St. Patrick’s Day

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone!

What a great Saint and a perfect example of saying “yes” to God. I will not go on to repeat his story here as you can probably find it online or already know it. What I do want to say is how he should be an inspiration to us this time during Lent. He said “yes” to God and ended up a Saint. We are all called to do the same thing. To say “yes” to God and follow Him. During difficulties in life that is the hardest thing to do. It was not easy I am sure for St. Patrick to be a slave. He still said “yes” to God. His life is a perfect example of what God can do in your own life. There are many stories of different struggles in Saints lives but they still chose to say “yes” to God. Our life is a constant choice, from moment to moment. We can say “yes” to God or not. We have that freedom.

I hope that this St. Patrick’s Day you get inspired to say “yes” in your own way. Whether it is seeing Gods hand in a terrible situation or Gods help with your children. Through the prayers of St. Patrick May our souls be saved.

Troparion

Holy Bishop Patrick,

Faithful shepherd of Christ’s royal flock,

You filled Ireland with the radiance of the Gospel

The mighty strength of the Trinity!

Now that you stand before the Savior,

Pray that He may preserve us in faith and love!

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Lesson for Orthodox Sunday

Alright everyone I thought I would share a short lesson about Orthodox Sunday that is coming up. Since Lent has started we have changed our alter cloth to purple. This goes in sync with the priest vestments in church. And now with Orthodox Sunday coming up here is a way to have a small activity of play to do in order for those little minds to get the “Lent journey” concept.

Start off by pretending to get in a boat. Have the icons at the end of the room. We are using each child’s patron saint and an icon of Christ. The “boat” is in the middle and ask the children/child to get on the boat and see what we need to do in order to get to the icons. How do we steer the boat? Who’s going to be the leader? Who is going to steer the sail? How are we going to work together to get to Pascha aka the land of Paradise?

After the time of pretend play for the kids have a short story about this time of Lent and how the boat is the church. We all need a leader who is the priest and we all need to work together and “row” and make it to the land of Paradise. This opens up a good discussion with kids regarding church. How can everyone work together? What does it mean to work together with our neighbors and friends during Lent? By prayers? Fasting? What does that look like in a family?

Talk about the icons that the boat is going towards. What do icons mean in the church and why do we have a patron saint? What qualities do the saints have that make them close to Christ?

Just some thoughts.

Zaccheus Sunday

Greetings friends!

This week I wanted to introduce the catechism lesson I am doing with my kiddos in order to prepare for Lent. In the Orthodox Church we have several Sundays leading up to Lent which we read specific scriptures that help prepare our hearts for the Lent journey ahead of us. This Sunday is the Sunday of Zaccheus. You find his story in Luke 19. As many know he is the tax collector that looks at Jesus by climbing a tree. So the lesson that I am getting is from the Garden of the Theotokos curriculum, from their unit study book.

How I plan on introducing this lesson to my kids is to first read the story and ask them questions to see what they would talk to Jesus about it they invited him to their house. Next, it suggest to talk to the kids about the word “desire” and how the main purpose of this story is to start asking God to plant a desire in our own hearts for us to know God more. I think I am going to talk about bad/good concept with this story as well since Zaccheus was a not so liked tax collector of his time. There was a change in his heart when he heard about Jesus and that change brought on the desire to see him.

I was thinking about doing a separate Main Lesson book for Lent this year also to include all the art work in one book but have yet to decide on that. The above picture is what we are going for in the art portion of the lesson.

I hope this gives some of you ideas for Zaccheus Sunday and hope it opens up to discussion with your kiddos about desire for Christ.

St. Nicholas

Many people are celebrating the feast of St. Nicholas today and what a joy! As the years pass and my children get older and older I really appreciate childlike things more and more. Seeing the joy in their faces as they await the feast, wondering what will be in their shoes, preparing gifts for their friends, are all things that I find my self experiencing all over again.

Many people know the story of St. Nicholas. He was from a wealthy family with his uncle as his biggest influence that taught him that serving his neighbor is most important. There are many stories of St. Nicholas and the story of the golden coins seems to be the most popular among Orthodox friends at least.

Celebrating the feast of St. Nicholas is always my favorite because it takes away from the frenzy of the holiday month with so much focus on gifts and what things we want or what our kids want and what our relatives want. The story of the saint is such a great example of what our focus and attitudes should be during this time of focus in the world on materialistic things. So early on in the December month and the holiday race to Christmas, it sets me in the realistic mind of Christmas. I try to capture that joy in my kids and see it through their eyes.

So today as we unwrapped our shoes and found our own golden coins, I saw the light and believe in my kids and tried to remain thankful throughout the day. What a season to be thankful and count our blessings! For the family and the love for the peace and the joy.

Catechism for children

Hello friends! Today I wanted to share with you a little more about the Garden of the Theotokos curriculum and catechism for children. It has been really hard for me to incorporate catechism for my boys as part of my homeschooling, mainly because I feel there is so little time to get everything done. The church is such a part of our lives since we are in seminary, I always feel like I do not need to do much since the boys are living it everyday with their father being a priest. However, recently I was watching a YouTube channel of a homeschooling mom of 8 that is a Christian and got really inspired by her teaching and reading the Bible with her kids everyday and memorizing verses. Reading the Bible has been a big problem for me, simply said I do not do it often even though the Church provides daily reading schedule for us that are not that long. So this week I decided to start reading the Bible with my kids to at least start talking about Christ and who he was.

The Garden of Theotokos curriculum provides a really great way to introduce certain concepts. For example, the kiddos are still going over the days of creation and are on day 3. It seems like the kids are actually getting it and are enjoying the a Waldorf style of learning with this curriculum. I have also been trying to do the Sunday gospel reading lessons with my oldest son getting the lessons from the Antiochian archdiocese website and just doing the lesson with him separately. Since we are in seminary I feel like there is no consistency with Sunday school, we do not have a consistent parish we go to so this is hard, so I felt like it was up to me to have them learn about the gospel readings and this was the easiest way.

I like the little added activities attached to the gospel reading and questions they have according to the level of the child. For example, this weeks reading was about the man that stored up treasure on earth in Luke 15, the activity for kids was to take some toys and explain it as stuff and then do a small game trying to discern between scenarios if it is a treasure in heaven or earth.

Overall, this has been an interesting experiment but I do see more of a discussion in my house about Christ now. I am curious about what others are doing in terms of catechism for their kids? Maybe there is a great curriculum out there I am missing. Let me know in the comments below!

Book review

Hey everyone!

I just wanted to do a quick book review here for all those Christian moms out there following me. I have had this book for a while and recently reopened it again. This is not a book that is a sit down and read type. It has many different prayers for different areas of motherhood. What I love about this book is that at any time you can look in the table of contents and search for the prayers you need. I also like how they are not all formal prayers that we are used to and more on a personal request that I felt like are words given in a time when you don’t have any words.

There are also some stories of many beautiful Orthodox mother saints that I personally love reading because it constantly encourages me to look at someone that is a mother with many kids, that has finished the race. I will say that when I did originally get the book I did not think I would use it a lot but now with such little time left in the day I do find myself running to this book for short prayers very often. The book also has various Psalms after the prayers which I liked as a way to memorize them in relation to what I am dealing with at the moment.

Overall I am thinking about getting this book for a few of my friend for Christmas in hopes to encourage their motherhood journey. A copy of this book can be purchased on Ancient Faith Publishing website if you are interested.

Homeschooling: Start

Come into the garden Children…

Our first week of homeschooling started this week. We are starting the Garden of the Theotokos curriculum from Anaphora press and will be using Waldorf Essentials as our main curriculum later in September.

We started lesson 1 that was supposed to start on September 1st but I felt like this is a good intro to schooling and could be done flexible according to homeschooling schedules. It was all about talking to the child about a special place where we are going to talk to Jesus and learn about the Saints and the great Feasts of the church. Surprisingly Mr.4 responded really well to the lesson and the songs. Above is the picture of our space.

Since we are doing the unit studies with our co-op I do not have to worry about scheduling that in so our next lesson is about Moses and the ark of the covenant. In order to prep for this lesson I have to tell the story of Mosses, which is kind of long if people know it, so I decided to break it up into small lessons throughout the week leading to the feast day of Moses. I am using a variety of children’s bibles for that and just keeping it really simple.

Then it’s Russian… ugh. My struggles with teaching Russian has always been ongoing. How will they ever learn! This year I am just doing a curriculum I found that has drawn out stick figures for the words and I do one page at a time for the words. This way I track the lessons and words and can also repeat the lessons beforehand. We will see how this goes.

My crafts:

Decided my hand at candle making this week and also made an altar for a little church play for quiet time. No, dipping a ballon in wax is not an easy process. So I found that dipping the balloon in wax first then dipping it in water speeded up the process. Also I noticed that I had to stick the shells on way later in the process. Oh well, I learn from mistakes.

And there above is the miniature altar I made for my kiddos to play with. Mr.4 really loved watching these crafts. Work with your hands. I try to show them that.

Hope your week was blessed.

Curriculum 2017

So let’s talk curriculum 2017…

I have debated this for a really long time about which curriculum to use this year with so many options as many know. Finally got to the point of just getting the Garden of the Theotokos curriculum and planning on mixing this with Waldorf Essentials.

The Garden curriculum I like so far because it has Waldorf base, it is really hard to find a Waldorf anything with Orthodoxy and this is the best I have found. I also plan on using this:

I have finished my first peg project and this book I highly recommend for anyone that is interested in seasonal beginner projects.

We are going to be doing a 3 day plan with Waldorf Essentials and one day with the Garden with our co-op. Will keep up pictures of the adventures.

New Year

As 2016 comes closer to its last days I hope with all my heart that people all over will look forward to 2017 as a new beginning. All those planner pages waiting to be filled up and more celebrations waiting to be enjoyed. I am sure there will be great sorrow at times followed by great joy. I always like to look back on New Years last year and compare it with now and just think about how I never would have guessed last year what 2016 would bring me. I could have never predicted events or where I’ll be on New Year’s Eve 2017. 

The only thing that I can predict is the cycle of the church. The services, prayers, fasting and Paschal Feast only to realize that it’s almost Advent again. It is the only thing that is certain, that stays the same, that brings me comfort. Everything else is the weather that passes through. 

Many blessings to all this coming year. 

Uncharted territory 

  
As I sit quietly in front of my icons I say a prayer that is all too familiar to me. Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me a sinner. The new live in seminary and the uncertain role I am going to be stepping into sets in.

My husband might become priest one day and be responsible for many people. What would my role be to those people as a priests wife? Life here in seminary seems like a learning ground not just for the seminarians but also the ones that are not fortunate enough to learn about the nous and the natures of Christ. 

As I read different books now about modern women, priests wife’s in the church and their lives I realize that I am entering uncharted territory. People back in California are already treating me different. Gossip seems to travel across the coast. So as I sit here and look at my icons I truly say the Jesus prayer with all my heart. 

Once again another chapter in my life is being written and it’s scary as well as exciting. Life here in seminary is not just for my husband but for me as well. A battlefield I must train in. 

Lord have mercy indeed.