My name is Sasha – from Alexandra – and I am an Orthodox Christian and a mom. Definitely, these are the two most important roles in my life. I’m also a daughter, wife, friend, doctor – all cherished and hard come by. But Orthodox and mom are my number one and number two right now.
The Basics of this Blog
I wanted to tell you a bit about myself in this first blogpost and hope to keep future posts real but more present-moment focused. Just in case you are just skimming to figure out if this is a blog you’re interested in or not – my aim, really my primary aim in life, is to help raise children who love God, love our Faith and stick with it. That’s it put simply. But how to achieve this? That’s what I am still working out daily with fear and trembling. And I’d love you to be part of helping me, and helping others, to figure it out. My plan – which may be tweaked slightly depending on technical specifications etc, is to write a post on an idea or something I have tried and then invite you all to write back thoughts, ideas, etc, which I can then compile into a second post and maybe even a third to allow some semblance of community in what can otherwise seem a bit of a static medium of communication. So I hope you’ll join me. I’d really love to have you as part of my church family.
Building a Parenting Faith Community
Ultimately, I hope this blog can create some community of all of us struggling to keep our Faith alive and protect and care for the souls of the tiny humans we have been entrusted with. In my daughter’s preschool room they have a copy of the slogan: “Today’s Goal: Keep the tiny humans alive.” Thank God they do much more than that and I feel blessed to have them for the days I work. My goal today and everyday is to keep the tiny human’s faith alive. When they are little everything is so concrete – the sky is blue, we fall down and we get hurt, God created the world and us and loves us more than anything. And then the world starts to creep in – more and more – and even if we try to shelter, it is there eventually. And so how can we, from day 1 (or whatever day we start or restart), create a rhythm and a home life that builds and strengthens daily our children’s understanding and internalization of God’s ever-present and all-consuming love? I am sure together we will have lots of ideas – sharing our failings and tiny victories. I hope to include it all. The good the bad and the ugly – in whatever way it can help us to pick ourselves up again and keep orienting towards our North Star – our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ.
So think of this as a parenting faith community – away from the myriad other distractions and temptations of facebook, etc – aiming to create a circle wider and more all encompassing than each of our “little churches” and parishes can provide.
A Little Bit About Me and My Journey To Date
Although I was born and baptized Orthodox, only after my father insisted on a quick Anglican service first, I am still amazed that the Faith stuck. With all the many distractions and temptations, doubts and diversions I feel truly grateful that God kept reminding me of the one thing needful. I will admit I have lived my life, fairly willingly, in the world, with all it’s unashamed Godlessness; in it and, mostly, of it.
My parents divorced when I was 5 and my father moved back to his home country of England – to a small town which had never heard of Orthodoxy as far as I could tell. I spent 2-3 months there each year for holidays and never went to church – except for the rare Anglican mass. Thankfully my mother always brought me to church. By God’s grace we ended up in a town with a small Orthodox parish and I still attend the same parish today although, sadly, I live a 40 min drive away from it now. My mother was raised mostly by her grandparents – who had fled Russia during the revolution bringing only their wedding rings with them (my husband and I still wear these rings today). By my mother’s account they were true God-believers in a very simple and real way.
When I was younger getting me to go to church was an ordeal – with my mom bribing me with a CD or some other treat. And yet still God didn’t abandon me. And finally the whole thing clicked. I remember the moment very distinctly, where I was standing at age 14 when I just realized how important this all was and how I need it. I need church. And so, by the grace of God, I have always been a regular church goer – in college, living abroad (which I did for 3 years in Brazil, Mozambique and England). Somehow God always provided. The city block that I lived on in Maputo, Mozambique (the capital city) had a beautiful Orthodox church that was open everyday and which I would often wander over to for moments of solitary prayer. And so it went.
I met my husband 12 years ago now when I started medical school and he wasn’t Orthodox but had grown up in a believing and church-going Protestant family. He didn’t go to church anymore but thought the idea of church was nice – important for family. So he began coming sometimes and then more. We were married and three years later somehow he was up at the altar becoming a catechumen and then a few months later, just before the birth of our first child, being baptized. All by God’s grace. And then I became a mom – and it slowly became more and more real that God had entrusted souls to my guidance and I felt completely unsure of where to start. Worried when my children made noise in church, or didn’t want to go. I had only one Orthodox friend, thankfully a dear one, who was a mom. And most of the children at our parish were much older than my three little ones (now 5, 3 and 18mo). In these last 5 years God has continued to guide me and I have found (and continue to find) the many pockets of resources out there for parents wanting to raise their children with an enduring love of God and our faith. But I still feel that lack of a community of parents with whom I can share my joys and struggles – trials and failures – and hear and learn from all of theirs.
A Blog is Born
And so this blog is born. I really, really do want to know you. Thank you for taking the time to listen to my story – and I’d love to hear yours. I’d also love to do this together. I still have a prayer book that my mother gave me in my teens inscribed with her deepest prayer – “May the Lord God never abandon you or you Him.” May the same be true for each of us and our children. And may this space we create together bring some light into each of our lives and some grace and wisdom come from our time spent together.
“For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” – Matthew 18:20 NKJV