Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Yes, Virginia, He does exist!

St Nicholas Day is almost upon us, for those of us still observing the Julian calendar, and I have been thinking about what he means to me and my family through the years. When I was growing up, we set our stockings, without fail, on the eve of the feast in remembrance of the famous story of his involving the poor man and his 3 daughters. We were usually poor, but we never really knew how poor because he always came. Through the love of Christ that flowed from St Nicholas all those centuries ago, we could celebrate together the gift of giving. Through all the generations of peoples who have given in the example of St Nicholas, in Christ's good name, there is a place in my heart that will always be soft.

We did not have much money growing up, but he always came. We got older and knew that mom and dad filled the stockings with tangerine's and nuts, little gifts and candies, we thought we were too old, but he always came. It means more to me in my heart than a lot of memories. Just because we knew that it was mom and dad, or that we would always get the same things (in general) it never stopped him coming.

We see God's love and kindness through our saints of the church, the promise that we too can be like Him, that we can show love and mercy all the year through by the examples we have been shown. First, through Christ and now passed down through generations of apostles, martyrs, wonder-workers, evangelists, and many saints of the Church to us in the christian family, that we can keep the family traditions going: Love, Mercy, Kindness, Giving, Caring, Sharing and so on down the list.

Sometimes we do not understand our gifts until we have had them awhile, but they are the one's worth keeping and cherishing for times beyond our reckoning. These are the times that seem to stop us and recall those moments we knew we'd never forget, or thought would never mean so much to us...and we smile. To all our 'gift's, our friends, our families and things only known in our hearts and souls, we are grateful to have you, now and always.

I wish you could all be here on friday when we have a little party of our own to be thankful to God that we have so much in this bleak world, on the feast of St Nicholas: Holy Father, wonder-worker, bishop and grandfather for us all! How great is the example of your alms-giving and true Christian love that we have cause to celebrate your feast and give thanks to God for all that is within this world, and those things of which we can only dream...for now.

Much love to everyone...

Glory to God in the Highest
and on earth
Goodwill amoung men!

Friday, December 5, 2008

A thought

I was thinking lately about something...well, I have been chewing it over for quite some time, it is recent that it just won't leave me alone. So, here it is: What good is the health of a body, when the soul is already sick with sin and scathes the depths of hell in worldly mortality and passions?

If the illness my body feels at times is seemingly unbearable, so much the more does my soul wallow without cleansing the longer between confession and communion. How much more does my soul taste the extent of hell and become accustomed to its smells and flavor through my everyday passions? Ought not I seek the Heavenly physician for healing of soul and body? The medicine for the soul is the Church, with the Mysteries of confession and communion and yet, we partake rarely in most cases. When my body is sick, do I not take measures to get myself well? If fact, I do what it is I can to give myself the illusion that I am well enough to do whatever is on my plate at the time. Could this be why we also tend to do the same shabby caretaking of our souls? We do what it takes in recognition of our daily sinfulness to the point of tolerance and then move on, is that it? Rationalize away our actual purpose, to reconcile with our God and Saviour on a very regular basis?

I also think about how, when we are ill, it is not for nothing..of course, nothing is for naught whether it is the allowable will of God or His intention will. Sometimes when I am sick, it is usually because I need to slow down and let things go a little bit, have patience and remember the will and mercy of God. There is great purpose in everything, even if we, in our worldliness cannot recognise it at the time. When I am sick in my flesh, I want desperately to be well, but somehow, that same yearning is missing in everyday accountability of my faults, my falling short. How sick does my soul need to get before I take seriously the necessity and gravity of the importance of my salvation and the part that I play in it? There is no one who can list my sins so well as I, no one more qualified to tell the doctor what pains my aching soul.

All with God's help...He is patient, He is kind and He knows my strength and weakness better than I. He gives me opportunity through loving lessons and compassionate scoldings. He knows how to allow me to strive for my salvation and realize what it is I may miss if I let even one step stray from the narrow path that is Truth. Nothing will ever be more True than God, nor will there be anything less desirable to so many people than His simple Truth. Through faith and love do I follow...I am not forlorn as some may think of me, I am just where I ought to be, just where He has led me, willing or not ;o) I am happy here.

The illness of my soul can only be reflected in the illness of my body at the proper times, through God's great mercy. He brings together families through illness, He gives us the opportunity to see ourselves better and to strive for our salvation, whether we know it or not. The soul is always searching for God, our Father and Truth of eternity. He offers us strength through our weakness and does not ever forsake us, it is we who turn our face from the love of God. If ever He allows some such disaster or death upon us, it is for our own well being. Do we not remember our mortality and God the better when we are distressed? Of course we do! That is why so many people blame Him for everything, our selfish will places blame on the only One who can save and love us without any constraint or condition. There will always be those people who will never believe, that will not change, but for a vast majority, we will never know the hour a persons heart turns toward God and He will draw them near in infinite mercy and love.

Glory to God for ALL things! (not just the stuff we want or like)

Well, that's it...for now.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Most Recent Jay News

Settling into December...
We have recently been given guidelines for better caring for Jay's health along with the recent bits of additions from the 'new' neurologist. They are as follows:
1. His nutrition is on track and super strict with absolute need to stay on schedule for all his supplements and protein, etc, and we have to remember that he is very ill.

2. In light of being very ill, he is not allowed to 'go out' on crummy feeling days and ONLY up to 45 minutes on his good days. We are allowed to have friends and family come over at any time that we would like, but leaving the house is to much stimulus and needs to be cut back. Friends/family can come get us/him for small outings, but they need to be kept short. (Something that WE need to remember also...)

3. We will be able to make church trips as often as his health allows, it is a bit longer than the allotted outings, but necessary for his overall well-being.

4. Proper rest is crucial to keep his improvement coming as well as keeping headaches away.

Sorry to be such a bummer, but this month and more are going to be the most important. His next appointments are right after Nativity, Jan 7 N.S. (Dec 25 O.S.) and we will have an update as to how things are going. Until then, we have to stick with it =)
Well, that about covers it for now, love to everyone! Thanks for all the love, prayers and support!

Monday, December 1, 2008

A Little Something

Just wanted to share a little something that means a lot to me...not sure if I have shared it before, but never hurts to put it out there again.

Prayer of the Optina Elders:

Grant unto me, my Lord, that with peace of mind I may face all that this new day is to bring.

Grant unto me Grace to surrender myself completely to Thy Holy Will.

For every hour of this day instruct and prepare me in all things.

Whatsoever tidings I may receive during the day, do Thou teach me to accept tranquilly, in the firm conviction that all eventualities fulfill Thy Holy Will.

Govern Thou my thoughts and feelings in all I do and say.

When unforeseen things occur, let me not forget that all cometh from Thee.

Teach me to behave sincerely and reasonably toward every member of my family, that I may bring them no confusion or sorrow.

Bestow upon me, my Lord, strength to endure the fatigue of the day, and to bear my part in all its passing events.

Guide Thou my will and teach me to pray, to believe, to hope, to suffer, to forgive and to love.


Friday, November 28, 2008

Well, here we are...

Today begins the Nativity Fast, november 15, O.S. This is a very different one this year...I am never really sure what to expect, but this time last year if you'd have told me that Jay would be ill, on short term disability and we would not be driving anywhere, I would have been in complete disbelief. Now that we are here I can appreciate the road by which we came. It is a friday like any friday...or is it? There is something that sort of has a shift as we approach and then enter into any fast...I am preparing myself for a bit more soul searching (as if these past months have not afforded that through these ups and downs). It is hard to describe what is floating around in my head and heart, trying to escape, but for lack of words, there is not much more than a peep or a smile.

I am reading a book right now that is called, Reflections of a Humble Heart, by a 15th century text from writings of a certain monk, Basil. I rather like it, only about 99 pgs and will prove a quick read, I think, but will be a good start this fast. I am finding more joy in reading than I have in the past. I was labeled a 'slow' reader as a kid because I got involved in the details so much, so I never really learned to love books the way I should have because there was always a time limit on how long we were allowed to enjoy them :) That was a mouthful! Anyway, I am also reading mostly all non-fiction and maybe that has something to do with it, which I had never imagined...maybe I am just a non-fiction sort of person, huh...

Katherine and I made an Advent Wreath for the fast...on each of the sundays preceding the Nativity we light a candle, have Bible reading, discussion and a little prayer. Each of the candles is a different color (or white with a particular color ribbon on each) that represents something very specific and is a part of the discussion. Our wreath has tracings of Katherine's hand on felt, cut out in mostly green and a little red. I have yet to come across just what I am looking for the candle aspect of this thing and I only have until sunday evening! I hope to find a little something soon, everything seems either too big or too small...hopefully I will have more success in the VERY near future.

Been trying to stay on schedule lately and that seems to be helping...taking my vitamins, getting enough protein throughout the day, taking time all by myself to regenerate so I can be more useful as a wife and mommy. Knitting, always...trying to get Katherine's sweater done for her in about a week so I can give it to her for her name day, I really hope she likes it. I think I can manage...I am done with the back and front pieces and halfway through one sleeve and only have the other sleeve and stitching together left...I am feeling it in my hands a little though, probably should take a bit extra calcium, speaking of vitamins...;o)

Well, I ought to get off to bed here...up past my bedtime as it is. I will leave you with a little quote from my new book:

"...monks in ancient times, when they met one another along the road, greeted one another in the following manner:
One would ask, "Brother, how goes your work of your salvation?"
To which the other replied, "By your holy prayers, father."
Truly, we have need of spiritual strengthening from one another, because our path is difficult and it is easy to perish." -Reflections of Humble Heart, pgs 22-23.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Good Enough

Lately, I've been thinking
Been needing a theme song
Something to cut
Right into the
Heart of where we are

A melancholy tone
Solid offbeat
Feels just right
Hard words
Soft voice
Hopeful, tender, moving
Firm, convicted, proven
Into my heart

The words melt away
Into my flesh
Tears that well in spite
Of myself
Tears of cleansing
Of pain, growth and lost fear
Feel it in the pit
Of my heart
As it rushes the life
Throughout my veins

So much more....

Nothing fits
This solitude entraps and
A yearning for more
A plea for less
Amidst apparent gloom
Learning and Faith
Strength and molding

There it ends
Wanting more
Haven't had enough
But it's good enough
For now...

Gospodi Pomiluy, Gospodi pomiluy, Kyrie Eleison...
Slava Tebe, Gospodi, slava Tebe!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Good Question, My Love

Katherine asked me yesterday, "Why do people only sometimes follow God?"
Good question, my love.
I had to give it a bit of thought, I did ask her context, but that is really irrelevant since the question holds true in any light and makes sense regardless. I am not very good at 'on-the-spot' questions usually, anything worthwhile is but for the grace of God and so out of my jumbled, somewhat stunned brain, I pulled this out...something to the effect of how just because we know something is right, does not mean we always do it. Sometimes we don't know, or understand, what is the entirety of Truth and so go against it unknowingly. I also described freewill, God gave us the choice and hopes that we use it wisely. She keeps coming up with doozies and I hope and pray that God gives me enough wisdom and Grace to answer them worthy of Him.
God help us all!

Friday, October 31, 2008

all i got in me

Our Father, Who art in heaven
Hallowed be Thy name Thy kingdom come
Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven
Give us this day, our daily bread
and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us, from the evil one

For Thine is the kingdom of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit
Now and ever and unto the ages of ages


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tests Galore!

Well, we are off to Jay's neurology tests first thing in the morning! Thank you to everyone who has kept us in your thoughts and prayers. Please pray that we get some much needed answers after such a long, bumpy ride. There is not much left to check and if they don't come up with anything I would be shocked...they've poked and prodded every other part of him, thus far, and the head/brain is all that is left. Well, off to bed for an early bus, will update a bit later, perhaps after we hear back from the Doc about the results, hopefully by week's end, but maybe early next week if the technicians take holiday ;o)
XOXO, til then!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Update on Jay

Today was Jay's neurology appointment, the long awaited, WHEW! After a few questions and basic tests, the doctor's preliminary diagnosis is ataxia with blurred vision. On wednesday next week he will have long hours of tests at the hospital which include Visual evoked potential test (strobe lights and brain waves, YIKES!), EEG and MRI, ew! Poor guy. At least we have a place to start. There is a routine 4 week follow up and we will be in touch with the office after the results are in. The doctor said that Jay is severely handicapped and should not drive or do too much that requires a lot of hand-eye coordination in general. Our nutritionist advised him to not take any of his supplements before the appointment so there would be an accurate reading so things would not be masked somehow. So, that is what is going on here...a little more waiting and a possibility of answers. =)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

There I Go Thinking Again...

I was just thinking, is hell really a hot place? Seriously, though, is it really hot? I would think that the most agreeable place would be with God, a warm inviting place that we would wish to be. Could the burning be more like the burning of passions and burning desires only likened to burning like a fire that consumes a body. Could you die and your soul sits there looking at the comfort of God and burn with a desire to be there. I know, I am really quite crazy. I am being more than serious, is it possible that the flames of Hell are those which we ignite and further continue to kindle through our worldly passions and then must live with for eternity? The evil one is the master there, but what sort of control does he really have? He is the master of temptation, deceit, lies, envy, gluttony, hatred, grudges, love of get the point, but really no master at all, he still must answer to God as do we all. Huh, I was just thinking...

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Life, Lessons and Love

Meh, random post about life and such...
Currently reading Northanger Abbey...while it sometimes seems as if it will drag on and never get to the point, somehow it draws you in and you become a part of their lives, particularly our 'heroin'. I want to go to the Lower Rooms and the Pump-room and wander the streets of Bath. The chapters are short and endearing, situation by situation, you are pulled through each meeting. I rather like it...part 2 of this edition I checked out is, 'Persuasion', hopefully that will be as enveloping...
The bus and train are proving to be rather efficient, granted the bus does not stall the meeting of the train, but another is along 15 minutes later anyhow. Katherine is adapting quite well to it all, she has always been good about it, but when she found out we were selling our vehicles, she was not really sure what to think. I am glad to have it available to us, not everyone has such opportunity, I am grateful for ours.
There were 3 babies and a big brother of one of those babies 'churched' today...*sighs*...I LOVE when babies are churched, so sweet, reminds me of when Katherine was churched all those years ago...2 of the babies were so tiny, you'd think they were barely out of the womb, oh how my mommy heart yearns to love and hold one. Fr Boris' big hands accentuate how tiny those little peanuts are. There is that little part of me that has been fighting the urge to want a point in wanting what is not in our hands anyway, but still, can't help but imagine what it would be like with another baby in the house. I know if is to be, it would be perfect regardless of our wants and hopes...*sighs*...I have reconciled myself to having twins, a boy and a girl. I know, I am crazy, but it could happen and I am ready for it, well, that is the idea anyway =) Only time will tell I suppose...pray for me...
We have been finding the focus, time and energy to dig into our was suppose to happen a couple weeks ago, but between a cold and life, things did not work out as we had 'planned' ;o) Lotta good that does, planning. Things are coming along and we will see how we do. Jay has been more than supportive and helpful around here, sometimes I just like when they go out and about for a bit while I dive in.
I will have to say that in our situation we have had quite a bit of help and love from people in our lives, particularly from our church family. We have had more than our share it seems and we feel so loved. I am sure there are others more deserving of all this sort of help and it leads me to think of how, although things are tight these days with the rest unknown, what little we do have is tons more than a lot of people have and makes me want to give more than I ever did when we were in excess. What a blessing to feel this way, I think. I am unworthy of these blessings and yet, God sees fit for us to have them. Infinite love and mercy...eternal struggles to the betterment, let's hope I do not pass up my chances =)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

We are gettin' Euro up in here

Well, it's official, we are now using the bus, train, walking, biking and dancing (that one's for Iona). It will be quite an adventure, so we shall see how it goes. We are actually looking forward to our fun trips. We are very much having to prioritize things that we do...'is it REALLY that important to do this...or go here...can it wait?' You get the idea, it is going to help with all of that, already has. Yes, this is by choice. We have made many a trip in the past and now is a good time to lay low and just be, simple as that. Our goal is to make our home an inviting place for people to come visit, as much work as that is proving to be, we will get there. So, check back in to hear some adventures! Love to all!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Katherine's Drawings =)

Here is a picture of the Nativity, according to Katherine. There is the baby Jesus, on the left, the Mother of God with a chair, to the right, St Nicholas just above the 2 donkey's and a sheep. Man, I love her little drawings =)

This one is a bit more obvious, Christ on the cross, Theotokos to the left and she says it is Simon on the right. Although her letter sets are a bit backward, she is so sweet with her drawings, I LOVE them...not just because I am her mom. She is SOOOOO excited about St nicholas day, she keeps asking about it and wants to make sure that we are ready, good thing she is on top of it =)
Anyway, just wanted to share.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I shall not want...

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want
He makes me to lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside still waters
He restores my soul, He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for you are with me, Your staff and Your rod, they comfort me
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil, my cup runs over
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever
Psalm 23

This is God and this is where I want to live. Whatever happens from here on out, there is only gaze at the stars He made, to feel a lifting of my spirit and being, to float amongst the clouds while my feet are firmly rooted here on earth...I love this Psalm, it is more comfort to me than a lot of things, more than even I know. The image of being led to pastures for food and rest, still waters for drink, cleansing and reflection, so calming and refreshing, a picture of serenity. Even if I do not want to go, like a stubborn cattle, it does not mean that I should not go, only that it will all be to the glory of God in spite of my stupidity. Shadows are just shadows when there is God and they cannot harm me. Enemies will always be everywhere, but so will He...I do not think of Him as person, like having my husband with me, but more like an all encompassing energy of Good and Light that is Creator and no one, no thing, can compare. I would be be blinded if I tried to look into the face of the Lord, so I am content at feeling the warmth that He projects. For now, the Word of God the Father is sufficed to my days, to remember that everything has already been done, all i gotta do is love and be loved, through struggles, obedience and service, for what good am I to myself or others if I cannot serve God...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

End of Summer Days

Since Jay has been ill, we have tried to keep our chins up. We try to get the idea of doctors, bills and co-pays, blood tests, appointments and no answers out of our minds...what better way than to go berry picking!?!?! Now, these pictures do not show many berries (if any) but it was a nice time...
From the entry at the farm...

to the pig that followed us around...

The grasshopper that delighted the little girl...

And the lovely evening sunset on rain clouds as Jay did a once-over on the raspberries...

All in all, nice day...when you come for a visit, ask about the jam...and maybe some pickled green (or white or purple) beans (I don't have a pressure canner yet to make reg canned green beans, acidity levels and all...) Stop in sometime and enjoy! We'll keep the kettle on for you! =)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

She is 5!!!

Well, it is official! She is 5!!! She will let you know it, even though she is a bit shy sometimes about it all =) Funny girl!

Aw, my baby is 5!

Who knew I could have a little girl who is SO big! I love her so much!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

My Today

in my ever so meager way, I would like to relate an event that has shaped my day...
Late last night, after some minor discussion over our piling bills, I was trying to decide what I ought to do about them. Do I do the head strong sort of thing that would be my instinct to just 'fix it' my way, or do I pray for guidance and let my husband be the head of our home and cross that bridge, etc? I said a short prayer, a measly offering from my simple self. I remembered that the Brotherhood of St George was having the liturgy at 7am every thursday, but I had never been. I woke up at 6:21 after broken sleep, but many odd dreams. I was strangely awake and I got into the shower, got dressed, wrote a note for Katherine and Jay and slipped out the door. The drive was amazingly easy considering the morning rush. Got to the area (had no real address since the computer had been down, but remembered the area), got myself duly lost, ended up at the Greek Cathedral and asked for directions. The woman graciously let me in before office hours and printed me a map from point A to B, good thing it was only a few blocks. I had driven by it a number of times, it is sort of inconspicuous in a neighborhood. In any case, I showed up not sure what to expect. There was a man at a long table outside setting it for breakfast, I assumed. I went inside the quiet little house and found 2 more men quietly, dutifully bustling to get the meal served. A moment or two later, Fr Christodoulos came up the stairs, so I asked a blessing. He asked me to join them outside, so I accepted, he set me next to him since I was the guest.
This is the part where I marvel at the order of things through the silent, symbiotic obedience, humility and hospitality that I was able to experience. I was a simple passer through, but treated as royalty...I never had such a sense of wonder since I was a child. I did not have any desire to speak unless I was asked a question, lest I completely miss something. I was in awe of the simplicity of the silence, compassion and love for neighbor more than self. You read about this sort of thing in books, I am only fortunate, however unworthy, to have been there this morning for that hour or so. *sighs* I almost forgot! After the royal hospitality, I was sent home with a couple items, among them fresh fruit and veggies from their garden.
Anyway, I came away with more peace and faith than I went in with and I believe we will be going back tomorrow for vespers (if we make it) and the Paraklesis at 7pm. Wish you could all be with us to go. X's and O's!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

My Love

For some odd reason, I have always liked to feel both the love and the heartache...perhaps it is because without one, you cannot really have the other. Lately things have been topsy turvy to say the very least. Life is such a mix of things and most of them involve tears, whether or not happy . Most of the tears are from human connection, between one another and others. It is increasingly hard to describe the incredible wells of emotion that have managed their way into my life in the past weeks of summer. Summer used to be a time of break, one of the most noticeable changes of season...It is sort of like being pulled in 2 separate ways all at once. For love, for life...I am a muddle of things and somehow they work and I do not go completely insane, quite possibly on account of my husband, my perfect match of a husband. I love to look at him and feel as if I belong, that, no matter how close to the edge I may come, he will call me back with something as simple as a smile, a look, a touch. He is love. He is my helpmeet. He is something more than I could imagine or dream. After nearly 6 years of marriage, we have been through immense amounts of struggle and joy, sometimes joyful struggle...all of which offers itself to longevity. We will make it through, with God's help, anything that is shown our way. I refuse to sit idly by and let our lives engulf us without so much as a sound. We may be at the bottom of the hill...and sometimes the hill cannot seem anything less than that, a mountainous, looming mound of uphill battle and struggle, but it will not always be so. Through our years of challenges and love, we have gotten to exercise our marital strengths in many ways, they lend to help us now. We will stumble, we will fall...we will take each others hand and continue to forage. There will never be someone for me so perfect and loving, I am grateful every day. I know he will forever be, by my side, undoubtedly and unwaveringly...I have a man and marriage of what books are written and we are just getting started...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Free Family ;-)

Well, let's see, our latest development with our dietary issues is this...Jay's adrenal glands are so shot they are not able to handle small amounts of an allergic reaction to anything, as a result, they are not as bad as before, but that is not saying much. His repair will be uphill, but at least we have the problem and are going from there, it is just a battle. Poor guy, he feels great, but he can't eat as much (unless he has a reaction and does not absorb anything) and he is trying to gain some weight which is hard for him, especially in the summer. we are trying to up his calorie intake with an additional nuts and seed mix (with chocolate chips and raisins, etc) to keep him going. We have recently found out he cannot have peanuts anymore, he may never be able to since his reaction was partially anaphylactic, but we will see.
Katherine is off of cow milk products and we think that may have been the issue in the first place, not peanuts, although, those have to stay out of the house now anyway =)
There are all the things I cannot have...lots of fruits, almonds, carrots, now it seems dairy either and I do not eat meat...where does this leave us? Well, we eat a lot of whole food type things: fruits, veggies, rice, beans, eggs, fish, meat for them sometimes, nuts, seeds, etc. It is actually a pretty good diet of refinement. I don't think it is good for people to eat too much processed foods as it is, it just isn't natural. And there is a whole LOT of stuff that has additives that just aren't necessary, just check your natural foods store, lots of the same things, without all the gunk. I know, just not practical for everyone to shop at the natural markets, but even a little bit helps. Ok, enough rambling...for now ;-)
So, that puts us: Gluten, cow milk, peanut free (and for me, that whole list too) family.
I am ok with it now, especially since we are learning how to 'deal' with his reactions to things...they could be lurking anywhere. Well, from here, we just keep on going, trying to repair Jay's such extensive damage from years (who knows how many, really) of problems. It is my suspicion that his adrenal glands would not be quite so bad had he not been practically living on adrenaline in Iraq, but such is life and our struggles. We are doing our best to rise to the challenge. There is a test Jay could take that could help us to see just how bad his glands are, but that is $100 and we cannot afford it right least we know what to avoid, maybe that will work out in the nearer future also...
Anyway, just a ramble today, that is about it...'til next time!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

From where I stand

From where I stand
There is love
Sweet love
A calm that stirs the soul

From where I stand
My heart is yearning
If you
only see it

From where I stand
Complete peace
Heart warming
In and out of struggles

From where I stand
No beginning
There is no end
A taste of life

From where I stand
Feelings of completion

From where I stand
You could too
We could walk together
Talk together
Cry together

From where I stand
My heart breaks
With love
For every
In my own imperfect way

From where I stand
The gates of Hell
Shall NOT prevail
The Word of God
Forever unto all ages

From where I stand
My body may go
My soul will never stop

From where I stand
The journey is just begun
Staff in hand
Face to the Son
Heart on sleeve

From where I stand
I pray
God grant me prayer
God grant me humility
God grant me strength
to bear my cross

From where I stand
Is the only place
I choose

Thursday, July 17, 2008

"Father, what must I do to be saved?"

I am reading this book, Shepherd of Souls, the Life and Teachings of Elder Cleopa, Master of Inner Prayer and Spiritual Father of Romania (1912-1998), by Archimandrite Ioanichie Balan. I very much like it and found this little tidbit when I was reading last night about one of the Elder's brothers who also was monastic, Brother Basil. He would often visit and bring provisions of food to desert-dwellers if they allowed it.

'While delivering the provisions, he would often ask the Elders for a profitable word.
Once he asked a desert-dweller, "Father, what must I do to be saved?"
"Br. Basil," replied the Elder, "pray constantly, do your obedience with love, and have humility. If you guard these three, you will surely be saved." '

Hmm, sounds way easier than it is, and yet, still so simple...I really like this book a lot, highly recommended! =)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


This was a hunk of Fr Boris' homily on sunday and I really liked it. It got my attention and I nearly laughed out loud in church (OOPS!) when I heard him say the word 'stupid'...I don't think I have ever heard him say that word in a homily, um, ever! In any case, do not let my comment take away from the content and purpose, it is all very good =) Enjoy!

"On the Power and Influence of Good Deeds

It is difficult, my brethren, to dispute with an atheist; it is difficult to converse with a stupid
man; it is difficult to change an embittered man. It is only with the greatest difficulty that you
will convince an atheist, a stupid man or an embittered man with words. Firstly, you must
sway them by your deeds. They will come, “by your good works, which they shall behold, to
glorify God” (I Pet. 2:12). Do good to him who would quarrel with you, and you will win the
argument. A single act of compassion will penetrate to a stupid man and soften a bitter man
more quickly than hours of discussion. If atheism and stupidity and bitterness proceed from
ignorance, that ignorance is like a fury that is most easily bridled by the influence of good
deeds. If you argue with an atheist on his own diabolical terms, you simply strengthen the
demon of atheism. If you converse with a stupid man in a spirit of derision, the darkness of
stupidity will be made the greater. If you think to change a bitter man by anger, you will
merely add more fuel to the fire of bitterness. But a meek and well-intentioned act is like
throwing water on the flames.

Always remember the holy apostles and their behavior towards men. If an atheist challenges
you, then it is not the man that challenges you but the devil, for man is by nature devout and
tends Godwards. If a stupid man scoffs at you, then it is not the man who scoffs but the devil,
for man is by nature intelligent. If a bitter man persecutes you, it is not the man that is doing
this but the devil, for man is by nature good and well-disposed. It is the devil that challenges
us in lengthy debates and fruitless discussions, but he flees from the power of good deeds. Do
good in the name of Christ, and the devil will flee. You will be working with men, men who
are devout and intelligent and good. Everything, therefore, that you do, be sure that you do it
in the name of Christ.

The Prologue from Ochrid: Lives of the Saints and Homilies for Every Day in the Year by
Bishop Nikolai Velimirovic from the entry for June 30 (vol. 2, p 380)

Hope y'all liked it as much as I did =) Caio!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

My Swap Package

Ok, so here goes...I got my swap items from Susan Sophia just the other day. This is my attempt at posting them so everyone can share in the goodies. I received AAA travel books and detailed travel guide of my trip from Aurora, Colorado all the way to St Brigid's farm in washington (her house) with a few stops at monasteries on the way. There were sunflower seeds, gum and refreshing beverage, what every road trip needs. There was a little magna doodle for Katherine, a shirt of St Brigid's Farm, a story by one of her daughter's about their farm, brochures for monasteries and a lovely framed picture of St Anthony's at sunset. WOW!!!

Look at all my loot =) Thanks Susan Sophia!!! The whole family enjoyed opening it with me, Katherine could hardly wait while I took pictures and arranged it =) This was pretty fun, let's do it again sometime...and who knows, I just may have to use my itinerary to get there one of these days =)
Here is Susan Sophia's blog if anyone is interested =) : You may have to copy and paste, I am not so computer savvy to be able to stick it in there :)
Thanks again!

Travel Swap

I did receive my package from Susan Sophia and I PROMISE to get it up as soon as I have a spare moment to figure out how to post the pictures on that part of the blog, so we will see. We have also taken family vacation so I will try to get them up tonight.
THANK YOU SUSAN SOPHIA!!! I Took pictures strait away, I just have to get them off the card and into the blog =)

Monday, June 30, 2008

Wearily Sitting, Writing, Thinking

I am tired, so very tired. Not in a bad way, but tired just the same. Sort of worn down since Jay has been ill and that has taken a toll. I am nowhere near as tired as he gets, most likely, but man, it takes it outta me. He has been really sick for the last few months, but effected by it for ages now possibly. I get the up and down of him feeling well one minute and the next, he could crash from a reaction to something. Day to day, moment to moment, it is hard to tell, can't really call it. When he is not well, he is really NOT well, when he gets his times of wellness, it is great and it seems like he could conquer the world again. Things are a strain, we have had to revamp our cupboards and purge them of anything containing gluten. Over budget on food and taxed on the emotions. But, I will not keep things around that will make him sick even though he tells me to keep some of it for us. We do not need the gluten, we may be sensitive also, particularly Katherine because she is has Jay's DNA too, so who knows. In any case, things have been good and bad, up and down, it really challenges a persons patience and strength to go through something like this that requires such a rapid change. I am worn down, tired, malleable and somewhere near the verge of hope and happiness. I love God more today than yesterday and more tomorrow than right now, through service, patience and love we live...forever.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Good Vs. Evil

I have been thinking about this particular fast. The Apostles' fast. I have found myself in the first couple of days, struggling beyond belief with simple concepts. Food aside, the toil is sure. Little voices that whisper into my ears that are like the tiny cartoon conscience of older days.
The one voice says, "Ah! The Apostles' fast! It is less than 3 weeks this year, not bad, especially after last years which was nearly as long as Lent. Less than 20 days to get through..."
The other, more raucous voice, pipes up with, "Then WHY do we have to do it? and why is it not relaxed more than it is...mostly only fish days on the weekend....blah! with all the dietary changes in general for us, should we also be exempt...if Jay has a VERY relaxed fast, then why can't I! Blah, blah, blah!"...You get the idea.
The first voice grows louder, "It is not as hard as all that, let God guide you...follow your heart, not your head, things only get mixed up in that silly not let the serpent tempt you...he has no power here unless you give it to him...Come, let us remember and honor our Holy Forefather's of Christ and His church in this time!..."
Today, I feel more prepared, it is like I had to shed a shell of self in order that I might see my way clearly. Well, 'clearly' is subjective...really there is less confusion and I am okay with that. I cross myself when I am hearing the distracting voice of conscience and try to remember quotes from the Holy Father's. So far, these tidbits have been helping, small as they are, but very simple. I do not know much, if anything, but I will have to say that I am grateful that God knows me...He knows my heart, my will and capabilities. I feel as if I am in the burning, yet not consuming, fire of God's love and He reaches out His hand to mold me. Steel is stubborn and does not bend for much, the fire will teach the steel how to be shaped and for which job it is best suited.
There are a lot of people who may think I have completely lost it, but that is their perception. If anyone stands where I am, may they see what I see, may they feel what I feel, may they want the fire. May this fast strengthen and encourage us all, through the prayers of our Holy Father's and Apostles', have mercy on us all.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Home, Sweet Home

Thunder is consuming
Blinding lightening
Swirling clouds

The sky moves
Rain begins
Dripping from the

Warm breeze blowing
Tickling skin
Cold rain on bare skin

The drip continues
The clouds move on
Rain stays
Thunder and lightening go
To the east
Always to the east

Flickers fade
Silent thunder
Off in the distant

Husband talking in the
Favorite sounds
Happy noises

the rumbling slips away
trickles drown
cool breezes begin

fresh newness
new life
new hope
new love
hold me in Your hands

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Sky Show

There is something about a thunderstorm that makes me imagine about how God created "...The Heaven and the earth..." Especially here in Colorado with the cauliflower and cotton candy clouds that move and grow with such sweeping intent. The lightening varies from long bright bolts to large flashing strobes and the thunder is the base line booming with intensity. It is truly incredible. If you have ever seen a thunderstorm here, I cannot imagine not knowing God in that moment. for thought...

"I'm late! I'm late!! For a very important date!!"

On sunday morning I had arrived at church about 5-10 minutes late. Not an unusual thing, but not very conducive to singing in the choir, at least for me. I find myself not wanting to be disruptive once the service begins and not wanting to charge up there. It would be different if we had our Cathedral =) and there was a choir loft separate from the main body of the church. As it were, I would have to wade through people and the entire choir to get to where I would stand.
I stood there with a heavy heart, wishing we had not been late. I was remembering that all things are in God's time and that if I am late, I will learn from it. It still did not stop a certain feeling of yearning, so I sang there standing with everyone else. The Slavonic is tricky at times, even when I am trying to read it in front of me, but I did my best. I glanced at the choir on occasion, looking for a sort of approval from Matushka to head up there, but accepted that it would more than likely not happen. I looked up at the icons of Christ. First to the one of Him in the Last Supper and then to His main one. I gazed into His calming eyes and implored Him for strength to either go up there at the right time (unknowingly) or have someone come get me. I know, silly. My eyes welled up, but I stood trying to keep focus, looking mainly to Christ. I gave my heart over in broken song and tear-stained eyes, heavy as it was.
When the doors and curtain closed, I took a moment to get a small drink of water. I had a bit of a scratchy throat between all that and pollen in the air. As soon as I got downstairs, Sasha put me to work cutting up pineapple. Our guest from Russia was serving with Frs Boris and Michael, so there was much preparation for the meal afterward. I thought to myself, "At least I am doing some sort of service, perhaps this is where I belong today." My wonderful husband knew how much it meant to me to sing and asked if I was alright. I chose to keep my mouth shut and try to be industrious, after a labored half-smile. Wise choice on my part, through the Grace of God. I am prone to opening my mouth with good intentions and then apologizing for what I have said because I do not have the right words. I slipped Katherine a bit of pineapple and told her to go be with her dad back into church. She shoved it into her mouth and went like a good girl despite the small protest of wanting me instead. I had finished one pineapple and went in search of a plate, told a girl who offered help she could cut the strawberries and so on. Sasha looked at me and said that I could be finished and could I please find Sophia (her oldest girl, nearly 8) and see if she would stand in line to ask if she could have Fr hear her confession. (On occasion, Fr Boris will hear confession during veneration from those who come from very far or children whose parents could not get them there the night before). Nothing else, I mean NOTHING, could have gotten me back up those stairs, I had accepted my fate.
I ascended the chairs looking for Sophia and thinking of how I might word what I would say if I had a had a chance to speak with Matushka. I have to think ahead, otherwise I don't make any sense, esp when it is something near to my heart. In any case, I found Sophia up there looking a bit bewildered and told her what her mom said. She told me how she worried because she did not remember everything she had done during the week except 2 things. I talked to her, but she was still worried. I fetched Sasha and she came to her and they worked it out. I saw Matushka up there on the kliros and ventured up to see her momentarily. I explained that I was sorry to be late to the service, but I am not always sure of when to come up there as I do not wish to cause disturbance. She said to not worry about it and would I like to stay for the rest, she would explain to me later when the best times are if I am running late. There was just a simple unexplainable feeling I had at that moment...
After the service, during the lunch, Matushka relayed her own stories of how she used to show up at church late (before Fr Boris was a priest) to the choir with children under arm, blowing through the door. She said that most people with children are rarely there exactly on time, we just do our best and find a Litany to tip toe up there =) She is really a very good Matushka.
I sang with as much conviction I could and stayed through the kneeling prayers afterward. It was good. I cannot tell you what I learned precisely that day, but I thought I might take you with me on that portion of my journey. It was good and I am sure this is more than just the beginning of my adventures ;-)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

I love the Psalms

I love the Psalms
They are such comfort
They are my past
They speak to my heart
They whisper in my ear
Ancient words of wisdom
Beautiful songs of praise

I love the Psalms
They are so true
True as God
A soul haunting Truth
The words of David
The testament of old

I love the Psalms
I can understand
I see mercy
I see love
I see God
But more than that
So much more than that
I feel the presence of mercy
Closer than before
Nearer my heart

I love the Psalms
Visions of hope
A glimpse of eternity
Open the door to my heart
Unlock the door
Wipe away the dust
Light the candle
God lives here
Through words of David

I love the Psalms

Thursday, June 12, 2008

One of my favorites

Prayer for the Acceptance of God's Will

O Lord, I know not what to ask of Thee. Thou alone knowest what are my true needs. Thou lovest me more than I myself know how to love. Help me to see my real needs which are concealed from me. I dare not ask either a cross or consolation, I can only wait on Thee. Visit and help me, cast me down and raise me up. I worship in silence as a sacrifice to Thee. I put all my trust in Thee. My heart is open to Thee. I have no other desire than to fulfill Thy Will. Teach me how to pray. Pray Thyself in me. Amen.

I think that one of my most favorite parts is where it says, "Teach me how to pray. Pray Thyself in me." Just a little tidbit today =) Love to all!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

American Heritage

A thought that has been crossing through my mind lately has been heritage. Our personal and cultural heritage that we sort of pride ourselves on. Personally, my extensive cultural heritage comes from Europe, mainly...specifically Irish, Scottish, Welsh, German, etc. The funny thing is that my ancestors have been here for somewhere near 150+ years and counting. While I feel a rather strong connection through music, foods and genetics (who I look like), I also find myself not completely owning my Americanism. Now, before all else, I am a Christian, regardless of race or location, but what is my American heritage? Let's see, my grandmother moved out to CA in the 1920's from Ohio when she was very small. My grandmother in the other side has a grandfather who fought in the Minnesota Cavalry in the Civil War. Seems like everyone's eventual location was the good ol' west, my dad was born in Oregon and my mom in Southern California...
Now, on to my next sparse thought. I was noticing the other day that one of the things that sets us apart from other countries, besides hot dogs and hamburgers, is the south and that lifestyle. It is definitely a mix of things and began far sooner than a lot of parts of the US, but there is something so unique about it. The bluegrass and country music, hushpuppies and sweet tea, river boats and swamp creatures. There is really a lot there. The simple people of these areas seem to embrace and embody America more than any other part of our great nation. Sure there are lots of places that remind us of how we got to where we are, but none that seem to live and breath it so readily. It is sort of funny to me that they are the picture of America (to me) and yet, they were the Confederates who lost, at least a good portion of them. I am not saying that everything that is being, or ever has been, done is right or okay, but having visited there a couple years ago it leaves a mark. I really miss it sometimes, things were slower and simpler, even quieter. It was picture perfect, just like in the stories.
I guess there is not much to my reasoning for this post, just piecings of thoughts that have been traipsing through my brain. Hmmm, having visited the south, I suppose it has stirred me, has given me a new perspective of where I come from and who I am. I guess that is it, I just hope to visit more places that help me to feel connected to my American heritage. Jay has always said, "There are so many great places here in the states to visit, why would we ever NEED to go anywhere else?" (want aside) I must say, I agree. =)

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Pic-uh-nic

I was busy doing laundry and dishes and things when I told Katherine we should start thinking about lunch when I have a quick minute. To which she supplied this answer, "I will go get a bunch of veggies out and make a sandwich and we can have a pic-uh-nic!!!" Well, that settled it! No matter my attempt to get her to stay in with me and have broccoli with noodles together. Eh, I do not mind really, just the to-do about getting the picnic set up and broken down and such.

When I was just finishing up my jobs I noticed Katherine up at the counter, on her stool getting into the bread box. (Yes, we have an actual bread box!) =) In any case, she got out 2 slices each for us, mind you, this is the girl who does not really eat sandwiches, especially not if there is a chance it may fall apart on her. It is Rudi's bread (on sale right now) so not only did she choose a whole sandwich for herself, they are like time and a half the size of regular bread. Ok, enough ramblings...she got out the vegenaise(non-egg mayo) and proceeded spread her bread with much intent. She grabbed a handful of the lettuce I had pulled out and slapped it on, next came the tomato and then there was something missing! Carrots! She had to have carrots on her veggie sandwich! She got out her 'knife' (lettuce knife, plastic with jagged edges) found herself with the last carrot and washed it. She chopped that carrot into small circular pieces that were amazingly straight and fairly uniform in size. She topped it off with her other slice of bread and then offered to make my sandwich! Keep in mind that, as some of you know, I have a sensitivity to carrots and there would be no way I could finish her sandwich at any time. That said, I was a little suspicious of her large sandwich, especially after such a huge breakfast of steel cut oats! I ended up making my sandwich while Katherine took Gracie out for a quick potty break.

We grabbed an old sheet and I tossed it on the grass out front. Katherine brought out the lunch box she had packed up just so with our spectacular meal as well as the plates she picked for us. She blessed our food in her own sweet way and we dug in. Boy did that girl eat! She ate that sandwich like a pro! We sat and chatted about nothing in particular as we finished up.

Needless to say, I was impressed with her ability to decide, make and eat that lunch. More than anything, I loved our time together and I love being her assistant in the kitchen as I watch her grow into a self-sufficient girl. She is not yet 5 and she already does so much around here, when she really sets herself to it. Well, that is my little story for now, I just love the little girl with a big laugh and stomach ;-) more than she knows!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Where does the time go...

If you click on the song, Further to Fly by Paul Simon on the left there, I will tell you a story and what the song means to me.
When I was a soon to be junior in high school, we were doing a musical, Once Upon a Mattress. There were lots of us usuals from the theatre department working on it, but Rachel was gone away to France with the french class as they did in the summers. One day in late June, after rehearsals, I walked home (we lived about 1 block away) and my dad handed me the paper. There was a story about a boy who had been hit by a drunk driver earlier in the day, front page news. It appears that the driver fell asleep at the wheel with his grandkids in the back of the truck and veered off the road taking down the 11 year old boy on the bike. The police report said that the driver had been drinking since early in the morning and the boy had tried to go further off the road because he saw it coming. My dad asked if it could be the worst of what we were thinking.
That boy was Adam, Rachel's younger, and only, brother. My heart breaks even now even writing about it! He went to the hospital by ambulance and was in a vegetative state, just enough life to say goodbye to his family, Rachel excluded. Oh God, he was so young and OH, to get that call!!! I cannot even imagine, I do not want to! I cried then, like I am now. I tried calling their house just to check, hoping and praying that it wasn't true, please, don't let it be true!
There was such a strange vortex of time as time went on. A teacher on the France trip had to tell Rachel that her brother was gone and there was nothing that could be done. How surreal! She eventually made it back to the states to the rest of her grieving family. Later that summer there was a memorial in Lithia park in Ashland. People shared memories of Adam and tied a thought, prayer or otherwise to a balloon and let it go. Everyone released their balloons at the same time and let go of a piece of him that afternoon.
Time passed and the death took its toll on the family. How could anyone make sense of it. For the rest of it, it still loomed, but it was never quite so near us as them as they walked past his empty room and his things. When we were seniors, we do a project, write a paper and have a presentation. Rachel decided that she would choreograph a modern dance to Further to Fly (and 2 other songs), for a senior project, but also as part of her healing process. She asked a few fellow dancers to be in it with her, myself included. The words of the song are secondary to what it actually means emotionally for me, being a part of it. I don't remember if I was in any other of the dances, only this one. There was so much simplicity of pain and struggle and trying to let go and be at peace. If memory serves, the trio of dances were ended with I Will Remember You by Sarah McLachlan. It was an amazing experience and to this day I hope that it has helped her, I know that I will never forget...

I just went to look up dates or things about Adam's death and found a posting the local paper for today that is regarding Sara Joy, the youngest girl. It says that in 2002 she died in the hospital after complications over an overdose. His death hangs near and now hers. I did not know until now! I wish I had, I wish I knew where Rachel is and what she is doing. If anyone reads this and knows, please let me know! May Adam and Sara Joy rest in peace! My heart breaks again for the family.

Music for thought

Although the only traveling we did out of the country was when my grandma took us to France, my parents gave us the world. I was listening to the music I have chosen on my playlist and I thought to myself about how, in spite of our lack of funds, we still were able to have the entire world of culture through their influence. Through music and art, I have been to Africa, Spain, China, Australia, India, even the 1920s and how many people do you know that get to time travel? SOOO, many places! Through church, I practically go to Russia every week =) and have since I was a small child. So, thanks mom and dad, for keeping an open door to our cultural education that never could have happened inside the walls of any institution no matter how diverse. All of these things are a dear to my heart and I feel at home every time they are near. If me and my little family never make it out of the country together, I will be happy to say that we will still have the world at our fingertips!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I wish everyone could have a bus and lightrail to ride

So, lately Katherine and I have been public transportationists. We have been riding our local bus and light rail to get to those needed places around town. I will have to admit that, once you get the hang of it, it is actually really good. We have been using a bus/light rail pass for almost 2 months...the first month was a trial run and then this past month, Jay has put up his keys to the truck and has been riding his bike and driving the van to work. It has taken a little to get us in the swing of things, but we are in full swing now! Katherine really enjoys it and it is nice to not have to drive everywhere. I must say, things are pretty good.
It is an adventure every time, for example, Katherine and I went to get the van from Jay to pick up the girls for the sleep over on friday. Things were pretty normal, as we were arriving at our bus stop the rain started coming and the wind made it sideways. So Katherine hid in my skirt until the bus got there a couple minutes later and we jumped into warmth. Heather called me to see if they could come get us, so I explained we would be getting the van and, not to worry, we made it onto the bus without getting totally soaked. We made it to Centerpoint station (main transfer point) and immediately jumped onto our 130 bus that goes by Jay's work, something we have done a number of times already. The bus pulls out a minute later and we turn right instead of right, huh?!? I thought maybe we were picking up those on the loop and would pull back through and go our right way. When we passed out turn, I really started to wonder what was up. I overheard the driver telling another passenger that it was not a 'thru' line to the end destination. OOPS! Well, we had not passed Chambers yet, so as soon as we got to the intersection at Chambers and Alameda, we jumped ship and crossed over. We went down to the stop for the 153 that also stops by Jays work, but we have never taken and I had no clue if had just missed it! So we wait. Katherine starts weaving around like any 4 year old in the grass next to the stop, well, not much of a stop, it was a pole. I gave her a snack hoping it would slow her down and waited some more...this is when minutes feel like hours when you are trying to be somewhere at a certain time. I decided to call Jay and, of course, when he picked up, I saw the good ol' 153 rounding our corner right toward us and I told Jay we would be right there. WHEW! Disaster avoided! =) Adventure, nonetheless. Sort of fun craziness. In any case, it makes things exciting.
I s'pose I will write more later about our adventures in bus/rail land. Bye for now!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Tale of Two Plants

When Stephanida (Stella) passed away, I had no real clue how to properly honor her memory, in an Orthodox fashion. I thought about cleaning the church in her name, so when I am there cleaning I try to remember her. Fr Boris told me to take 2 plants home that were given to her at her funeral. Since she had no surviving family, there was no one to take them. The mum-looking one, with pretty flowers inevitably died, sadly. I think it needed a re-potting and more time than I was able. The other, a leafy green one still lives, thankfully. I was at a loss when Fr Boris told me I should care for them in her memory, like, okee, no problem. Two things I have learned, how a plant keeps a memory and why I prefer the green one to the flowers anyway.
The plant itself cannot, per se, speak, but every time I water it, it makes me think fondly of Stella and her ways. I recall her funeral and the way I felt, in a nostalgic, reverent sort of way. I think of the people who would help her down from the choir to have communion (there is a step down). I think about singing next to her, the alto part totally figured out for her, she has been doing it long enough. I remember her face...
Now, I did like the flowers, they were quite pretty and white. Sort of mum-looking as it were, they all slowly died in spite of our efforts. I felt terrible! Nice way to honor a memory, just watch it whither away! Oh well, we could not help from going. The green, unassuming, large-leafed plant is still here, good as ever and probably bigger. It crossed my mind how much more moderate this green one seems. She is green, she does not ask for much, is not high maintenance...she just grows calmly and slowly. I had given thought to how this mirrors our spiritual lives, how we need to be moderate, not flashy. The flowers are all well and good, they are made to do that and so they do their job. I dunno, just a thought.
Gotta go! Mommyhood is sort of sounds like crying this time =)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Could I be a Tree?

I was just out walking the dog
I saw a tree
It made me think
Such radiant beauty
In the dark of night
Tall and straight
Thin and white trunk
Green and soft leaves
All reaching upward
To the sky
Our Creator watches over
The tree stretches out its life
Toward God
Always knowing our God

I am human
I have a choice
Every moment
I have a choice
Every breath
I have a choice
Where does my heart lie
Whom does my soul call
Which way do my eyes turn...

The calm of night
Whisper on the wind
Clear of sky
Bright little stars
Chilly, promising air
Tree follows Truth
Could I be a tree?

Friday, May 9, 2008

Strangers in society

We are an Eastern Orthodox christian, homeschooling, stay-at-home mom family. To a lot of people, we are strange. Just choose one of those things and we are already different than the majority, now couple them together and, Boy! Do we stand out! People don't always 'get us'. That is not really a problem, for us, but sometimes people are sort of hostile about one or all of those things that we choose to do. Why? We are not forcing anyone else to be like us, we are just trying to live our lives. Jay often brings up to me that for a lot of people to even consider what we are doing, they have to rethink what they are doing and must also consider that what they are doing may be wrong. Somehow we are threatening to their lifestyle through our silent statement of our life choices. I am not saying that anyone is wrong in their choices, we are all on our own journeys and paths, everyone has their own freewill. I suppose I just can't figure why it is so blatantly alarming for people.
We are Orthodox christians and in no way push it in anyone else's face. Whether or not anyone perceives us this way, we will never know.
We homeschool Katherine...well, school as most people think of it is not what we do. We do not sit down at a specified time to do studies of any sort, unless Katherine asks to do it, or we are reading a book. When she is a little bigger, she may have a bit more structure, but for now, she is learning just fine without a regimented day. She is naturally curious, as most kids tend to be, and she asks questions, so we answer her in age appropriate language to her satisfaction. Some days she has TONS of questions and others, not a one, outside of, "Please, could I have a chocolate?" We have routine without being strapped to a clock. She is always learning something new and I hope it stays that way. Our wish is not that she be sheltered from reality and the 'real' world, it is simply that she is able to be a child and grow up to be capable of living in this world, prepared. We just figure that she has already been home 'schooled' for the first few years of her life, why stop now? =)
We have chosen to have me stay at home as the mommy, something that we talked about YEARS ago when we were first dating. Jay always thought it was nice to have a parent at home (his mom) and so did I and I also watched a number of kids over the years and wanted to really be the mommy. For some reason, that is odd to people, as if I am squandering my potential on 'merely' raising our daughter (hope to someday be with more babies)...I am worth SO much more, that is the message out there. I can have my cake and eat it too, what could be better, right? How silly I am being making such a choice! The funny thing is that there are a lot of people who think that way. I am grateful to God (not as often as I should be) that I am married to a man who is not only supportive, but encouraging. He stands up for what we believe and stand for, he is a real man, a man for his family.
So, all in all, we are strange and happy with it. Most certainly, we will never be anything but Orthodox christian and we will have to trust God in the rest of our choices, that His mercy continue. Slava Bogu! Alleluia! Praise God!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Jay has a blog

For anyone interested, Jay now has a blog. He is a rambler, but that is nothing new. I just love him and think other's want to read his stuff. That is him...or you can click on "My Man" on my blogspot. Ciao!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Christ is Risen!

Greetings with the Feast of the Resurrection of our Lord!

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!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

My hopes and dreams

I have always had dreams and since the first part has already come true (marrying prince charming and becoming a mommy), I have time to think about other goals in life. Well then, here we go!
I would like to see a women's monastery somewhere here in the states as part of our jurisdiction, if you will. I dream that someday we will have one close by. I think it is such an important part of our Faith that we are really quite deprived without one. Some may think I am silly, but I will cling to this dream as long as I live until it comes to fruition. Women monastics are really remarkable, even moreso to me than the men who become monks. In order that a man serve in the church, he must have a calling to the job, but he also has the option of being married (as a priest) or unmarried (as a monk). Women who are called to give their lives to the Church do not have that choice, which is just fine, but if they choose to become the Bride of God, they will give up their earthly lives completely. It is not to say that women who are a part of their parish cannot give a great deal to God, but there is something very special in the woman who chooses to be a nun, or an abbess. Just my own thoughts on the subject. I would just love to have one somewhere near.
Next, I would like to have a soup kitchen for those in need. I would like to serve fresh, homemade soups and breads to people. How to go about this? I have no idea, but God knows my heart and will guide me accordingly, if it is His will. In all honesty, it would be nice to have a shelter of some sort for people. Then we get to my next dream...
I am thinking that we should have a retirement home for those elderly of the Church. There are so many people, immigrants or not, who are alone and have trouble both making food for themselves as well getting to church. I think we would all benefit from this sort of thing. Perhaps this is where my soup and bread dreams may more than likely come into play, a sort of little combo. Again, whatever is God's will, I will take it.
Last, but not least, we need a real church for us. Our church is small and we have made do up to a point, but it is starting to get ridiculous! We need a proper Orthodox church, one that was built specifically for our purpose. The one we are in now used to a baptist church or something and is far too small. We need a bloomin' Cathedral, in my opinion. Meh, in God's timing, we will see a new church, but I can dream about it as much as I like.
Well, it goes without saying, I think that we would like to have another baby when the time is right, we will just have to see, that will continue to be a dream until we either conceive or adopt, if either be in our 'plan'.
That about does it for now. Kat and Misha, I hope you like all of my paragraphs, I thought of you the whole time =P
XOXO, for now, Me

Saturday, April 19, 2008


It is Lazarus saturday, the beginning of Holy week. Lazarus has been risen from the dead. Tomorrow Christ will enter into Jerusalem and we will all receive our palms to offer on the arrival of our King. The church will be resplendent in greens and everyone will be festive. It truly is a joyful sorrow, for we know that upon Christ's entrance into the city begins the inevitable sequence of events. We must welcome Him, witness the betrayal, take part of the last supper and be humbled by His selfless sacrifice of crucifixion. I love this about church.
Today Fr Boris was talking about how we live our faith, emphasis on the LIVE not the how. We are a part of eternity now because we partake of the Kingdom of Heaven here through active participation and that Holy Week is such an important part of our involvement and faith. We are given such great opportunity to witness it here and now.
This Lent has been an interesting one, certainly not what I am used to, but that is a good thing I suppose. I guess that means that I have the opportunity to give another aspect of my faith/life(they are synonymous so I can't choose just one) a tune-up. It has been terribly realistic in a sort of in your face kind of way. God brings me to my knees when He wishes, but now I am learning to do it myself. It has been good and sobering, I am grateful in a strange way. Here is my life, here is how much time I have left, ummm, get with the program ya lazy bum! In a loving, stern way. I am Prideful, judgmental, talkative, blunt, lazy, distracted, dissatisfied, wanting, frustrated, angry, offensive, oh my, how the list goes on, BUT for the Grace of God, I am able to strip away pieces of these to reveal the simplicity I hide underneath all of that junk! My intentions are good, but oh! How prideful they are! To the Glory of God I can do anything right, there are temptations everywhere, and I am not just talking about chocolate =P Something as simple as the temptation to sleep a little longer and blatantly doing so, then being frustrated that I am not getting up earlier to get things done before Katherine is awake. How can I be vigilant when I am sleeping? It is like, "Just 5 more minutes, God, please?"
Alright, enough of that rambling, I am getting back on track again, I think...I hope. Oh yes, Fr Boris was talking about how we are a part of eternity NOW and that is how we enter into salvation. When we leave this temporal body behind, our soul continues to partake of Christ because we have been doing so already. Well, he said it better than I can sum up, but I think the point gets there.
Lazarus saturday is a traditional day for many faithful people to be baptised, babies to adults. This one in particular marks the baptism of my nephew, Liam, and, as I call her, Kat (these paragraphs are for you =P ). Yay! What a wonderful day all around. The sun is shining (in Colorado, anyway), there is a gentle breeze tickling our chimes outside, Katherine is playing and Jay will be home soon. Life just does not get much better than this! I will always have these moments...when I am old and senile, I hope these are the things that re-run in my head.
Alright, I will go now to my beautiful, wonderful life. Love and hugs to all!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Knight in Shining Armour

I will have to say that I love my husband. This is nothing new to most people. He is a hard working, caring, wonderful man. I appreciate his resolve and ethic, he is a diamond in the rough. He inspires me to be a better person, to be the one he sees when he looks at me with those big brown eyes and that 'sweetie pie' look that he has passed down to his daughter. Before we met, I was SO done dating (not that I did that much dating to begin with, just done with the whole everything about it). I decided that I was going to wait for Prince Charming. Little did I know, by making such resolve, God would give to me a man who would not only love me with everything he has, but he would challenge me and never ask me to change. We have been through a lot in our short 7 years of being together, 5.5 of being married. You would think that the going off to war thing would be the hard part, or the initial getting home and becoming a family again. In all reality, we both changed while he was away, we had to in order to survive...just before our 2nd wedding anniversary, we had ribs and such in an on-base restaurant in our last effort to see each other and pretend it wasn't so bad. Katherine had just turned 1 and my heart was breaking, everything seemed so surreal, but I knew this was God's will and we would survive and that there was a purpose in it, even if we did not see all of it. Some may have thought it was so terrible to happen to us at such a time, I never really thought he would die, I was going to miss him and the life we created together, very selfish reasons. I was NOT in denial, I just did not believe he would die. While he was away, there would be days that I felt like I needed to talk to him, just to hear his voice and I would go to my parents icon corner and get a prayers books out and say a prayer, I think it was the one for the acceptance of God's will, short and to the point and I would say a little extra prayer in my heart. Usually within 24 hrs of my doing so, usually sooner, he would call me (I did not notice it as much then). When he was back and we were sitting with Fr Boris, he explained that there were times, he could not figure out why, but he felt like he just HAD to get to a phone and call me and he did as soon he could. God's will, in everything, God's will. After he was home we had some adjustments, we had to get out of survival mode and get back to family life. It took some work, but with God's help we have made it this far. He did not see anything too crazy when he was there, but he has not totally come back from Iraq, he is back about 99%, but only a wife would notice the other per cent. I think we have really come far together, as a family, as a couple and as individuals. I love him with so much joy that I get to have the rest of our lives together. He has saved me from myself when we met, helped me to find God again and given me a life and a family, I can never express my gratitude. It is amazing what happens when we actually 'let' God take the controls and steer us on our path. I can only imagine what it will be like in the years to come if we can fully surrender to His holy will...He got us through a war, thank you God. Please pray for us that we continue to accept God's will in all ways, that we may hear His words more clearly in our everyday and that we, "Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart: Wait, I say, on the Lord." (Psalm 27:14)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

My Little Locks of Love

I am amazed, sometimes, with a child's understanding of life. There are not really any gray areas, only absolutes. I think this is why when we answer maybe, it confounds them, especially when we ask the to give us absolutes. In any case, on with my posting...
Let's see, today I showered for the day and thought it was about time I cut my hair for Locks of Love (if there is anyone who is not familiar, just google it)...I called a friend who cuts hair to ask for help and she directed me to Ulta Salon who cuts hair for Locks of Love free of charge (unless you want something extra special for your post-styling). I found my local Ulta and called to set up an appointment. Katherine told me, "But, mom, I like your hair pretty in a braid." I told her I understood and explained the reason why I was doing it and even showed her a couple pictures on the website so she could have a visual. She reassured me that she was NOT going to have her hair cut today (which wasn't even mentioned by me), which I told her was fine, but I was still cutting mine. We got there about 20 minutes or so early, but that turned out alright, our girl was ready for us. We got me up there as Katherine watched on. The measurement...the ponytailing...finally, the big cut! Katherine watched from the side with her fingers in her mouth. Next, I was taken over for a quick shampoo and conditioning, then back to trim up the stragglers. As I sat and had our girl trim, Katherine spoke very softly and said, "Mommy, I want to do my hair for Lots of Love, too." Over the course of a few minutes I talked to her about how her hair would be short, but it would grow back. She was sure. She told me that she wanted to give her hair to kids who don't have any. How could I argue with that? In my going with her, I had a glimmer of hope that she may choose to do the same thing someday, or at the very least understand the idea of giving things to others who are without, but I did not expect that she would be willing to give up her praised locks so quickly! I am grateful be to a part of a her life, she is amazing and I hope she keeps such confidence and selflessness. I will tell you a secret, I got a little choked up when she told me that she wanted to give her hair in such a beautiful and innocent way...anyone who knows her, knows this was her first 'real' haircut (not counting when she has taken her own scissors to her hair). I am in awe of the sweetness in my daughter...I have always known her sweet disposition, it's kinda hard to miss when you are someone's mom, but I am always pleased when I see her grow and nurture that part. I think I am out of words for now, much Love and Peace to all. XXOOXXOO

Thursday, March 13, 2008

St Patrick's Breastplate

Once I found this, I just loved it. I hope everyone likes it as much as I do, it should be on all our breastplates as we face our spiritual warfare in these great times of Lent. First is my favorite part, then I will post the entire thing =) (I found this on Orthodoxwiki)

Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ in me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ in breadth, Christ in length, Christ in height,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me.

Lorica means breastplate in Latin. The story of this prayer is that Patrick and his followers used this most beautiful prayer to protect themselves from the people who wanted to kill them as they travelled across Ireland. It is also called the Deer's Cry (Fáed Fíada) because their enemies saw, not men, but deer. It may not have been written by Patrick, but is considered to reflect his theological focus on the Trinity.

I arise today
through a mighty strength,
the invocation of the Trinity,
through belief in the Threeness,
through confession of the Oneness of the Creator of creation.
I arise today
through the strength of Christ with His Baptism,
through the strength of His Crucifixion with His Burial,
through the strength of His Resurrection with His Ascension,
through the strength of His descent for the Judgment of Doom.
I arise today
through the strength of the love of Cherubim,
in obedience of Angels, in the service of the Archangels,
in hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
in prayers of Patriarchs, in predictions of Prophets,
in preachings of Apostles, in faiths of Confessors,
in innocence of Holy Virgins, in deeds of righteous men.
I arise today
through the strength of Heaven:
light of Sun, brilliance of Moon, splendour of Fire,
speed of Lightning, swiftness of Wind, depth of Sea,
stability of Earth, firmness of Rock.
I arise today
through God's strength to pilot me:
God's might to uphold me, God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me, God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me, God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me, God's shield to protect me,
God's host to secure me:
against snares of devils,
against temptations of vices,
against inclinations of nature,
against everyone who shall wish me ill,
afar and anear, alone and in a crowd.
I summon today all these powers between me (and these evils):
against every cruel and merciless power that may oppose my body and my soul,
against incantations of false prophets,
against black laws of heathenry,
against false laws of heretics,
against craft of idolatry,
against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
against every knowledge that endangers man's body and soul.
Christ to protect me today
against poison, against burning,
against drowning, against wounding,
so that there may come abundance of reward.
Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ in me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ in breadth, Christ in length, Christ in height,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me.
I arise today
through a mighty strength,
the invocation of the Trinity,
through belief in the Threeness,
through confession of the Oneness of the Creator of creation.
Salvation is of the Lord.
Salvation is of the Lord.
Salvation is of Christ.
May Thy Salvation, O Lord, be ever with us.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Service of Love

On my way home I had a lot of time to think about a varied many things. One of those things was love. (Surprise, Surprise!) I have been reading excerpts from a book called, "Wounded by Love" a book about the life of Elder Porphyrious of Mount Athos. It is a sort of commentary, journal entry-style writings of his life and experiences. More to the point, it opens doors about love, it begins to lift the veil. I started to think about how love is not merely an emotion, because if it were simply how we felt, it would be fleeting and changeable. We know differently, love does not change, but we do and our emotions sway. If love were just an emotion, then it would be right up there with anger and jealousy, for example. What an awful thought, love as a simple passing emotion with no more substantiality than what it creates in that exact moment? Instead, I am thinking that since love, true love, not just the kind we fall in love with, is not a changeable feeling about things, it is more consumable than we realize. Love is so many things, but moveable is not one of them.
We are born into a family, out of relation we love each other in our disfunction, I do not think that we ever really stop no matter how hard we try, we might get hurt and things get in the way, but love does not stop. We grow up and we take what we have learned about love and apply it to real world situations, not all of them turn out so great, but we learn our limits, hopefully. It is how we approach this love that will be the deciding factor for us, is it simply an emotion, and just like an emotion, can we just get rid of it if we get tired enough of it and this person or situation? Or have we had a better example that is not so flighty and fickle? What are our examples, where do we learn love? Well, for most, it is the picture of our parents and family structure. Thankfully for me, my parents stayed married through all the rough patches. This shows me that love is patient and has plenty of endurance, love is not a mere feeling. But what sort of love can keep them together after all these years? A symbiotic coexistence that is inclusive of forgiveness, patience, self-sacrifice and faith. Some do not believe that faith makes much difference since we seem to do all the work between ourselves as it is, but you see, to some, faith is a simple emotion also. Perhaps it helps in our ability to relate if we both believe the same things, but where do our feelings really get us in the end? They are the spark that gets us going, but what really keeps things burning? It is our willingness to serve those we love, we would do 'anything' for them, so far as to die for them if need be, to take their place in any necessary hardship. So, why is it that we forget that love is a service for others, an obedience (OH NO! not THAT word!). We also have to remember that obedience is not always being told what to do, it is also realizing what we need to do in order to make things work better, to coexist. When we create a family with another person, with children or not, we are binding ourselves that in order to make this relationship work, we are willing to sacrifice and compromise, or else it will not work. Any person of experience can tell you that love is work, but why does that have to be a bad thing? Just because a larger chunk of us do not care for our employment, why must we apply that attitude to other areas of work, particularly our love? People are turned off by love because of the way it has made them feel, but if we serve love, we cannot really ever lose anything except ourselves in God because no one can take Him from us.
God asks us to love our neighbor, perhaps this does not mean, 'I like you', but, 'I will serve you as if you were Christ.' If our Lord and God and Saviour was standing in front of you, would you not ask what it is you can do for Him, to serve Him? If God is supposed to be everywhere, then why are we not asking Him this every day and with every breath and showing Him through our service for Him? If we are supposed to be made in His image, why do we not treat each other as if Christ were each of us? If we sin against God and we are in His image, does it not stand to reason that we sin against one another? This is why we ask one another forgiveness of sin, known or unknown, word or deed, mind or thought. "...Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors." We are asking God to forgive us as we have also forgiven one another, so let it go into the wind, let Pride die in that moment to ask forgiveness in humility and receive forgiveness from our struggling fellow human family, as well as God. Prayer is also service because we must set ourselves aside and acknowledge others and ask God for help, not only for us, but for those for whom we care. Since we are fallible and God is our salvation and hope, through prayer we can work wonders in cooperation with God.
The greatest expression of love has been Christ's crucifixion, "for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.." (not ver batum, but close enough, perhaps in one translation), a sacrifice of love which IS love. On top of that, we have Mary who so loved God, she watched her Son be tortured, humiliated and crucified in order that He fulfill His promise. She knew that it would be an horrific event, but she also understood God's love for us through His sacrifice and and exhibited this through her own sacrifice. If we are called to be Christ-like, should it not be shown in our obedience, duty and service to God? Mary was deemed a worthy vessel to bear, raise and love Him, through her obedience and love for God. Christ calls us to service, to take up our cross and gives us His example to follow and so we must set down our shield of Pride and take up the sword of service, humility and righteousness. The saints of His Church have proved themselves worthy through their service and humility to God to not only inspire us, but show us that it is possible to be as Christ is because they accomplished that enormous task, with His help. The Bible says that we should believe, but what is belief without love and what is love without service and service without sacrifice? Our new commandment is to love one another as He has loved us, does that not mean to be crucified, if need be, for your neighbor whether we know or like them at all, believers or not? "Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God IS a consuming fire. Let brotherly love continue. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels. "-Orthodox study Bible, Hebrews 12:28-13:2. In black and white. It is not so that people will see what we can do for them, or even what Christ can 'do' for them, but that we show them who He is through our actions that they may keep Him in their hearts, whether or not they can tell that is what is there. If I cannot talk, I can smile, if I have bread, I can share, if I have anything, I can give, for that is fleeting, but God is not. Our active participation in His life, service to His flock and creation, love for all He has given us and shown, the martyrdom of oneself through love for our spouse, family and neighbor should be a prime concern. Unfortunately I am a miserable failure in this, though I try...let's just say I have much room for improvement.
Now we get to the part where I try to discern what all this actually means for me in application and reality. Let's see, for love of my husband my service shall be to anticipate his needs before he says them...cook, clean and organize...raise our daughter in a fitting manner for a Christian to the best of my ability...stand for him (and Him) in all I him at the top of my list of priorities...listen to all his dreams and disappointments without with him and let him know I always will things for myself so I am a more cheerful giver of him in all he chooses to him the way he needs to be loved, not the way I want him express love. There are so many other things, but this is a good start. As for Katherine, my love shall serve her by doing things for her own her an example of what a woman should be, no matter how bloomin hard that the right thing, which usually means the hard thing...take her to church, for without the grace of God and His church, I have no hope of success, but guaranteed failure...Pray, Pray, Pray!...attempt to listen to God in His wisdom for guidance and opportunities to show her how to be a daughter to Him. I could go on, but I think that you get the point.
For now, it is sufficed to say, God is Love, Love is Service, Service is Sacrifice, Sacrifice is Selflessness (or as Katherine has just informed me, Sacrifice is Giant) and Selflessness is humility and humility is Christ, therein is our circle of self-realization
Please forgive me a sinner if I have offended in any way and pray for this unworthy servant of Christ our God.
Much love and service to everyone, until next time.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Away From Home

When we left CO I was not sure what to expect. We had our route planned out and the stops along the way, but I had no way of knowing what would actualy happen. Jay was sick most of the time, Katherine got a cough that still has not totally gone away, but it is hardly there at all. We made it to the Holy Protection cathedral in LA for services on sunday and it was a beautiful church, sort of mission style and the incense permeated the walls, or so it seemed. Jay and I went down to the pier the night before he left so we could have a mini date. I like being with someone who is so easy to walk and talk with, or not. We are a good match, in my humble opinion, no one else could be more perfect for me. Katherine and I had a rough patch getting ready to leave for the trip, but once we got on the road, things smoothed out. We went through New Mexico and Arizona, I have not been to these states before...well, AZ I have passed through a 20 mile portion up by Nevada, but that hardly counts as there are no towns. We had a nice visit with my grandma and aunt. The day we had to take Jay to the airport was tough, Katherine fell apart and wanted to go with him and that was hard to watch, I cried a little too, but mostly for her longing for her papa. He made it fine ad Petra and Andrei invited him for dinner when they so graciously picked him up. (THANK YOU!) The next morning I was up at 4:30 doing the final packing of items for our trip up to Fresno. We made good time, took the carpool lane all the way out of the LA area and I am grateful for it. We arrived in Fresno to Kat and Misha's and I was glad to be there, no more driving for awhile. It was nice being in another familiar place. They are like family, without actualy being related. We got to meet Kat's parents, so nice and hospitable. Katherine loved playing with Steve, she is really liking grandpa guys these days, she has been following my dad around for days now =). The baptism was nice, albeit a little different than what I am used to (the whole service as well), but very lovely all the same. Talia is such an angel baby, so sweet and darling, I think she knows everything already. The baptism was during the Liturgy, a first for me. What a little doll baby, I just love her (and Kat and Misha too =) ) It was a short time, but I think it was just enough at least this time around. It is a bummer we are not closer, but I guess that is what vacations are for. We were off to San Francisco to the cathedral and meet with Fr James to recieve the keys for the apartment where we stayed that night. We drove around after stopping to go to the bathroom and Katherine offered her money in her change purse to pay for parking...I think she was a little tired of driving in circles looking for a spot and when she found out all the ones in front of the cathedral needed was a little change, she was more than happy. We went in to venerate and light some candles before vigil and there seemed to be something stirring around the quiet, big church. Within minutes a line of priests began to pour through the front doors. I told Katherine that was Fr James and he heard me and came over to give us the key and instructions. I asked who was in the entourage and he informed me that it was the Metropolitan of Georgia and he was travelling with 2 nuns, with their american contact, Fr Gerasim of Platina. I did not know what to think. The Metropolitan served a Molebin at the tomb of St John and annointed everyone with the oil from his ever-burning lampada. During the Molebin, the nuns sang, as if it were just like breathing, so effortless, their unison was remarkable, beautiful and with a melancholy tone that portrayed a purity I have not experienced in my life. It was enough to draw tears of repentance for everything, I felt as if I were being bathed in the beauty of their song and prayers, though I knew not what they said, it spoke to my heart and soul in ways that I was indeed needing without knowing it. We made it to the place where we would stay, a bit under remodel construction, but a roof just the same. We slept in the quiet of the apartment, arose and went off to Liturgy where the Metropolitan served. What a treat and blessing. We got on the road to Sacramento where we would meet Fr Paul, a longtime family friend, for lunch. We walked to a near deli where he treated us to a full meal and would have gotten us more if he had the chance, such a nice man, I very much like him. We walked and talked and Katherine held his hand. After a lovely visit we loaded ourselves back up and got on the road to Oregon. We made it in the late of last tuesday night and here we stay. I am grateful that we have this opportunity, but I am not looking forward to the very long drive home. I know I will have to remind myself to just get to the next stopping place...then it is not so bad. Still, over 1200 miles! So here we are, relaxing a bit, praying for the safe delivery of baby Liam any day now. We head back some time next week, when all is said and done...until next time.
I know this is sort of a funny, perhaps boring commentary of our travels, but it has made a huge impact that will likely stay with me for a long time. What a way to begin to prepare for Great Lent and the Bright Ressurection.
I am so grateful, for everything.