FMF: Stuck and Stable

I must admit, a lot of times I feel stuck. I feel stuck in the kitchen cooking for hours each day. I feel stuck on the couch nursing my twins. I feel stuck in this house, homeschooling and cleaning. It can be difficult to remain positive about this stability. It can be challenging to remember that I am doing exactly what God has called me to do. I am nourishing hungry bellies, educating future generations, and caring for the little slice of paradise that God has granted me. Truly, I am blessed.

Stability is one of the vows that all oblates make, and one of the principles that I am trying to apply to my life. We live in world where people shop for “perfect” churches and where families don’t hesitate to move across the country. To remain “stuck” and “stable” is looked upon as archaic. Yet, here i find myself vowing to meet life head-on. I have promised to do my best to remain stable in my spiritual life, commitments, and relationships.

I have vowed to still my wandering heart. There are days where having a career seems more appealing than staying home with my kids. There are moments where other parishes seem to offer more beauty than mine. There times where I regret the path my life is on. This is where my vow of stability comes in handy. When I persevere through the bad days with my kids, I get to see them hit milestones! When I put down roots in my parish, I develop friendships that will last a lifetime. When I am determined to own the major decisions I have made, I find satisfaction in my growth.

It isn’t easy to be stuck, but as Abba Poeman once said, “It is by warfare that the soul makes progress.”

 

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Completely Wrong

My husband and I have only been living the Benedictine lifestyle for a few months, but already I’m realizing that this way of life is much different than I imagined it would be. You see, when I became an oblate, I thought that I would be denying the world for the sake of growing closer to God. I thought that by shutting everything out, my spiritual life would blossom. Yet, this is not what being an oblate is about at all.

 

Being an oblate is about dedicating your life to serving God and living a life of prayer. As an oblate, you are obligated to formally pray every three hours. It doesn’t matter what you are in the middle of doing when that prayer time comes around, you must pause and lift up your heart with the millions of other people throughout the world who are also reciting those exact same prayers, at that exact same moment. The prayer schedule is ancient, communal, and salvific.

 

In the past, when I’ve visited monasteries, I was always blown away by the peaceful atmosphere, slow pace, and the constant prayer. The beauty is always so overwhelming that my chest burns. I have always left the monastery grounds wishing that I could live that kind of life. Wishing that I too could escape from the world, so that I could focus all of my attention on God alone. (At least, that’s what I thought the monks did)

 

Now I realize that I was completely wrong about the monastery. The beauty of the monastery isn’t found in it being an oasis from the world. It is that the men who live there live a life that recognizes God’s Presence in the world. That’s why the monastery is filled with beauty and peace. The monks consecrate the mundane. Those men still clean toilets, lose sleep when stressed, work hard each day, and get discouraged. They haven’t escaped the world at all. They just see the world as it was created to be seen.

 

This is what I’m learning. Thanks be to God for the slow conversion of my soul.

FMF: Money Gatherer

The van was dark as we rode back home, a little later than on a normal date night. Spencer and I had just picked the kids up from their grandparents’ house, and everyone was worn out from playing hard.

My husband and I were listening to a local Christian radio station, as we heard our kids talking in the backseat.

Renee flatly said, “You’ll need to get a husband first, because husbands gather all the money.”

Exasperated, Nora agreed, “I know, I know.”

My husband and I lost it. We tried to cover our snickers as the conversation continued. The girls discussed the importance of a husband. Husbands are the ones who gather money for food, toys, and houses. Before Nora could open her dream grocery store, a husband was clearly needed. (I think they are oblivious to the fact that Mommy brings in money too, but that’s okay)

I love the simplicity of life in the eyes of my children. I admire their thankfulness for all that Daddy, Mommy, and God provide for them. They never worry about tomorrow or food running out. They are never fearful of the car being repossessed, or the bills going unpaid. They trust in God’s Providence.

If only I could cultivate such a life of simple gratitude. If God clothes the flowers of the field and feeds the birds, then of course He will also provide for those made in His image.

 

 

I wrote this post for Five Minute Friday. The prompt was “provide.”

2017-2018 Curriculum Review

This is my first official year homeschooling! Believe it or not, Renee is already in Kindergarten. Last year we did a relaxed Preschool, working our way through a used copy of the Sonlight Pre-K curriculum. We had a lot of fun with it, but I felt like it was too challenging to fit our Orthodox Christian faith into their very Protestant minded curriculum. This year we jumped headfirst into full-time Homeschooling, using a Catholic curriculum, and we have been enjoying every step of the journey! IMG_20170911_130757964

Now that our year is coming to an end, I thought I would give you a little review of our 2017-2018 school year.

Renee is very intelligent and creative! She was over-the-moon excited to begin homeschooling. Renee thrives on structure and craves hands on attention. Homeschooling has been such a blessing in those areas. We treasure the time we spend learning together each day.

This year I chose to use Catholic Heritage Curricula. The curriculum boasts of academic excellence, catholicity, gentility, simplicity, flexibility, and affordability. Could you really ask for more in a homeschool curriculum? The best part is, I have found all of these things to be true!

During the past seven months, I have watched Renee blossom into a beautiful little girl. She is no longer an immature toddler. She now has a firm grasp on our faith and a love of learning. Her favorite subject is math and her least favorite thing to do is copywork. (Is she really my child!?!)

My youngest daughter, Nora, has been joining in with our lessons as well. CHC offers a wonderful Preschool program that can be easily combined with the Kindergarten classes. Although academics are more of a struggle for Nora, she has enjoyed getting to take part in the fun!IMG_20170911_130106741

To supplement the curriculum, I have thrown in a few books from the Sonlight book list and a few worksheets I’ve found on Pintrest or on religious blogs. These help us keep the routine fresh and fun!

Recently, I found an excellent resource that I plan on implementing more in the next year and during our summer school program. It’s education.com! They offer worksheets to help kids explore topics, practice skills, and build knowledge. They have easily sorted their worksheets by grade and they offer resources from Preschool to High School!

Here’s an example of a worksheet we just did earlier today. The girls had to guide the caterpillar through the maze, where they met some other cute crawlies along the way! If you are looking for great kindergarten resources, visit Education.com.

Download Maze Crawlies Answers   

    Download Kindergarten Maze Crawlies  

So that is what the Judd family has been doing this year! If you have any questions about the resources or curriculums I have mentioned, feel free to comment or send me a message!

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The Starting Line

Today we are standing at the starting line of Great Lent. Our shoes are tightly laced and our eyes are set on the prize. Inside my chest, my heart is pounding with excitement. The race that lies before us will no doubt be a grand adventure.

The power of fasting and prayer cannot be overstated. Fasting strengthened the children in Babylon. It shut the hungry jaws of lions. It cooled the devouring flames of the furnace. Who knows what this year’s fasting shall bring? All I do know, is that God will do something miraculous.

Tomorrow, Spencer and I will invested as novice oblates. We will pledge obedience to the Holy Rule of St. Benedict, and begin a life of stability, obedience, and ongoing conversion. I cannot think of a better way to begin the Great Fast.

Pray for us as we begin to strive.

“The grace of the Lord has shone forth,
The grace which illumines our souls.
This is the acceptable time;

The time of repentance is here.
Let us put aside the works of darkness;
let us put on the armor of light, t
hat passing through Lent as through a great sea
we may reach the third-day Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the Savior of our souls.”

Our Pascha in Photos

This was our family’s third Pascha since converting to Orthodoxy. The Lord has blessed us with three years of spiritual growth and beautiful memories. Pascha is now my favorite holiday of the year, and I am doing my best to instill that love in my children as well! This year our festivities included daily Holy Week services, the Paschal Vigil, 2 egg hunts, a HUGE feast, and of course dyeing eggs. We had a blast and are now all in recovery mode.

I wanted to share a few pictures of our celebration with you!

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Emptiness

Good Friday is upon us and my soul is filled with sadness. Perhaps it is the extra hormones rushing through my pregnant body, but I can’t stop thinking of how Mary must have felt as she watched her Son go limp on the cross… The same hands she held were pierced with nails. The same baby toes she was overwhelmed with the desire to kiss, were now stained with blood. She must have felt so empty…

Tonight my soul longs for Pascha. My heart misses the bells on the censor and the decorated altar. I want to proclaim “Christ is Risen from the dead,” but for now the house is quiet.

Crickets are chirping in the darkness outside.

An ambulance is parked in front of our neighbors house.

An amber alert for two children was announced on the radio.

Tonight the world mourns…

“O my people, what have I done to you? How have I offended you? Answer me!

I gave you a royal sceptre, but you gave me a crown of thorns.

I raised you to the height of majesty, but you have raised me high on a cross.”

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