Thursday, December 27, 2012

Hidden and Triumphant: A Book Review

Hidden and Triumphant: The Underground Struggle to Save Russian Iconography

By Irina Yazykova, translated by Paul Grenier
Hardcover, 196 pages
Published by Paraclete Press (2010)

This book by Irina Yazykova has long been on my reading list because it parallels my interest in church history and Russia in particular.  The spiritual soul of Russia has so much to offer Christians around the globe, American in particular, due to the fact we have not endured persecution as they have. 

Irina, an art history scholar, provides an intricate look into the survival of the icon, and the underground church who protected -and continued to paint- these treasures during the Soviet persecution of the 20th century.  It is important to understand, for any non-Orthodox readers, that the icon is not mere ornamentation for the interior of a church.  The icon, for many centuries, provided the theology of the Church for illiterate populations.   Icons bear witness to the divinity of Jesus Christ, the blessedness of His mother, Mary, and the intrinsic light shining forth from the saints of God, for example.  Icons tell vital stories about Truth and the world as God created it.  

I completely agree with Canon Michael Bordeaux, whose quote is shared on the back cover of this book.  He says, in part, that “..the introduction contains the best theology of the icon I have ever read.”  Reading the eleven page introduction is an insightful commentary for anyone who has paused in front of an icon, whether in a church, art gallery or antique shop and wondered at the meaning beyond the paint.  

Every chapter in this book is filled with rich history and memorable character sketches of renowned iconographers.  Paul Grenier, the translator, did a masterful job in creating a smooth transition for the English reader.  I learned so much from this book, such as the role of the Russian exiles who formed a community in Paris soon after the Bolshevik revolution, the delicate embroidered icons chiefly made by female hands and the powerful recounting of Patriarch Tikhon’s death in 1925 at Donskoy Monastery.  

I appreciate the author’s expertise and the full-color pages showing icons from the twelfth through the twentieth centuries.  Irina also covers quite a lot of ground through three additional appendices, some of which I found to be excessive, given that I am not an expert on art or its interpretation.  Even so, this does little to detract from an engaging work.  

Above all, the reader is given the understanding that art reflects the spiritual condition of a people.  And when the light of a people stands in contrast against the totalitarian state - no matter the darkness - that light never goes out. 

An excellent read. 

Glory to God for all things †

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Gun Debate: Satan's Great Smokescreen

It took liberals only hours after the tragedy in Connecticut for their pens to start dancing across the page, filling cyberspace with article after article on the evil nature of guns.  This is America, after all, and we must blame something - anything - when inexplicable events occur.  Our fury is so great over the innocent loss of life, yet our reason so inept, so baseless when pointing to an inanimate object as culprit.  But this is the American Liberal Way, to extract any personal responsibility, whether the subject is abortion or crime or education, liberals must remove responsibility in order to churn out those Band-Aids®  covering vile symptoms.
Adam Gopnik, of the New Yorker, in his utter exasperation over the event, fumes in his article, Newtown and the Madness of Guns.  His anger so great, one can barely comprehend the unreasoned argument.  More than once he points out, “the people who fight and lobby and legislate to make guns regularly available are complicit in the murder of those children.”   The same article is full of unchecked, undocumented “facts” about crimes with guns.  Is a crime with a knife any less significant?  Did you know twenty-two children were stabbed to death* in China yesterday?
Little does it matter than millions of children die of hunger round the world because of tyrants and ethnic cleansing, or the babes who are victims of sex and tribal power in Rajasthan, or the young christian girls being killed by their own families, the “honor” killings of Muslims whose children convert to the Middle East and in America.  I daresay, Mr. Gopnik and the New Yorker have nothing to say about Atlanta, Georgia being the human sex trafficking capital of America, where children are daily exploited and die of drug overdose, violence and despair.  
Nay... the animosity must be thrown toward the law-abiding citizens of this land who uphold the right to own and bear arms.   Is one of the heros in these events not the one who takes down the killer? Thank God for the good guys with weapons, eh?  It’s why you feel secure, Mr. Gopnik, when going to a major event in NYC, to be walking down the sidewalk near an armed officer.   It is what you, and many other liberal “thinkers” in this country fail to address:  personal responsibility and state of the heart.
In the history (that’s what some of us study so as to be educated & prevent cyclical events) of mankind children as well as adults have been targets of violence.  Do you think the nature of this violence has changed with the advent of guns?  
Do you even fathom the recesses of the human heart...  where all  hate and violence... and love and forgiveness are born?
Who can account for the reckless hate that caused Herod to slay all babes (with a sword, but does it really matter the weapon?!) under two years, prompting our Saviour Jesus Christ and his family to flee into Egypt?

Or the gas chambers of Nazi Germany that annihilated millions of children?   Liberals, is hydrogen cyanide on your target list?  It should be.  It’s such a convenient way to skirt around the truth, the truth of hate and wickedness found within the heart of man.

And what about these tools of mass destruction?  Do these implements even register on your radar of shallow argument?

Do you also weep for the babies left on hospital shelves, being victims of botched abortions?
Adam Gopnik said in the above mentioned article, guns don’t kill people, people do; and all the other perverted lies that people who can only be called knowing accessories to murder continue to repeat, people who are in their own way every bit as twisted and crazy as the killers whom they defend. (That they are often the same people who pretend outrage at the loss of a single embryo only makes the craziness still crazier.) ”

A pretended outrage?  Twisted and crazy for striving to protect life?  The same life that you are now weeping over?  Would it bother you more if abortion clinics used guns?  You and your ilk have sanitized murder and have the audacity to call people like me, crazy.  I can make some sense of your unrest because you haven’t a base, a moral compass for life.  You obviously have no idea that man was created in the image of God, nor do you weep with hope.  You can easily call life “a single embryo”, yet 12 months later, weep over the loss of that child.  You were once that small life in your mother’s womb.

Can we weep with Rachel? (Matthew 2:18)  Can we weep over the condition of the human heart rather than being derailed by the smokescreen of gun control?  Do you really believe that you can change the heart of man by removing objects? If Cain had not a staff or stone, don’t you think he would’ve killed Abel with his bare hands?  Perhaps he did;  we really don’t know from God’s Word.  

 But keep hacking away, American Liberals.  Keep chopping and doctoring  those ugly branches, being blinded by a smoke-screen.  There will always be those of us who continually strike the root.  Those of us who know, beyond shadow of doubt, that Christ Jesus is the only Healer of hearts, the place where all violence is conceived.  All else is smoke.

"There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root." 
Henry David Thoreau

* Edit: 12.5.2012..thanks to a reader correction, these children did not die, but were wounded in varying degrees.  According to the Mail Online (a UK publication of Daily Mail) this has been a series of events in China: "There were six similar attacks in just seven months in 2010 that killed nearly 20 people and wounded more than 50. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Homeschooling and Haikubes

Wow, it feels like forever since I’ve visited this space.  So much going on at home and too little time to write.  Makes for a grumpy mom.  Truth is, we’ve had some major changes around here since my last post;  I’m now homeschooling our teenage son which has placed a whole new order to my universe.  

Ok, so that’s a bit exaggerated.  Just a little.

I’ve never home-schooled prior to this.  I’ve taught Sunday school lessons and bible school, but that’s about the extent of my experience.  I felt woefully inadequate at the start of this experiment 6+ weeks ago.  I went from knowing nothing about the process to diving into the pool of state and county regulations, curriculum review, lesson planning , reading lists, transcript preparation, history dvd’s, library visits and corresponding with a few homeschooling gurus.  It was more like a mud puddle really, not knowing which way to gasp for a breath of fresh air.
Slowly though, the realization dawned that even seasoned home school moms are still learning after many years of teaching their young ones.  They advised me to just jump right in.  You know, figure it out as I go along.  Figuring it out as I go along goes completely against my grain.  I’m a planner, a studier and I have a pretty wide learning curve.  
But now, all these weeks into it, I am learning.  And not just about really cool things like mosaics, literary critiques, medieval poetry, Archimedes and sculptures from ancient Rome.  I’m learning more things about myself and my son.  I already knew that we are worlds apart in our personalities.  I’m learning just how far I have to depart from my norms, my manner of communicating in order to teach him.  He doesn’t learn the same way I do and that’s a challenge for me.  And even though I’ve struggled against that, I’m beginning to see that it’s a good thing.  It’s good that I am growing in a new direction.  A forced flexibility is more like it!  
Change never comes easy for me.  But God cannot mold us and shape us (Jeremiah 18) if we’re unwilling to bend... to obey.  God is teaching me patience and self-control through this process of homeschooling.  I’m being pushed into new territory where the i’s and t’s are not always dotted and crossed in the way I like.  Today though, instead of letting my frustration get the best of me, I walked into my daughter’s room and grabbed the Haikubes.  
Have you seen these?  There’s a box full of cubes, (63 in all)  with various words on each side and the idea is to scatter them across a table and then find a haiku somewhere in that mess.  This is ideal therapy for me; coming home to words.   While I was searching and selecting words I liked it dawned on me quite softly that my anger and frustration had vanished.  

Treading a new path can be such a great and rewarding experience... especially when it’s accepted for all the wonderful discoveries AND the tangled weeds and sharp stones along the way, knowing that God can work all things for good. (Romans 8:28)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Because "No Child Left Behind" Doesn't Work

Education has been the topic at our home in recent weeks because we're contemplating a change of direction with regard to school.  

I often have a dour outlook with regard to US public schools, due to the fact that, well, our dour test scores when compared with other nations. Just check out the PISA rankings if you're in doubt that American education is missing the mark.  Just what is going on?  or, maybe more accurately, what isn't going on in the classroom?

From my experience as a mother and from many conversations over the years with public school teachers, the essence may be summed up like so:

Teachers are limited in the classroom because of county, state and federal guidelines.  More paper-work for them means less interaction with students.

Changing curriculum.  The mandate for teachers to use new methods for teaching (when there was nothing wrong with the old way) cause frustration among teachers and students.    Some teachers I know have retired early because of this problem.  

No Child Left Behind, which essentially holds the students back who learn at a faster pace.  Not presenting challenges or rewards for bright students may lead to behavior problems.

A government education system that must retain ineffective, poor teachers.  A teacher with tenure is harder to remove than flies from molasses.  Take this true account from a school near me as case in point:  An elementary teacher was doing a poor job with her class.  She worked another job and often came in late to teach.  Her students were not learning, not meeting their weekly/monthly goals.  The parents had to do extra work at home in order for their children to learn the subjects presented to them.  The principal fielded complaint after complaint about the ineptitude of this teacher.  The result?  The teacher remained because she was tenured.  She couldn't be fired because of her ineffectiveness, the parents had to fill in the gaps.

Regarding these issues and the downfall of academic excellence, C.S. Lewis comes to mind with one of his brilliant quotes, amazingly penned in the early 20th century:

“What I want to fix your attention on is the vast overall movement towards the discrediting, and finally the elimination, of every kind of human excellence -- moral, cultural, social or intellectual. And is it not pretty to notice how 'democracy' (in the incantatory sense) is now doing for us the work that was once done by the most ancient dictatorships, and by the same methods? The basic proposal of the new education is to be that dunces and idlers must not be made to feel inferior to intelligent and industrious pupils. That would be 'undemocratic.' Children who are fit to proceed may be artificially kept back, because the others would get a trauma by being left behind. The bright pupil thus remains democratically fettered to his own age group throughout his school career, and a boy who would be capable of tackling Aeschylus or Dante sits listening to his coeval's attempts to spell out A CAT SAT ON A MAT. We may reasonably hope for the virtual abolition of education when 'I'm as good as you' has fully had its way. All incentives to learn and all penalties for not learning will vanish. The few who might want to learn will be prevented; who are they to overtop their fellows? And anyway, the teachers -- or should I say nurses? -- will be far too busy reassuring the dunces and patting them on the back to waste any time on real teaching. We shall no longer have to plan and toil to spread imperturbable conceit and incurable ignorance among men.”  -C.S. Lewis

It's where we are in America, but thankfully, I feel like the tide may be turning thanks to a phenomenal human being: Salman Khan.

My whole point in writing this today is to introduce him to you if you aren't familiar already.  He is an educator, a visionary and a remarkably down-to-earth and highly intelligent man.  He is the creator of Khan Academy, what I bill as the greatest thing ever made available on the internet-  Period. 

Mr. Khan's vision is to provide a world-class education to anyone who desires it for free.  He has a new book out, titled, The One World School House, expressing his views on education and turning the current model on its head.

You can also hear for yourself, in this brief interview with Sal Khan, his view on education  and what really works.  

Salman Khan has made a believer out of me!  We've been using the videos from Khan Academy since May of this year to build math skills in our 6th grader and to ignite our 9th grader's passion for higher math. I've even surprised myself by becoming engaged in videos on physics and linear algebra... who knew a brief intro on matricies could be so interesting and easy to follow?

Keep up the great work Salman Khan and all those who make Khan Academy available.  May you continue unhindered on your awesome mission.  

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Mysteries of the Jesus Prayer: A Review

Mysteries of the Jesus Prayer:  A Pilgrimage to the Heart of an Ancient Spirituality
(DVD) 114 minute documentary, narrated by Norris Chumley and Rev. Dr. John A. McGuckin. 
 Language: English  1 Disc.  Released May 2011.

Because I’ve made several blog posts about meditation, I wanted to end this series with a review of “The Mysteries of the Jesus Prayer”(DVD) because it provides an insightful perspective on silence & prayer, thus aiding meditation.
This documentary is not just for those Christians seeking to understand the Jesus Prayer:  “O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”  It is for anyone who wants to learn more about Christian church history and the beginning of monasticism.  “Why do monastics remove themselves from the “world”?  “Why do they value silence so much?” These questions and more are beautifully addressed by modern day monastics in the Middle East, Mediterranean, Eastern Europe and Russia.
Norris Chumley and Rev. Dr. McGuckin have created a superb work in bringing the heart of Christian spirituality from the Ancient Faith into a format for our homes and churches.  It’s a moving work, in that the audience gets to hear, first hand, from those who have devoted much of their life to prayer and contemplation.  Those who are mastering their passions and experience internal peace;  something the West craves.  This documentary provides a goldmine for people who love Christ and seek a deeper connection to Him through prayer and stillness.
I enjoyed the rhythm of this film, too.  It provides a pace that makes you slow down, take notice of the visuals, the sounds... the blessed silence within communal living.  And I loved the accompanying soundtrack, which included music and sounds of nature from each locale.  Rich Devletian did an outstanding job in creating a harmony that lends depth and texture to support the documentary. 
The cinematography is very good and English captions are provided during some interviews where either the voices are hard to decipher or they are speaking a foreign language.   I watched the film one evening with my son and then the following day reviewed some scenes that I wanted to absorb deeply.  One of those was from the first monastery visited, in Egypt.  
The monk speaking to the narrators talks about external peace vs. internal peace.  About how the first is easier to find, but isn’t lasting... the second, internal peace, is much more difficult to acquire, but much longer lasting.  He said, [paraphrase] ‘in this way, when you acquire inner peace, you can be in the heart of Manhattan and have absolute peace.’  His words resonated with me.  They were words I needed to hear.
This is a film for young people as well as adults. In fact, I would go so far as to say this is a documentary for classrooms around the world.  Christian history is world history, too, and affects people of all race, color and creed. Discretion may be advised for very young children, as themes of death and burial are discussed.   
A friend loaned this DVD to me, but now I’ll be purchasing a copy of my own to watch again and again...and pass on! 

Watch the trailer here: 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives

The Life and Teachings of Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica:  A book review.  
Soft-cover, 212 pages, including maps and black & white photos. Published by St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 2011
I bought this gem from our friends at Holy Cross Monastery in Wayne, WV, the title catching my attention.   Are my thoughts really that powerful to determine the course of my life?  Surely some are more potent than others?  Who is Elder Thaddeus?
Hooked, I picked up the book to read the back cover and saw this quote:
  “We must bear everything patiently and forgive all.  If we have good thoughts and desires, these thoughts will give us peace and joy in this life and even more so in eternity.  Then we will see that there is no death, that the Lord has vanquished death, and that He has given us eternal life.”  -Elder Thaddeus
I learned that Elder Thaddues was a very respected spiritual mentor and monastic, living in Serbia during the 20th century.   He lived during a time that brought many trials to his life, including imprisonment by the Nazi occupation of Serbia.  Being born in 1914, he witnessed two World Wars and the 1999 NATO bombings.  Remarkably, by the grace of God, Elder Thaddeus remained a pillar of peace, love & hope to his fellow countrymen.  Over the years, many people made a pilgrimage to speak with the Elder, seeking his wise counsel and prayers. 
He passed onto heaven in 2002, but thankfully, his teachings on the spiritual life in Christ have been preserved in this book, compiled by the St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood;  translated by Ana Smiljanic.
The book is divided into two parts: The Life of Elder Thaddeus and the lengthier second part, The Teachings of Elder Thaddeus.
I have discovered this work to be fascinating in it’s simplicity and profundity.  Isn’t it often true that when we discover a “new” concept, we often remark, “Of course!  Why didn’t I see it before?”  The prince of this world, however, is King of distraction and making our paths crooked.  Praise God, through the work and living witness of his saints, those paths are made straight.  Elder Thaddeus has given to me, through his teachings, a greater awareness and goal.  That goal is to master my thoughts and to realize how they affect my actions.

Photo by Goran Veljkovic
For example, in one account from his life, he was speaking with a woman who came to him in order to ask why her neighbor hated her so much and treated her badly.  She claimed she had done nothing wrong, but this neighbor was always giving her grief.  Elder Thaddeus then asked her, “Why are you always quarreling with your neighbor?”  And the woman replied that she had not so much as uttered a word to her evil neighbor.  But the Elder insisted that she was waging war with her neighbor because she was always thinking about her and anxious about her next move.  He instructed her to turn her thoughts to prayer for this neighbor and the issue would end in peace. (pg. 70)
Reading this account was a light-bulb moment for me.  How many times have I “waged war” with someone, including my loved ones (!) in my mind?  How much negative energy have I generated because of a perceived wrong?  Even more, how often do I  approach an issue with a negative mindset?   Why do I expect good results in resolving a conflict if I cannot even master my cynical thoughts about this person?
If you’ve read much on my blog, you’ll know that one of my many sins is having a quick temper;  a short fuse.  It’s a sin because it can cause me to act with haste which leads me to regret my words and actions.  I’m at a point in my life where I’m seeking peace, not just externally, but internally.  It’s a battle for me to keep the doors closed when anger wants to barge through... but at least I have a goal that keeps me moving in the right direction.
I know what I want.  I want to be a wellspring of peace and joy, most especially to my household.  I know that I enjoy being in the company of peaceful, wise souls.  By the grace of God, maybe He will help me to be that sort of person to others someday.   Elder Thaddeus said, “A spring of clean water attracts the unclean and the thirsty, who hasten to bathe themselves in it and drink from it.”   This is food that nourishes my soul;  if I desire to share the love of Christ, it is in becoming a woman of peace that so touches and ministers to another.  
Elder Thaddeus’ teachings have given me a greater awareness of how my thoughts dictate actions, for good or ill.  And how God will aid us when we have a desire to control our thoughts and be victorious in that battle of the mind.
Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives is a book I recommend for anyone aged 14 years and beyond.  It’s pure spiritual nourishment : )

To God be the glory for all things †

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Chaotic Thoughts..and Remedy

For quite a while now, I’ve found myself in a repeated conversation with various people.  The topic?  Simply this: our thoughts.    For one it is the question of, “How can I quiet chaotic thoughts? mind races all the time.  I don’t know how to make it quiet.”  For another, it is thought manifested in worry. “I don’t know how to escape the repeated images in my mind.  I keep creating the worst case scenario...”  Still another said, “I can’t body is tired, but my mind never shuts off.”
I say, simply, but in truth, our thoughts and the effect they have on our physical body and behavior is a complex thing.  I’m not endeavoring to make this a scientific exploration, but just wish to share some things I’ve learned.  This much is clear:  there is direct relationship between our thoughts and how we feel, which affect behavior.   Most of us live in a fast paced world where modern gadgets that seek to connect us, actually distance us from human interaction.  A world where the to-do lists must get done, at the expense of tending the garden of holiness, or of friendship and family.  A place where we must strive to get ahead because the economy is against us, or a chronic state of fear besets us because our loved ones are suffering and we don’t know what tomorrow holds. Add to that, the continuous stream of advertising and headlines to remind you of the harsh world just outside the door.  These things carry weight and it’s no wonder we have a million chaotic thoughts running through our minds at all times. 
But have you considered that your thoughts do not have to control you?  Have you ever considered the notion that you can entertain good thoughts and bar the door against damaging ones?  Have you thought that this is what Christ wants for you?

Prayer Rope, or Orthodox Chotki

Reflect on the words of Christ as written by the beloved apostle, St. John: 
“Peace I leave with you;  my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27)
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble. But take heart!  I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Puzzling isn’t it?  I mean, how can I watch the news and at the same time, understand the words of Christ and enter into His peace?
How does that knowledge translate into experiencing that peace & calm and not just knowing it exists?  It’s the difference between studying the rings of a felled tree and experiencing the coolness of the shade it provided.  I experience that blessedness through the life of the Church and want to submit to you a few things that have helped me to quiet that inner chaos, to enter into Christ’s peace:
Saying the Jesus Prayer & using a Chotki 
I learned about the “Jesus Prayer” through my Orthodox reading some years ago but never implemented it until Fr. Seraphim recommended it as part of my daily prayer life.  The Jesus Prayer, “Oh Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner” ,  is based on the plea of the publican in the temple found in St. Luke 18:9-17:   
 “But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’
Although it may seem simplistic, this prayer is anything but... it is powerful because it centers our thoughts upon Christ and our relationship to Him.  My personal experience has proven to me time and again that when I say this prayer, the chaos of my mind decreases and I am ushered into the calm of Heaven.  If you’re skeptical, try this:
Remove all distractions from a room (turn off the t.v., radio, phone, and any other techno devices) sit down on the edge of a chair or sofa, attentively, with back straight.  Face your icon corner (or if you don’t use icons, place a cross or the Word of God before you) and say the Jesus Prayer for 10  minutes.  Ok, try 5 minutes.  It’s not easy!  You’ll discover just how much our enemy uses the constant distraction of our thoughts to keep us away from the purity of prayer and centering our minds upon God.
 "Be still and know that I am God." 
  Psalm 46:10
This is the beginning of meditation, bringing our thoughts under control.  Prayer and meditation are not passive, but actively seeking God in our innermost being.  It requires effort, discipline and strength;  all of which Christ grants as we seek Him.
Using the prayer rope, or Chotki, aids this prayer discipline.  Contrary to what some may think, this devotional tool is just that - a tool.  It is not magic or a superstitious charm.  It’s a material tool (usually made of wooden beads or wool) that helps us to focus on prayer.  As the beads move through our hand with each recitation of the Jesus Prayer, we are connecting the physical with the mental, tuning our bodies and minds to Jesus Christ. 
Stay tuned for the next entries about quieting the mind through meditation and spiritual readings.  

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Nightmares and Missing Childhood

Have you ever had a nightmare?

Ever had a nightmare that changed the course of your day or actions?   I have.  The wicked dream came about 8 years ago and I can recall it vividly.  The scene was this:  the sky was gray and cloudy as I stood by the busy four-lane highway near my hometown.  I knew the road, could see the familiar intersection about 100 yards away from where I stood.  And there, beside the cold hard road were my small children, at 3 and 7 years old.  They were hand in hand, with their backs to me, walking slowly away, on the shoulder of that busy roadway.  I was fear-stricken, screaming at them to come to me!  But they never turned around, never gave any indication that they could hear me at all.  I felt panicked because I couldn't move to shield them from harm... it was awful, just watching them go.  I woke from that awful scene with a start, breathing heavy and feeling my heart race.

Photo found on flickr, by TTVo

It was a nightmare with purpose.  I know this because it brought an awakening to me, making me realize that I was not being fully present for my children.  Disengaging from them in favor of 'me time'.

I was spending too much time and energy online, having discovered what I thought was an antidote for being a lonely stay-at-home mom, seeking intellectual stimulation via Christian message/debate forums.   It was easy to justify this because, after all, I was studying God's Word and meeting new christian friends.  But it wasn't balanced and I know I made mistakes during those early years with my eyes fixed upon a screen while my children needed my attention.  Reading this post today, How to Miss A Childhood, brought me round immediately to sharing this with you.

Please take heed.  If any of you out there know more about your friends' facebook status than what your child discovered or accomplished today, unplug.  You'll never get these years back.  Examine, too, what your justifications are.  Is x really more important than nurturing your gift from God?  Our children are treasures that come with an awesome responsibility.  They're looking to you for guidance, for companionship, protection and love.  Don't sacrifice that.... for anything.

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