Akathist for Mothers

This last Saturday, I went to confession with a different priest for the first time in 3.5 years. Fr. Joe is now officially in Washington D.C. 😦 In his stead, until we find a permanent priest, we’ve been appointed Fr. David Moretti, a priest we stole from the Antiochans.

I thought it would be hard confessing to a different priest, as confession is one of the most intimate acts a Christian ever goes through. But it wasn’t. I don’t know why I thought it would be. After all, we’re confessing to Christ, not a priest. And He’s always there.

Fr. David did have some great advice once I was done. I mentioned that I was having a hard time finding a few spare moments for my morning prayers. I feel like most days I’m lucky if I keep us in one piece! As a result of feeling overwhelmed, I rely too heavily on our evening family prayers as my sole nourishment. Sure, our family prayer time is special, but I also need individual accountability. I also want Gregory to grow up with the knowledge that Mommy wants to start the day off right! Children only learn by example, after all.

So Fr. David lent me one of his prayer books and said to start small– read one paragraph out loud every morning. Small, but consistent is better than an hour prayer time once a week. It’s about “staying the course”, not necessarily wind sprinting!

This was no ordinary prayer book, but an Akathist to the Mother of God , also known as “The Nurturer of Children”. The entire prayer, read as its own separate service, is about Motherhood. It consists of one mother (in this case, me) asking another mother (in this case, Mary) for prayers on behalf of her children (in this case, Gregory!). I can’t tell you how comforting it is to know that Jesus’ own Mother is also praying for my little baby! The more, the better!

I haven’t finished the entire thing, even though it’s only 24 pages– I kind of want to savor it, you know? But I thought I’d post sections that I find extra special. Since there are lots of mothers out there, I also figured that many of you would like to incorporate some of them into your prayer life!

Ikos 1

Intercede with Thy Son and God, O Most Holy One, that an angel from heaven be sent to my children, just as to Thee was sent a most mighty protector, the Archangel Gabriel; and vouchsafe me to cry to Thee thus:

Raise my children to be earthly angels.

Raise my children to be heavenly men.

Raise my children to be Thy servants.

Raise my children to cry out to Thee: “Rejoice, O Full of Grace, The Lord is with Thee!”

Raise my children, O Lady, to be made worthy of the Kingdom of Heaven and make them heirs of eternal blessings.

Not to pick a fight…

Um, how come I never read this verse until now?

For those who may think that the Orthodox understanding of salvation is works-righteousness, I just say it’s biblical.

I’ve put in bold the parts that are particularly unique to the Orthodox understanding.

Bam. Right here. Straight from 2 Peter 1:3-11, KJV

3 According as his divine power hath given until us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

4 whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises; that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

5 And besides this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue, knowledge;

6 and to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godliness;

7 and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, charity.

8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they made you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledgeof our Lord Jesus Christ.

9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.

10 Wherefore, the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure; for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:

11 for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Baby Butt!!

I took this picture of Gregory and couldn’t stop squealing. He’s such a cute little spud!

Also, look how he is trying to climb out. Ah!

He barely stopped moving for me to take this picture 🙂

 

St. Seraphim Cathedral

I thought I’d post this picture that they took this last Sunday (Fr. Joe’s last! booo!!). There are about 30 of us missing since we were setting up for the Goodbye Brunch in the parish hall.

Rollin’ Foo’

Gregory rolled over twice today! Seems like he favors his right side.

I’ll admit, I “helped” him once or twice, mostly because I could see he was teetering on the edge, trying to push himself over. Once I did it “with” him a couple times and praised him immensely (making it a game), he looked at me with the CUTEST smirk and did it on his own! Twice! Maybe he thought he wasn’t allowed to roll over 🙂

We’ll see if I can catch it on video for Daddy. Usually, G’s too tired out in the evenings to do well at tummy time.

My Out-and-About-Baby

G was such a good boy today. He slept well last night, napped this morning, went with me to tea at Courtney’s, went with me and slept through the piano lesson I gave, and sat quietly in the cart at Farmer’s Market and Curves. One solid day of easy-going G! Wonder if he’s gonna give me hell tomorrow as payback??

Once we got home…he was whiny and needy until we put him to bed. Oh well, not everyone’s perfect! 😉

Just in case you didn't believe me, G actually DOES come to Curves with me once or twice a week! I don't know what it is, but he loves it there! This is probably because I stare at him and make faces-- something he loves-- for the entire workout

Patiently waiting for mama to be done! Not a peep! All of the ladies thought he was the cutest thing they'd ever seen. "He's such a GOOOODDD baby!", they kept saying. Little did they know, he screamed the whole way home...I think he'd had enough!

 

 

G now refuses to be left out during dinner time. I Moby-wrap him to me while I make dinner, which keeps him happy. Then, he insists on being part of the action while we eat. Yes, those are socks all over our table. Don't judge. I went all Type A on my drawer and only got halfway through organizing it.

 

Farmer’s Market

I finally did something I’ve been wanting to do for a while and made it to the Bedford Farmer’s Market. It’s about 20 min. away if I take surface streets (10 if I take the freeway, but it was rush hour).

Lo and behold, I discovered all the things I’ve been hunting for– locally grown and harvested eggs, RAW milk, locally raised steroid/antibiotic free chicken and beef…the list goes on and on.

I didn’t actually buy any milk or eggs, seeing as I only drink almond milk right now and I already bought some free range/grass fed chicken eggs, but the point is…they exist, they’re local, and they’re affordable!

I also bought some locally made, raw, unfiltered honey to help with my allergies. Near the cash register, they were selling home-made apple butter and jalapeno cheese dip, so I bought some of those too 🙂

There are times when I feel as though learning to eat healthy is a shot in the dark. My idea of eating healthy used to be making sure I didn’t eat too many calories (high school). In college, eating healthy meant limiting the late night Taco Bell runs and trying to visit the Caf salad bar a few times a week. Once we became Orthodox, eating healthy meant finding creative ways to get enough protein and iron.

Now, that I’m a mom, however, I’ve become much more aware of our living environment and how it’s impacting G. I put buying organic produce/meat in the same category as wiping down his toys– both are preventing germs and neuro-toxins from getting put into his mouth. It still amazes me the amount of attention many moms give to researching vaccines, while studies show that autism and cancer are more a direct result of the foods we eat everyday! It’s easier to say “no” to a scary shot– it’s harder to stomach spending an extra $100/month to eat pesticide-free food.

I say, “harder”, because I am aware of the financial sacrifice it will take in order to buy organic/local food. But there is just too much coming out now for me to turn a blind eye and knowingly let G be poisoned by his own food. I know I know, “we all ate the same stuff, and look, we turned out fine!” but that’s not actually true. Things have gotten a lot worse, even in the last month. I’m not going to preach on it, you can do your own research, but I feel convicted enough to forgo a few luxuries every month in order to have healthy food.

My goal? To slowly transition so that our budget doesn’t take such a drastic hit all at once. By this time next year, I hope that at least 75% of our food is home or locally grown.

How about other moms? Why did you switch to Raw Milk? What are the organic “must-haves” for you?

Can’t help myself!

Since we are going to move, one way or another this summer, I’ve been looking at apartments not only near Jesse’s work, but also near our church and friends in Dallas.

The thing that I love about the section of town where our friends, Katie and Clay, live, is that it’s historic. Almost every building is from the 20s, renovated to meet today’s market needs.

The result? Beautiful, exciting places to live, all within our price range!

One of my favorite aspects of old homes-- built-ins!

lovin the arched doorways...

Beautiful streets of Dallas

Can't figure out which I love more...the wood floors, or the awesome door!

This is the entryway to a 4-plex. Sooo cool!

Renovations=torn down walls to create open floorplans!

Update on sick baby…

He’s doing MUCH better everyone. I really really hope the worst is behind us. Now, he just has a junky cough– he hasn’t gagged/thrown up since that morning in Albertsons. Hooray!

On the down side, I’m pretty sure my milk supply is suffering as a result of his not-as-frequent nursing. Even though he’s a little more than 4 months, I definitely want to keep him 100% breastfed until at least 6 months. I drank 2 cups of Mother’s Milk tea, along with a beer tonight. Hopefully this will get things into gear.

On the plus side, G and I have been having the most wonderful mornings together. Our Baby Papasan Chair has been a lifesaver these past few days– he sleeps so well in it, even with all the junk in his head. The angle and dish-shape are perfect. As a result he’s been sleeping 6-7 hours during the night, waking once at around 5am to nurse, and then waking up for good at around 8am, happy and ready to play! Usually, I change his diaper, nurse him, and then move the Papasan Chair onto the bed next to me, where I drink my coffee and eat a bowl of cereal while he plays with toys. I then play about 1/2 hr. of games with him, and he’s ready for his morning nap! Like clockwork! When I nap alongside him, he sleeps around 2 hours. I think it’s because if he stirs, he just looks down from his chair/throne and can see me, asleep next to him. When I do chores, he only lasts about an hour, probably because he hears the noise and wants to be part of the action.

We have had rough evenings, usually between 5-7pm. I think this is because he’s super tired, but very jazzed up from the day. Getting him to take an evening nap is an hour long endeavor, and he usually won’t even stay asleep for longer than 30 min. Sometimes, I wonder what the point is!

But then Daddy comes home and rescues mommy, right when she thinks she can’t take a minute more of Cranky Babyland.

Please pray that his cough continues to get better! I really don’t want it to turn into Pneumonia!

Girls’ Night Out

I’m finally getting around to the posts I wanted to be writing this weekend!

Last Friday night, as is our custom, the 20’s-30’s “gals” of St. Seraphim got together for a much needed Girls Night Out. No kids (well, unless you count 10 year old Jorge, who only woke up in order to fix the Wii for us!), no diets. We met at PF Changs at the Northpark Mall in Dallas, where we had to be seated at two tables in order to accommodate everyone. We then met back at Lori and Ron’s beautiful new house, where we held a mini baby shower for Katie (she’s 37 weeks with her 3rd! Almost there!), talked, drank wine and margaritas and played “Let’s Dance” on the Wii (yes, those last two are very closely related).

All in all, it was a very special night. It has been such a blessing that all of these women have come together at this time in my life. Most of them weren’t even here back when Jesse and I moved to Dallas. They’ve just trickled in, little by little, until it’s become a fantastic group of gals who get along swimmingly! I always leave these nights feeling so loved and so part of something bigger than myself. I guess that’s what happens when you experience the love of the Body of Christ, first hand!

One table of gals at PF Changs

Lori, cutting Katie's cake

Seriously, she's all baby!

I love this picture of Anne and Katie

Karen's pose is so cool and casual. Mine's just awkward and posed (although that's actually how I was standing!)

And the dance-offs begin...

Although I hate being front and center in a picture, this shows what a great time we were all having. Notice-- there were actually only 2 Wii controllers. The rest was just enthusiasm!