Get to Know the Little Church Planner
In 2018, we had an idea. I (Natalia) had just moved into a new house, was pregnant with baby number 4, and was looking for a way to streamline life. The Orthodox Faith is so life-giving and beautiful, but it can also be hard to live sometimes. There are the prayers, saints for every day, readings from the lectionary, fasting designations, and more. It can be overwhelming. Was there a way to have these things in one place, where we can still plan for the demands of the day while still incorporating the Church cycles and traditions? A way to simplify the resources, so we can spend more time trying to apply them and keeping our faith central every day?
Luckily for me, Maria moved to Oklahoma just in time—my new best friend just happened to have a print design background and was willing to entertain my crazy idea. After some brainstorming and drawing out ideas, the Little Church Planner was born. Since it's first release in 2020, this planner has become a beloved daily companion to many Orthodox Christians. As of publish date, LCP is currently available in a desk size spiral, and smaller portable size in either spiral or hardcover—all planners are available in New Calendar and Old Calendar. We want to take an opportunity to go through the book and highlight the features that will help make this year the best yet. Here we go!
One of the first pages you will see when you open the planner is the goals page. We have designated four main areas of life (spiritual, household, personal, professional) for you to reflect on and think about what you want this year to look like. This should be big-picture thinking and be the jumping off point for your monthly reflections. These four goal focuses appear in each monthly dashboard, so you can stay on track through the year and connect back to your big-picture intentions.
Year at a Glance Pages
One of our favorite pages is the Year at a Glance spread. This is a quick look at the entire year including major feasts, holidays, and longer fasting periods. This page is super helpful when you are planning things like vacations or projects. Mark when school starts and ends, when you will be out of town, family visits, or when you plan to start your garden. You will be able to quickly see if there is a conflict with a fast or feast, enabling you to change plans as necessary.
The next page has mini-calendars for the whole year, with festal dates below. This is a great place to write down loved ones' special days or important things you need to remember for each month. The mini-calendars are a handy reference if you need to quickly see when certain days fall and for big-picture planning.
Father Thomas Hopko of blessed memory was a beloved Orthodox priest who reposed in 2015. One of the jewels he left with the faithful is a list of 55 Maxims of the Christian Life. These short statements cut to the quick of what it means to be a Christian and are a great source of inspiration and motivation. We have included these in the planner for when we need a little help and re-centering during our busy day.
No planner would be complete without a monthly layout. The Little Church Planner includes the full month along with major saints, feasts, fasting, and secular holidays. We also include reminders about things coming up throughout the month to help you prepare for the little "t" traditions that weave through our little churches. For instance, our first note of the year is to make Vasilopita, a sweet cake traditionally made on St. Basil's day. These are by no means required, but can add richness to the day and help children remember the meaning of the feast.
After the calendar, you will find a dashboard for each month. This is brain-dump territory. We pull in the four goal focuses from the beginning of the planner for you to check in with, as well as a place to list projects, important days, and notes for the month. Unique to these layouts are the habit trackers: make a list of a few habits you are working on this month (make the bed, say your prayers, drink more water, etc.), then check off each day you complete the habit. You can do completely different habits each month, or continue to work on the same one if it is a toughie.
The heart of the Little Church Planner is the weekly layout. This is where you will spend the most of your planning time. There is a small calendar for reference (don't we all forget where we are in the month every once in a while?), an edifying quote from the Church Fathers, your necessary to-do list, notes section, and a place to jot down intercessions. The weekly layout also has a place to plan meals for the week (with the fasting designations), a place for notes, and a block for each day of the week. The daily block includes the saint(s) of the day, lectionary reading (taken from the OCA lectionary), and space for your own planning.
Great Lent and Nativity Fast
One of the fun things about making Orthodox Planners is that we can add things in that only Orthodox Christians will understand. Enter the Great Lent and Nativity Fast layouts, which include all forty days in one place. Do we have the same information elsewhere in the book? Yes. Do we think it is valuable to have an at-a-glance view of the whole fast? Absolutely. These pages can help you rough out meal plans, think about which church services you will attend, and jot down notes for festal preparations. We also give some notes on the sides of these planners for things you can do to bring traditions into your home during the fast.
As fasting periods help us to prepare for a feast, the fasting pages in the Little Church Planner help us prepare for the feasts of Holy Week & Pascha and the Nativity of Our Lord (we also threw in a planner for Thanksgiving for our American friends!). These three planners help with the detailed preparation for a big feast. The week has daily blocks specifically for festal preparation (dying eggs, wrapping presents, holiday baking, etc.) that are different from your standard weekly plans. There are also places for almsgiving ideas, intercessions, and meal plans or Pascha basket lists. This is not only a great place to jot down your to-do lists, but to look back on next year, so you know what you did and when.
Do you ever find yourself at the dentist and wanting to make next year's appointment, but you know you will forget? Take your LCP with you! We have added an appointment tracker in the back to write any appointments or events happening NEXT year. When you buy next year's planner (usually out in September), the first thing you can do is pull the year's appointments and put them in the right place. Problem solved!
We hope this walk-through helps you to use your planner in the best way possible. We love to see these babies in action, so please post photos and tag us! Happy planning!