“…my heart is steadfast…”

“…But mingled with the nations and imitated their ways. They worshipped their idols and were ensnared by them.” (Psalm 106:35-36)

“Save us, Lord, our God; gather us from among the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in praising you!” (Psalm 106:47)

“My heart is steadfast, God; my heart is steadfast.” (Psalm 108:2)

These were the Psalms for yesterday’s Lenten Study. They really struck me. In light of all the unrest in our nation, and the incident in London yesterday, I saw these as a call. It is like the Lord is calling us all home, to be united with Him. I know it is not “politically correct” to assume all people should be Christian, or Catholic, or Orthodox. However, I can say that I believe our world is under an attack. We are being led to believe that it is okay to adopt idols that are not from God. In the Old Testament, in Exodus 32, there is a story where the people in the desert, while Moses was up on the Mountain, communing with God, decided to worship the Golden Calf. They went completely nuts, when devoid of strong leadership, and worshipped something they created. In our world today, I see technology becoming our God. We worship our cell phones and laptops. If you look and watch people, very few around you have nothing electronic in their grasp most of the day. I still see people texting in cars, and people checking their phones while at dinner with their families and friends. We are losing our ability to communicate with one another, in person. We are replacing our humanity with technology and our God with someone else’s God.

When we ask God to bring us together from the nations, we are asking to be centered on God. Not on this world. Not on the false gods we have created for ourselves, and not the gods of other peoples. I know it sounds harsh, but when I look around me, I can see the influences of worshipping at the altars of money and technology. We have lost so much of the humanity we once shared. The gift of life is one of the areas in which we have all lost faith. We used to prize life, and protect all lives, at the cost of our own. There are stories that go back generations of people giving their own lives to save that of another person, even strangers. Look at the First Responders who rush in to save people, when everyone else is fleeing. Yesterday in London, a First Responder went into the fray, to save others and stop the violence, and he lost his life (May his memory be eternal). He deliberately went in where others were fleeing, to stop the further loss of life. Life was precious to him and he sacrificed his own, so that others could have life. Other cultures and other faiths put very little value on life and we see evidence of that in bombings, beheadings, rapes, murders…all for their causes.

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:40)

This portion of Matthew scared me. And continues to make me sit up and take notice. Why? Because I am so goat-like and not very sheepish…in most things. This story is when He separates the sheep from the goats, with the goats going downward! In verse 46, He says, “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” Personally, I prefer the eternal life part. And in our world today, it seems like people are making choices with no thought to their eternity. None at all. Some even laugh and presume this is all there is to living and live out their lives like that is so. It makes me sad. And I rejoice in instances where people care more for others, than for themselves, as was given to us in a timeless example yesterday in London.

I bring this up because I am noticing as I read the Psalms, that we have been getting directions for thousands of years. And each time a culture becomes “advanced” they last about 200 years or so. And America is a little past its expiration date. And if we look around us, we can see “golden calves” everywhere. Literally on every street and in almost every home. Breaking away from social media has shown me how addicting it can be. Even cutting down to once a day, it is amazing how freeing it can be. Unfortunately, it is the sole way I communicate with many of my friends and I need to figure out a way to remedy that!

I was speaking to someone recently and I grabbed their arm, and I looked in their eye, and I said, “This contact, this conversation, this is what counts. This moment right now is what we live for. Not the electronic version of this, but this.”

And so, as we ask God to gather us from among the nations, and we try to ensure that our hearts are steadfast, I believe we need to take a step back and away. We need some silence and some time away from this world in order to figure out our place in it. We need to just stop all this insanity and come to grips with where we are all going. You know what? My iPhone 6+ works so much better now that I use it exclusively as a phone! I use my computer for computing – which means I cannot travel as I google or compute. I have to sit down, stop whatever else I am doing, and focus on what I want from my computer. That one thing, removing all social media from my phone, changed my world. I now see how tied to our phones, our idols of information and electronic communication, we are. And how impatient I have become at seeking answers to things! “Just Google it!!!” I also see how some of the information we seek, and find, is not from God. It is from the evil one who seeks to destroy marriages, families, communities. And if we are honest about it, we should all be able to see how it has corrupted all of us. Yes, technology has its place. But its place should be down a few notches, and not in our faces. I feel such a pull back to basics of my faith, and a simpler life. Today I think I will bake something from scratch. No mixes, boxes, pre-made things. Scratch cooking. It is a step away from the idols of convenience we have adopted. And it is a step towards simple. And towards God.

May the Lord bless you as you continue to discover new things, that are truly timeless and from Him, during your Lenten journey! Blessed Lent.

“Clock confusion…”

I have discovered that the older I get, I prefer solitude. I have seen some hilarious posts about needing caffeine to even be human. And I can relate to that, some days. I find myself gearing up to interact with others. Although I am, by nature, a social person, I find it so draining these days. I much prefer one-on-one with a close friend, or a small social setting. Large malls, big parties, noisy places just drain me.

Making things worse this year was Daylight Savings time. It messed me up more than I realized, nor thought it would. I don’t recall ever being this messed up. I struggled with getting up and going to bed at the right time. Last night, it was bright daylight at 7:00PM. And today is the first day of Spring. Oh joy. Up here, that just means the sun is up. There are no flowers, yet. Instead, we are dealing with melting snow compounded by dirt on the roads, mushy interactions, and melting/refreezing almost nightly. It is a mess. But at least we have sunshine. I have lived up here four years and this is the first year I wanted Spring and warmth to be here. I want to put on capris and wear flip-flops, and open my windows. It was so cold I slept with socks on last night – and two extra blankets – even with the heater on. It was zero when I went to bed. Spring. Someone forgot to tell Alaska. Today it is bright and sunny – the skies are gorgeous – and all of 20 degrees.

This week I went to a “journal” “CLASS” being held at a local craft store. It was anything but a class. It was basically a product display. But I enjoyed the conversation with the woman tasked with “teaching” the class. She was their crochet and quilting instructor. Had no idea what journaling even was. (*sigh*) So I went into town and explored another craft store. And from there, after being accosted by crafting mothers, dragging uncooperative children, I made my way to grocery shop. When I got home, I realized I had “peopled” enough for one day. Our youngest son was gone hunting and snow-machining, so it was just the two of us. So nice to have a quiet evening. I made a nice meal and even used my Instant Pot (hubby wants to be sure I am using it!) and made a cheesecake.

We sat, very comfortable, cozy from the cold night, watching a movie and being at home. I need to center myself some days and it helps to just be at home. I know I need to reach deep sometimes and center myself, so I am better at being “human” and interacting with others.

For me, as I read that list I mentioned a few posts ago about 50 interesting things about myself, I came to realize I am more an introvert than I used to be. I know that deep within myself, where God and the Holy Spirit resides, that I need to center myself on His Word for my life, and to hold fast to my family, home, and hearth. I deeply desire peace and contentment and to be able to be centered enough to project that out, to those I meet along my way. On Saturday,  along with the jostling I experienced in several stores, with harried parents trying to contain their kids, and coming to terms with the fact that all my prep and driving around for a “class” that didn’t happen, I was able to return to my home and find that peace and contentment. It is usually in the most obvious place – right in front of our noses!

 

“…you are the witnesses of these things…”

Today I sat and reviewed the past two weeks of Lent. Hard to believe it has been 15 days already! I re-read my Gratitude Journal. It is amazing how my words have changed, and yet my prayers are still directed towards the same goals! My goals? “To rekindle and return to the life I led that was far more faithful in the past. To be more simple and quiet. Being centered on God’s word, and to wean myself off social media.” Those were taken right out of my journal. I find it interesting that this Lent has been so instructive, and at the same time, has kept me striving to become better and better, in pursuit of the goals I set for Great Lent 15 days ago.

The impact of giving things up, for me, has been to add so many other, and far more fruitful, habits. It is nice to have a silent home most of the day. It is nice to not worry about the most recent posting or status of someone on Facebook. Guess what? Millions and millions of people exist quite happily with no social media accounts. Funnily enough, people who make their money on social media usually do not use it for themselves, and severely limit it for their own children. I wonder what they know? Perhaps they understand that those platforms greatly invade our privacy, and that too much interaction on media platforms is not healthy for our minds or our psyches.

“…you are the witnesses of these things…” Luke 24: 46-48

We see so much happening around us. We hear so much. There is sometimes just too much input. We need to take a break, away from the world. I love that Spring is approaching and we can slowly see the sun more often and longer, and that the skies are an incredible shade of blue. Soon, plants will begin emerging (it may take awhile up here – we have over 7-feet of snow on our front yard!) and birds will be singing. I envision times with family, away from the crowds. I cannot wait to hang out with my husband while he chases those elusive salmon. And I sit with him, as he struggles with his gear, on the quiet of a river bank. I am in the quiet of nature and am often overwhelmed by the beauty around me. I can be there in mere minutes, from where I live, and not hear another human or any sound that is not from nature. And it fills my soul.

I know that I am growing and that this Lenten study is helping me to grow. I am relying on my morning prayer time to center my days, rather than the latest status or posting on social media. I am reading the Bible every day. I am ingesting the Word of God for His people and am learning more and more. I am feeling a warmth and love, a buoyancy in my heart, that I did not have before this. Reading the Psalms every day has lifted my spirit more than I ever thought it would. And I feel blessed. So very blessed.

Sometimes we can allow depression to get the better of us. I know I have. It is my first full winter in Alaska, when sunshine was not seen for months, and we have had weeks and weeks of daily snowfall. I never fully understood the effect of darkness on the psyche. I happily chew my Vitamin D3s every day, but I can assure you, being able to open your drapes and see sunlight is amazing for your mind! But I allowed depression to affect my daily routine. I became despondent in the fact that I was not hopeless, but in the definition of despondent, I do believe I lacked courage. Courage to face the things that were/are lacking in myself. Things that need to go, or things that need to be added. Lent is a blessed time we are given to allow us to dig in and make these changes. I know that for me, even in my “gratitude” journal, I have been able to note the things that need to go, or things that need to be faced and dealt with. I am still nowhere near where I should be. But I faced these things. I wrote them down. I decorated the pages! And I am chipping away at my many and myriad faults, trying to become a healthy and worthwhile Child of God. I know nothing I can do will make me worthy; my faith is a gift. My works do not guarantee a spot on the winning team, but I also know that works done with heaven in mind, and with salvation in mind for those I am working with or for, is loved by God. He appreciates our efforts. He loves our struggle. Read the Book of Job. That details struggles most of us could never imagine. But God rewards perseverance. He loves a heart that gives itself to Him alone. And I am learning more and more as I age, and as I persevere, that God’s choices for us are not the world’s choice for us.

Being “woken up” during Lent, to further work at our faith life, is such a blessing. We, as Christians, are not perfect; only forgiven. And it is a further blessing that each time we fall, the angels themselves are there to help us up again: “For God command His angels to guard all your ways. With their hands they shall support you, lest you strike your foot against a stone.” (Psalm 91:11-12) I know my guardian angel has his hands so very full. But I also know that I can rest and trust in the Word of God for my life. And I am finding such a deep peace, even rest, residing in His Word for me. I may be depressed and have worries; we all have them, but I also know that God has totally surrounded me with His angels and His saints, protecting me. And sometimes, He protects me from myself. Which is probably where I need the most help. I know that turning off, and turning away from, the world, has helped immeasurably. God is so good; He brought this Lenten Study to my attention and in a moment, had me push all the right keys so I could be a part of it. His blessings sometimes blow me away!!

And on this, St. Patrick’s Day, may you always be blessed with faith, friends, and family!

“And just like that…”

It’s so interesting how our minds work. I had a horrible nightmare last night..well, technically it was extremely early this morning…and woke to my 15-year-old dog barfing his guts out at the foot of my bed (luckily into his dog bed itself). To tell the truth, it was almost worse than the nightmare. Reality can do that to you, every once in a while. Your mind has you reeling and you’re breaking out in a cold sweat, thinking life is pretty bad, and then your dog throws up at your feet. And this morning, it was so very dark. It was black as night, which is why I was so confused.  It’s just week one of Daylight Savings Time – I really dislike the time change – and I am exhausted. Not only that, it is pitch black at 6:30am. So I had to find my way to a light to see what I was dealing with. Meanwhile, I was sweating over my nightmare and not fully aware of what was happening. And to be honest yet again, I think dealing with a sick dog is preferable to my dream, in many ways. In this particular case, once I was fully awake, I would much rather deal with my sick dog.

You see, in my dreams, I lost one of my sons. He snapped; he became someone he never was, nor anyone I had raised him to be. He exhibited behavior I had never expected of him. I was begging him. I was yelling at him. I was losing him and there was nothing I could do to stop his decisions. In my dream, I was cowering in my closet, crying and inconsolable. I think losing a child to poor choices is probably the worst thing I can imagine. I know people who have children who have struggled with addictions and who have served time in prison, or who have been admitted to rehab over and over again. I have seen families split apart who have not returned to a cohesive unit. And I have seen the pain in a parent’s eyes over their lost children.

And I cannot help but think of the world, and our country, right now. It feels like we are turning our backs on God. We have walked away from the basics of our faith. We have allowed the world in, so much so, that we have forgotten God. We have chosen to live life as we choose, away from His Word for us.

In the Ladder of Divine Ascent (the Icon depicted above) St.John Climacus exhorts us to pay attention. If you look at the icon you can see how decisions are affecting the eternity of those climbing. There are many ways in which we can see how, as a culture, we have chosen the world over its creator. The creation has become the master of the creator. It is usurped and upside down. And it can only lead to disaster. It can lead to each of us falling off the “Ladder of Divine Ascent,” our own pathway to heaven.

I read an article today by a young woman who was raised by her German grandmother. Her grandmother warned her that war was coming to us. As a young girl, her grandmother had tried to warn her own family in Germany, prior to World War 1, of an upcoming war, but none of them listened to her. So she fled to America via Ellis Island. She saw the “writing on the wall” (Daniel 5).  And she raised her children and grandchildren to be aware of the world – the history, culture, and markers that signal disaster is coming. And she believes we are, once again, headed for international disaster. Quite often, I feel that God needs a 2×4 to get my attention; I see these markers and yet I disdain them and blow them off. This dream, which was making me extremely upset, was stopped by my dog, before I could take the imagery further. Why did I dream about my son like that? I think it is because I realized his entire school experience, the sum total of all my years of schooling my children, is due to our homeschool by May 1st. The final grades for his last year of homeschooling. And that is so very close. As in 6 weeks close. As in my entire brood will have graduated from High School and be making their way into the world. And it scares me. For a variety of reasons. My babies are all adults. All of them. And here I sit.

You know, God experienced the “empty nest” syndrome, too. He had to expel Adam and Even from the Garden of Eden. As a parent, we sometimes have to make those tough calls. Of course, God knew that He was setting mankind on the pathway back to Him. He granted us free will, which allows us to follow or reject Him. Our children have free will. Eve was easily tempted by an apple, because of her free will, and the demonic presence whispering in her ear. She then infected Adam with the need to eat of the Tree of Knowledge, the one plant the Lord asked them to not eat. Isn’t that how it goes? What we are told we cannot have, we want all the more??  God gives us ample opportunities to choose Him. He allows us the opportunity to experience what the world has to offer. He allows us to feel sated by the world. To our “in the moment” minds; to our “if it feels good do it” mentality; to our “it will be fine, you will see” logic, we choose the pathway that is easier, wider, simpler. Being a follower of God, of Christ, is the single, most difficult thing I have ever chosen to do. But I cannot deny the pull of my heart; that emptiness that no amount of anything in this world fills, but God. The fear of my son making poor choices for his life? Isn’t that the fear all parents share? Most especially our God? He saw how our poor choices mounted, again and again. And He sent us His Son, to lead us each to salvation. Each of us. I can worry all I want about my kids; in fact, I always will. I may have sleepless nights until my eternal sleep, worrying about my children and grandchildren. Because as a parent, we never, ever stop worrying.

Once again, God has directed us to Him through the gift of Lent. He never stops worrying about us. I will never stop worrying about my family, or my friends. It’s part of who I am, as a woman, and as a mother. Each year, we are given a wonderful opportunity to re-direct our lives away from this crazy, inviting, world and direct ourselves towards God. We have this chance for more prayer, for reflection, for a metanoia of the heart, mind and soul. So even if this world is careening out of control, we firmly stand on the Rock, the Church. We have our faith to ground us, prepare us, to set a wall around our hearts. We don’t know when things will occur. And we need to always stay prepared. God has our best interests at heart as the Creator of all of us. He will never stop welcoming us Home to Him. And that one thing helps me sleep at night, and helps keep most nightmares at bay.

I know my kids are growing up and moving on. I know it. It’s just hard to deal with it some days. But facing these fears, in the light of day, and the Light of Christ, gives me strength. And just like that….

“God, you know my folly…”

Today I was able to spend time with my kids and grandkids. It always brings a smile to my heart. We started with pancakes at iHop and when my little granddaughter jumps on my lap, hugs me so tightly, and says, “I just love you, Gaga,” well, I melt. Even though the sugar packets are askew across the table, and I am wearing coffee creamer on my blue jeans, I am so enamored with the fact that I am even here. That I am even a grandma.

And I love watching my oldest son be a parent. Half the time I am thinking, “That’s what we call Karma, my son, karma!” Watching them maneuver through Joanne’s Craft Store is particularly enjoyable. They love that store. Their mom is an amazing crafter and they are very familiar with each and every aisle. Today, while their mom was returning things, I stole my granddaughter and we took off for the section with their little fairy houses. She loves all the tiny, little homes with swings and flowers, with fairies and gnomes hanging around. One day I want to make her something for her room, with all of them inside. She just gets the biggest eyes and finds such joy in these simple, little treasures. We discussed what fairies and gnomes we liked, which swings were the best, which cars and trucks they should drive. “But Gaga, you can’t make a strawberry a house!” And then we were off, discussing real and make-believe! What priceless moments.

After I got home from our journey, I began my Lenten study. I had forgone my quiet morning for breakfast with my grandchildren, a treasury of moments I would never trade! I can still feel my little granddaughter’s hug, and her hand in mine, as we gazed at all the goodies in that craft store. And my son, chasing his son, down the aisles. Precious moments I can still feel in my heart.

And today, I read, “God, you know my folly. My faults are not hidden from you…” (Psalm 69:6) I think about all the times we lie to ourselves and others. God sees. He knows our folly. Sometimes we lie to not hurt other’s feelings…little, “white” lies. But God knows those, as well. “Our God is a God who saves…” (Psalm 68:2) I read these verses in light of my children and grandchildren. Yesterday’s activity was to list 30 interesting things about me. And in a way, it became almost a wish list. I wished that we had enough land and a big enough house that we could all reside near one another – if not under the same roof, then on the same property; at the very least, in the same state! It is so hard not seeing your grandchildren grow up. We have a granddaughter we have not even met, yet. And it tears at my very soul. But the Lord, He knows my folly. He knows, also, my heart: “You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, and are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O LORD, You know it all..” Psalm 139:2-4

We cannot always get what we want, but sometimes the longing helps us to appreciate and discern what is right there, in front of us. And even though I cannot hold all of my grand babies at once, or even weekly, I can appreciate that I now have 5 of them! I am so very, very blessed. What a legacy my husband and I have contributed to our world. We have three fine sons who are raising wonderful families. And I am very proud of them.

And I have learned that I have been substituting doing mindless things for precious time with my family and friends. This Lenten exercise and the things I chose to forgo so that I could grow, have opened my eyes. Strangely enough, a dear friend called me today and we caught up a little bit. Those moments are priceless and precious to me. I don’t need social media to feel that; to experience that. I touched my daughter-in-law today, on the arm, and explained to her that the here and now, the moments, are what I treasure. I apologized and explained that I needed a complete stop to realize I squander time. And there is a limited amount of it. Angry birds? How silly is that? Constantly checking my status or notifications? What a waste of my time.

We are becoming zombies to our electronics. And I am vowing to walk away. To not spend the time I have been spending, looking at my phone or checking on my laptop. Once a day is more than enough. Life is to be lived with those we treasure…not the things we have or hoard. People can be taken in a moment and you cannot get that lost time back. So even though I cannot see my babies, or my sons, I will endeavor to stay a part of their days. Even sending annoying texts if we cannot talk. But I will endeavor to weigh my time and guard it zealously. My days are numbered, and I am entering the twilight of my time here. God knows my folly..and thankfully He knows how to rectify my errors. Thanks be to God for Lent!

 

“..it is not yet prayer.”

Have you ever been told that you need to provide more quiet time, so your child does not get “over stimulated”?  Mondays were always the worst day of the week for me. Especially when our kids were younger. Mondays were the day after the weekends. And every Monday morning I have ever had with my kids was always “melt down Monday.” My kids were done. They needed sleep, quiet, time outdoors just digging in the dirt, and this momma needed some quiet time, too. Our house always looked the worse for the wear on Mondays. And I realized it was because our weekends were spent running all over the place, basically just checking in at home to sleep, change clothes, and run out and “do” until we collapsed on Sunday nights.

Well, this grandma is overstimulated. I am raw today. This weekend was insanely busy for us. We went to a meeting with lots of new people on Friday evening, a banquet that we volunteered to help with on Saturday, breakfast with our kids/grandkids Sunday morning (followed by a new Disney movie, so we were there until after 2pm), preparing for the husband’s business trip today (laundry, etc), Church Sunday evening, and dinner was late after Church last night – 9:30pm. My poor husband had an early flight out this morning – 4:30am. Ugh. He is tired! And I am strung out and raw. Sometimes, even though I do love being with people, I prefer being at home. Quietly at home. With my husband and a good book, a nice fire crackling in the wood stove, and my dog sitting next to me. Maybe a glass of Scotch next to me, or a cup of tea, or both! Ha-Ha!

Today’s journaling exercise for Lent was to list 30 interesting things about yourself. It was so hard. And I realized some things. I prefer being at home. Pretty much a homebody. I prefer the company of my husband, most of all, and our family and close friends. I don’t need to go out and party or do a lot. In my younger days, I was in a sorority. I worked at a TGIF restaurant, waitressing and bartending – talk about a lot of people! I have partied until I am not really interested in that anymore. I have had the days of kid’s sports and that commitment, keeping us running all week long. And I adore seeing mountains with snow on them over the beach any day of the week (sorry, Mary!! Ha-Ha!). I realized I am a cold climate person. And I have come to learn that I like silence. I really, really, do. I prefer it to music or noise, of any kind, at all. Who would have thought? (Not my parents when I was 16!!).

Our reading today was about how we pray. And I learned some things about myself. I realize that I love the Lenten season above any other season. I love these protracted times of reflection and lessons, of reading Scripture and learning how to pray more often and more fruitfully. I love learning how to be more simple, more quiet, more reflective, more in tune with God. Some quotes by St. Theophan the Recluse really touched my heart today, in a profound way. “Prayer itself is the piercing of our hearts by pious feelings towards God, one after another – feelings of humility, submission, gratitude, doxology, forgiveness, heart-felt prostration, brokenness, conformity to the Will of God, etc.” “When these feelings are present, our praying is prayer, and when they are absent, it is not yet prayer.” And it spoke to me about the quality of my prayer life. Do I prepare my space, my mind, my heart, before I pray? Do I jump back up and rejoin the world once I have completed my prayers? Do I allow those wonderful feelings to follow me out into my day? One of his suggestions was to “focus your thoughts, casting off from them all earthly activities and objects. Then call to mind the One to Whom you are praying, Who He is and who you are, as you begin this prayerful petition to Him.” How often do we center ourselves, detaching our minds from the world, and wholely giving ourselves over to this connection with God? I have spent many years, in many different ways, trying to accomplish this feat. And often I have come up against a sort of roadblock to what I feel is a successful time of prayer. And St. Theophan said this, “..stop, do not read further, but stand with attention and feeling in that place, and use the prayer in that place and the feelings engendered by it to feed your soul.” And I felt that I had learned something valuable. Quite often we read scripture and we only retain a word or two, perhaps a phrase, but the entire reading is off, floating out of our minds. Or when we read the words of philosophers or the Church Fathers, we retain such a small bit of it, and we feel like we have failed. But today I learned that it is not a failure, but it is precisely what I was intended to receive from that exercise. My soul was touched and I felt buoyed by reading that tract of writing, from whomever, and was able to retain what was pertinent to me and my soul.

As I read the Psalms today, a verse here and there struck me. For example, “…God is on my side. God, I praise your promise; in You I trust, I do not fear. What can mere mortals do to me?” (Psalm 56:10-12) and then “My soul rests in God alone, from Whom comes my salvation. God alone is my rock and salvation, my secure height; I shall never fall.” (Psalm 62:2-3). And I was touched, in light of my experiences and our current political climate, by this: “..they bless with their mouths, but they inwardly curse.” (Psalm 62:5) . And that last is just a portion of a phrase.

I was able to take these moments from Scripture and feel them in my heart. I stopped and recorded them, so as to keep them close to me. I believe St. Theophan was right when he said, “All praying leaves prayer in the soul – continual prayer in this manner gives it root, and patience in this work establishes a prayerful spirit. May God grant this to you by the prayers of our All-pure Lady, the Theotokos.”

Sometimes our resolve to live peacefully gets dashed upon the rocks of reality. My weekend totally invaded my space, and used up any of the “social” energy I had within me. Don’t misunderstand; I totally enjoyed my time out and spent much of it laughing (especially at the cross-eyed and mounted Mountain Lion they were trying to auction off) with friends. But, I wore my psyche out. And, more than usual, I was looking forward to my prayer time today. As our Sunday wound down, things got worse and worse. Our drive-through experience at 9:00pm on a Sunday night? Well, we waited 20 minutes in a line we were stuck in; our food finally arrived and off we went only to spill the drink in my new car as we pulled into our driveway, and the bags broke as we exited the car, with burgers flying into the snow…even the last bag split as we made our way inside. It was an exhausting end to a very “peopley” weekend. Thanks be to God for silence, quiet, and prayer time to rejuvenate my mind and soul. And as we laid our heads upon our pillows, we both apologized for the misplaced anger we had towards one another, and just rested. I recited the Jesus Prayer over and over, as I drifted off. And I knew my husband would be tiredly flying off to his commitments across the state, and I would be blessed to spend my morning with God, in prayer. My husband has blessed my soul in so many ways, but chiefly among them, is the ability to be at home. Thanks be to God for these priceless moments and opportunities to pray, for generosity of faith of my husband, and for this wonderful season of Lent, lately realized as my favorite time of the year.

Blessed Lent