Mother’s Day Gifts for an Orthodox Mom

Mother’s Day Gifts for an Orthodox Mom

Last night, I eagerly crawled into bed with a cup of tea and started reading Annalisa Boyd‘s new book The Ascetic Lives of Mothers: A Prayer Book for Orthodox Moms and then an English translation by Thomas Carroll of Saint Nectarios’ work Mothers and the Upbringing of Children.  It’s in those moments late in the evening, when my house is hushed in peaceful silence, that I can reflect on my day and take a moment to rejuvenate with a book in hand. I sought out Annalisa after reading her book Special Agents of Christ almost two years ago.  She is the first and only author I’ve ever researched because I felt such a connection to her writing.  As I was reading the book, I couldn’t help but feel as though she had written the book for my sons.  She was phrasing the text in such a way that it was addressing some struggles my boys have dealt with after having been in foster care. There was a good reason I was drawn to seek her out – she wrote it for her foster/adopted sons!   I can’t even begin to explain how excited I was when I read the first email response from her after I sent her an email.  To give you a hint, my daughter calls Annalisa my sister whenever we talk about her.  I am so incredibly blessed to have this amazing mama in my life and I hope to one day be able to sit down and share a cup of tea with her.  I have mothered seven beautiful children.  She has mothered more than...
From the Trenches: Raising Orthodox Christians

From the Trenches: Raising Orthodox Christians

It’s in those moments where the only strength we seem to be able to muster for family prayers that night is to tell our kids to get ready for bed, tuck them in, and then trace the sign of the cross on their forehead.  It’s in those moments where they hear us tell their coaches they won’t be able to make the game Sunday morning because we’ll be at church.  It’s in those moments where you bring them along to drop off food to someone who could use a meal, for whatever reason. All of these moments teach our children.  They teach our children that even when mom (or dad) is completely and totally exhausted, we still found what little strength we had left to include God in bedtime. These moments teach our children that sports do not come before God and we are willing to not just say God is the priority in our lives but actually live it.  It’s in these moments where our children learn to give instead of just receive. Our children learn as much from our moments of strength as they learn from our moments of weakness. Do we truly strive to place God as the priority in our lives or do we only do it when we have enough energy or spare time?  Our children are learning from everything we say and do.  Everything. I read an excellent blog post today from Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick.  From my own personal experiences, I have to say I agree with him completely.  We, as the parents, are the primary example of what it means to be...
A Practical Guide to Prayer with Children

A Practical Guide to Prayer with Children

(Sorry about the hiccup when this was initially published.  Something went wrong when I clicked publish and it deleted the majority of this post.  I had to go back in, re-do it, and publish it a second time.) *This was originally presented via a live webinar in 2011.  I have slightly modified it in order to share it in a blog post format below.  Keep in mind that this is a lengthy post because it was a 45 minute live presentation.  If you would like to see any of the slides larger, click on the picture twice to enlarge it.  (Not a double click, but rather click on it once and then a second time when it shows the picture by itself.)   I’m going to wrap up the conference this weekend with a presentation on “A Practical Guide to Prayer with Children”.  What do I mean by a practical guide to prayer with children?  Well…we are all busy.  Plain and simple.  From the moment we wake up in the morning getting our kids ready for school and ourselves ready for work and then later helping our kids with their homework, getting them to their extra curricular activities, fitting in dinner somewhere in all of the early evening commotion, before we finally even think about doing some chores around the house or relaxing for a minute.  Where can I realistically fit prayer in with my kids during all of this? Well, first off – quite frankly – prayer needs to become the priority.  Most of you would agree with this since you’ve chosen to listen to this talk.  But...
Gifts for Christmas

Gifts for Christmas

Many of us often look for a meaningful gift to give to our family, friends, teachers, and that special someone.  This year, consider giving them handcrafted soap from the Holy Cross Monastery in West Virginia.  Now through December 25th, they will donate 10% from the sales of their Mint Merry soap to the Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry.  Not only can you give a lovely gift but you can support two Orthodox groups as well.   We received a bottle of this handcrafted soap as a gift and I placed it in our bathroom.  It sparked an unexpected conversation about monks as well as prison ministry with my boys after they were reading the label as they washed their hands.  It always amazes me how and where teachable moments about our faith pop up around our home.   The Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry’s Mission is: To bring the love of Christ to those who are in prison by providing encouragement, material support, transition and reintegration services, Christian education, spiritual guidance and the sacramental life of the church. We carry out our mission by providing resources and services to people in prison and their families, lead training and involvement opportunities to churches, and reintegration services to people coming out of prison. The services the Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry provides are: In Prison-Ministry Provide Orthodox publications, Bibles, prayer cards, icons and catechism courses to those in prison Linking prisoners to Orthodox priests Provide spiritual guidance and publications to families of prisoners Church Outreach and Training Educate and train churches and priests on prison ministry Provide ongoing guidance to priests on prison ministry...
Participating in the Nativity Fast as a Family

Participating in the Nativity Fast as a Family

As we enter the Nativity Fast, here are some ways we can participate together as a family as we are called to fast, pray, and give alms: Talk about why we fast Do the New Testament Challenge together: We had a busy weekend so we started this last night.  I like how it’s set up for catch up days.  So even if you have a hectic day, you don’t feel like you have to give up just because you get a bit behind. Gather each evening to learn about the Tree of Jesse icon Burn frankincense in your censer during family prayer time Decide how your family wants to give alms from the money you saved by buying fasting foods: to your parish, an Orthodox charity, support a seminarian, a meal for a family in your community, or any other number of ways you can help someone else this Nativity season Learn about the symbolism on the Nativity of Christ icon Attend services together especially on Christmas Please share with us how you will be preparing for the Nativity of Christ...