When Pascha isn’t Joyful 17 April 2012Posted by poorerquarters in Uncategorized.
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Christ is Risen! This is truth. Blessed bright week, everyone.
My Pascha was terrible. I’m not sure what to do with that. But here are the reasons why, if only because I need to flesh it out for myself:
My husband and I are physically and emotionally exhausted. Physically, because I’m eight months pregnant, and haven’t gotten a break from the “feeling horrible” part that supposedly only lasts for the first three months. My husband has been working 10-12 hours a day for the past few weeks, between his full-time job, his other part-time job, and freelance work. I feel like we never see each other, and that is emotionally exhausting for both of us. Because we get so little time together, and because I feel awful most mornings and evenings, we didn’t go to any Lenten services. We made it to Liturgy a few times, maybe every two weeks. I never made it to confession during lent. We didn’t fast at all – ostensibly because I’m pregnant, but I’m pretty sure that we wouldn’t have even if I weren’t, and was feeling okay physically. Hard to say, though. I did not have the emotional energy for lent.
On top of the ickiness and over-working, in the little bit of time we have had together, we have been working through some really draining things, mostly having to do with my psychological/emotional issues. Working through and talking through my hurts, mostly. So the time we’ve been getting together hasn’t exactly been great for giving us more energy.
So that was the weeks leading up to Pascha. Friday night, I hardly slept (I’ve been having lots of trouble sleeping at night since about January), and wasn’t able to get a nap in on Saturday, except about an hour of dozing in and out – not too restful. I wanted to go to the Pascha service at midnight. But then I didn’t want to. It didn’t feel like Pascha. I was tired, and not prepared, and felt guilty for those things, even though I knew I’d done the best I could. And even though I know St. John Chrysostom says to go and celebrate anyway.
My husband convinced me that we should go (although an hour prior, it was me convincing him that we should go), and we went. I knew I’d have to sit the entire time, so I brought a couch pillow to help my back. (I hate pews. They are from the devil, to cause us pain. Of course, I need back support no matter where I’m sitting right now, so…moot point.) About ten minutes after arriving and getting settled, I needed to lie down. The only reasons I let myself do this (normally I just deal with it or leave) was because it was nearly midnight and a bunch of kids were sleeping on the floor. And the lights were out. So my husband helped me lie down on the pew. I was okay for a while. I made it through the lighting of the candles. I wanted to go with the procession, made it about halfway to the door (leaning heavily on my husband) and nearly collapsed. So I stayed inside, lying on a pew and feeling awful. But I was glad that I made it that far.
Five minutes after everyone came back in, I got insanely dizzy (if you’ve never been dizzy while lying down…lucky you, I guess), and started hyperventilating. The situation was not helped by the fact that I was trying to hide this from my husband, because I knew what would happen if he noticed. We would leave. He noticed, and told me we were leaving, that I needed to go home. It’s a testament to how awful I felt that I didn’t even put up a fight. I managed to make it out to the car on my own legs (leaning heavily on my dear husband, again), but only because I really didn’t want to have to be carried out in front of everyone. He drove me home and carried me from the car up to our apartment, because I asked him to, because I didn’t think I could walk that far without collapsing. Again, a testament to how very horrid I felt. I hate being helpless like that.
He got me to eat something, and I went to bed. I was too exhausted to sleep. About half an hour later, I threw up. Violently. And then I slept.
Pascha itself (Sunday) we didn’t go to Agape Vespers, because it was my grandma’s 75th birthday party. It was good for about the first hour or so, and then I just wanted to go home. I was so tired, so ill. So sick of pretending that I was okay (which is what I do around people who aren’t my husband or very very very close friends). Tired of feeling out of place among my extended family.
So…what do I do with that? How do I deal with all this, and be joyful? What do you do when Pascha doesn’t feel like Pascha?
I don’t know.
Grief 15 March 2012Posted by poorerquarters in Uncategorized.
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I have a hurt in my past that I do not feel comfortable sharing in a public place like this.
But sometimes grief hits me so hard, so suddenly, that I can’t breathe.
Sometimes I manage to grieve, to sit and cry and sob and let my sorrow wash over me.
But sometimes I can’t even handle that.
Is that okay? Is it okay to put it aside when I can’t deal with it in the moment? To just go and read webcomics until I’m not thinking about it anymore?
I hope so.
Addendum 14 March 2012Posted by poorerquarters in Uncategorized.
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Here is the blog post I was referring to in my last ramblings regarding Lent:
Lent 26 February 2012Posted by poorerquarters in Uncategorized.
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I feel weird writing about Lent and fasting. After all, isn’t it supposed to be a personal struggle, where you don’t talk about your fasting or prayer rule? Yeah. But I also need to hash out thoughts.
As a former non-denominational Protestant, I’ve had some (or a lot of) misunderstandings about fasting in general, but about Lent in particular. Fairly typical misconceptions, like that it’s about the food and depriving yourself. This sort of makes sense if you are a gnostic, which most Protestant traditions tend toward. (That is, thinking that material things are bad/the body is weighing down our soul and is generally a burden to our spiritual development and will have no place in heaven.) The Orthodox understanding, I have been discovering, is very much different.
For one thing, we believe that God created the material world. I mean…obviously Protestants think that, too. But Orthodox theology is different in that it doesn’t say that the fall caused all material things to be bad. The world is fallen, surely, but its core is still good. Because God made it, and sanctified it. Our sin has corrupted the good, but not destroyed it. Our bodies are not evil. In fact, we will still have physical bodies in heaven, not disembodied souls floating around (like in Plato’s gumball machine of souls theory). (“gumball machine of souls” is not a phrase from Plato. but it was the picture I got in my head during that bit of Timaeus.)
Anyway. I really didn’t start this post to talk about quippy paraphrases of Plato, or even to really compare Protestant and Orthodox theology. (I don’t remember enough from college of the former, and I try to avoid the latter in general since I’m still a fairly new convert and not at ALL qualified to talk theology differences.)
So. Orthodox fasting IS about depriving the body, but that isn’t the end reason for fasting. It’s the means to the end. The point of the fast is this – what do you do when you want what you are not having (eg: when you start craving milk products)? The answer is supposed to be “I pray.” We fast so that we are reminded to pray, to seek God, to improve spiritually and prepare for Pascha. I still don’t fully understand how the fast prepares us for Pascha, except in a materialistic “yay! I can have cheese again!” sort of way. Like I said. I’m still a n00b.
Here’s the thing this year, though. I can’t fast. I’m pregnant. It makes it harder to enter into the Lenten spirit and pray more and so forth, because you don’t have the hunger and cravings to remind you to pray. But I’ve been reading blogs from various Orthodox folk (mostly priests and priests’ wives) and some of them have written about Lent. I’m awful about finding the posts I’d love to link to, so here’s my inadequate paraphrase of my favorite one:
“Here’s seven things to focus on during Lent: (insert seven things here. Including fasting, praying more, going to church services). If you can’t do one of them, focus more on the others. If you can’t fast, make it to more services. If you can’t do prostrations (another thing I can’t do at this point in my pregnancy, unless someone is there to help me off the floor each time), then say St. Ephrem’s prayer more.”
I really liked that. It takes the focus off of the food and puts it where it should be – focusing our heart and mind on God. So, I’m not going to be fasting. But I don’t work outside the home, so I hopefully will make it to lots of services (though honestly, my sleep problems lately have made morning services REALLY hard to get to). And I’m going to cut down on media consumption. I don’t own a TV or watch movies, really, but I spend a lot of time online. I follow lots of blogs and webcomics and various websites. So I’m going to be off FB and G+, and not read anything from my Reader feed except for the Orthodox blogs I follow (and the one that my dad and his sisters use to keep the family updated on Grandma). I’ve always thought media fasts were sort of silly (in a Protestant “what am I going to give up for Lent? FB? Chocolate?” sort of way). But when I can’t fast according to the Church, it will probably help me in the same way the food fast is meant to. I’ve also printed out the prayer of St. Ephrem and taped it above my screen. So hopefully that will remind me to pray when I’m twitching in the direction of FB or a webcomic.
Yeah. Blessed Lent to anyone who actually reads this. Sorry for my thoughts-vomit, but I felt like I needed to talk that all out.
In closing, a great little (on topic) drawing: http://pithlessthoughts.blogspot.com/2012/02/orthograph-142-how-to-do-lent.html
Memory Eternal 20 January 2012Posted by poorerquarters in Uncategorized.
Tags: death, reading, theology
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A member of our parish died this week, and a member of our sister parish died last week. They were both blessings – both individuals were very ill and in a great deal of pain. I do not like dealing with death, but it makes it easier to know that they are at peace now.
I don’t really know the differences between Orthodox and non-Orthodox theology when it comes to death. During my conversion I didn’t really worry about it. I still don’t really worry about it, but I would like to know more.
Any book suggestions for dealing with this? I would rather not start with Fr. Seraphim Rose, if there are others. Something by a saint would be nice.
Rest in peace, Mike and Shirley. May their memories be eternal.
“But Mary treasured these things in her heart.” 28 November 2011Posted by poorerquarters in Uncategorized.
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I am not a public person. I like people, but I like my privacy. I like silence and alone time. I don’t share much of significance in my life with anyone but a few very close people.
My husband and I are expecting a child. I am almost at fifteen weeks, now. Our baby is due in late May.
I get overwhelmed by the amount of information that many of my friends share. People post to facebook the instant (or day) they find out they are pregnant. They give daily updates on morning sickness or cravings, and post weekly pictures of their growing bellies. They post their ultrasounds.
And then they want to know why I don’t.
It is hard to explain. But here is the best I can do: This is something precious that is mine and my husband’s. I don’t know if I can put it better than that. I understand the excitement, and the wanting to share. But I think something has to be said for quietness, too. For a silent joy.
The other reason I waited until the end of my first trimester to start telling people (besides our parents) is that I have always had a huge fear of not being able to have children. Since I can remember, I have been afraid of this. I have never had a reason – my family has no history of infertility or large numbers of miscarriages. But it has always been a fear for me. Most miscarriages happen within the first trimester. I would have been horrified to have shared my news with the wide, wide world, only to have something devastating happen. There is still that chance, I know, right up to the last. So that is the other part of my silence.
Sometimes I feel guilty for not sharing a lot, not giving constant updates so that others can be excited with me. But then I remember,
“Now when they (the shepherds) had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and treasured them in her heart.” (Luke 2:17-19)
And who better to imitate than the Theotokos? So I shall not feel guilty for being quiet, for being silently joyful and treasuring each day that I have this child in me. I will give updates, to be sure. But not daily, or probably even weekly.
God is good. Me? Less so. 31 October 2011Posted by poorerquarters in Uncategorized.
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I don’t pray very often.
I try, sometimes. Other times, I don’t even try.
I rationalize, sometimes. Other times, I don’t bother.
Often, I just admit to myself and God that I just don’t feel like it.
I missed church for nearly three months, this summer. I missed it so much. But I had reasons. Mostly panic attacks. Maybe they would have gotten better if I had just sucked it up and gone, and prayed for mercy. But thinking about going was often what set them off. I suffered from severe social anxiety for three months. I don’t know why. But I still should have gone, even if I had to stay outside, and listen through the window.
I have never in my life consistently read the Bible. I am trying now. By God’s grace, I have been doing okay. But it is still toward the beginning, and I worry that my fervor for it will diminish. The Pentateuch is so awfully difficult to get through.
I am anxious and lonely (my husband’s job goes into overdrive for the winter months) and do not trust God to provide for me, to take care of me. I am scared.
And so I stay away from God, or try to. I avoid church. I avoid the sacraments, the place where healing and peace can be found. I went for so long without going to confession, this summer and fall. I was so afraid. When I finally went, I remembered why I am always so relieved after I go. Because God is good. He loves. He does not condemn me, even though I condemn myself, and hate myself at times (which I often have to bring to confession). He loves me, and is good. And maybe, if I keep struggling, He will help me to be better.
Easy Homemade Granola 3 August 2011Posted by poorerquarters in Uncategorized.
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I grew up eating this granola by the bowl (much to the chagrin of my mother, who preferred to use it in moderation, sprinkling it over yogurt). Now I am making it. Because it is 1) easy, 2) delicious, and 3) inexpensive.
I make a double batch from the original (my measurements, not the originals, are listed below in the recipe) because honestly, a single batch lasts about two days. Buying everything in bulk at Win-Co, a double batch only costs a little over six dollars.
That’s reasonable, in my opinion. It might be a little more expensive than, say, cheerios. But it is way more delicious, nutritious, and filling. Did I mention it’s easy? And it’s a nice alternative to hot cereal (my preferred breakfast) when it’s so hot out.
Here we go: Homemade Granola of Awesome
1) Mix in a large bowl:
- 2c rolled oats
- 2c chopped nuts (I use walnuts, because they’re cheapest)
- 1c sunflower seeds
-2c wheat or bran flakes
2) Stir together over low heat until melted:
- 2/3c honey
- 4T peanut butter
- 2t vanilla
- 4T sesame seeds (The original recipe called for these to be stirred in above, but in our experience, they just fall to the bottom and end up clumping together. Stirring them into the melted deliciousness helps them get a more even distribution.)
3) Pour -2- over -1- and stir until all the dry ingredients are well coated. Spread on a cookie sheet (we have found a broiler pan works well) and bake for 25 minutes at 325*, stirring every five minutes.
4) If desired, add 2c dried fruit. (This is not something I desire. But hey, whatever makes you happy.)
So obviously, for about 25 minutes, it does require attention. But not difficult attention. More of a make-sure-it-doesn’t-burn sort of attention. And speaking of burning, if you do make a single batch (halving my measurements above), about 15 minutes in the oven will be fine. Or it will burn. And then it tastes nasty and you end up eating cheerios the next morning anyway and throwing it away and starting over. (trust me. personal experience, here.)
First Steps on Our Road to Freedom 8 July 2011Posted by poorerquarters in Uncategorized.
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We are on our road to being debt free. If we follow our plan, and stay on our current incomes, we will be totally free in two years. TWO YEARS! That doesn’t take into consideration any raises in salary, or Simeon getting a better, full-time job. So maybe it will be sooner. Of course, it also doesn’t take into consideration the possibility of our having babies, either. So maybe it will be a little longer. But even if it takes five years – what thirty year-olds from middle-class America are debt free? On our current track, we will be out of debt and on our way to a full savings account and a comfortable life by 26 & 24. The prospect is so exciting. We will be free to travel, save for retirement and our kids’ educations, give generously, whatever.
We are using Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover program. I love it for several reasons. One is that he comes from a Christian perspective, but at the same time is not overbearingly religiously oriented. One of his frequent sayings is that God’s way is the common sense way. He also emphasizes that it isn’t the possession of money that is the root of all evil, it is the love of money. He emphasizes giving a lot. I also love his method, what he calls the “debt snowball.” You start with paying off the lowest balances. I was able to take care of 3 debts right off the bat. When you pay off one, you add whatever you were paying on that one to whatever you’d been paying on the next largest one. So you pay the same amount of money each month, but the payments on the currently lowest debt get larger with each one that you pay off. It is very gratifying to see the snowball get momentum. That leads into a third thing I love, that results are visible and it is easy to get excited about it. You can plan out your progress and see where you will be each month as the debt decreases. It is wonderful.
I’m rambling. But I wanted to post about it. I plan on continuing to post and updating our progress, because it will help to keep me accountable in our plan. We are so excited about this, and can’t wait to have that cloud that has been hanging over us to disperse.