Happy birthday Elliott Johan Taylor! He was born at 11:19pm on November 8, 2017 at United Regional Hospital in Wichita Falls, TX. His official (but debated… he was 6lb 12oz the following day) weight was 6lb 1oz, and he was 20 inches long!
I hope you and your brothers are ready for each other!
I took Wednesday through the Monday-after-Easter off of work to focus more on Holy Week. I am so glad I did! It was exhausting… and beautiful! I think that each evening’s service was more beautiful than the one before! The only thing that I didn’t get to go to was the Tenebrae service, which is a shame. I always loved that service in the Lutheran church. But it was held after evening Mass, and the kids were – horrid – ! I found out later that the service lasted an hour and a half. It’s a good thing I didn’t force them to stay. I don’t think that would have gone over too well. But as the days went on, I think that the kids began to enjoy it more and become a bit more well-behaved. It ended up being a very nice Paschal celebration!
I’ve been really lazy with my updates this last year. Sorry about that! It’s been a pretty interesting year, to say the least. My Father-In-Law had a liver transplant a few weeks ago. That has been a real blessing for our family. He is doing much better than he had been. I’ve been really excited to see how much he has progressed!
God has really been blessing our family. We were getting a little frustrated with some things at church, and as is our modus operandi, decided to try going back to the Catholic Church. Well our priest at the Orthodox Church, Father Peter, stepped in and set us straight! Instead of running from our problems, he has been helping us talk them out. I am really thankful for him.
Preston and Russell have both continued to serve at the altar at church. Preston has really taken to it! He knows how to do most of the liturgy already, and I’ve heard him asking to learn how to do other parts! I’ve been singing for the church choir, with the most important part being the Propers. It has been challenging, stressful, fun, and completely fulfilling!
Todd still doesn’t like to eat much (except for candy, bread, and other junk-type food), so he’s still a tiny little dude. I’m sure he’ll get better, though.
I’ve started a new diet as of one week ago. My cholesterol has been a bit too high and my doctor keeps wanting me to take statins. I have taken them before and don’t like the way they make me feel, so I think I’m going to try taking this low-cholesterol diet thing seriously this time! I’ve also decided to experiment with going gluten-free. This makes Russie pretty happy. He is glad to not be the only one! Let me tell you, my stomach has felt much better in the last week than it has in years! I’m not sure if it is because of the smaller portions that I’ve been eating, or the lack of gluten, but whatever it is, I like it… I used to have problems with heartburn almost constantly. I have only had a couple of small episodes of heartburn since I’ve started my new diet. Yay!!!
Well, it’s Advent now. I normally look forward to Advent because I like to do a devotion as a family. The kids always enjoy it, especially the playing-with-fire part! But it has been a rough start, I’ll tell you what! The furnace went out = -$400. The front tires on the van needed to be changed = -$300. And now it seems that Preston’s lousy teeth are going to cost us another $200! Poor kid, he got his Mama’s teeth… lol
But, despite it all, we’re still getting by. And that’s what counts. Right?
We made it through our first Lent as Orthodox Christians. I can’t say we did the greatest job at fasting, but we tried. I think that we did okay, so that’s good. I know that I can’t expect perfection right at first, but as long as we’re constantly improving in our relationship with God I think that we’re on the right track.
The boys got to participate in the Paschal procession. Preston was the Holy Torch Bearer (at least, I think that was his title!), and Russell got to carry the Holy Water.
Lent begins for us Orthodox this week, about a week-and-a-half before non-orthodox have Easter! I’m excited, and a little nervous, to be beginning Lent. You see, in the Western Rite of the Orthodox Church, the Lenten discipline is to fast and abstain (from meat) every day of Lent except on Sundays! I’m not sure I can handle that yet… Donna is planning on doing Monday/Wednesday/Friday as meatless for the entire family. I am going to attempt to do closer to what the Church call for… but no promises! This is one thing that I love about the Orthodox Church. The Church expects a lot from its members, but it also realizes that everyone is at a different point in their spiritual journeys. It doesn’t proclaim that its members are “going to hell” because of their failures. Rather, the Orthodox Church, as a true hospital for sinners wants us to work towards the goal. I can handle that attitude, and honestly, I think I am more likely to reach (or at least, get close to) the goal. Additionally, I will be striving towards the goal with the right attitude — not avoiding hellfire — but striving towards being more like Christ. After all, that is the ultimate goal of life.
We were finally Chrismated in the Orthodox Church today! It is great to finally belong to a church again. I’ve felt homeless for a while, not being able to take Communion. I’m really excited about being a part of the One, Holy, Apostolic, Catholic, and Orthodox Church. Following the Mass, we had a potluck and all-parish meeting. It has been a great day!
I know that we’ve been back and forth over which church to attend for a while. We’ve been attending (somewhat sporadically, at first) Saint Benedict Antiochian Orthodox Church since January, 2015. Saint Benedict is one of few western rite churches within the whole of the Eastern Orthodox Church.
I think that I have finally found the church that teaches what I believe is the truth in the Eastern Orthodox Church. Like the Roman Catholic Church, it is an ancient church that teaches Scripture and Tradition. But, unlike the Roman Catholic Church, it does not teach what I consider to be excesses – such as papal infallibility. It also doesn’t demand scholastic answers for everything like the RCC does. This scholastic reasoning in the RCC has resulted in such teachings as the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, mortal/venial sin definitions and requirements, and a host of other things that just about drove me mad during the time I was in the Roman Catholic Church.
It is also different from Confessional Lutheran Churches in significant ways. The Lutheran Church does not teach that Tradition is authoritative, which hardly makes sense since the New Testament didn’t even exist in the early days of the Church! The Orthodox Church also teaches free will, unlike the Lutheran Church. The Lutheran Church teaches a confusing single-predestination which is best described as follows: If you get to Heaven, it’s God’s fault; if you go to Hell, it’s your fault. Ultimately, nearly all of Lutheran doctrine is affected by this faulty doctrine.
The Eastern Orthodox Church is a sacramental church, which I think is a necessity. Like both the RCC and Lutheran Churches, the Eastern Orthodox Church believes in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. It is apostolic in both senses – bishops ordaining bishops throughout time, and in that it adheres to the apostolic teachings. It is biblical – almost all the liturgy and prayer is taken from scripture.
I’m really excited to be becoming a part of the Eastern Orthodox Church. If all goes according to plan, we will all be Chrismated in November, before Advent.