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.”
I recently purchased a children’s book titled, “When God Made You” by Jane G. Meyer. The book showcases children from around the world, and poetically describes what God was thinking as He created them. The illustrations are stunning and the message of the book is uplifting. It will make a perfect addition to my girls’ Pascha baskets.
Inspired by the story, I decided to write up little descriptions that define what God was thinking as He made my girls. My attempts aren’t quite as eloquent as the original author, but I think they fit my girls perfectly.
When God made Renee, He plucked a dandelion from the earth, sprinkled glitter on top of it, gently wrapped it in a bright colored package, and refined it in fire. He blindfolded the beautiful little soul He had just created and with a laugh He revealed His surprise and said, Renee, PLAY.
When God made Nora, He mixed giggles, smiles, and snuggles in a large sandbox. He added a few sprinkles of spunk and a pinch of a apple seeds. He poured the blend into a heart shaped mold and said, Nora, LOVE.
As a Stay at Home Mom, I find it hard to balance the amount of time I spend engaging with my children and the time I spend doing adult things. I don’t know why, but I feel responsible for keeping my children entertained and ensuring that they don’t get bored. Some nights I end the day wondering if I neglected my children.
Did I spend too much time cleaning, cooking, and reading?
Should I have added more structured activities and sensory play into the schedule?
Are my kids going to look back on their childhood fondly?
Do you ever wonder if our parents and grandparents felt this way? I don’t think they did… As a child I don’t remember any structured activities. I remember playing outside in the dirt and making secret clubhouses in the woods behind our house. My neighbor friend and I used to imagine our own secret worlds. The smell of fresh cut grass and rain on warm asphalt takes me back to those days.
When I reflect on my own childhood, I begin to wonder if I am actually doing my children a disservice. Using flashcards, educational television, and sensory activities can rob children of learning how to manage their own time… Structured play can squash creativity. I could go on and on.
I am going to make a commitment to myself. I am going to start limiting TV, electronics, and structured educational activities. Instead, I am going to encourage my children to play outside and explore the world. Why not let them perform a musical or make their own paper dolls? They don’t need a bowl of rice to dig through when they have a flowerbed of earthworms to uncover.
Above all else, I am going to give up that nagging feeling that I am not doing enough for my kids. I cook them three homemade meals a day, I wash their clothes, and I clean the house. I spend about an hour reading bedtime stories and tucking them in at night. I’m doing just fine and I bet you are too.
Spencer and I just returned from a relaxing weekend at the Hermitage of the Holy Cross. After spending a few days immersed in deep conversations and heavenly worship, I am having a hard time getting back into my regular routine.
While at the monastery, I confessed giving into my depression and slacking off with my household duties. Now here I sit faced with a choice. I can strive towards a life of repentance and dive right into my chores without complaining, or I can veg out on the couch and waste away my time on social media sites. To some this might seem like a trivial matter, but I know that my decision could very well put me one step closer to heaven or hell.
There is a list of chores sitting on my kitchen counter. Today the list calls for dusting, washing the bed sheets, and vacuuming. In reality, I could put off these chores until my husband is home and can help. Things would certainly get done faster… Or I could offer up my work to my family and the Lord as an act of love.
As I dust the shelves I quietly pray, “I do this for the love of the Lord.” As I vacuum up pretzels I repeat, “For the love of the Lord and my children.” As I spread crisp sheets on the bed my whole being chants, “For the love of the Lord and my marriage.”
These are such small acts. I don’t expect anyone to notice that I have dusted the living room and bedrooms. Even if they do notice, I doubt they would care very much. But in my heart I know that the Savior sees my hard work and I pray that He is pleased with me.
Today I choose to take one step closer to heaven.
“For the love of the Lord.”
A few days ago, I sent in the paperwork to receive a “Religious Exemption” from Public Schooling for my daughter Renee. After a lot of thought, research, and prayer this seemed like the best option for our family. The decision to homeschool has been an emotional journey. Somedays I feel overwhelmed about the tasks that lie ahead, but most days I am extremely excited.
You might be wondering, like the majority of my extended family, what my purpose for homeschooling is. After all, wouldn’t it be easier to send my kids away during the day, and catch up on chores or enjoy a little “me time”? Wouldn’t my children benefit from the socialization?
Those are all tempting ideas to consider, but I am sticking to my convictions…
My purpose in homeschooling is immersing my children in the Orthodox Christian culture. The flexibility of homeschooling gives us the freedom to attend more weekly Church services and allows me to integrate the faith into every aspect of their lives.
I want to encourage strong family relationships, create lifelong learners, and make memories.
To sum it all up…
Our Homeschool Mission Statement:
The Judd Family homeschool seeks to build strong family bonds and develop godly character by immersing our children into the Orthodox culture, fostering a love for lifelong learning, and making lasting memories throughout it all. Our ultimate goal is spiritual maturity and academic success.
Our bedtime routine begins with family devotions and prayer. After snuggling on the couch and listening to Daddy read from the Bible, we all crowd into the icon corner and offer up a few prayers to the Lord. Nora, my youngest daughter, loves to pray to her guardian angel. Her sweet voice squeaks out the following words:
“O Angel you are truly mine, given to me by God Divine, to always be at my side and teach me what is right. I am little you are tall. I am weak, you make me strong. Never go away from me. From all danger keep me free. Amen”
Every night I do my best to sincerely say these prayers with my children. Sometimes, that is a struggle. It is easy to be thankful for the guardian angel that God has blessed me with. It isn’t as easy to apply the next part of the prayer though.
“I am little you are tall. I am weak, you make me strong.”
Perhaps this part of the prayer is difficult because I don’t like to think of myself as being being insignificant and powerless. After all, I have given birth to two children. I have conquered high school and college. I have endured kidney stones and surgeries. I have told loved ones goodbye and defeated addiction. Surely, I am not weak.
But then I am reminded of that recent temptation I gave into when no one else was looking. I could have distracted myself, but I chose not to. I am not as strong as I would like to imagine… Regardless of how much I lie to myself, I am still desperately dependent on God.
Psalm 21:20 “But You, Lord, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me.”