New Horizons

Today is my last day in the hills of Tennessee. Tonight we will pack a moving truck with all out stuff and head to the coast. To bigger cities and bigger opportunities. Moving home for my Beloved…and oh how nice it is to see her excited about it too. I always visioned myself living in these mountains my whole life. They were always home for me…always felt a longing to be in the woods. As I have grown up things have changed. As much as I love the mountains my home is not there. My home is where my wife and kids are. My home is where God places me. And now God is placing me near the coast, near family and friends. I look forward to what God has in store for us..

 

Courageous Chivalry

chivalry

Everyone wants that Disney storybook life. That life with one real trial that ends in finding ” prince charming” and living ” happily ever after” with the world right and easy…. but anyone in our near adulthood knows this never happens. Life is full of trials and pains… full of good times and bad. The luckiest of us find that ” price charming” (or in my case lovely princess) to spend our days with. Those not so lucky either brave life by themselves or share it with someone who is not an equal “partner” in life.

The thing is it is in us all to be a Prince Charming or  a Lovely Princess. Everyone has the capacity to be the great husband/wife they are called to be. The fact is we are all princes or princess…we are all children of the King and made in His image. The unfortunate thing is we let the stress and clutter of life cloud our lives. As a society we are so busy and so stressed…constantly running around and living a complex and stress filled life.

Science has proven that when a person is in a state of constant stress they have a tendency to revert to their most quirkiest behaviors. This means is you are an introvert and tend to avoid conversing in social situations under constant stress you have a tendency to basically shut down and not talk. You will basically shut down and simply go through the motions of life. If you have a tendency to be outspoken and opinionated under constant stress you have a tendency to become overbearing, bossy, and hateful. We all have this tendency and at times these bad traits come out in all of us but when this behavior becomes constant and continuous there starts to become problems (been there,done that,got the T-shirt…trust me not a good place).

We must guard ourselves and our families against the threat of constant stress, clutter, and busyness. These constant pulls to be constantly connected, to always strive and work for better stuff and “keep up” with the best leaves us tired and spent. There is some stress we can’t control or have at least little control over…these are situations to give to God and trust in Him (still working on that myself)…but creating stress by busyness and excessiveness (if that is even a word) is dangerous to our lives.

The science is there to show how stress affects our health and relationships…but this has been know for centuries. It is not a new problem…it has been there since the beginning and warnings are even in the Bible. There are warnings to not stress about the future (Luke 12:22-29)…we are told to take all cares to the Lord (Philippians 4:6)…we are even advised to lead quiet simple lives (1 Thessalonians 4:11).  It has always been know that constant stress can affect our physical and mental health negatively yet we do it anyways… believing the lies of the demons that if we only did more things would be better…happier…more fulfilling; and sadly some people believe this their whole life and wake up near the end of their days and see what was missed.

And now a specific word to the men out there (myself included because I struggle with this as well)

It is time as men of faith to stand up for our families…time for us to make our wife and children our priority. It is time for us to be an Ephesians 5 husband (Ephesians 5 25-29)…to love our wives as Christ loved the church. Sacrificially putting aside our own selfish (and childish at times) wants and desires for what is best for our family (1 Corinthians 13:11).It is time to not take the easy out and escape to work when our wife and kids are sick…it is time to stay and hold the puke buckets and nurture our love ones as best we can.

The hardest thing of course is knowing what to do…what is really best for everyone…that is where we must pray and seek wise council. It is imperative that we have that wise council. It took me years to find that wise biblical council and was not till I began attending the Orthodox church and met Fr. Steve and Sdn. Ephriam that I found this (but that is a whole other post). As husbands and fathers we must do right by God and our wife and children. Trust in the Lord and he will lead…It is scary I know…I have days I get scared of the future too. As I said earlier this is something I struggle with to this day…I am in no ways have it all figured out…If I said or thought I did I would be lying to myself and you. It is only by God’s grace and guidance and the  forgiveness and steadfast love of my wife that I even come close to doing what is right.

If you are married strive to be that husband you are called to be…if you  have yet to meet that special woman study and learn…learn what you need to become…stay pure and whole for that soul mate God has made for you…prepare yourself for the time you become married. Be the man you are called to be no matter what situation you are in. Those times where you are uncertain of the future…when you are scared of what is going to happen…pray to the Lord with the confidence that He will guide and deliver you from any evil. Pray to Him knowing his truth and know that nothing can really keep you from His love and truth. Here is a prayer I use during those times; I did not write it (not sure who did) but here is where I got it. There are many prayers there that I have found helpful. Maybe you will find them as helpful.

O Lord, You who steadied the hand of Peter as he began to sink on the stormy sea, if you are with me, no one is against me. Grant to me the shield of faith and the mighty armor of the Holy Spirit to protect me and guide me to do Your will. The future I put into Your hands, O Lord, and I follow You to a life in Christ. Amen

 

Casting off (not a knitting tutorial)

As today is the first and everyone is putting up the things they are going to take up this year I am not… I have decided this year I need to cast off more than take on. I am going to cast off many things about myself that I either don’t like or is completely unhealthy. Here are a few that I am willing to share.

– Fear: I am going to cast my fears aside. The fear of the future…where I will live next…where am I going to get the things my family needs…what is going to happen to me. I am not going to harbor that fear anymore. My life is the Lords and he will guide and take care of us. It is not my place to be concerned with the future only to trust in the Lord.

– Anger: I am going to put aside the anger inside of me. Not even really sure why this anger is here but it is. Anger is not healthy to anyone and it is time it packed its bags.

– Pride: I was raised in a home where pride was king. It wasn’t until recently that I realized how much unhealthy pride I had. How it was so normal that i never saw it for what it was. Pride is the root sin and is thus the most dangerous.

– Evil Thoughts: Everyone has them…they are those nagging thoughts in your mind saying you are a failure…you are ugly…you are fat…you are never going to do anything right. Those evil thoughts that the demons use to bring you down. They use them to try and separate you from God. They have always been there in my head telling me how much of a loser I am and how I will never amount to anything really worthwhile. They are lies…they are dangerous evil lies. God loves me and has a purpose for my life. And I have a loving wife and 6 loving kids that believe in me and encourage me.

These are a few things that I know I need to change. Casting off of the old and forming anew. Scarry proposition for me to be honest but then again I am casting fear away. 🙂 

All Wibley Wobley Timey Wimey

***Geek Alert Ahead~Dr. Who References in this post. If you have never seen Dr. Who…I’m sorry you have missed a lot of good TV.***

Doctor-Who-Rose

This last day of 2012 I find myself looking back on the past year. Some good things… some bad… happy times… sad times. Turning 30 and joining the Orthodox Church has meant this has been a big year for reflection on the past. There has been a good bit of growing up this year and that will continue onto the next year and year after year. This has been a year to shed the past…to shed the regrets…to shed the pain…to shed the lies of Satan. It has been a year of embracing…embracing myself and who I am …embracing my Beloved…embracing my kids…embracing God…embracing His will.

This next year looks like it may be a big one with some big changes…good changes. Whatever God wills this next year I know it will be good. I choose to move forward…to not let the weeping angels zap me back into the past. To keep the faith and hope in the future…to not let the Dalek’s exterminate who I am. No matter where God takes us on this wibley wobley timey wimey adventure I know all will be well and good. It won’t be easy at times…it will be an adventure after all…but in the end all things will work out for the glory of God.

I am grateful to God that I have such a wonderful companion to go on this adventure with. My compassionate and loving Beloved encourages me and makes me want to be a better man. I am thankful for the grace of God…for without that there would be not real future. I am grateful for my kids who encourage me to do better for their sakes. I am grateful for the past because it has made me who I am today. Here is to the future…whatever it may hold. May God bless it and us as we move forward…and may God bless you and your families this new year. May our futures be bright and full of grace. Allons-y

Park

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ICXC

Daily Prayer

I thought I might share my daily morning prayers. Admittedly I miss days and it always in the morning but this is what I try to pray for daily. I hope you find it help full. ICXC

Morning Prayers

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

O Heavenly King, Comforter, Spirit of Truth, Who art everywhere present and fillest all things, Treasury of good things and Giver of Life, come and dwell in us, and cleanse us of all impurity, and save our souls, O Good One.

Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us (thrice).

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

O Most Holy Trinity, have mercy on us. O Lord, wash away our sins; O Master, pardon our iniquities; O Holy One, visit and heal our infirmities, for Thy name’s sake.

Lord, have mercy (three times).

Glory to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Our Father, Who art in the Heavens, hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

For Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Having risen from sleep, we fall down before Thee, O Good One, and we cry aloud to Thee the angelic hymn, O Mighty One: Holy, Holy, Holy art Thou, O God; through the Theotokos, have mercy on us.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: From bed and sleep hast Thou raised me up, O Lord; enlighten my mind and heart, and open my lips that I may hymn Thee, O Holy Trinity: Holy, Holy, Holy art Thou, O God; through the Theotokos, have mercy on us.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen. Suddenly the Judge shall come, and the deeds of each shall be laid bare; but with fear do we cry at midnight: Holy, Holy, Holy art Thou, O God; through the Theotokos, have mercy on us.

Lord, have mercy (12 times).

As I rise from sleep, I thank Thee, O Holy Trinity, for through Thy great goodness and patience Thou hast not been angry with me, an idler and sinner, nor hast Thou destroyed me with mine iniquities, but hast shown Thy usual love for mankind; and when I was prostrate in despair, Thou hast raised me up to keep the morning watch and glorify Thy power. Enlighten also my spiritual eyes, and open my mouth that I may meditate on Thy words, and understand Thy commandments, and do Thy will, and hymn Thee with a thankful heart, and sing praises to Thine all-holy name: of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

O God, cleanse me, a sinner, for I have never done anything good in Thy sight; but deliver me from the evil one, and let Thy will be in me, that I may open mine unworthy mouth without condemnation, and praise Thy holy Name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Having risen from sleep, I hasten to Thee, O Master, Lover of mankind, and by Thy loving-kindness, I strive to do Thy work, and I pray to Thee: Help me at all times, in everything, and deliver me from every worldly, evil thing and every impulse of the devil, and save me and lead me into Thine eternal kingdom. For Thou art my Creator, and the Giver and Provider of everything good, and in Thee is all my hope, and unto Thee do I send up glory, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

O Lord, Who in Thine abundant goodness and Thy great compassion hast granted me, Thy servant, to go through the time of the night that is past without attack from any evil of the enemy. Grand also, O Master and Creator of all things, that I might accomplish Thy will in Thy true light and with an illuminated heart, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Almighty Lord, God of the Powers and of all flesh, Who livest in the highest and carest for the humble, Who searchest our hearts and affections, and clearly foreknowest the secrets of men; eternal and ever-living Light, in Whom is no change nor shadow of variation; O Immortal King, receive our prayers which at the present time we offer to Thee from unclean lips, trusting in the multitude of Thy mercies. Forgive all sins committed by us in thought, word or deed, consciously or unconsciously, and cleanse us from all defilement of flesh and spirit.

Grant us to pass the night of the whole present life with watchful heart and sober mind, awaiting the coming of the radiant day of the appearing of Thine only-begotten Son, our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ, when the Judge of all will come with glory to render to each according to their deeds. May we not be found fallen and idle, but awake and alert for action, ready to accompany Him into the joy and bridal chamber of His glory, where the voice of those who feast is unceasing and indescribable is the delight of those who behold the inexpressible beauty of Thy countenance. For Thou art the true Light that enlightens and sanctifies all, and all creation sings hymns Thee unto ages of ages. Amen.

My most merciful and all-merciful God, Lord Jesus Christ! In Thy great love Thou didst come down and become flesh in order to save all. Therefore I pray, save me by Thy grace! If Thou shouldst save me because of my deeds, it would not be a gift, but rather a duty. But Thou, my Christ, abundant in compassion and art inexpressible in mercy, hast said: “He who believes in Me shall live and never see death.” Thus, if faith in Thee saves the desperate: Save me also, for I believe that Thou art my God and Creator.

May my faith replace my deeds, O my God, for Thou wilt find no deeds to justify me. But may my faith be sufficient for all: may it answer for me; may it justify me; may it make me a partaker of Thine eternal glory. And may Satan not seize me, O Word, and boast that he has torn me from Thy hand and fold. Save me, O Christ, whether I want it or not, for Thou art my God from my mother’s womb. Come quickly to help me, for I perish.

Grant, O Lord, that I may now love Thee as once I loved sin itself, and that I may labor for Thee without laziness as once I labored for Satan the deceiver. Even more I will labor for Thee, my Lord and God, Jesus Christ, all the days of my life, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

O Angel of God, my Holy Guardian, given to me from heaven by God for my protection, enlighten me this day, and save me from all evil, instruct me in doing good deeds, and set me on the path of salvation. Amen.

O my most holy Lady Theotokos, through thy holy and all-powerful prayers banish from me, thy lowly and wretched servant, despondency, forgetfulness, folly, carelessness, and all filthy, evil, and blasphemous thoughts from my wretched heart and my darkened mind. Quench the flame of my passions also, for I am poor and wretched, and deliver me from many and cruel memories and deeds, and free me from all their evil effects. For blessed art thou by all generations, and glorified is thy most honorable name unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Pray unto God for me O holy God-pleaser, N, for I fervently flee unto thee, the speedy helper and intercessor for my soul.

O Lord Jesus Christ our God, our Sweet Savior, Who taught us to pray always for each other, so that by thus fulfilling the holy law we will be made worthy of Thy mercy: look down with compassion on our married life and keep from all perilous falls,  from enemies both visible and invisible, that we may pass our time together until the end with oneness of mind. Grant us health, strength, and fullness of wisdom enlightened from above, so that we may be able to fulfill our duties all the days of this life according to Thy will and commandments. Protect and keep us from temptations, and may we be able to bear and conquer those temptations that come upon us. Strengthen us in right faith, strong hope, and perfect love, so that together we may do good deeds and that we may order all our life according to Thy divine ordinances and commandments.

O Greatly-Merciful Lord, hear us who humbly pray to Thee, and send Thy divine blessing in truth on our married life and on all our good deeds, for it is Thine to hear and have mercy on us, O our God, and to Thee we ascribe glory: to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, both now and ever, and unto ages of ages.

Amen.

It is truly meet to bless thee, the Theotokos, ever-blessed and most blameless and Mother of our God. More honorable than the Cherubim, and beyond compare more glorious than the Seraphim, who without corruption gavest birth to God the Word, the very Theotokos, thee do we magnify.
O Lord, grant me strength to meet with serenity everything forthcoming today. Grant me to submit completely to Thy holy will. At every hour of this day guide and support me in all things. Whatsoever news may reach me in the course of this day, teach me to accept it with calmness and the conviction that all is subject to Thy holy will.

In all my words and actions direct my thoughts and feelings. In all unexpected occurances, do not let me forget that all is sent down by Thee. Teach me to deal straightforwardly and wisely with every member of my family, neither embarassing nor saddening anyone.

O Lord, grant me strength to endure the fatigue of the coming day and all the events that take place during it. Direct my will and teach me to pray, to believe, to hope, to be patient, to forgive and to love.

Amen

Playlist

With all the things going on this Thanksgiving I have really taken the time to be quiet and choose my words wisely (at the advise of Fr. Matthews). I don’t really think I am doing such a good job at it however but it is a process I know. Being with family and seeing the pain in my Beloved’s eyes that this has caused really makes we want to speak out and yell at those causing the pain. Choosing my words and keeping the peace as it may be has been difficult this trip. There have been a lot of things going through my mind this trip…some of which I will never mention here…but one thing is music. There has been a string of lyrics going through my brain. Songs that reflect where I have been…where I am…and where I am going. I’ve put theme here with links to YouTube videos. ICXC

 

Hoobastank

Jason Marz

DMB

Relient K

 The Lumineers

Kyrie Eleison

Growth

Since my last post I have been in some deep thinking. Examining my life to this current point and looking back at my decisions with the 20/20 vision of hindsight is interesting and disturbing all at the same time. As an only child who was sheltered I was definitely a child in the ways of the world. In many ways I was not taught how to make a good decision or how to take the leadership role (which is kinda ironic since my father owns his own business and is a politician).

There were moments in high school that I should have noticed the gap there. Like when I was on an exchange trip to Germany and began drinking heavily and smoking. I had no idea how “hold my own” and take charge of myself. I was “trained” to be a follower. My father required obedience and my mother always did what he wanted and never stood up to him for fear of rocking the boat. And I can recall a few times we both should have stood up for ourselves. This is not to say that my father or mother are bad people but it is the way it is.

This issue of not knowing myself or following my own path continued into college and my marriage to the woman of my dreams. I am still not sure how someone so caring, so intelligent, so lovely, so beautiful, so wonderful would fall in love with me. It still amazes me to this day and I thank God for her daily. She has been an absolute blessing to me more than words could ever express.

I am recognizing these shortcomings in my behavior now. I am noticing where I have been selfish. I am realizing where my indecision has caused unnecessary pain and strife. I recognize where I have not followed Christ’s example and loved with my whole heart. I see now, ever so clearly, how my actions or inaction have caused others pain. Some wounds are deeper than others but I never meant to do them. and I thank God for His forgiveness and the forgiveness of others.

I am realizing all of this as we are entering into the Orthodox Church. I have attended churches my whole life but never felt at home. Never felt comfortable with the theology…Always felt like something was missing. Coming into Orthodoxy has shown me what I was missing and has really pressed on me the importance of what Christ has done for me and how it is important to follow Him closely. It has taught me life is a journey and what matters most in life is my relationship with God and my family.

This journey of “growing up” has been a scary experience. It honestly is scary to realize that I have not been who I should have and that I need to move on and change. The uncertainty is what is scary and yet exciting. Putting my trust in God and His guidance is all I can do. I need to change, I will change. With the Lord’s help I will walk closer to God, I will love my Beloved the way she deserves, I will be the father my children deserve, I will make wise decisions, and I will grow into the man God wants me to be.

Here are some verses that have been on my mind:

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:11

I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine. ~ Song of Solomon 2:16

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; ~Ephesians 5:25

Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh ~Genesis 2:24

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; ~ Proverbs 3:5

He that walks with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed. ~ Proverbs 13:20

Κύριε ἐλέησον

Kyrie Elison…Lord Have Mercy…

Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner

My desperate call to the Lord my God. I find this call on my heart more and more. Through trials and tribulations I know the the Lord will never leave me. It is still difficult…almost impossible most days…to make it one more day. Can’t really explain why…you would think I could handle it all. However there is no way that I can. It takes divine intervention to get through the day sometimes. I swear my guardian angel has its hands full. Mistake after mistake…through anger and frustration…from east to west…Christ is with me. Admittedly I don’t hear sometimes… probably because I am not listening.

As frustration grows to the point of an embolism I reach in my work bag and find my red prayer book and the Theotokos…a reminder to breath and pray. Oh how I need that reminder. I always need prayer in my life…unfortunately I don’t spent the time I should in prayer. Definitely a habit that must change.

In Memoriam

This day is always especially difficult one for me. Amid the daily grind of work and home there is a pain…a missing piece… that is apparent. It is always there… there is never a time… nor will there ever be… that something… someone… is missing… that my family is missing a member. Today is the day when, in 2008, we lost a member of our family that we never knew.

Amid the celebration of a wedding… a joyous union… of our friends a child we never knew was leaving us. My beloved was pregnant and we did not know yet. The pregnancy was ectopic and there was no saving our little one. It took days before we knew the truth as to what was happening to my Beloved. I almost lost her as well… if not for a wonderful, caring OB with a steady hand in surgery this tragedy could have been worse.

That was 2008… 4 years and 2 perfectly healthy children later there is still a missing piece there. One that can never be filled.

 

Oh little one how I long to know you,
Oh little one how I long to hold you,
One day I will,
In heaven above,
Till then I know you are held and loved,
By Christ and those that have gone before,
I will be there one day to hold you and play,
Till then I will love those dear ones I have here,
And long for the day when we meet.