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.”
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.”
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.”
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.
I have a special bond with Blessed Fr. Seraphim Rose. While visiting the Hermitage of the Holy Cross with my heterodox Father, during the summer of 2016, Fr. Seraphim Rose made himself known to us. Of all the books in the guest house, my Dad picked up a huge biography on the Saints life. Together we got lost in the pages of that book. We jumped around in the various chapters and found ourselves moved to tears by the Saint’s perseverance and determination to live a godly life. The sections about Fr. Seraphim’s death were particularly powerful.
When our pilgrimage was over I continued to develop a relationship with the Saint. The way he reached out to my Father was unmistakable. I made it a habit of asking Fr. Seraphim to pray for my Dad. I trusted that Fr. Seraphim would not let my Father slip through the cracks. If one day my Dad converts, I will know exactly who to thank.
A short time after my pilgrimage to the Hermitage, my husband and I decided to actively start trying to conceive. Typically, we have absolutely no problem getting pregnant right away. With my first daughter we got pregnant the very first month of trying. Then my second daughter surprised us with a positive pregnancy test only 6 months after Renee was born. I thought this time would be no different, but I was wrong.
Months passed, but my womb remained empty. My husband and I were utterly exhausted in every way. I was haunted by the thought that I might not ever get to grow life in my belly again. That’s when I turned to Blessed Fr. Seraphim. With tears streaming down my cheeks I begged him to pray for me. I rested my forehead on his icon and promised that if we conceived, I would name the child after him.
Shortly after that conversation, I got a positive pregnancy test. Fr. Seraphim had once again touched my life. His prayers worked! Some might say his prayers worked a little too well. During my 11th week ultrasound I found out that I was carrying twins!
Next week we will find out the sex of our two little blessings. I’m keeping my promise to Fr. Seraphim. Depending on the results, one of the babies will either be named Gideon Rose or Ada Rose.
I can’t wait to see what God has in store for these children. One thing is certain though, with Fr. Seraphim watching over them and praying for them, they are destined to turn out okay.
Blessed is God who is glorious in His Saints!