprisoned.

The Church’s mission continues, and we have a great responsibility to be “all things to all people,” so that we all may be “one in Christ,” and hear on the last day, “Well done, good and faithful servant, you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things.  Enter into the joy of your Lord” (Matthew 25:21).

With love in the Lord,

+ Tikhon
Archbishop of Washington
Metropolitan of All America and Canada


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Don't Go There

Have you ever seen your child about to cross the line and said these words, "don't go there!"?  Have you ever dropped that warning before the battle begins?  Sometimes it's successful and sometimes they have already "gone there" with their hearts and it is only that it has taken their mouths or actions a little longer to follow.  Often when I tell my kids to not "go there" it is more of a threat or a warning that they are getting too close to the the point of no the place where consequences will ensue.   We, as mamas, hear this from the Lord when we are about to reprimand our child about something petty because we're already "in a mood" or "lovingly" point out a fault in our husbands...again and again...perhaps speaking the truth, as we are told to do, but ignoring the part of the verse that reminds us to speak the truth IN LOVE. 

This past week I was speaking to my priest about some struggles within my family.  I heard the words "don't go there" come from his mouth, but it wasn't a threat or a warning, it was permission.  This really took me by surprise.  I had to think about this because, I will confess, I have a hard time not "going there" with my family.  The idea that I could have the permission to walk away was beyond my scope of understanding.  Of course I must still address the issues, but I don't necessarily have to put on the "Nazi mommy" hat and go to battle with my battling child.  Perhaps I could wait.  Waiting is such a foreign concept!  What would happen if I didn't shout "CHARGE" in my heart and prepare to deflect every argument, insult and excuse?  What if I went in looking at the situation as an opportunity to humble myself, even in my home. 

Image result for mother embracing her children clipartHow does a mother NOT "go there"?  We learn about putting on the full armor of God, but I think we often mistakenly think the armor is to protect us from getting hit with flaming arrows and stray bullets from our children, and possibly our husbands, rather than the enemy of man's soul.  When our children are young we are teaching them constantly, whether we mean to or not, how to sort out life and who we go to for help.  It isn't so much about being the perfect mother as it is about living in repentance in front of our children allowing them to see us on our knees in the midst of the chaos.  It isn't that we have to show them there are no struggles, but how to seek Christ within those struggles instead of lashing out or fighting against our own "troops".  By living in repentance and prayer, by struggling and seeking the guidance of Christ our Lord, we are teaching them how to put on the armor that is only strong because it is made by God so they have the hope of the resurrection and the world to come...that hope that strengthens faith which gives us the courage to follow Christ in humility and love. 

So, Dear Mamas, I give you permission to NOT "go there".  I give me permission to stay away from wherever "there" is as well.  Motherhood takes practice and often includes feeling like a failure.  We can feel like we must be a little mentally "off" because so many other moms seem to have it together.  Well, the best mom ever, the Theotokos, LOST Jesus when he was 12, and yet we certainly wouldn't classify her as a failure!  Be gentle with yourself and ask the Theotokos, the mother of all mothers, to pray on our behalf.  It is a hard road we travel but not one we must travel alone. 

Many are they who say of me,

“There is no help for him in God.” Selah

But You, O Lord, are a shield for me,

My glory and the One who lifts up my head.

I cried to the Lord with my voice,

And He heard me from His holy hill. (Ps. 3:2–4)

May God be glorified and keep us from "going there" that we may go to Him instead!

Saturday, May 2, 2015


I was 15 years old.  I had just gotten home from school.  No one else was home yet.  It wasn't unusual for me to have difficulty finding things...I've never been a naturally organized person.  Normally I would have given up looking, but I just had this...what was it?  It wasn't a sense of urgency, more a feeling of determination.  I felt kind of bad that I didn't know my dad's phone number by heart.  We hadn't talked in about a year, maybe more.  My parents divorced when I was 8 and I had seen my dad once when I was 12.  Why did I care about calling him?  We weren't particularly close.  Most people would assume I wouldn't want anything to do with him.  As I looked for his phone number I realized I had a choice.  The choice wasn't who God had allowed to be my father.  My choice was whether I was going to have a relationship with this man or not.  No one was forcing me to and no one would think badly of me if I didn't. 

Where was that blasted number.  I put it somewhere safe... It took about an hour.  Toward the end of my search I decided I did in fact love my dad.  I trusted my God with my heart and I figured He could work things out between the two of us.  I decided to have no expectations and let our relationship be whatever it was going to be. 

Finally the number!  Now to find the phone...  I dialed the number and my dad answered after the second ring sounding slightly out of breath.  "Hi dad."  I said casually.  "Why did you call me?!"  What a strange question.  He repeated, "Why did you call?  Why did you choose to call right now?"  I was slightly taken aback.  "I just felt like talking to you."  We talked for a only a minute or two and he told me he'd call in a few days.  What I didn't know was that in a room somewhere in Washington DC sat my father holding a gun.  He had made his own decision.  He had decided his life wasn't worth living.  He held that gun and told God that he was checking out of this world and if God didn't want him to He'd need to let him know. He held that gun while I was looking for his number.  He asked that question when I was dialing the phone. 

Pamela Ellis's photo.My father, Dale Harold Woods, passed away last Thursday.  He was 66.  When I was little the Lord provided a "stand in" for my dad, my grandfather William James Johnstone.  When my grandpa died he received my "daddy feelings" because he was a daddy in my life.  When my own father was dying I didn't know exactly how to feel.  What do you do when those feelings reserved for your daddy were used on someone else?  I cried when I found out he was in hospice care.  I mean I sobbed.  I sobbed because I knew the man who'd always been bigger than life with his deep booming voice was small and frail who always reminded me of a mixture of Bill Cosby and Morgan Freeman, who always had a dream to accomplish something great, who was still working out his own salvation...this man had wasted away to a mere skeleton of what he used to be.  He was small and frail but hadn't lost any of his spirit.  Why was I crying when I didn't really feel anything?  It felt like any and all tears I'd been storing up regardless of the reason, were all deciding to come out at once.  I prayed a prayer for the dying.  I asked God to reveal to me if I had any anger, bitterness...anything I might have been holding against my dad so I could repent of it and offer my prayers with complete sincerity and love.  The next morning I learned my father had died. I didn't cry, I had already used up my tears and chosen to embrace the will and grace of God.

I've thought about a lot of things since my daddy went away.  I thought a little about what I didn't get to experience with him, but I thought more about  how thankful I am that we at least had some sort of relationship.  We didn't have what could have been, but we never do in any relationship.  I got to hear his voice.  I got to talk to him for weeks before his death.  When he got remarried I received the gift of friendship from his wife and her three children, three new siblings I didn't know I needed, but who are part of me now.  I had the opportunity to see him interact with his grandchildren a few years ago and I received healing by seeing how far the Lord had brought him.  He was still very hard headed and stubborn, but he showed a real interest in his grandchildren and an appreciation for who they were as individuals.  He freely gave them what he had in his heart (my brother does this whenever he visits as is a gift he received from his father). 

Life can be hard and seem very unfair. We don't always get what we hope for or desperately desire from human relationships.  They can be very hurtful and confusing.  My father had many issues before I was born, in my young childhood and throughout his life for many many reasons.  He burned many bridges.  But he always wanted to follow the One Who could rebuild bridges.  Having children with trauma and attachment issues I have, I think, a better understanding of what my dad had to overcome to function at all.  And while I don't feel an attachment to him as my daddy, I am thankful that he existed, that we communicated, that we kept trying and most of all that he kept striving. 

Let us not live in bitterness but let us embrace love and through God's perfect love participate in forgiveness.  God's love is big enough.

As with the appearance of light, darkness retreats; so, at the fragrance of humility, all anger and bitterness vanishes. (St. John Climacus)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Help Wanted

You might not know it, but I kinda have anxiety when I have to put myself out there and ask for things.  Suddenly I'm a five year old child standing in a room of well educated adults trying to communicate and failing miserably.  Of course, this may not be the reality, but that's how I feel inside.  I'm going to do it anyway :)

I am working on a free project for Orthodox families and I need pictures...LOTS of pictures.  I am looking for pictures of prayer corners and pictures of children praying, lighting candles, kissing icons, crossing themselves etc.  I would love candid photos if possible. 

If you are interested please email me at

Thank you so I'm going to go hide in my closet!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Dead Shall Arise

Fr. Matthew Baker, Presbytera Katherine and their 6 children.  Memory Eternal!
Have you ever been in a situation where you feel a close connection to a situation you've never experienced or a person you've never met?  We can feel that what when we watch the news or listen to a friend who is a great story teller invite you into a conversation, event or even introduce you to a "friend" making you feel as though you've known them a lifetime. 

Two weeks ago I met a family.  Unfortunately the "meeting" took place under very tragic circumstances.  Fr. Matthew Baker was killed in a auto accident as he was traveling home in the snow with his 6 children on the Sunday of Orthodoxy.  I saw the gofundme campaign on facebook almost immediately after the accident and started praying for this family.  I was amazed as I saw the outpouring of love and compassion toward the Bakers as people from far and near sent their words of encouragement, prayer and financial support.  

In one of the updates Presbytera Katherine shared a very honest question:

"Because of our lifestyle of poverty I am sure we were preserved a hundred times from such calamities and tragedies over the years. But the mystery is why this one was allowed to touch us. Why just now? Why just when he was beginning to do what he had set out to do? I don't know. But I hope that it will become clear in the future."

This is a family that trusts God with everything! This tragedy makes no sense to anyone, but God knows all!  I am struck by how many people this blessed man and his family have touched over the last 20 days.  According to gofundme alone there have been 14,000 shares and 6113 people stepping up to help financially.  All of these people have been pulled into a very intimate conversation with the Baker family.  We have been allowed to weep with people we've never met.  We have been invited to scuff our knees on their behalf.  We have met someone we may not have met under other circumstances.  Not to say that God wanted tragedy to hit this family, but it is further proof that truly ALL things work together for the good of those who love Him, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

I was blessed to see another thoughtful post by Presbytera Katherine:
"Yesterday morning, early I was working at the computer in my husbands office when I heard little feet running toward me. My four year old ran in the room and looked around and then looked at me happy and expectant: "Did Daddy rise from the dead?" and I responded as I have several mornings since the accident, "No, not today but he will. It will seem to take a long time to us, but he will." completely undaunted he smiles and saunters out. I suddenly realize that each morning he has been looking for the resurrection of his father. The story of Christ's resurrection is so real to him, he sees it as something that could happen any day and probably in the morning. I suppose we could smile at his immaturity but I wonder if that is not the better attitude to have. Maybe this is what Christ meant when he said that we must, "become like a little child."

Oh the faith of a child!  This four year old has no doubt whatsoever that his daddy will rise from the dead.  The faith of this little one is encouraging the faith of thousands. And we will wait with them for that blessed day when Christ calls us to Himself.    As Presbytera Katherine says, "It will seem to take a long time to us, but he will [arise]."  In the Canon of Holy Saturday we sing, "The dead shall arise, those in the tombs shall awake, and all those on earth shall greatly rejoice." Let us not forget to pray for this dear family!  They have become "friends" and as Christians we really are family. 

Here is a link to their campaign please consider sending support in the form of prayer, words of encouragement and financial gifts if possible.  Raising 6 children won't be easy!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Terms and Conditions

I had a child write a contract today regarding the use of their kindle reading device.  As I typed up the modified agreement I admit I got a little carried away.  I thought of all the times I seem to have to reiterate the known rules and regulations of our home.  I decided to write up the specifics.  This is for my benefit as well. My goal is to be a calm mama. I'm certainly not there, but hopefully tools like this will help me to establish calm in my heart and home a little more each day.  Let me know what you think. Do you have anything like this in your home? What have you found to be successful?

House of Boyd

We are Christians first, above any clan or personal preference. If the God of the universe can humble Himself to save mankind – we, His creation, can humble ourselves to serve one another in peace and kindness.

Clan Boyd: Confido – Confidence

1 John 3:21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God.

These are the expectations for the children within the Boyd family

1.      Privilege: Advantage; favor; benefit. As a participating member of the House of Boyd, children will enjoy a number of privileges directly influenced by his willingness to participate as a trustworthy member of our family. 

a.      This includes but is not limited to: approved video games, modified bedtime, “playdates” or overnights with approved friends, school activities, extracurricular activities, access to some movies not enjoyed by younger brothers due to age/ability, inclusion in family outings, dinners, birthday celebrations, “dessert date night”, game night and other privileges enjoyed by family members in good standing. 

b.      Boyd children will never lose the right to physical and emotional safety, food, shelter, clothing, education and appropriate sleeping conditions.

c.       It is completely in each child’s power whether they participate in the privileges available to them as a member of the Boyd family or not.

2.      Obedience: Compliance with a command, prohibition or known law and rule of duty prescribed; the performance of what is required or enjoined by authority, or the abstaining from what is prohibited, in compliance with the command or prohibition. To constitute obedience the act or forbearance to act must be in submission to authority; the command must be known to the person, and his compliance must be in consequence of it, or it is not obedience; obedience is not synonymous with obsequiousness; the latter often implying meanness or servility, and obedience being merely a proper submission to authority. That which duty requires implies dignity of conduct rather than servility. obedience may be voluntary or involuntary. Voluntary obedience alone can be acceptable to God.

a.      Our goal is to act with kindness and love in all things.  If someone makes a reasonable request we should do our best to honor that request with kindness.

b.      Boyd children will be expected to obey requests given to them by Mom and Dad.

c.       Mom and Dad will NEVER ask them to do anything illegal or immoral. 

d.      Some requests may not be part of Boyd children's personal preferences, but they will be expected to respectfully respond and execute request. 

e.      Requests are expected to be executed in a respectful calm manner, without argument or complaint.

f.        If an older sibling is left in charge obedience and respect are expected to be shown.  The sibling in charge is expected to be kind to children being cared for.  As long as the sibling in charge is not asking supervised children to do something dangerous or immoral, obedience is expected.  Any grievances will be reviewed upon the return of the parent.  If supervising child is found to be in the wrong there will be restitution. 

3.      Respect: That estimation or honor in which men hold the distinguished worth or substantial good qualities of others. It expresses less than reverence and veneration, which regard elders and superiors; whereas respect may regard juniors and inferiors.

a.       Boyd children are expected to treat members of the House of Boyd in a respectful manner. 

b.      While Boyd children are not expected to be “happy” about frustrating situations they are expected to speak in a calm manner or ask to be excused until such time as they are able to return and address family members in a respectful tone. 

c.       We are aiming for mutual respect, which is not to be confused with equality between children and parents or equality of privileges between older and younger children within the home.

d.      Parents have a higher level of authority and responsibility than children.  It is the God –given responsibility of the parent to love and nurture children within the family, but also to train and discipline when discipline is required. 

e.      Respect includes respect of persons, property and rules of the House of Boyd.

f.        We encourage the respect of persons, property and rules in and out of the home but adherence will be fully enforced within the House of Boyd. 

                                                              i.      Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, thankfulness, and self-control are encouraged without any boundaries.

                                                            ii.      We reject any form of lying, stealing, destruction of property, blasphemy, foul language, coarse joking, purposefully inflicting physical or emotional pain on oneself or another person.

4.      Grievances: That which causes grief or uneasiness; that which burdens, oppresses or injures, implying a sense of wrong done, or a continued injury, and therefore applied only to the effects of human conduct; never to providential evils. The oppressed subject has the right to petition for a redress of grievances.

a.      If Boyd children feel they have been ill used, wrongfully accused or would like to petition for a change of rule they may request to be heard AFTER request has been respectfully carried out.

b.      If Boyd children feel they are being wrongfully accused they may ask if they can speak in their defense. 

c.       If a Boyd child or the other party is “heated”, communication will be deferred until such time as both parties can speak together in a calm and respectful manner.

5.      Discipline: To instruct or educate; to inform the mind; to prepare by instructing in correct principles and habits; as, to discipline youth for a profession, or for future usefulness. Our job as parents is to set an example of Christ in the home, to love unconditionally and to discipline consistently. 

a.      We are not perfect, nor do we expect our children to be perfect. 

b.      Discipline is not intended to inflict pain or suffering, but to serve as a strong deterrent from dangerous, destructive or immoral behavior and to ultimately encourage a change or turning of the heart toward Christ. 

c.       The discipline may benefit our household for a time, encouraging peace within the home, but the purpose is for a lasting understanding of the love of God and the hope of Salvation. 

d.      Hebrews 12:11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.  Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who are trained by it.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

"That One"

It is a phenomena I have seen in many homes where children dwell.  I've seen it in homes with many children and homes with few.  I've even seen it in single child homes.  It seems in nearly every home there is that child..."that one" who has the amazing gift of button pushing.  "That one" who can take you emotionally from 0 to 100 in no time flat.  "That one" may be the one who always leaves things out, always breaks things, always complains or always ________________.    "That one" may be the instigator of every argument, the captain of chaos or the lord (or lady)  of lies. "That one" who always does "that thing" on purpose! "That one" who wants everything and seems to appreciate nothing.  "That one" may often make a mama question why she didn't think to become a nun instead of having children.  But "that one" is necessary for our salvation.

Hopefully I don't look like this, but I sure have FELT like this!!!

Even with the great trials that come with being the mother of "that one" there are a great many blessings as well, if we choose to see them.  "That one" helps us to realize that we truly are powerless and God is all powerful.  "That one" is part of the cross the Lord allows us to carry so there can be less of ourselves and more of Christ.  "That one" helps us to realize that no victory is too small to acknowledge.  "That one" helps us to learn that the fetal position in the closet is not as effective as prostrate at the foot of the Cross.  Yes, we may be white knuckling it with some of the kids we have in our homes, but we learn to hold on more tightly to Christ. 

Now, "that one" may not always be the same one.  In my home it seems the baton gets passed around.  They run relay sprints while I am running for distance.  It can be exhausting.  It can be depressing.  It can be the very thing that helps us to draw more closely to THE ONE who understands the hearts of our children and our mama hearts, THE ONE who can bring healing and comfort in the middle of all the craziness.  He is THE ONE who can mend and heal and calm and show us the JOY and LAUGHTER and LOVE that are available even when every button is pushed and every resource seems to be depleted.  When we are challenged by "that one" let it be to us a prompting to pray and ask THE ONE to be present in our lives, in our homes and in the hearts of each of our children (we will spend a lot of time praying :)

Do not lose heart dear mother.  You are not alone!

By faith Rahab was delivered from the destruction of Jericho because she believed in the power of the God of the Israelites.  Help me, O Lord, to have that same faith, the faith to stand firm even when the walls of life seem to be falling all around me.  Thank You that I can trust you with each member of my family knowing that your love for them and hope for their salvation is greater than mine.  Help me to remember that I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.  (Galatians 2:20).  For you are blessed now and ever and unto ages of ages.  Amen.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

My Collapsible Child

The next "best" thing to a child going "boneless" is having one who is collapsible.  My older four year old is one of those.  Yep, that's him right there...the little brown one.  That is what he often looks like. When he is in a good mood he is the sweetest little person. He speaks with a raspy quiet voice and is very thoughtful.  People are impressed by his large vocabulary and he asks very abstract questions most four year olds don't think to ask ("what is under the road?"). 

And then it happens.  He asks to do something.  Perhaps he would like a snack 10 seconds after breakfast or to play outside in his underwear during a snow storm or to eat his younger brother's unfinished breakfast BEFORE said brother has had a chance to finish it.  When the answer is not in his favor he collapses.  He may do any number of variations of the collapsible child.  He may hit himself in the head or leg on the way down or lift his rear end into the air, not unlike the Lorax, to assure his tailbone receives the "benefit" of full impact upon completion of the collapse.  He may drop the toy or fork or snack he is currently holding...just open his hand while staring at me and drop it...then collapse. 

Yesterday at the store he decided to display his amazing abilities for an audience.  In that performance he decided to add his incredible vocal abilities in the hope of breaking every glass container in the store.  Have you ever played with GAK?  It's that mixture of water and corn starch that hardens when you pick it up but pours back into the bowl as a liquid when you relax your hand.  That was my son!  I couldn't quite pick him up.  He's already a "lift with your legs not with your
back" kind of kid...always a hunk of cuteness, but when he collapses he turns into one of those collapsible toys you press with your thumb and when you release it stands back up...except there is no release button for him. 
Who would want to put up with all this?  A mama would.  Mamas are superheroes!  My little guy has a raspy voice because he has screamed most of his life. Between myself and the foster mom he lived with first...70 children between us...he is the loudest child either of us has ever had.  He loves intense feelings so when he is happy he is over the top happy and when he is mad...the volcano is available to him with less than a moments notice.  He is funny and charming and crazy and OCD.  But he is mine :)  He is part of the blessing the Lord has chosen for our family.  Yes, I said blessing!  He is necessary for my salvation and I am necessary for his.  His behavior is teaching me so much about myself and helping me to cling that much tighter to my heavenly Father. 
You must make every effort to restrain yourself, so as not to acquire the unfortunate habit of losing your temper. This unbearable vice is not as noticeable in oneself as it is in others, and those who become angry over nothing are deserving of the fire of Gehenna. (St. Anthony)
O Holy Trinity, my child seems to be irritated with everyone and everything. Help me to know if, when, and how to correct my child during this time. Provide me with any insight that will help me to help him/her calm down and seek Your peace. Guide my words and actions, and help me not to try to control the situation but to submit it completely to You. For You are blessed, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.