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calligraphqueen
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« on: April 24, 2006, 10:33:31 AM »

I remember how odd I felt when we first entered the little GO parish we have here, the smoke from the incense drove me nuts, I don't even notice it much now.
But I felt like an outsider.

Now I am an Orthodox convert, but I still feel like I am on the outside.  I did not attend one holy week service.  I have 7 children to tend to, and usually we are hs'ing. I didn't last week since it was Western break, and I had sick littles.  But I didn't attend the evening services either.  I still had no one to watch the sick children and most of mine are too young to sit still for 3 hours and get up and deal with littles the next morning.

How on earth can I juggle all of this AND Orthodoxy?  I didn't even get to attend the Agape service because I got 8 other people ready, and then there was no time left for me.  Dh was no help, he primped for 2 hours and laid around-and I am doing the beheaded chicken dance! Shocked
I just feel like i miss out on the services when I am there, as I am tending children.  I have the one sn child and you NEVER know what she will pull that will distract.  I can hardly follow the service, so I hardly ever receive communion. I just don't feel I should.
I kind of feel like an imposter!  Will it get easier as my children grow? What am I missing, because this is stressing me out!?
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TomS
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« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2006, 12:11:38 PM »

Stop judging youself. What will either save you or damn you is inside of you - it is not how many times you attended services. Serving others - which you are doing - and helping to bring them up is what is important.
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Fr. David
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« Reply #2 on: April 24, 2006, 12:25:09 PM »

Tom's got it right...we parents need to understand (and it's hard for us zealous converts to get sometimes) that our responsibility is to our children as much as it is to ourselves, and that attending church as regularly is just not an option.  My wife and I trade off services--one will worship while the other is doing Mommy/Daddy duty with our ten-month old.

Works nice.  For your situation with lazy dh, well, all I can say is that you may want to do what one large, HS-ing family in my parish does: take the ones that are ready.  Not everyone (especially in a big fam) is going to attend every service.  That's OK.  Make sure there's a prayer rule at home--everybody's already there--to maintain some contact with God through the Church in the meantime.

Hope this has helped.  Christos Anesti!
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Timos
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« Reply #3 on: April 24, 2006, 12:25:40 PM »

Wow, with 7 children I don't blame you. I've got 1 sister and its already really hard taking her, one  9 year old little person, to church during Holy Week.

Does your parish do things the messed up way like mine- where they have sunday school during Liturgy from after the Gospel and then they come in for communion? If so, then you could leave your children in the sunday school classes.

Btw, I admire that you've got 7 children. The only other person I know who's got 6 children even is a Catholic woman who rigourosly follows the Magisterium on the contraception issue.

Anyhow, maybe some sundays the yiayia/grandma (if she's orthodox and in the area) can take care of some of your children on sunday morning.

The best thing in my opinion, is to setup a small orthodox chapel or prayer corner in your home. And then, when you're all home and have some spare minutes, conduct your own orthodox reader's services. Print off some orthodox prayers in children's language like the Trisagion and It Is Truly Right, and sing some songs with easy tunes like Christ is Risen- and that way you'll get them used to church slowly and to undertsand a little bit more what is being done and said.
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aurelia
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« Reply #4 on: April 24, 2006, 01:26:18 PM »

I am "lucky" in that my hub (almost) never goes to church, so if I need or want to I can leave the boys home. But recently I've started taking both boys by myself with the girls.  My older ones frequently sit in the church with their nounas while i sit in the cry room or the toy room with my twins. Luckily my church has a..what, intercom speaker system thing that can pipe the service into any room in the church, so I can still hear it.  But the one boy, as soon as he gets into church "HI FATHER NICK!!!" at the top of his lungs over an over...and they don't last 5 minutes in the main church area, before I have to take them to the cry room. So I pretty much never go in after we light candles, its straight to the cry room. Yesterday I had to leave the Agape service though.  The boys were so awful and I couldn't control them anymore, and I felt ready to cry so I just took everyone home.  So they missed the egg hunt.

DH needs to step up, imo.  I know you know what I am talking about...just remind him that they are his kids too.  Give him # 1-4 or something, can you divide them up?  He's a guy, he should be pretty much wash and wear, lol!  I'll come poke him for you if you like, sometimes they need that.  Wink

I like the at home prayer corner thing...maybe if you integrate it into your homeschooling time, it can be a good way to teach then how to act in church?  I may have to try that.  

It'll be ok.  They will grow up, then the olders can help take care of the youngers and you can get more time to connect.  But I think you need to try to get some "you" time NOW, whether it be to go to a service here and there on your own, or to get to a room with a book.  We all need that, especially when there are so many people that need doing for.  (((hugs))))


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Jeni
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« Reply #5 on: April 24, 2006, 04:59:39 PM »

I have 6 (7 counting a nephew who lives with us).  Originally we all went on the weekend. Then I started going on Wednesdays, too.  Sometimes I took a kid or 2.  I made a deal with my older boys that they could go 2X a week, or once a week and serve.  They all chose once and to serve.  2 served on the weekend, and 2 on the Wednesday service. The little ones went as was available, ready, and willing (me and/or them).  In the begining, though, it was not as easy.  I preferred that we all went together because I liked seeing my family all together in church, and I liked that other poeple admired us. Undecided  I realize now that that was pride and ego, and bad. Embarrassed  I am happier knowing that my kids even go to church!  Today a student and I were talking about my kids going to church (I teach in a public school), she asked me if they had a life.  Shocked  You do what you can and make the domestic church important, too.
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cizinec
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« Reply #6 on: April 25, 2006, 08:19:56 AM »

Denying yourself for the sake of others . . .

Say prayers, talk to your priest, and keep on.  What all those other people have is because people like you give so much.  Don't be bitter, but remember that the last shall be first.  
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calligraphqueen
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« Reply #7 on: April 25, 2006, 11:18:27 AM »

I am not thinking along the lines of bitterness.  But I came from the protestant mindset and my eternity bothers me.  I can't jump through all the hoops of the faith, so to speak, as a single person-because I am not.  And I wonder how God views my limited learning and involvement in the faith.  That is what bothers me.  I have only been a convert for less than two years.
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Timos
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« Reply #8 on: April 25, 2006, 05:01:50 PM »

I was Orthodox from baptism all my life and there's tons of stuff I can't begin to try to understand and I used to let it bother me but instead I've decided that I should try to absorb things naturally and with understanding rather than trying to cram every bit of theological formula in my mind at once.
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FrChris
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« Reply #9 on: April 25, 2006, 08:06:16 PM »

 And I wonder how God views my limited learning and involvement in the faith.  That is what bothers me.  I have only been a convert for less than two years.

Calligraphqueen,

Well, I can't speak for God, but I am certain that He looks at all that you are doing---converting to the Church, serving others, and having your heart on fire to learn more---and that means more to Him than some of the people here at Holy Cross with their fancy titles and 'wonderful' accolades.

The point is that you should not feel that God is angry at you because you can't do all that you feel you should be doing for Him. Remember with what words Christ will reject us when He comes again: 'Depart from me...for I do not know you'.

By serving others in your family (whom, by the way, God has given you probably because He knows you will do a good job with them) you actually serve Christ, for all of us have put on Christ and are working out our salvation. Making them comfortable allows your family to grow towards Christ, and so I'll wager you actually know more of Him than you think by putting your needs behind the needs of others.

Then, in a few years when your family is ready, you can start doing other things within your parish. However, this time you have spent will help train you to recognize Christ in others, and for them to see Christ in you---and that is the heart of the Faith.
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strebekah
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« Reply #10 on: April 25, 2006, 08:29:19 PM »

Do you think that God doesn't see what you (we) are going through?

When we converted our priest told me that my motherhood is my prayer to God. That is my service. There will come a time when you will be able to attend all services; when you will be able to fast better; when you will be able to pray more than 10 minutes; when you can sit and read the early Church Fathers.

I am a convert too of about 5 years. I was raised Baptist. I live in the South. I have 7 children. I homeschool. We have a lot in common.

I think that maybe you are making things too hard on yourself. You have what someone told us was "convertitus"---or Over zealous Convert disease. You aren't going to get it all at one time. I have yet to fully fast since every Lent I have either been pregnant or nursing. But there will come a time when I will not have a baby to nurture and I will fast.

There will come a time when I am not spending much of the service back in the kitchen consoling an infant who is so tired he can't sleep.

There will come a time when I will be able to stand through an entire service without looking around wondering where the 2yo ran off to.

I guess the difference for you and me, is that my husband is "here" but at church---being a Subdeacon, he is almost always at the altar. If he isn't there he is in the choir. But he is always doing something in the service. So I am basically a single parent during the services. Does it get irritating? yes. Do I get much out of the service? Not too many times. But ya know what? God knows that. He isn't blind to what I am going through.

Motherhood is all part of my salvation.

Maybe if you looked at it more like that you will be able to enjoy what you have going on around you.

In love,
Rebecca
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Rebecca
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calligraphqueen
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« Reply #11 on: April 25, 2006, 09:03:14 PM »

Rebecca you are right.  It's hard to think of mothering is part of my salvation, I guess I am more indoctrinated by my past than I thought.  This aspect was really never taught directly as a baptist, I dont' remember it being mentioned much.

I think there are times when I just get worn down and feel that I am not doing enough.  I even feel ashamed in front of our priest like I have done something wrong by not being as involved.  It is that intensity of converting and thinking we have to do everything right, right out of the chute.

BTW, do you hope to have any more children?  I am already missing the baby stage as my youngest just turned 1 and started walking.
Blessings,
Rebecca
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strebekah
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« Reply #12 on: April 26, 2006, 09:05:17 AM »

More babies? Well, probably.  Grin Being QF isn't something that I "left behind" when I became Orthodox. Actually, I became MORE QF when we became Orthodox. I don't worry about having more or not having more. Symeon is 5 months so I am still loving having a little one---give me about 10 more months and baby-fever will hit again! LOL

I agree with you about motherhood and salvation. It is hard to look around and see others "doing" things and wondering if we are doign it all right. But something I learned this past Lent is that I need to worry about my own life and not compare it to others. This has been very hard for me to learn. I tend to look around and say, "Look at all so-and-so is doing." But then I am reminded that so-and-so has one child who is nearly grown...or that so-and-so has no children at home...or whatever.

I can't worry about anyone else's salvation---I need to focus on mine. If right now that means missing some services because someone has a runny nose, so be it.

I mentioned to my priest at the beginning of Lent that I wanted to try to have a more intense prayer life. He prodded and got out of me what I really meant by that. He recommended that I place sticky notes all around the house where I would see them to remind me to pray, to speak to God. He didn't think that I needed to add more formal prayers to my prayer rule but that I needed to take time to just thank Him for where I was right at that moment; whether I was changing a diaper, wiping a nose, filling a sippy cup or whatever. And ya know what? It really helped. I placed them around where I knew I would see them: by the kitchen sink, on the bathroom mirror, on the entertainment center in the LR, on the computer, on my dresser, by the front door. Each time I saw one I would say a short prayer thanking God for my children and for His blessings or whatever. It was something small like that that helped me to focus on God during the day.

I you ever want to email me feel free to--I think we are alike in many ways. (strebekah@bellsouth.net)

Rebecca
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Rebecca
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« Reply #13 on: April 26, 2006, 01:43:08 PM »

Wow, reading these posts I start to think about my own spiritual state.  Because I'm single and have no kids and still feel that I can't do everything I want with all the prayers and worship, especially at fast and feast seasons!

A deacon friend I know said once (on another topic), "The struggle is Orthodoxy."  I thought of this during the Lent season when I was having ups and downs with the struggle to fast and pray.  Your priest must be your guide, but as the others have said, motherhood is obviously your path to theosis, and a difficult road it is!  I can't help but think the verse "women will be saved by childbearing," so inflammatory to Protestant ears, is actually meant to be a comfort for women in your situation.

God's blessing, peace, and comfort!
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aurelia
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« Reply #14 on: May 01, 2006, 07:32:12 AM »

I tend to look around and say, "Look at all so-and-so is doing." But then I am reminded that so-and-so has one child who is nearly grown...or that so-and-so has no children at home...or whatever.

I think you hit it on the head there...that is the very thing I struggle with myself.  I think we all do.  Here's a little something too...when people (especially older) at church find out that I have 5 kids, oftentimes I get a version of "Five? Why bless you!" or something like that.  I'm usually taken aback because the general world response is along the lines of "Five? wow!" with the look that says "omg how irresponsible." I'm sure with seven, you get it too, at least sometimes.  My hubs siblings with their two children families (all of whom are about grown or moved out and married, my hub started late) are particularly bad about the not so subtle insinuations that we are insane. So I try to remember the "bless you" comments, because really I am.  And you are too!

I hate to admit it, but I am really starting to miss babies too, since my boys turned 4.  I can't have any more though.
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