We're on the road to go to Divine Liturgy at a Byzantine Catholic Church.
We've come to a point in life where our tastes are more defined. We cannot celebrate the Resurrection of Christ in any other manner than the Eastern way. It's too beautiful, it's too magnificent, it's too appropriate--fitting.
So we've packed up our village and our Easter baskets and we our on the road. We are pilgrims.
The children are digging into their Easter baskets and getting chocolate on their church clothes. (Gasp!) Before church! Normally we make them wait until after Liturgy, but we had some little ones who did not understand and they wouldn't have seen their baskets until 8 hours later. It was not a great parent move. We will figure this one out for next year.
And Confession - I may have forgotten one bar on the three bar cross I put on the Pascha bread. Life's a little messy right now. But we're still in the game.
Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!
By death He conquered death and to those in the graves He granted life...(even to those who are messy and imperfect, so long as they LOVE God, and repent, and have hope.)
Monday, March 28, 2016
We're on the road to go to Divine Liturgy at a Byzantine Catholic Church.
Tuesday, February 23, 2016
Our little man was Baptized, Chrismated and received first Holy Communion. We are so happy for him. We are also grateful for his Godparents.
It was the Sunday of Orthodoxy. So it was an extra long liturgy with Baptism and Icon Procession. Our priest spoke of how in a way when a person is Baptized he becomes an icon of Christ. He is meant to act in the image of Christ and be full of His grace. It was a beautiful homily. I wish I had been calm enough to take in the homily better. Further at this point I was busy huffing the chrism oils on my baby's head. He, he, he. It smells so good.
Posted by Renee Clayton at 8:51 PM
Saturday, February 20, 2016
My husband and I love the scene in the movie, Knocked Up, when the main character is confronted by her bosses about her pregnancy. They are in full support of her being pregnant (Pro-life message, people love new life, life is good), but the bosses also make it clear that since she is on camera, after the baby is born she needs to " just tighten it." That's the comic relief: be big and pregnant and all that goes with it, but then afterwards take care to "tighten it," her body, back into it's former shape. I am in the that phase now, "Just tighten it." The baby was born two...almost three months ago and I started thinking about getting back into shape about three weeks after baby was born. But, it's a slow road.
Ultimately I have several motivations here:
1.) Clothing fits more comfortably when my body is "tighter." I am all about comfort for me :-)
2.) I like to feel strong and capable.
3.) I like to feel well and healthy.
4.) When I am strong and healthy, I think I am a better wife and mom.
5.) Mind, body and soul all need to be well. I am not well, if one of the three areas are lagging.
I have been having a pretty difficult time getting the scale to budge, although the tape measure has moved down. I was pretty weak returning to the gym. All the muscles went totally slack after the baby. I could hardly lift any weights and the gym childcare does not take babies until four months of age, so my workouts are on borrowed time from my already overtaxed husband. Fortunately, my muscles have tightened back up pretty quickly and I am almost back to lifting heavy again. Now I have to take off the pounds. I am trying to find the best way to do that without sacrificing the milk supply for the baby.
I am keeping track of the things that are making a difference. Of course there is no replacement for hard work and diligence.
So far what is working:
1.) Prayer - I always say, one has to give it over to God. Give all your works over to God. Everything is pointless without Love and Beauty: God. I also recognize that I am not the Master. I say to Him, "I cannot do this if You do not will it. Please, help me. Lord I give this over to you."
2.) Water - it's the life of the body. We're 70% water! We need to sustain that. As soon as I started drinking those 64 oz. of water a day, I started losing weight. It's a good way to force your body to release fat. It also helps to release toxins. Since I am nursing I don't want to release toxins into my milk, so I need to drink lots of water to release the bad stuff into my waste.
3.) Journal - Keep a food log with calorie values. Calculate the calories you burn each day. I like this calculator. Then you have to keep your calorie intake 500-1000 below your base calorie intake. I have been using the fitbit food log, because it's a really quick, easy app. But, I also like the Atkins app because it shows carbs, fat and protein consumed at a glance.
4.) What you eat matters - A ton of green leafy salads are important to weight loss. They are low-calories, low-fat (watch the salad dressing - bolthouse yogurt dressing is my fav), high nutrients, high fiber, and fill you up. Although, I don't think it is necessary to choose high nutrient greens always. Iceberg lettuce is cheap, tasty, high fiber, and will fill you up. Just add a protein for sustained energy. Add healthy fats too like olive oil and avocados (in reasonable quantities like a quarter of an avocado per meal).
5.) Detox - I found that detox smoothies help jump start fat loss. They are full of water and rich in anti-oxidants. They can also be high in sugar, so be aware.
6.) Track it - Tracking workouts with a fitness tracker helps me stay motivated and see if I am pushing it as hard as I can. I am finding, I can always give more.
7.) Exercise - Well, just do it. I feel like it all helps: walking, running, cycling, weight-lifting. My best combo is high-intensity cardio three days a week, alternating with weight-lifting two days a week. I am a big proponent of keeping weight-lifting as a part of one's exercise regime because having strong muscles helps one perform better in cardio exercises and also helps in avoiding injuries like throwing one's back out, or knee and shoulder problems (Just don't over-train, either).
I still have a long way to go to be back where I was before the baby. It can be a little frustrating. The new little man in my life is totally worth it. Say a prayer for me: amongst all these challenges I face on a day-to-day basis, pray that I persevere with love, kindness and Christ's peace.
Mno Hiya Lyta!
Posted by Renee Clayton at 8:42 AM
Wednesday, February 10, 2016
A Great Lent Reflection
When Christ went into the desert he was denying the temptations of the devil. The things that the devil used to tempt Christ were corruptions of the flesh: falling to one's appetites and lust for power and importance. During Lent we deny our flesh luxuriant food. We deny not food which sustains us, but the extraordinary food such as meat, fats, sweets, alcohol.
We can also deny ourselves things that make us too self-important like social media and T.V. These two things can deprive us of mental and physical rest. They can also deprive us of purity and spirituality.
In our denials we are capable of more. We can be more tuned to the movements of the Holy Spirit. We can pray more. We can spend more time serving others in our family and community.
We are praying more. Reading more (family read aloud). Learning more about God's holy people. And we're eating differently.
I often feel that Lent is a relief from the weight of indulgence. Lent is a blessing, a gift.
Mno hya Lita!
Posted by Renee Clayton at 4:27 PM
Sunday, February 7, 2016
Alex belly-ached this morning about having to put on his cub scout uniform and go to a different church. His parents extolled the virtues of wearing a uniform, being part of a pack and being cheerful even when you do not feel like it. We managed to coerce him into sucking it up. But afterward he admitted it was kind of cool. I told him that it was okay. We understood that it was not comfortable but we knew be would appreciate it later.
In other cub scout news, Alex won the pinewood derby with his TARDIS car. He and daddy plotted all year about what it would take to win. Their research and planning paid off. Alex also won "best paint job." This is his second year in a row. So we were all particularly proud of the two years of best paint job.
Posted by Renee Clayton at 2:24 PM
Sunday, April 19, 2015
I have wanted to do this peg doll saint exchange thing for a while. So I simply organized it this spring. It was so appropriate too because I went on a glut of learning about various saints over Lent. It was very inspiring.
- I will say that the saints turned out better if you do some planning.
- Look up Icons of the saints. I say specifically Icons because Icons have a lot more symbology that can be used to express the saint you are depicting.
- Draw a little picture of the peg doll to plan out the look and symbols.
- Then draw it onto the doll.
- I started with skin and faces. It's just my thing. It feels friendly if there is a face. It's an Icon thing to begin with the eyes--the windows to the soul.
- Then I blocked in the garment and symbol colors one by one.
- Then I added details.
Tuesday, March 31, 2015
Lately, I have been praying for a certain intercession very fervently. I have come to the foot of the cross in all humility. Although, I have found myself exceedingly restless in waiting for His answer. My impatience leads to prayers of pleading. Yet, in this unrest He has also showered upon me much grace (For example: I was going out to a meeting feeling very sad and so sorry for myself. I thought I probably should not be going to this meeting. I should probably turn around and go home. I prayed to Our Blessed Mother, and told her I just needed a hug right now. When I arrived at my meeting everyone gave me a hug even though this had not been a usual greeting at these meetings).
Then it hit me. Perhaps sometimes this is how it is with God. There is something that I perceive as a noble good and I ask for it from my Lord. When the answer is, "No," I cannot understand why my Lord would not want to give me this good thing. Why would a mother not want to read a bedtime story to a child. But perhaps there is a very good reason God cannot give a blessing. I wanted to read a story to the children but their behavior made it impossible. God had wanted to give blessings or graces, but our behavior had made it impossible. Or perhaps it just was not the right time.
I recognized then despite all my humble prayers I could not bend the will of God to my own. As a child cannot bend the will of her mother. This is certainly something I have known since I first learned the Lord's prayer, in which a line is, "Thy will be done." This is something I utter many times a day. But, often when I say these words it is without connection to the true meaning. What we pledge in "Thy will be done," is total surrender to His will. In all my prayers, I had hoped God would do my will. It took a little girl pleading for me to do her will to help me see that.
My prayers do not change. I still pray for the same intercession. God wants us to come to Him as His children with all our worries, needs and cares. But my intentions have changed some. I know I must surrender to God's will and be at peace with it whatever it may be. I must seek out His will in all my actions. I must give thanks and praise and glory even when I cannot understand His wisdom.
But, what if sometimes what happens brings suffering. Does God want us to suffer? It is a mystery. I struggle with this. Is it not a frightful thing to suffer? It certainly seems many are sainted through suffering. Mother Teresa said that when you are suffering it is the kiss of Jesus. It means you have come very close to the cross so that Jesus may kiss you. Remember Jesus is suffering for all the world's sins on the cross and when you come near you feel it. But, being kissed by Jesus you are also filled with His grace and His love. Oftentimes people who are suffering also feel very near God.
Right now, I do not know what is the will of the Lord. I am still hoping for the best. I think that is what is right. BUT I am trying to bend myself humbly to the Lord, rather than asking Him to bend to me. I am trying to not take each moment of each day for granted. I am seeking out what is holy in all things. Hopefully, He WILL answer my prayer with a blessing.
Posted by Renee Clayton at 11:05 PM
Tuesday, March 17, 2015
My sister was married in Costa Rica a couple of weeks ago. So we packed our bags and off to Costa Rica we went. I will not wax philosophical on the merits of marriage, but rather simply share our the images of our adventure.
I will add we should have took pictures of the food, because we ate some of the finest food we have ever had in Costa Rica.
Posted by Renee Clayton at 7:44 AM