Tuesday, December 25, 2007

My Meager Fruits of Fasting (Thus Far)

So, I tried to start this blog already and be all 'PC' about why we are still in the Nativity fast and everyone else is celebrating the birth of Christ, well, not everyone, there are some who celebrate christmas without Christ being the reason they do it. Anyway, we are still 13 days out until the 25th of december (by the church calendar, the one in place when Christ was alive, that did not get changed by Pope Gregory XIII, hence Gregorian/civil calendar) which ends up being January 7 by the Gregorian/civil calendar. Anyhoooooo, I am writing because I have been thinking a lot during this fasting period about my life, as it is and what it will be. Maybe because I am going to be 30 this next birthday, am I putting a little more thought into things...maybe just simply because of where I am spiritually in my journey. Perhaps just a combo of the two. I have been feeling like I am shown to myself, in pieces, as if broken, but more like those tangram pieces that they give you in math class and can make many different shapes by putting them together. I sort of feel like I am looking at myself in bits and pieces and trying to figure out the picture it should make. Feeling like I want to change the shape and picture of myself, but not truly knowing how to do it without slipping back into old habits and just letting the former shape fill the places out of familiarity. I am thinking that I need to start with one piece at a time, the foundation. Well, that seems like the easy one, God. Hmmm, easier said than I do everything God asks of me? In my own limited and simple capabilities, like a child still learning? Yes. In the way I know in my heart and mind to be the entirety of my ability? No. There is that fine line there, where one starts and the other stops, is a mystery, but perhaps one day I can fulfill the merging of the two, the bringing together of the physical self and motivation with the heart and mind. That maybe my capabilities can serve the heart and mind in God,...well there is a blasted novel idea! Is there a right way for us to come to God? Is there a right way for us to grow in God? This is what I figure...we are given tools, from God, to come to Him, to lay down ourselves and take up our crosses to follow Him. If God was truly standing before me, in the figure of Christ the Man, what would I do? Well, honestly I don't know, but I would hope that I would fall down and ask forgiveness. Why is it that it is usually during the Great Lent that I find myself better prostrate before God, in heart, mind and body? Perhaps it is God's infinite mercy that we are given things in stages, the feasts throughout the year that bring us the eventuality of His crucifixion after we pass through Great Lent. I know I should rejoice that it does not seem so difficult during the fast of the Nativity, but I know in my heart that it is perhaps a new realization, like levels on my spiritual journey. The real struggle seems to lie in finding and holding onto Christ and God through the holiday season, where Santa and snowmen have become the icons of our country and representatives of Christmas. In a place where it is taboo to even say Merry Christmas anymore for possibly offending someone who does not celebrate it, for Christ's birth or not. Pete sakes! Not to mention, the big fat guy in a suit is the commercialized version of St Nicholas, a REAL man and Bishop of the very early Church and the reason for our stockings being filled secretly in the night (cuz he really did that). We have a way of becoming morphed into the new, societal ways in life through temptation and acting as if it was always that way. Where do I go with that? How do I continue through every year? How do I teach my child Truth, the unwavering Truth of God? I will live it, as we live through each feast of the liturgical year as it was when it happened, to the best of my ability. On Nativity, on Christmas, I will go to church and fellowship and eat with like-minded individuals who are truly rejoicing in the birth of our Saviour as we do every year. I would like to celebrate it with friends and family if it were possible and I will leave that to God's will. I will be saying, joyfully, "Christ is Born!" To which I will get a reply, perhaps with more joy and reverence than my own declaration, "Glorify Him!" So, how do I put my pieces together as they are laid before me? How do I find out the shape of myself without reverting back to MY old habits? Start with God and trust that He will show me the way to Him through the everyday of my life. It may sound simple, but it is an uphill battle. I will hold fast to the teachings and traditions of the Church given to us, to the family and friends (who are really family) who God has given us in His mercy to help us along in our struggles to aid us in our journey, to learn things in a new light, to find myself looking at a picture of myself that is created while I am looking to God for answers because all things are possible through God in His mercy and Love. I will consider this, the turning of a new leaf, the start of my next journey that has been waiting to begin for quite sometime but my spiritual legs needed to be stronger to last the length. These concepts are not particularly new, but I am now feeling strong enough to take on the challenge without taking two steps back each time I try. So the end of this blog is really the beginning of the next step in my life. Here's to remembering and keeping the old along with embracing the new. With all my Love and Faith in Christ our God, until next time.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

"Mommy, who is the pirate?"

Yesterday at our time for volunteering at church, Katherine and I were alone for a bit and it has been awhile since that has happened. Petra and Taia were running late and I just figured there was a good reason for it, both for them AND us. Taisia was still asleep and that little dear gets precious little napping as it is and I am glad she slept, very glad! Oh how I remember those days! So Katherine and I went in to say hello to our friendly, familiar Saints found in their same old spots, just waiting for us as if we had never gone. Katherine is up on my hip, big as ever and how she grew so much I will never know. It is so quiet but for the creaking of the boards in our aging floor, not to mention the ticking of the ancient heater. So familiar and nice.
It started out in a normal sort of way when Katherine asked which Saint was which, St Panteleimon, St Sergei, St Xenia and St Nicholas and from there she wanted to know about one across church. She pointed and asked and I thought she was asking about the Royal Martyrs on the wall when she said, "that big one..." So we went across and when we got there she corrected me and directed me to the table of the departed right next to it, the only candle stand that she can reach and does often =) She asked about who are the other women there with the Mother of God and those guys on the other side and such. We discussed it a bit and then she asked me, "Mommy, who is the pirate?" I said, "What pirate?" I am thinking, "What THE....?" She pointed and I saw what she meant...the skull of Adam is at the foot of Christ on the Cross and Christ's blood is flooding down to free Adam. As I have heard it told, the cross was placed above the spot where Adam was buried all those years earlier and that the Earth shook and cracked open and Christ's blood fell on Adam's skull. Firstly, we talked about how that is what it looks like under our skin and that is Adam's skull (she has learned about Adam and Eve in church school so she is at least familiar). Then we talked about how it is so important that we see this, because God became a Man and shed His blood and now Adam didn't have to be in the 'Naughty" place anymore. (In all honesty, how else do you explain hell to a 4 year old, I figure, just words they know...) We talked about how we get to be with God in a special way when we have communion and she said, "because we have God in us...." Just take a minute and think about that. Anyone who has a child will understand when there are times you cannot describe a moment, the precious few moments that we are afforded to see inside of their little heads. I think what surprised me is that I not only had answers for her, but that she had just as many answers for me. We went on to talk about the Apostles and Angels and what it is like in Heaven. She pointed out how lots of the Angels had "poky things" (spears) so we talked about why that is (to be the warriors of Heaven and keep out all the evil angels who have chosen their fate) and how we want to go to Heaven and take the place of one of the fallen angels and sing there with all the ranks of Angels. "Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal!"
I have given it a little thought and I am increasingly glad to have the plethora of Icons in our church. For children, particularly those that don't read, it is so nice to have illustrations of people who have gone before us in our christian family as well as scenes from the Bible. If we are to enter the kingdom of Heaven as a child, what better place to start than searching the faces of our ancestors and re-evaluating the stories of the Bible God has given us for our own Hope and Salvation, especially through eyes of our children. They are such great tools to have in aiding us on our journey. That a child can learn so much and understand more than I can imagine through the depiction on the wall is so beyond my mind. And so it should be. The innocence of a child is known only to God and the child, and throughout our lives we can recapture glimpses of ours that we have lost in the faces and words of a our children, and at times, other peoples kids. We can see our own faults so sweetly held up by the mirror image of our child's face. So much sweetness, so much hope, so much Love! It is THAT love of a child that we should find ourselves magnifying as we turn our hearts to God: pure and loving with total trust. If God gives me enough time, I hope to grow up to be the person my daughter sees when she looks at me. Lord have Mercy on me, a sinner. I look forward to many more lessons about God from my little girl!

Friday, November 23, 2007

To Beef, or not to Beef

Well, lately I have been internally going through deciding whether to become a vegetarian. There are lots of reasons I have been thinking about it, the usual stuff. What it boils down to is that I just do not desire it anymore. I don't want it, not even bacon. It is nearly impossible for me to pick up a piece of meat and eat it. I realize that God says we can have whatever we wish, but it is still one of His creatures that gives its life for us and most of the time we are far from grateful beyond being satiated to a point of despondency...this does not however, apply solely to eating meat. The way we pacify ourselves with our full stomach's and our lack of appreciation. I cannot speak for everyone, only myself and I know I am far from the sort of grateful God would have me be. I could certainly be more grateful if we were dirt poor and had not a penny, but God has seen fit to Bless us beyond our comprehension with food, shelter and church so I am left needing to learn these things in another way. I realize I need to start with myself and if I can ever get to the point where I have that under control, perhaps I will find my next adventure as edifying. My not eating meat feels as if it were planted as a little seed, I watered it and maybe now God is harvesting it...I am not sure if that makes any sense, but I cannot claim the lack of desire to eat meat as mine completely, only with God's help has it come to pass. I have been eating eggs and fish, but even the fish has been tasting less that great. People want to know if it is something that I am going to be implementing in my family, a complete transition into meatlessness for us all. My answer, no. I will not force my husband or child to conform to my lack of taste for meat. It is not for me to decide, they are individuals and can choose for themselves...if at some point they wish to stop, that is fine and if they eat meat forever, that is their prerogative. We may end up having less meat in general because I may not think to make it, but we don't eat a bunch to begin with. Who knows, perhaps at some point I will start again. It makes as much sense to everyone else as it does to me, I just don't want it anymore, it is not appealing. So, just so everyone knows, I think it is official, I am a vegetarian..until firther notice.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Joy of All Who Sorrow

joy |joi| noun-a feeling of great pleasure and happiness
sorrow |ˈsärō| noun-(a) a feeling of deep distress caused by loss, disappointment, or other misfortune suffered by oneself or others (b) the outward expression of grief; lamentation
Perhaps to some this might appear to be a contradiction in terms, to me it is great comfort. The Cathedral which St John spent the rest of his life serving in is named Holy Virgin Joy of All who Sorrow Cathedral and it is a most beautiful place, you cannot help but feel as though you are in the presence of God when you are there, whether there are services or not. So peaceful. So uplifting. A true Joy. When I think about the Theotokos being the Joy of all who Sorrow, I think how very literally it should be taken. I take Joy in her life, her sacrifice and repose.
Her life was spotless, she grew from a child in the temple of our God and did not wish to lose her virginity and so was betrothed to a capable man, far older, but protective that she might remain without knowing a man intimately. To have the Archangel Gabriel appear, even just to see him, is something great and as the messenger of God he delivers this, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will concieve in your womb and bring forth a son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end." -Luke 1:30-33 Of course, since she has never known a man asks how this can be and the Archangel tells her of the Holy Spirit, and He shall be the Son of God and that her cousin has also concieved in her old age and that nothing is impossible for God. To which she replies, "Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her. -Luke 1:38 What life changing moment, how she must have felt, what a large responsiblity and task.
The sacrifice of her Son, although He was not really hers, the child came from her belly, sent from God and she outlived her baby. Just because this child is God does not change that she was His mother. Not only did she outlive her Son, she watched Him be tortured and crucified. I can only imagine what sort of strength it takes to endure something so terrible, beyond words to describe the awful truth of His betrayal and death. It must have taken amazing Faith that this is the will of God and that she was not suffering in vain. Perhaps this why God chose her, that she had such staunch Faith in Him forever, never doubting. At the hour of Christ's death, she was given to John as a mother and so became thus to him and all the brothers and sisters of the Lord. She lived out the rest of her days with His disciples, who cared for her as their mother and she for them as if she was theirs. We are no different, we are a part of that family.
If we are ever having troubles we can look to her in our sorrow and she can be of great joy. To think of all the things that she has been through is of great comfort, that she had such strength to be chosen and fulfill the word of God. I know I am trying and failing miserably to try and explain why this is important to me, but it is. As a mother, I can only imagine my child dying before me, it brings a well of emotion I cannot describe or want to ever experience. I suppose what I am trying to say is that she is a good model of love, strength, perseverence and everything motherly. Whether anyone thinks she is the Saint of all Saints, or a saint at all, she is still a good example. A pillar of Faith and piety, accepting all that God would give her. No matter how I sorrow, I can always look to God for strength and to Mary, for a solid, living example of steadfastness in tribulation and I pray that God helps me to remember this in my times of need.
Much Love, Me

Saturday, November 10, 2007

"Let every breath praise the Lord!"

With every breath, I am a sinner. Since I do not thank God with every breath that comes so effortlessly to me in His creation of me. I think this falls into the ceaseless praying, that we should, "Let every breath praise the Lord..." This means a lot more to me now, for some odd reason, okay, so the reason is because God said so, it just seemed non-connective, until now. I am very far behind and who knows if I will ever get there, but I suppose the point is that I try...just as I am a mother and asks that my child always do her best to do what she knows is right, so does God expect that from me, at minimum. Perhaps He will guide my tongue, feet and hands the way He does my heart and I will begin to understand better and do work better for His Glory. Anything good that comes from me, is solely the work of God in His wonder, anything not so good is the works of my Pride giving into temptation and going against the will of God. The reason saints are so important to us all, is simply for the fact that they have broken the spell, so to speak, that Satan has over us all. We start with Pride and the rest just falls into place without much effort. The Evil One is the sort that says, "If I go down, I am taking you with me..." and so he has done in The Fall, but since Christ has come we do not have to be with Lucifer anymore, we choose with every breath which path we will take, will we fall by the wayside and passively (or intentionally) accept Satan and fall prey to his ways, or will we take up our cross and follow Him into the trenches to fight against that which would tempt us away from Him, with His help. I am finding a renewed strength to take up my cross, God is good and I want Him, not this world, since we cannot have both and the soul is immortal. I do live in this world and so must figure out how to keep my heart turned toward God while I still function and go through each day, trying to do that which is to God's Glory. As my mom has said to me before, Orthodoxy is not about perfection, it is about falling down and getting back up each time. That we fall and ask for God to help us, that we realise that we need more than what we can offer ourselves and most importantly, seek it.
I thin kthat is a good place to start. Love to everyone, in His name, me

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Death, or something like it

This is piecings of a thoughtful evening and may be added to at some point in the future.
Today in church there sat the open casket of one of our parishoners, Stella (Stephanida) Seminuk. I was not prepared to see her when I entered, only tomorrow after the Liturgy for the funeral service. She was there for the Pannikhida service right before the vigil, in the middle of the church. Lots of people were there, even people I have not seen in ages, coming together the way death sort of has its way. In the flicker of the candlelight, in a somber kind of way, people took their turns to see her for the first time since her passing, to pray, reflect, love and greet. We all aren't sure what to say, I guess there isn't much. Stella was an old woman, she had a full life, it was to be expected as ill as she has been. But still, an indescribable feeling of loss, not only of Stella, but of ourselves in that casket with her. I understand better what it is about death that makes us selfish...we are because we have to relate. We must relate to this part of life, death is as sure as God. I think that it is such a mercy God has given us to participate in death, we get to feel what it is like to lose a person, find ourselves and in such a short time, understand our lives more clearly, our purpose.
I cried and I was trying to think about why. I did not know her well, only bits and pieces, a very nice woman to the end. I came to the conclusion that I cried because my heart ached and I did not know what else to do, there IS not anything else to do when someone dies. We start to realize how little time we actually have, as simple and silly as that may sound, but it holds up the mirror of mortality and shows us the fork in the road to the path of our own slavation. Which way we turn is our own choice, into ourselves for consolation or to God for guidance.
I was thinking about how the soul is freed when we die...freed from the shell of a body that does our bidding in our web of sins. No longer is it trapped, no longer can we sin. When we pray for one another when we are living they most certainly help us to follow our own paths to salvation, but, nonetheless, we continue to sin no matter how hard we try. When we die, that is the end to sin. This is why it is soooo important to pray for those who have passed away. For us that live, it is an uphill battle...for those who have died, they have no more affliction of the human condition, no more ability to sin and our prayers no longer fight the current of this raging river of life. In sin do we pray, but from love we are heard.
There is so much more hope in death than life. So much that Christ has taught us to be prepared because it really does not matter what we do in our lives unless we are properly preparing for the eternal life for which Christ died. We can learn and love and so mch more, but our purpose is eternity with Him. Preparing for our own death is not a terrible thing, but one to be taken seriously since that is where our souls spend eternity. It doesn't matter whether we think we know what God wants, or if there even is a God, we will all find out when we are dead and I would rather be ready for it than caught off-guard. In death, there is so much hope, just as Christ has given us hope of eternal life through His sacrifice. We will always miss people, in our own has been said that 'misery loves company...' and nowhere do I find it more true than in our need to connect with one another. We seek others to comfort us in our affliction, Christ is our comfort...His saints are a great comfort as well...they prove that the Holy life that Christ lives is possible and True in every way. His promise holds true and keeps us going in Faith, Love and Prayer.
In love I write and love I keep, most steadfastly and to the best of my ability. May God bless everyone on their paths and Lord have Mercy on us all!
Much love, me

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Hmmm...the meaning of life?

Everything good has already been said, there is nothing more to say, but I will beat the dead horse anyway. I guess there are a lot of ways to say the same things over and over, in the end, what does it matter? We are all on our own paths to salvation, our ideas, thoughts and judgement are of no consequence. What is the meaning of life? Is it to come up with our own ideas of what life should mean to us? Is it to serve God? Is it to create our own 'destiny'? It is funny because, in the scheme of things, it doesn't matter what I think, only what I do. Do I actively follow God? Hmmm, tough question...there are so many levels at which we can do this...since I am on my own 'personalized' journey toward salvation, then yes, so long as I participate in church and try to listen when God speaks, I only hope that it does not fall on deaf ears. What of this life? I mean, really? To love, share, hope, cry, give, recieve, gain or lose...all these things are human, but what good are they? Do they have any purpose? I think so. I think they are our tools and also our comfort. We learn from all of this and are comforted when things fall into place. When will we all learn, "...and the greatest of these is LOVE." God tells us this and we talk as if we know anything and are still so blind to its beauty and simplicity. He gives it to us and we are too silly to realize what we have. I am no different, I misuse nearly everything that has been given to me....but for God's guidance, I am able to glimpse something more than what I am and strive to become. I see the beauty, I hear the call, I feel the love, if only briefly as a silly human. Maybe I will seek the silence...I like this quote, "A quiet man is not always wise, but a wise man is always quiet." What would the world be like if we couldn't mess things up with our tongues and emotion? If we understood that our words usually hinder us from our intent. I feel like my tongue has been cut from the stone of Pride, to speak is to believe that my words are of some value. If the words I utter are any besides those of love, what good are they? Seriously? Not that we should have people step on us, but if our only response was one of love....a hug, a kind word, a smile...ahhh, but then we get to the fact that we are fallen and imperfect and therefore have to accept our fate as thus. We can follow God as He prescribes, to the best of our abilities and perhaps one day, I will be quiet and just hug people with a smile. I suppose it is not do unto others as you would have them do to you...but maybe more like, do unto others as Christ would do unto you....selfless, perfect love and kindness.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

"Mommy, where does God live?"

Yep, she asked the other night when we were walking around the neighborhood with the dog. What was my answer? "Well, let's see...some would say in the Heavens, since in the beginning He made the Heavens and the Earth and if we are here on earth He is there."
"Where are the Heavens?"
"Well, the if the earth is here, many people look to the Heavens up where the stars and sky are."
"He is in the Heavens with the Saints and the Angels..."
"Like I get to be an Angel in the Christmas show?"
"That's right, my love, just like that." I say, smiling on my face and in my heart. "God is also everywhere since He made everything. He is in the trees and the dirt and the grass and the stars...and He made the cats and the..."
"and the dogs and the people and the cars..."
I must say, it is interesting to try to explain that while she is right because nothing happens without God, the actual cars were not made by His hands but through the people whom He gave the brains to use the materials which He created to thinkit up and put it together.
That was mostly it, my darling little daughter and her bright little mind...I love her so if there was any question.

Little Tsarevich Dunn

Well, let me see...I am hoping to have another baby, it is nothing new to those that know me. The waiting has been a true test of patience and I am prepared to wait for eternity if I must, but for some reason I have always felt that God would give us more than one. Call me crazy, but I have known, somehow in my heart we would have more, but would have to wait. Knowing that we might have to wait does not make the waiting any easier and doesn't stop the thinking about how maybe I am wrong and it REALLY could happen anytime. We have never prevented getting pregnant and do not ever plan to, so we are certainly an example that you do not end up with a dozen kids simply because you don't use any birth control. Of course, all is God's will, whether to have 12 or 2 or zero as the case is for some. I cannot explain it, for some I won't need to, but I feel like this just might be the month for it again...please pray for me as I struggle through this...I ask specifically for you to pray for me/us to St Xenia (since she is my Patron), St John the Wonderworker, Sts Elizabeth (both the righteous mother of our Forerunner and also our New Martyr of Russia), St Seraphim of Sarov and Royal Martyr Alexandra. Even more specifically, I am praying for a boy...Royal Martyr Alexandra went to the glorification of St Seraphim and paryed that he help her pray to have a son, and heir to the throne and one year later Tsarevich Alexis was born. Just pray that God's will be done and that if I am to have a baby, our boy might be in line, our little Jon. Whether we get pregnant or not, it will be to the glory of God, that if we are at month's end it will be God's miracle and if we are not, I will continue my lesson in patience and a greater purpose for my time will be eventual. Both results will produce God's will. I know that there are some who do not believe in the saints and their ability to speak to God on our behalf...they are our Christian family, so just speak as if you are asking a family member who has past something, your prayers will be heard. Even if it does not happen this month, I am confident that God will hear our prayers and set the right time in motion. Thank you for everyone's love, support and prayers, most of all. Please forgive me if I have offended anyone, in word or deed, mind or thought, known or unknown, please forgive me a sinner. I do not ask it often enough of all of those whom I love, and love me. Much love and prayers to all.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Queen of my Heart

Things I never knew
Places I've never been
I know and I go with her.
She is so small
has so much to learn
Life is all but discovered.
What's more
She has so much to teach
The world in all of its madness,
Bows down at the feet
Of the Queen of my Heart
Its rules do not apply.
She floats along from place to place
Her mind just wanders away
to places much better,
Much brighter and dear.
Each day I glimpse a peek
Of horses and butterflies
Babies and mommies
And Ring around the Rosies.
I'd like to stay
I'd like to play...
A tug at my mind reminds me
She is only small
Not long at all
So treat these moments with care.
The years are short
When days feel long
As we walk hand in hand.
The seasons change
I learn new love,
Her love
Fills my heart with gladness.
I cannot say
If there was a day,
So certain that she stole it.
My heart is hers
Forever and more
There is nothing that I need like it.
My only fear
In this whole world
Is to lose the love of this girl.
More precious than anything there ever was
Treasured like gold and jewels.
So sweet and lovely,
Warm and gentle,
Continue to show me the way.
Onward toward the King of Kings
with the love of a child in my heart.
If ever I forget how to love
I look in her eyes
And, somehow,
Without words,
I know the way again.
So much Truth
In our bond
And what she gives me
She will never know,
Until one day
She has her own
Sweet innocent, beautiful hearts
To show her
To give her
This that she unknowingly offers

There is a love
The one we give
This one is much different.
This sort invades
Takes over your heart
Teach us the way we ought to be.
If I could live
If I could love
I choose for her to steal it,
Every day
Every breath
Every smile
Every hug
Every kiss
All for
The Queen of my Heart

Saturday, September 1, 2007


Love, one of the things so often talked about through the ages...we are no different, we all want it. We come across the same questions...Where does it come from? How do we get it? What exactly is IT? (I will probably jump around when I talking about this and perhaps not even use proper punctuation or paragraphing, nothing new. I am writing as it comes.)
The funny thing about love is that although it is very confusing and complicated to describe, it is so simply felt and straightforward just the way it is. Love just IS. That is it....there are many faces of love that show up on occasion, but its state does not change, only its facets. When we believe we are loving something or someone more, is it possible we are just learning to love a new way? That love is already complete and we are finding its pieces as we learn to better love? Sort of like filling the pieces of our love pie, so to speak. Yes, it is most definitely a funny way of looking at it, but I think it is true. We find the pieces that fill the different aspects of love.
Where does it come from? Well, let's see...God is Love, hence there would be no beginning or end to it, just as there is not to God Himself. We will probably not ever know the entirety of God and therefore, we are also limited in our understanding of Love as well. We are the product of God's love, broken, torn, fallen in shambles from our own Pride, but we are still the product of God's love and should seek the perfection of God as Love for our life's work.
How do we get love, or have it? Well, it would follow that if we seek God and His Truth's then we would be an active part of His Love. When we follow God and His teachings, we can understand how He loves us, in our fallen way. Through being a parent, as God is our Father of all, He gives us a model. That which we expect from our own children is what God expects from us, at minimum...we wish for our children to do as we say the first time, act fairly at all turns, care for others, be polite and always tell the truth and seek it as well. It is our own Pride that keeps us from love and separates us from God as well. I suppose what I am getting at is that to understand love and to seek after it, we must also seek God and everything else will follow. God and Love are synonymous. Without God, there is no love, without love, there is so much pain and that confusion brings darkness and deception.
Well, I think I have reached a conclusion, God is Love, seek God and find Love, but do not let Pride take it from you as we often allow unknowingly. Keep your eyes on God and the confusion of the world will fall away.
I am just so silly, as if I know anything...this is just what I have been thinking about lately, swimming around in my brain.
Love to all, Xen

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

I fall down and cry unto Thee

I cried today, in the humbling presence of God and His music as a gift to the church. Not just cried, but wept for so many things.

"Let us who mystically represent the Cherubim
and sing the Thrice Holy Hymn to the life-giving Trinity,
Lay aside all earthly cares..."

Please take them from me! I do not know how to do it alone, I do not want to!

"That we may recieve the King of all,
invisibly borne in triumph by the Angelic Orders.
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia."

This music in a particular arrangement just wells up inside me with a sense of peace and sadness, comfort and yearning all at the same time. Peace that this is the Angels song through us and picture of heaven and promise of love, but the sadness that I am so unworthy and continually separate myself from God through my sins. Comfort from the beauty in the words (Lay aside all earthly cares, repetitively, petitioning the body and mind to let go of this world's trouble)and heart sung melodies that God has not forsaken us and a yearning to understand more and be more than I am, that God has given us tools through the Holy Church to grow closer to Him and His heavenly kingdom.
When we are babies and small children we have such sweet innocent knowledge of God's love and His gifts. As we grow older, our bodies and this world, tear us from it. The all-loving and merciful embrace of God. I can see it in my child as she grows, I mourn for what will become of her through me and my imperfections that I wallow in. It is my job to somehow raise her to be better than I am, a more loving, merciful, forgiving, God-fearing Heaven-ward being...How can I manage all of this when I do not know how to myself? But for the Grace of God that she should have a better chance. With tears of repentance I fall on my knees before God and ask that, if I cannot be saved, please take my child, she is all I have and the magnification of my tainted earthly love, heart of my heart, blood of my blood. Please take these broken and humbled pieces of me as an offering and accept my child, she knows not what she does, but I being grown, known the awful truths of this world, do not let her know what I know, how I know.
And, yet, there is hope! In the darkness there is the light of my soul with my Guardian Angel, given me at Holy Baptism, will help guide me on my path, sometimes dragging me along, that I may become worthy of those things which God wishes us all to have. That through the Grace of God washing over and through my selfish, Prideful and pathetic body and soul, I might better bring myself to the Glory of God. It may not be quick, most good journies are not, and I hope this one lasts my entire life, to the Glory of God! If God will grant me more opportunities to realize my sin and repent, I will not be forsaken, I will not be alone, I will know how to guide my family and child, that she may have the same chances to bring herself to God and fall down in love and gladness, with tears of repentance, not only for herself but all of our brothers and sisters in Christ and all of mankind. We are not alone in body, but in spirit and through our forgiveness and love we understand the weakness of us all and can learn to better pray, for if we can truly pray for others as we pridefully pray for ourselves, all is not lost. If we follow the Light of the Church that God has given us as beacon in this bleak world, we will not be alone, but together in love and piety, supporting each other through this treacherous and painful life. Please pray for me, a sinner on my path to salvation and righteousness, that I may not perish through my body and mind, but be saved in the Love and Mercy of God.

Love to you all, with all my broken and unworthy heart, Aurelia Xenia Peace Nichols Dunn
(this is what I was listening to while I wrote this, you will have to copy and paste it to listen)

Monday, August 6, 2007

One sunday eve

An evening walk with the dog and family
fresh air after rain
she runs as if nothing could stop her,
and nothing will.
She runs and jumps,
we talk and walk.
beautiful air,
lightening far off on the mountain tops.

back home now,
for prayers and bedtime
good little girl gets ready
reads herself to sleep
mommy makes food for the next day
thinking and singing inside
a usual routine
a book,
check the girl,
turn out the light,
kiss the husband,

Sudden thunder and dripping rain,
almost sleeping,
drifting lightly.
Almost sleeping,
sudden crying in the night!
Here she comes,
refuge with mommy and daddy.
Cuddle up,
scary excitement,
flickering lightening,
rolling balls of thunder,
crashing bolts
with cracking.
First with mommy,
now with daddy.
Daddy is big and strong,
safe and warm.
Wiggly girl,
finding comfort,
daddy is the mountain,
a haven for little girls.
Look at them together,
see so much love.
Beautiful family,
beautiful love,
sweet moments
lasting lifetimes.
Thank you,
for this life,

Saturday, July 7, 2007


I still have much to learn about our most pure Virgin and mother of our Lord, but the more I read about her in books and also in the Bible, I think I am able to understand a bit more of her. We take for granted that we have her, I think. She was a vessel through which came our Lord and God and Saviour, the Christ Jesus. Being a woman, even a girl, she was particularly reverant and God-loving. I cannot fully explain how it plays out in my head and heart that she was so blessed and truly faithful, the Mother of all. She can be the model for our own parenting, for our faith and we can turn to her, as the mother of our christian faith and family just as you would, or would want to, go to your own mother. She can heal wounds that we cannot through her love for us, the ones that have been aching through the scars from our childhood. We are taught in our society to figure out how to do things ourselves, but I do not know one person, who, at some point has not needed another person. Whether it is to talk, to cry, to share joy, we turn to another for a connection. We wish to share, but we are told the opposite, to take care of things for ourselves because we are strong enough, we are smart enough and we are capable of anything as long as we try hard enough. We are all still children in this world no matter how much we grow up, we still have God the Father and we will always be someone's child, none of us were born without parents, not even Christ the Lord Himself. Just because we get smarter and older, it is nothing to our spirit/soul which is timeless. Our Holy mother, Mary, will always be the mother of our family, our Christian family. We do not look to her as if she herself can fix things, but she can pray for us, as a mother for a child, she can offer comfort in our time of need if only we ask, with a voice or in our hearts. I know that in my life I have often wanted to run home to my mommy when things get tough, how blessed and fortunate we are that we have Christ's mother as well to turn to where ever we are. This is the wonderful and great responsibilty of being a mother, in particular. We have gotten so far away from the teaching of the Church that it is easy to be confused and of this world and ever-changing cultural belief. Good thing for us the teaching has been passed down through the church fathers for centuries, without which, we would be lost. We have fallen prey to those ideas that draw us systematically away from our Truth, our family and our mother, as if she was a mere person with whom God had favor. Perhaps it is that she is seen as an idol, which is further proof that the world is taking hold of our senses. She is no more an idol than our own ancestry of family whom have passed away. I do not have much more to say on the subject, but I leave you with two quotes, one that I can't remember where it came from and the other is the Magnificat prayer, Mary speaking to Elizabeth when she was found with child.
"For those who believe, no explanation is neccesary. For those who do not, none will suffice."
Luke 1:46-56
"My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Saviour.
For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant;
For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
For He who is mighty has done great things for me,
And Holy is His name.
And His mercy is on those who fear Him
From generation to generation.
He has shown strength with His arm;
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
And exalted the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
And the rich He has sent away empty.
He has helped His servant Israel,
In remembrance of His mercy,
As He spoke to our fathers,
To Abraham and to his seed forever."

And Mary remained with her about three months, and returned to her house.

Blessed be the name of the Lord, henceforth and forevermore!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

My Struggles

I have lately realized that I am struggling with, you guessed it, my struggles. I figured out last night that I am uncomfortable with the particular way I am struggling. I want something to be more suited to me, what a worldly way to go about life. It does not seem hard by any means, but it certainly has gotten me in a corner at times. I am sure of what I am made of (or so I think) and lately I have been thinking, "That's it! I just want to be done with it all, why on earth are we working so hard to not see each other?" The things that really suffer right now is the stuff that really matters, the things you might think about on your death bed. You know what they say, you will probably never wish you went to work more often. I think this particular struggle is bothersome and it has taken a bit of time to cultivate and become realized for what it is, I am struggling against myself. Earlier on in life we were always struggling against our circumstance and that is the comfort to which I refer. This particular set, I get to deal with my own reflection. How I do things in my daily life and how that effects me spiritually. I realize that people who are not Orthodox cannot fully relate with my thoughts on this and that is difficult because I feel like it somehow drives a wedge between us. It is not an intentional separation, but there is no stopping it. Yet another struggle, because although people may be able to intelectually understand, it is not an intelectual issue. Whereas a philosopher might take it on as an issue and challenge of the mind and intelect, it is truly a venture of the spirit trying to be closer to God. I think that in our current society we have all become a bit too much mini-philosophers and shrinks in the way that we are taught to discern for ourselves what the issue is and how to solve it, not how to ask God for help in order to grow spiritually and "root-out" the culprit. We wallow in our sin as if to say, "Well, if the shoe fits..." I am no better, my body is very happy in this state as a pig in slop, all the while my soul is striving for betterment and Truth. Glory be to God for the opportunity to right ourselves. I have often thought how nice it would be for everyone to be Orthodox so they might see the Joy that we see, but I know in my heart that if it isn't a personal choice and want to come to the Church, there isn't any reason really talking about it unless people have questions. I am off on a tangent again, what else is new? I think I will go and say until next time.

Friday, June 15, 2007

My little June bug

(I call her my little June bug because it is june and I call her bug a lot.) We went out to the patio this afternoon and sat to watch the birds at our feeder while Katherine ate fresh strawberries by the dripping mouthful. I asked her if she would like to sit and talk with me in the shade and she agreed. I asked her if there was anything that she would like to talk about and she said yes. I asked, "What would that be?"
"Mommy," she said, "I want you to talk about the Archbishop coming."
"Oh," I said, "Sure. He will be here tomorrow and mommy is making cake. I am making a very special cake that will be vanilla with vanilla creamy frosting and fresh strawberries all over the top."
"Yummy," said the June bug. "Does the Archbishop like raspberries, too."
"I think he does, Father Boris told mommy that he likes fruit and strawberries for sure, that is why we got the strawberries," I tell her, "We can add some raspberries if you would like."
She agreed.
"So, Vladika will be here."
"Yes," I said, "It is very special for us to have him."
"Mommy, where does the Archbishop live?"
"He lives in San Francisco, in California."
"Where does Val- Val-..."
"Vladika?" I coaxed.
"Yeah, Vladika. Mommy, where does Vladika live?"
"Vladika is the Archbishop." I go on, "You know how we call Father at church, Father Boris, but his job is to be the priest. So we call him Vladika, Vladika Kyrill, but his job is to be the Archbishop. Does that make sense?"
"Uh huh." she replied.

Oh how I love the logic of a child. What the world would be like if we had a bit more of it!

Friday, June 8, 2007

In This Moment

I am grateful for the things that I never knew I would be grateful to have. I am grateful to not have moved for 2 years...for having time to spend with my family, a job for my husband to keep us at home...I am grateful that, although we cannot fly, we can still afford to drive to see my parents in Oregon. I am grateful to appreciate God's timing better every time I am not pregnant and understand a bit more why that is okay. I am grateful to have a large, growing church to attend even if most of the people speak in Russian and I don't totally understand, but grateful that we have the language of the Church in common...I am eternally grateful that my husband is so incredibly supportive in anything I venture. I am grateful that I am well and can watch my daughter grow. I am grateful for friends, old and new, who make this journey more beautiful. I am grateful for the love in my life and the lessons I learn. I am grateful my parents found the Church and that my husband brought me back to it unknowingly. I am solemnly grateful for all that I have and hope to continue finding more things to add to my list, of which is still lacking many things, but rounds out the idea. I am completely grateful for the little things in life and hope to be forevermore.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Child's Wisdom

On the eve of Pascha (Passover, from eternal death to eternal life, aka easter) we get ready to attend our midnight and all-night service at church. While getting ready for our glorious event, Daddy and Katherine are watching the Ten Commandments. You know, the one that is on every year since forever. Anyway, she is learning a little bit about things from Daddy and at one point she says to me, "Mommy, I'm afraid."
I ask, "What makes you afraid?"
"I'm afraid of God."
You know you can tell in your child's voice when they are truly scared and I didn't hear it in her's so I let it ride and asked, "Why?"
"He's everywhere... in the sky, in the moon, in the Christ of God, in the Church, in our heart of love of God, in the love in the heart and love of you and me."
It doesn't get much truer than that!

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Christ is Risen!

Christ is Risen!....Truly, He is Risen!
Christos Voskrese!....Voistinu Voskrese! (Slavonic)
Christos Anesti!....Alithos Anesti! (Greek)
Hristos a Inviat!....Adeverat a Inviat! (Romanian)
Ha Mashiyach Qam!....Ken Hoo Qam! (Hebrew)

"He is not here, He is Risen!"

Christ is Risen from the dead,
Trampling down Death by Death,
And upon those in the tombs bestowing life!

Christ is Risen!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Christ in the Stranger's Guise

I am writing in response to Petra's blog about begging and I am posting here because it wouldn't let me do it on her site. You can see what she wrote if you click on the Petra link on the right side of your page.
That said, I agree on many levels, I also try to imagine that it is not my job to wonder or know how money is spent if it is given and it is only my job to do the giving. It reminds me of this Old Gaelic Rune I read one time, it says,
I saw a stranger yestere'en
I put food in the eating place
Drink in the drinking-place
Music in the listening-place
And in the sacred name of the Triune
He blessed myself and also my house
My cattle and my dear ones
And the lark said in her song,
Often, often, often
Goes Christ in the stranger's guise
Often, often, often
Goes Christ in the stranger's guise.
It makes me think about how we are supposed to give whatever we have whenever possible. That when we give it, it is not really ours that we are giving, it is Gods and we are mere messenger's.
I think that is about it for now.
X's and o's, Xen

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

"Breaking the Fast"

I have been thinking lately about just that, " breaking the Fast". We usually confess to this when it pertains to food or drink, things that we physically put into our bodies. In actuality, isn't it also the abstinence from those other vices as well? I find that this Lent I am learning a bit about how little food I need to function just as well as when I am eating all that meat and dairy, I think doing even better, but that it is a good lesson that just because it tastes good, I should not have another helping. The fasting from foods is to help teach us about the more spiritual aspect of our lives, the realities, if you will. To become upset that we have done something in our own control that is against what we know to be right can be useful OR harmful...if we choose to get upset but do not learn from and/or change the behavior then it is to our demise, but if we can at least be grieved but productive with it we can begin to overcome those things which keep us. It is my understanding that we are always supposed to do our best, not the best that we have ever done or possibly ever will, but our best that we can at that moment. We should be capable of making decisions that reflect our self-control and foresight, allowing us to choose as wisely as possible, the best avenue at the time. We are called to pay attention, be alert to our spiritual state and how we allow it to effect our body and mind. I like a couple of quotes about fasting, the first is by Hyperechios, "It is better to eat meat and drink wine, and not eat the flesh of one's neighbors through slander." And from Elias the Presbyter, "Some are most careful about the foods they take in, but negligent about the words they give out." I know they are similar, but I like them because they show us that we have to pay attention to every aspect of our being, that through fasting we do not somehow overcome all of those things at our disposal but are given the tools to learn better to control ourselves and keep our energies for more worthy tasks such as prayer. We learn to truly be moderate. It must be learned over time and through prayer, with God's help we can accomplish anything, but we must choose well what those things are.
I am only a lay person but I do hope that I am learning what I am supposed to and am able to apply it properly. I have often been a person who learns things the hard way and it is still often thus, but I do hope that it will not always be so difficult to understand things better the first time around. I am continually telling my daughter that I don't want to have to tell her again and would appreciate if she do something right away when I ask her the first time, some advice often given and far less often followed. What infinite patience and love for us God must have to continue over and over to allow us opportunites to live up to our potential! For that I am grateful.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Ode to Jay

My husband, so sweet and smart
Thoughtful, kind and giving
A little kooky and un-PC
Very hard-working
That's him
Helpful and good
The best dad around
Babygirl's hero
Reading books and learning
What kind of man to find
If she ever wants to marry
No better man she'll find
We are the luckiest girls that ever were!
My husband, her daddy
So sweet and smart

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

A Thought

I guess I haven't written in awhile, but I have not had too much to say. I come up with half-hatched ideas and they all sound good in my brain when I am in the shower, or driving...Oh well, must not have been too important, right? But it was, or they seemed to be. I s'pose it is better to be on a destination to somewhere and have little to say, than to have nowhere in particular to venture and have too much to say. "They" say that silence is golden, who are "they"? I don't know, does that really matter when it is true? I think I can understand sometimes why people might choose a "vow of silence", but with a 3 y.o. that would be a bit of a stretch. I don't think I would want to be quiet all of the time, I just want to learn to hold my tongue at the proper moments as not to offend anyone or anything else. No one teaches that these days, when it is proper not to talk and when we ought. I want to bring back charm school, I think those values are sadly lost! I am sure they have them still, but they are lesser known and probably set for today's lifestyle. Sometimes I just want to live in another century, or just another decade, because even with the lack of medical advancements we would be busy enough to have a better focus on life in general. When we are physically exhausted from lots of tiring work we don't have time to think about what our neighbor is doind and why we can't have this or that like everyone else. Life doesn't change, only circumstance. I think it to be very true, people for thousands of years haven't changed, just technology and capability. There have always been people falling in love, going to war, lying, cheating, stealing, working, having babies, being political, what is so different about now? If science is right about evolution, why haven't we evolved out of our human nature? I will tell you why, science isn't right! It is our fallen nature from Adam and Eve that gives us such predictable qualities. What will happen 100 years from now? You don't have to be psychic to know that someone in the world will be at war (unless the anti-christ brings the peace), people everywhere will be looking for answers, there will be love, hunger, envy, hate, new life, death, "justice" and injustice, happiness, sadness and so on down the list. Why? Because an entire race of humans aren't going to change. I am not pesimistic, more like realistic. All I know is that it matters what I do with this life, who I am and what I believe ARE relevant. Our free will allows us to choose how we will live our lives but our fallen nature keeps us bound in these shackles from which we try to escape. Totally pointless without God. Not everyone agrees, but that's not unusual.
Well, so much for not having anything to say. That is enough ranting for now, sorry for the blathering. Talk to you soon, Xen

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Forgiveness Sunday

Well, the title says it all. Today is our day of forgiveness, to seek it from others and to support each other on our journey. It is a sort of liberating time for all of us in church to know that regardless of age, gender, race, language or anything else we all come together to ask forgiveness and know that we are all in this struggle as a family in Christ. God calls us to forgive one another and that through this act we allow ourselves to become closer to on another and also to God; that we should know Him better and that He know us as we ought to be. In my family, we ask eack other forgiveness every night before bed that we may not hold a grudge and try to be humble towards one another even when we don't feel like it or want to. I am undeserving of my wonderful family, but God has seen fit to give them to me so I try everyday to be worthy. There are so many things that cloud my vision of the way I ought to be and I do not turn as often as I should to God for the help I desparately need. It also takes a lot to admit that I need the help, to learn the proper surrendering of my soul and life to Him. I am much happier when I am in complete submissive obedience, to a lot of people that sounds as if I am a slave, to me it is freeing, I am only a slave to my sins, my fallen nature. Something so simple made confusing by being human. In any case, please forgive me, a sinner. May God forgive us all. One of the great mysteries of God is we will never know in this life the extent of God's mercy and love. God be with you all. Until next time.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Great Lent

It is upon us as every year in preparation of the Bright Resurrection; Great Lent. It is earlier this year so it seems as if we barely finished with everthing else. It is so cold, too. What is in a name? Great seems so daunting to some, because great means big, but I think that Lent truly is great in the literal sense of the word as well. Most people think of the fasting from meat, dairy, etc. or for what we choose to give up as what Lent is and I wonder why. It is interesting to think about sometimes. As an Orthodox Christian, this is what it means to me: Abstinence; from rich foods, from my biggest faults (to the best of my ability)...Self-Denial; what I think I want vs. what God wants for me. Learning; to be still, to be a better Christian, to be a better mom and wife...The sweet celebration of the Bright Resurrection and knowing that the sweetness in the end is due to the struggle and the journey. Some people choose a different way of going about things but for me this is what Lent is right now, I never know what I will learn, sometimes not until much later than I think. This is the first year that after the Nativity of Christ I am left wanting more, wanting Lent. I am truly looking forward to this years journey and with God's help it will be fruitful. Please pray for me on this journey, "And when you pray, do not use vain repetitionsas the heathen do. For they think they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father who art in Heaven, Hallowed be Thy name, Thy kingdom come. On earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Thine is the knigdom, the power and the glory forever. Amen." Matt.6:7-13. Quoting scripture is not something that I normally do, nor does it easily come, but what I wanted to say had already been said so I thought I would look it up. I don't remember where I read it but I think it said something to the effect of, prayer being something in your heart since that is where they come from. Sometimes I think that we do not always know when we are praying. Our souls are searching for the Truth and mine has found its home. For those of you who do, and do not, participate in the Lenten season, may it be fruitful and prosperous.
I think that about does it for my first posting. Talk to you soon, Xen Xen