A Much-Needed Update

I can’t believe it has been over a month since I posted something here. Things have been going well on all fronts for our family. And one of the reasons why I haven’t made the time to post anything is that I’ve been spending all of my spare time enjoying my family. I can’t think of anything else I’d rather do than spend time with Debbie and the kids. So for those who are interested, this post is an attempt to bring you up to speed.

Our family had a wonderful Christmas vacation. Prior to the break, Debbie was working double hours at her job and I was working my new full-time job at the school district and putting in part-time hours at Asian Access. It was nice to have ten full days off to spend with the family.

January started off being much more manageable. Debbie is now working her normal hours and I only have the school district job. But the wedding season is quickly approaching and I’ll be spending several Saturdays beginning in March filming weddings. But I don’t feel as burned out as I did last year and I’m approaching this season with a much better attitude.

 A couple of weeks ago, our family got to spend time with Debbie’s childhood friend, Deanna, and her husband Alan. Deanna and Alan were in California for a conference and we got to spend an afternoon with them. We went out to Newport beach and explored the tidal pools.

 Michael is doing pretty well as a sophmore in high school. He started a science fiction class this term and is enjoying it. For good or bad, he seems to have inherited my geek gene. But unlike me, he makes being a geek look good.

 Cathy is in 8th grade. She’s in a dancing group at school. They had their first competition a couple of weeks ago and her group finished 1st place in their division! I can’t believe she’s going to be in high school next year.

Danielle is in 5th grade. Her school just held a talent show last night. It was such a blast watching her and her friends having a great time dancing. I can’t believe she’s going to be in middle school next year.

 Chris is in 3rd grade. Last week, he was invited to his first birthday party without his siblings. And the day before, he decided to stay after school without his siblings to help in the book faire. Being the fourth child, Chris is very social and does just about everything with his brother and sisters. So these two moments seem to be marking a shift in his growth. Next year, he will be in his elementary school without his sister.

Debbie is doing well in her job. She does so well with children and is a caring and mature presence in otherwise very immature and broken families. I’m glad God has provided her this job to be Jesus’ presence to these babies and their teenage moms.

And I’m absolutely loving my new job as a computer tech for the school district. I enjoy the people I work with and I enjoy the challenge and satisfaction that the job brings. The other day I was setting up computers in a computer lab at one of the elementary schools. While I was there, one of the teachers brought her class for a walk-through. It was so cool hearing these kids “ooh” and “aah” and see their looks of anticipation, knowing they would get to work on these computers next week. Knowing that I help provide support for the teachers and their students in their educational environment is a wonderful thing.

Our family has been attending Saint Peter the Apostle Antiochian Orthodox Church . Our “journey east” so far has been a mixture of wonder and challenge. I absolutely love the worship. The entire experience engages all of one’s senses. I love the icons, the incense, the altar, the vestments, the music, the prayers, everything. I didn’t realize how much I was longing for a deeper and richer kind of Christianity, especially for something that was non-American. This is basically the way the Church worshipped the first several centuries of its existence, a historical connectedness that is very important to me.

But I must also say that the foreignness of Eastern Orthodoxy has eclipsed much of our experience thus far. Every time we visit, it feels like we’ve moved to a different country and culture. There is so much we don’t understand and, quite frankly, can’t understand from a western Christian perspective. I’m glad we’ve decided to take at least one year to explore Orthodoxy. It would be too easy to make a premature decision in the midst of our immediate confusion and discomfort.

We also like Fr Patrick and the people at St Peter’s. Although it is a small parish, there are several families with children our age and a few “newbies” that are just a few months ahead of us. Debbie and I have also begun attending their weekly parish study. Our goal at this early stage in our exploration is to try and view things from their eastern perspective and forgo judging everything from our western perspective. And when I’m absolutely honest with myself, any points of disagreement or challenge that I have found with Orthodoxy really flow from my own issues. Bottom-line, I don’t want to die to myself.

While our Orthodox experience is strange for us right now, I agree with something Deb has said — Eastern Orthodoxy seems to be the only form of Christianity that will help us raise our kids spiritually the way we’ve been wanting to raise them. That’s because Eastern Orthodoxy is not a Christian faith based on ideas of God or emotions of inspiration as we’ve been accustomed to in the west. Nor is it merely a set of doctrines or beliefs. Rather, Eastern Orthodoxy is a full-life, community-based experience of communion with Christ through worship, sacraments and spiritual disciplines that holds spiritual formation (or what Orthodox call theosis) at its heart. And as part of that experience, Eastern Orthodox theology of the Incarnation, the Trinity, the Atonement, the Gospel, salvation, the sacramental life, Tradition and many other core doctrines are absolutely spot on. So onward and upward we go.

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