faith · family · http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post · Orthodoxy

I Have Missed You

It’s been a long season of no blogging…and I cannot explain why.  I have been busy, yes, but that’s not it.  I think I was just too lazy to write anything, and when I did have the enthusiasm I spent it on other things.

But, I have missed it.  I have missed it because I miss my Orthodox connections and friends.  I did not realize how much of a part of my life you all were…all you wonderful Orthodox bloggers.  I visit your sites from time to time, but I have not participated in the network.

It’s made me really think of the wonderful support we are for each other. Orthodox life is difficult when we try to go at it alone, and sometimes we do not find the kind of support we need in our parishes.  Mostly I am speaking of homeschooling, but the support also extends to the everyday life of an Orthodox family that is seeking to live the faith in the home.  I have missed the support I received from writing here regularly.

I hope I can reestablish the habit of blogging…because now more than ever I feel a kind of distraction here in the outside world that scares me.  Many of my friends have confessed the same thing…a strong distraction.  Somehow I think blogging in a group of Orthodox women kept me centered and focused, at least focused on different things, good things.

Thank you for reading my blog….thank you for commenting…and thank you for being my blogging friends.  I have missed you dearly.

family · http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post · kids · play

A Good Day

We stopped at the Fort Worth Zoo to see the lions, Samuel’s favorite.
We drove through Big D headed to Granny’s.  Frank Sinatra played on the stereo.  We met Pa Glen and Amma for dinner before the party.

Granny (Gigi, the greats call her) celebrated her 85th birthday.  So happy to be with her on this special day. 

The great grands had a blast seeing each other and catching up…what a beautiful bunch of kiddos.
fun · homeschooling · http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post · kids · learning · parenting

Homeschool Convention

I am going to the Texas Homeschool Convention with my sweet sister-in -law.  I have not gone to one in a couple of years, but this convention has a lineup of seminars that interest me…they are practical and informative.  I am especially interested in the seminars on high school transcripts/portfolios/scholarship applications.  I am also looking forward to introducing my SIL to the wonderful world of homeschool books and curriculum.  She and my brother are planning to homeschool their children.  Emmelia, their daughter, is my godchild. They are expecting baby number two, and I am super excited! 

cooking · faith · family · homeschooling · http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post · learning · motherhood · Orthodoxy · parenting

Feeling Better

Over the Christmas holiday I have been as sick as I can remember.  Samuel , sadly, has been just as bad and even worse.  We had a virus run through the house, but it hit Samuel and I the hardest.  After one trip to the doctor, two trips to the urgent care, three different antibiotics for secondary infections, and every home remedy we could throw at this bug we are finally feeling a bit like our normal selves.   I am still fighting an ear infection, but it seems to be healing slowly. 

Somewhere around day five of this quarantine I began to relax, and then it hit me.  Maybe my lack of rest in general is why my body is not recovering like the others.  Sam and I have not slept well in months and months…and I think it just finally caught up with us. When I gave in and just let things be what they were going to be I began to see the tight knot that is wound up inside of me.  I am just plain tired, but the adrenaline I am addicted to that makes it possible for me to function is hard to resist.

And when Mamas get this run down we must resist adrenaline.
We must stop pushing through and rest.

Resting has been very good, and I have been eating nourishing food, sleeping late, and going very slow.  This has given me much time to think about my health.  I have also had plenty of time to sit and contemplate ways to better care for myself and my family.

When I look ahead at 2015 I can see some major projects, possibly a move, a heavy work load, and schedule.  And all these things are good.  However, I can also see that my inward state needs some nurturing if I am going to enjoy health and happiness this year.  I need better strategies to help me not feel so overwhelmed.

Here are a few things I am going to try…

Leaving Facebook

One giant step toward health for me is the choice to leave social media, Facebook in particular.  I once left Facebook for seven years, and I did much better with my inner life.  It has taken me a while to understand why I have this love/hate relationship with it.  It is not that Facebook is evil or wrong or anything like that.  I love the interaction and the keeping up with friends and family.  For me it is neurological. Something about the format makes me nervous…the scrolling and how my eyes jump from one thing to the next.  The amount of information is too much for me.  And once I start on this feast of information I get bogged down in it, and I spend way too much time on this site.  I know, I know, I could be more mature and set limits and all that…but I don’t.  I think the site’s design (the actual layout, advertisements, colors, lines, etc.) is very addictive for me.

Redefining my morning routine  

For a year I have been very angry that I cannot have the solitude that I think I need in the mornings. During this illness I came to terms with this and had a sort of funeral for my mornings in my mind…I must let that go and get into the groove of my baby.  That means I will have a new morning routine.  Instead of books and coffee and even lengthy prayers I am going to enjoy Sam.  A friend who had six kids  (I only had three at the time) told me that someday my mornings would be different…she was right.  She told me that she prayed a morning offering prayer before her feet ever hit the ground, and that was the foundation for her day.  She too was a lover of contemplation and books and coffee.  However, her life demanded that she take advantage of her mornings in a different way.  I am going to follow my friend and quiet my soul in this area.  I holler calf-rope, and it feels so good.

Revisiting my menu planning

My grocery budget is insane.  I know that food is expensive, but I could do better in this area.  My menus need to be simplified.  I have a five week menu cycle that I made when I had three kids, none of which ate like adults.  With two teenagers in the house and a tween that eats as much as her sisters, it is time to remake my menus to be more frugal.  What I spend on groceries stresses me, and it should…it’s too much!  I know my lack of planning and organization is the major problem.  Some ideas I have are to make double batches of soups, beans, casseroles, etc. and freeze them.  Also, I need to take advantage of sales and stock up on things we use more often.  Another strategy I have is to grocery shop early Saturday morning when the stores are quiet.  This one change would greatly reduce my stress in this area, and allow me to focus.

Refocusing our homeschool 



I have been in serous homeschool burn out mode this year.  It just feels so tedious and overwhelming.  And the truth is, it is!  Homeschooling this many kids, all at different ages and stages is a hard work.  But, it is my work…it is what I am called to do.  Through the prayers of the Panagia and Righteous Anna I am strengthened…  I do not labor alone or in vain.  I am reorganizing the school room, refreshing books, and working toward a more peaceful atmosphere.

Vespers on Wednesday nights

I would love to have this time of prayer on a weekly basis, but the long drive to the Hermitage or our Parish might makes this unrealistic.  For now I want to attempt once a month.

I told Slade today that the illness during Christmas was a blessing.  It forced me to stop…stop everything and really listen, really see.  I am thankful that we are all on the mend and that the new year has come.  What goals or resolutions do you have for the New Year?  I hope you are feeling the peace of Christ this season and the joy of His abiding love.  He is always with us.

Happy New Year friends!  

Christmas · cooking · family · food · fun · http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post · kids · Nativity · parenting

A Country Christmas

We celebrated the Butler Christmas at a ranch in Abilene. My sister-in-law’s family invited us for a weekend in the country, and it was perfect.  I cannot remember when I have had a better time.  It was relaxing and hearty…good for the soul and senses.  Country folk really do have the most fun…especially if those country folk are from Texas!

Simple gifts…nothing extravagant.

Rustic ambiance. 
A warm and cozy bunkhouse.  My oldest brother Josh said, “This feels like church camp.”

We gather in the kitchen.  Lots of great conversation.
Tamales and our parents!  Two of my favorite things.
Lots of cooking.

More cooking.

A porch swing.

Cheese and wine.
The best food.  Featuring a prime rib with horseradish sauce and au jus. 

Outdoor fun!  We also took a Christmas carol hayride underneath the Abilene starlit sky.

Four wheelin’ on trails.  Throwing rocks in the pond.  Looking for wildlife.  Kickin’up dirt! 

A large covered porch for outdoor fun.

A spirited game of spoons!

Cousins are the best!

Amma brought a bag of Christmas books to read to the grands!

 Christmas dishes with red solo cups…what’s more country than that?  

 The girls made blankets together!

The smiles come easy.
The dogs are in heaven.
baby · books · cleaning · faith · family · food · http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post · kids · learning · marriage · motherhood · organizing · Orthodoxy · parenting

Christ in Our Midst

Tonight I headed out to the art shed to look for a set of Logic books that I need for a class I am thinking about teaching in the spring.  When I opened the door to this small space I was aghast at it’s condition.  My two oldest daughters use this space the most, and it was amazing to me that such little care is taken with all the very expensive art supplies in their room.  This space is intended to be an artist’s retreat…a renovated plant shed fully furnished with oils, canvases, watercolors, chalks, charcoal, drawing pencils, instruction books, etc.  I left the little wreck of a room quite angry.  Before prayers I had a chat with the girls about caring for our home and respecting the things in it as objects of great value.  Because things do have value…and not just monetary value. They have value in themselves.

In a world that has gone spiritually mad it is often difficult to understand the material world…to value it in such a way that elevates it as holy.  And yes, I believe paint and pencils and books are holy things, along with everything else in the created world.  One of my favorite authors, Madeleine L’Engle, sums it up quite nicely in her wonderful book Walking on Water

 “There is nothing so secular that it cannot be sacred, and that is one of the deepest messages of the Incarnation.” (And if you love the subjects of art and faith this is a must read…a must purchase.)

When I first read that book in my early twenties it was like a butterfly effect in my life…a small change that created an earthquake later down the road.  And since, I have been utterly undone by the knowledge of the Incarnation and its implications.  A simple shift, yet so profound…no longer must the material world be subject to the murderous accusation of being evil, or worse, mundane. No longer must men decide if some thing is good…if some thing is evil.  Everything God created is good!

Christ became man, taking on flesh, showing that man can become by grace what Christ is by nature…we become the body of Christ.  Christ showed us that the material world is good, and real, and valuable.  It’s all very deep, and I do not intend to get in over my head in theology.  But, at the same time I know that this knowledge, however limited and shallow, has changed my life. This knowledge can change one’s entire inner posture and experience.  Because of Christ man has the power to redeem his world….to live the incarnation.  Every good work is essentially an incarnational work.  And what we would deem as bad works, or sin, have no material value because evil cannot create anything.

But, I am a common housewife…busy with so-called mundane tasks…tasks that go unnoticed and undervalued by a world that is high on ideological promises and rhetoric.  A world that believes ideas change the world, not home cooked meals and prayers before bed.  How can this common housewife be anything more than the one saddled with all the unpleasant necessaries…the stuff that has to be done so we can get on with the real business of the world?  Is my work really valuable…the work of my hands?  Is it incarnational…dirty diapers, really?  

And yet, here I am tonight thinking about art supplies and how they are holy and how if my children will value them it will grow in them a heart after God.  And how lately I have been in a modern mood…not really valuing things…and barely tolerating people.  A momentary lapse of heart…that’s what it really is.

After I came in from the art shed I opened the altar cabinet doors, and I decided to take care of something valuable…something I have been neglecting…the liturgical supplies.  Incense has permeated the wood along with the earthy smell of beeswax.  It is a wonderful smell, and it did my heart good to touch the things in the cabinet, holy things.  I looked across my living room and an interesting thought crossed my mind…everything in this room is holy. This is the antidote for my modern mood…for my lack of enthusiasm.  Every thing and every person in this home has value…in and of itself.  And I am the keeper…the keeper at home…the keeper of home.

My work is holy.  And every thing I encounter in my day; the laundry, the crying, the dishes, the food, the neighbor, the phone call…every demand, every interruption, every failure, every trill of laughter is…

Christ in our midst.

Most days these kinds of thoughts do not pass through my mind. Most days I just get up and put my work boots on…one at a time.  But sometimes it is good to remember, especially when life begins to stretch me thin and and I feel like my work is drudgery.  Sometimes we keepers at home can get in a bad way.

Tomorrow I am going to help the girls make things right in the art shed.  I plan on cooking a nice dinner and finishing up the laundry.  I hope to steal away for a bit and finish my Journey to Nativity calendar.  There’s always school that needs doin’, and babies that need rockin’, and dishes that need washin’.  And I am going to read this post again in the morning…and remind myself that all of this…this big life that wears me out…it’s holy…it’s valuable…it’s incarnational.

It’s Christ in our midst.



faith · family · homeschooling · http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post · kids · learning · motherhood · parenting

Happy Children

Happy is he who still loves something he loved in the nursery: He is not broken in two by time; he is not two men, but one, and he has saved not only his soul, but his life.” G.K. Chesterton