Monday, September 29, 2008

Time to Balance the Scales!

Calmness and order come and go in waves in my household. There are always seasons when the scales tip the wrong way. Things are definately getting out of balance in my house! The signs are all there: messy pantry and closets, trashed out car, no clean underwear. Can anyone relate? When I see the signs in my house, it usually signals a problem.

As I was putting away laundry today (the first of many loads!), I tried to analyze the causes. Here in the south, school has been underway for almost 2 months. Teachers have ended their "easing in" period. Homework has started coming home, tests are being given, and projects are already underway.

We are now out 3 nights a week for sports: 2 soccer practices and a gymnastics class.

To top it off, my 16 month-old has recently decided to give up her morning nap (otherwise known as 2 hours of precious clean-up time).

All this adds up to chaos! Right around the corner are the upcoming seasons of Advent, Christmas, a trip to Disney World and my two older children's birthdays. Within the next several weeks, things are going to get crazy! There will be an influx of church services, parties, and a HUGE influx of "stuff" into our lives.

It's time to change my routine! I have gotten spoiled over the past few months. With the kids home, nights free and two naps a day to get chores done, I've put off adjusting to our new schedule.

Before it gets any more chaotic I need to take the time to make a plan. The first step is to make a list of tasks that need to be done inside the home. Before November 15th, I need to rid our home of clutter. This especially applies to toys! We have a tradition in our home that we have to give away a large number of our older toys before we can receive any Christmas or birthday gifts. My older two have birthdays in the first two weeks of January. This is our "pre-Advent" tradition, and serves as a reminder for the upcoming season.

So if you're starting to see the red flags in your own household, make a plan now! Before you know it, Advent will be upon us. Do the work and planning now, so that you can enjoy your Nativity traditions without distractions.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Saint Thekla

Tonight I went to a Supplicatory Service for St. Thekla. Our teens hosted this service, and it was a small gathering. It touched me, though, because all those present seemed to have a personal relationship with St. Thekla. Her day of commemoration is on September 24th.

She is special to me for so many reasons. She is one of the patron saints of Antiochian Village, the camp I attended for many years. It was there that I met my husband, at age 16. Our diocesan camp, Camp St. Thekla, is also named after her. I have always considered St. Thekla a major influence on my marriage. I often ask her to intercede on my behalf, and I believe her intercessions helped bring us together.

I went to the service tonight to honor her, and ended up sharing the story of her intercessions with the teens who were gathered there. It was a blessing for me, because my parents were in attendance, and were able to hear the story for the first time.

If you are unfamiliar with St. Thekla, I encourage you to learn more about her. She is considered equal-to-the apostles.

Troparion to St. Thekla

O glorious Thekla, companion of Paul the divine, you were enflamed with the love of your Creator, by the teaching of the divine preacher. You despised the passing earthly pleasures, and offered yourself to God as an acceptable and pleasing sacrifice, disregarding all suffering. Intercede with Christ your Groom to grant us His great mercy.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

We wore St. Helen out!

I love being in a multi-generational Orthodox family. This is a rare thing in the part of the country I live in, where most of "us" are converts to the faith. I happen to have parents who converted to Orthodoxy when I was a few months old, and my husband is "cradle" and has honestly never been inside any church except an Orthodox Church ever!!

I digress...there's a point to this. This past week has been very stressful. My youngest has been battling an awful urinary tract infection. She has a chronic problem that was diagnosed at 2 months, and because of that she's been on preventative antibiotics for over a year. Unfortunately, the antibiotics weren't enough to stop an infection this week, and she was VERY ill.

On Sunday night, her fever spiked so high she was shaking, which freaked me out. My husband was holding her, quietly mumbling prayers into her ear. My older two were surrounding him, my oldest crying, trying to say the prayers with him. At that point, I was pacing, pleading St. Helen, her patron, for help and intercessions. My parents had come over, in case we had to take her to the ER, and they were silently praying as well. As the night went on, her fever actually came down. My mother-in-law called and said she'd be praying for her during the night.

I am so thankful to be surrounded by family of the same faith! We all came together in common prayer. I know St. Helen is interceding on her behalf. God has truly granted healing mercies. The next morning my Mom called to check on the baby. As we said ended our call, she stated something that summed it all up. She said, "We sure wore St. Helen out last night!"

Friday, September 5, 2008

Happy Saint's Day!

Today is my Name Day. I share this special day with my 5 year-old. We share the same middle name, and I love sharing this special day with her. In years past, we would visit our church and place flowers at St. Elizabeth's icon. (Our church has a full-figure icon of St. Elizabeth holding St. John the Forerunner). This morning, my sweet-one woke up like it was Christmas! "It's my name day!" Then as the morning went on, and school-time neared, I reminded her to put her shoes on. "But why do I have to wear school shoes?" I replied, "So you can go to school." My princess: "But it's my Name Day." I sadly realized that she has always been home for this special day, and she assumed we would be visiting church. She ended up going to school with a smile, but more often I'm questioning my decisions in my children's education.

I contemplated visiting the church without her today, but it's just too sad. So I think we're going to make a special "night visit" tonight. (I'm fortunate that our priest is also my Dad, so I can get the key from him!) In our family, on our name day, we go out to dinner and the Name Day child gets to pick the place. Tonight, it will be a local Mexican restaurant, and my daughter's Godmother is joining us. Then we'll make our special visit.

Happy Name Day to all you Elizabeths out there! May she intercede on our behalf!