Saturday, December 1, 2012

29 Gifts - Day 22 - A Gift of Faith

There is a new Orthodox chaplain at the base near us. He kind of travels around from parish to parish for Sunday Divine Liturgy but he'd like to start holding mid-week services on base as well. His first effort at this has been to start holding Akathist services three days a week. Well, I took all of the kids on Thursday (day 21, for you who are counting). The Catholic church/chaplain gave him the use of a small side-chapel so we were able to be in a smaller, more close-in setting for the prayers. That is a good thing with restless younger kids around!

Actually this is a window from the back of our last church in Maryland, but it fits in until I can get a better picture of the little chapel.

As Fr. Ioan (pronounced like Yoe-awn, but he introduces himself as "Father John" to keep it simple) stood at the front of the little chapel and said the prayers and chants and swung the censor towards us in blessing, I was not concerned with the children moving about a bit or occasional small noises from the youngest two. I was concerned with following the prayers, and the "Lord have Mercy"s and the course of 30 minutes during which the focus was on God.

I told Fr. Ioan that I didn't know if I could make it to Friday's service. Maestro's first magic show was at our house Friday night, I said, and there were still a lot of things to do to get ready, I said. We said our pleasantries and bid one another a good afternoon and carried on.

Friday morning, I got my Daily Challenge reminder message. It read: "Cross one thing off your to-do list today." Hmmmm...

Then I got busy with feeding the kids, picking up and getting what I needed to get out the door. By the time we actually left, it was 10:40. The Akathist started at 11:00. It just didn't feel right to bypass the 30-minute Akathist when we would be hitting the base just in time to go in for the prayers. So, we went.

Chef took up the self-assigned challenge of raising $50 for
Support A Mission Priest (SAMP) They sent him this icon
card and wooden ornament as a thank-you gift. 
And I am glad we did because later Friday night, my life was challenging. I had 15 children in my house, which was rendered a disaster zone in the first 12 seconds of child number 3 entering the door, and there was a lot of noise, and I had an important phone call I was trying to take care of on top of it all. (Just kidding, they actually did very well - though by the end my house was a wreck!) Then the older boys decided they were all doing sleep overs on top of it all. Whew!!

But I was calm. I didn't raise my voice; my blood pressure stayed low. Then I woke this morning with the topic of one of those important phone calls very much on my mind. It woke me after only three hours of sleep, that's how much it was weighing on me. So I got up and said more prayers and read my Bible (it has been too long since the Good Book was open in my lap! Time to renew that old habit.)

And then... I waited for an answer to the questions I asked during my prayers. I didn't poke, prod or push for an answer. I went about my morning business of making breakfast, checking e-mail, watching youngers, etc. After a time, an answer came to me on what I needed to do, and it was a workable answer. It was an answer that gave me hope and peace and (best of all) a plan.

What does all of this have to do with giving the gift of faith to my children or as one of my 29 gifts?

My children benefitted from seeing me make the time for the Akathist service on an otherwise very busy day; they saw how the prayers calm me so that I don't yell so much; Bruiser sees how wearing a prayer rope on his wrist is a good reminder to keep his own temper in check. My children are being imperfectly raised in their Orthodox faith. While I don't model Bible reading as much as I should, we do prayers together as a family every day, we talk about how Jesus reacted to various things and I share my thoughts and beliefs in everything I can think of. By the mere effort to share that faith, my children - and I - are blessed. They will grow up with the knowledge that someone died for them and that there is something greater out there than anything we can know and that it is worth shooting for that "star", even if you only land on the moon.

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