My mother has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Her name is Dolores. Please pray. Thank you.

My family discovered recently that a close family member is addicted to pain medication. She began taking the drugs due to some pain she was having in her back. The back pain was not caused by a car accident or anything that serious. Her doctor told her that if she lost weight and began exercising, her back pain would be diminished greatly. Instead of heeding his advice, she went to a “pain doctor” who began prescribing pain medication. Of course, the pain medication that worked at one time ceased to be as effective, so something stronger was needed in order to have the same effect. Eventually, he prescribed morphine for her. Morphine is usually given to people in the last days of their life to ease suffering. Or it is given to those who have been in traumatic accidents, for a short period of time. My family member has been taking morphine for months and is now addicted. Lord, have mercy.

I have been thinking about how people (especially those in affluent countries) avoid pain at all costs. The moment one has a headache, some pill is taken (even if it’s an over-the-counter medication). We really cannot even tolerate any discomfort. We cannot stand to be too warm, too cool or hungry for any length of time (the candy bar must be had because we can’t possibly wait a couple more hours for dinner). I know someone who has a remote control for his car so that he can start his vehicle from inside his home and turn on the air conditioning/heat so that it’s a comfortable temperature when he gets in the car to leave. It makes me wonder how palatable Orthodoxy is to Americans or anyone from an affluent country. Can Orthodoxy grow here? How can Americans be asked to go without certain foods for half of the year? Can a culture that avoids pain at all costs embrace a faith that asks them to deny themselves anything?

Today we commemorate St. Juliana of Lazarevo. She is a reminder that one does not need to be a monastic to be holy. Those of us with a husband, children and a home to manage may still achieve theosis. Family life gives us many opportunities to set aside our wills and we are sanctified through our quotidian tasks.

Even for those who do not have children/husbands, I think St. Juliana is still a wonderful example. Her ascetical labors, acts of charity and alms giving is something we should all emulate.

An account of her life can be found here.

St. Juliana, pray unto God for us!

I am looking forward to 2011 with a joy that I have not had in a long time. This past year was perhaps the most challenging of my life, spiritually, mentally and physically. I had some very dark moments, feelings of despondency and despair creeping in. It is in the desert that we realize what we need the most and we seek Him with a fervency that had been lost. God then places that drop of water on our tongue and we are so thankful. So thankful for that drop of water that we realize that the root of sin is our failure to be grateful. Then we are brought back to Him and we are able to carry on.

Once we come through the dark, the light brings such joy. May God grant you a joyous 2011.

I have been homeschooling for one month now and it may be the most challenging task I’ve ever undertaken. My son has been really testing me with bad behavior and defiance on a level I did not think him capable of at this young age (he never told me “no” before when I asked him to do something. He might have whined a bit, but he never outright said, “no” until a couple of weeks ago when we were attempting to complete a math lesson). Also, I am going to switch gears already regarding my approach to curriculum. I have been reading a lot on Charlotte Mason’s philosophy and I would like to implement her method into what I am doing with my son.

I has been a difficult but also rewarding 4 weeks. I have really enjoyed spending the time with my son and fortunately we have had some wonderful days to offset the difficult ones.

The aforementioned homeschool co-op has become a reality (no stipend yet, unfortunately). The Orthodox Classical Homeschool Co-op meets twice per week at a local parish. The priest there has offered to serve Divine Liturgy for us in the mornings and Vespers at the end of our school day. Yesterday was our first day and it went well, if not smoothly. The children worked well together, though, which was a positive sign. I am hopeful that the co-op will be good for both the children and the mothers involved!

My husband and I stayed at a Bed & Breakfast this past weekend. Meet Music, the house kitty. She was beautiful and sweet and let me sit with her on the front porch. It was so lovely to have tea with Music!

I already told my boss that we were considering homeschooling, but today I will put in my resignation notice officially. It will be a very sad day for me. I’ve worked in a small law firm for 8 years and my boss has been more than “just a boss” to me. After Hurricane Wilma hit us in 2005, my boss put us up in his home since we had no electricity or running water. He has always treated me very well and has been quite generous with me. I didn’t always like my work, but I always liked working for my boss. I know he will need to hire someone to replace me, so, should I regret my decision, I will not be able to get my job back. I wasn’t just a paralegal; I also managed the office, so he depended a lot upon me. Even though I want to homeschool, a part of me doesn’t want to stop working for him. I know I must speak with him today and I’m very nervous. Praying all goes well…

“Children who are sustained on the best in music, reading and art will develop a genuineness of instinct, assurity of spiritual ear which will be invaluable throughout their lives. They learn not to be fooled by cheapness and they will never forget the images of purity, chivalry, integrity and beauty they gained from reading and listening to the very best of what the human heart and mind have to offer. When their souls are well-formed, they will be able to withstand many of the delusions and shallow mockeries which will await them in the world.”

-The Nuns of St. Xenia Skete

Article:

http://www.stmichaelschool.us/forming.html

For my dear son. His names day is today, July 24th. May God grant you many years! Saint Declan, pray to God for us!

I love you, Declan.

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