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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Pivotal Purposing

You know, you would think that having your husband back from a deployment that was admitted as something that 'never should have happened', would be adjusting and carrying on, life as usual, in some respect. I will tell you that this is rare in most cases. My husband that left right before our daughter's first birthday is not the one who came home. That man was molded into someone who was not supposed to feel, just do. He is still in there, but there is damage that only I can see sometimes, because he has only ever been fully himself in his life with me.

You might imagine that time heals all wounds, but what if you never get to face them because things like work, life, raising a child, subtle ptsd, family, and time just seem to pass you by, whether you have come to any terms, regardless. It has now been 6.5 years, through a deployment, work, life, sudden and life-threatening illness, that I am beginning to feel myself again. Yes, I have learned a great deal more than I ever thought was possible in such a short time, but how does a person go in one side, only to come out the other side over half a decade later?

We are forever broken in this life. We have health complications that may never clear up, only be managed, we have one child, when we had hoped for more, we are covered in woe, it would seem, but for the Church, I would have drowned in that woe. If not for God's people, knowingly or not, we would be sunk in a pit of life. If not for our trials, I may still have a list of earthly fears. What would seem so pitiful, has transformed us into that which is focused on God, His angels, Saints, love, perfection, etc., what more could we ask? I am grateful to have made it back at all, though I look at the scars in my worldly persona and I sigh. From the dreadful depths have we come, but none but God can understand its extent.

God is good, no matter the circumstance, for we can never know the purpose in our struggles at the time that they come. We do see Eternity with Divine eyes, but mortal ones, which can play tricks on us. My life is but a passing flame, in a world of embers and coals, would that I find a great purpose, to the Glory of God.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Sunday School

Well, after a lot of talking about it, and now having a true need, with a growing parish full of kids, I will begin teaching sunday school. During the homily, I will be teaching about the fasts, feasts, saints, and rubrics, to our young parishioners. I confess, I am a bit anxious, but after the first go round, I am sure things will settle. I have already printed up some pages for coloring, troparion and kontakion, as well as, a story to read as they color. Katherine has asked if I will make some extra one's so she can color it at home. I love that she is getting into it with me, since she will be in my class too.

While I was going to start tomorrow, I just spoke with Fr. Boris and his son's graduation is immediately following the service, so we won't be able to go on as planned, however, it was a bit quick anyway. He will be gone for St. Herman's Conference with the youth the following weekend, so we are aiming for the sunday prior to Nativity (o.s.). I think he wants to be sure to establish me as a new teacher without feeling rushed and having the opportunity to introduce me to families who may not be familiar with me. I told him, "No problem, I will just have some more time to feel things out." Which is true, I will get a better idea of what I want to do.

Well, that's it for now. If you have an inkling, please keep me in your prayers as we begin this new journey and work out the kinks! Glory to God for all things!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

From, 'Wounded By Love', By Elder Porphyrios

"Complete trust in God-that's what holy humility is. Complete obedience to God, without protest, without reaction, even when some things seem difficult and unreasonable. Abandonment to the hands of God. The words we repeat during the Divine Liturgy say it all: "Let us commend our whole life to Christ our God." The secret prayer of the priest says the same thing: "We commend our whole life and hope to You, O loving Master, and we entreat You and beseech You and supplicate You..." To You, Oh Lord, we leave everything. That is what trust in God is. This is holy humility. This is what transfigures a person..."

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Tossing and Turning

It is times like now when I begin to feel the doldrum of this life. While I understand that the past 33 years of my life have gone by in nearly the blink of an eye, I find myself wading through the days, imagining all of the monotony to come. Day in, day out, sameness. Nothing to truly inspire me, as I fill my days with meaninglessness that pervades my every fiber. I am horrible at being anything truly useful, for if I were a proper vessel of God, would I not find more purpose? Would I not assume the position gracefully that has been rendered unto me?

It is not for me to understand, it is for me to muster motivation, perseverance, and courage, in these shadowy times of struggle. These mires of discontent and self examination do have a place, but I hardly can delineate what they are to become. I have a feeling of just wanting to throw in the towel, because what use is my day to day, but then the voice emerges from the depths of my heart that says, "Yes, surrender! Throw in the towel of this life, this earthly existence! Do away with the bland and meaningless, give in to the Eternal and Divine!"

How, oh, how?!?! It seems when the feet are bogged down by the muck and mud, it is easier to let oneself sink, but for the Glory of God, I would be a complete sunken mess. If not for God's radiant and permeating love and compassion, I would find myself in the absolute pit of self-destruction. In His mercy and kindness, I am in the midst of caring, support, and love, that I am so enveloped, I can see nothing else.

My greatest desire is to find peace, resting in His all encompassing perfection once again. May this fast in preparation for the King of all, bring fruits of the spirit to calm, quiet, and direct my latent potential. For if I do not know Heaven on earth, what hope do I have of Eternity?

Monday, December 5, 2011

A Little Hope Lingers, But Her Heart Is Full

"...sometimes, it's because I don't have any siblings." My little love said this to me through tears last night. She was having a hard time with some things, but mentioned that her rough patches seem to be accentuated by the fact that she is without siblings. *sigh* How I would change it, if I could. I do my best to say that if it is meant to happen, it will, and keep my chin up toward God's mercy, which has carried us thus far. Perhaps that will help her to keep God in all things, even in the hardest moments. I would be saddened if she was to place any blame, because things are as they should be, we don't always understand why until later, if ever.

To those of you who are blessed with any more than one, please do not take your blessing lightly. Cherish each time they argue over something, someone gets hit, or they run to you with their troubles about their brother or sister. Soften your heart a little more, knowing that there are those of us who would give much, to have such a blessing.

It may never happen, but I cannot completely give up all hope. Although, she is getting older and, as the years fly on, will near the age of having her own babies. I told her last night that I hope to hug and love her babies, and I especially hope that she has many to fill the place of those we have not had. Of course, we cannot know the Divine plan...

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Death and Travel

Today we talked about a lot of stuff, considering I am not much use at doing anything hardly. One of the things we talked about is death. She is, at times, still stricken with paralysis, when the subject of death arises. Some of it is connected to her papa's health struggle and journey, I think, having her mortality issues coming on over a year, or so, ago. I asked her if she was afraid of dying, she said no. This is good, but her little heart is so heavy with the thought of losing her mom or dad.

I told her about when I was about her age and sat with my dad in the dark night, because I couldn't sleep, and he was the only one up. He has always been so good to talk to, so I was able to talk without as many words as others people. I related how I felt, but that it was good to talk to my dad about it, because it helped take some of the weight off of my heart. I encouraged her to talk to me, and assured her that what she is thinking and feeling is perfectly normal.

On a lighter note, we also discussed travel. I asked her where she'd like to go and, to my surprise, her answer was China and Africa. I mean, really? She says she wants to go to Africa for the cheetahs. I told her that I want to take her to Alaska, Mexico, and France. In Alaska, there is fishing, camping, beauty, and so much more. In Mexico, I told her of beaches. In France, I reminded her that is where Giverny sits, awaiting visitors and artists.

We can dream, right?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Cold and Colds

It is SO cold, I tell you! I love having the seasons changing, as it slows me down to focus on other things, but it is C-O-L-D out right now. The high today is expected to be 23, with snow that has come since the wee hours of the morning. The most difficult for me about this particular climate is how I seem to always have something going on with my sinuses. In California, pretty much nothing, but back here in CO, where it is much drier, I get more congested and sneeze. It is hard to tell when things are related to a virus, or if it's the climate. I awoke this morning a little sneezy, which didn't seem to respond to my echinacea and elderberry blend, so maybe I need some pantothenic acid, if it is airborne. Kat has been sneezing a bit too, but it could just be weather and readjustment to being home again after two weeks away.

It wouldn't be as much concern to me at this very moment, except it is the forefeast of the Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple (o.s.), and I really want to go! It is rarely on a sunday, so it is like a mini double feast, of sort. We missed all sunday services while we were gone, so I am wanting to get back into the swing of things and this nasal bit isn't helping. If it doesn't calm down before vigil tonight, we may have to miss it, especially if rest will mean we might all make it tomorrow, but that also means that none of us will make it to confess. You see, it is rather a predicament I dislike, but I am learning, bit by bit, how to allow others to take care of me, especially my dear husband.

We shall see how everything turns out. Here's to hoping and praying we make it to at least the liturgy.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Heavy Tides

I feel so much inside myself, that it seems my words could not explain. It is rather plain, but still so complex. I make that of myself, for sure, but it is magnified at times. I hear my thoughts resounding in my heart and head much more clearly, but find the unrest both comforting and disquieting. A torn person within myself, not so easy to find the answers. Somehow, at the very same time, there is a peace tugging away, as an undercurrent of my overture making for a picture that commands both calm and magnanimous images. It conjures up inside the part of myself that gets passed among the tides, with an effortless ebb and flow, calling my name eerily. This reverie of life crosses my thoughts in images, colors, and smells, but where shall I land? That I may awake on Your shores of Eternity....

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Love

"Love is the most powerful means of defense there is. There are no weapons and no power that can measure themselves against love. Everything is defeated by love." ~From Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives, by Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Not-So-Far Future

We are approaching the Nativity fast (o.s.) and will be preparing for the birth of Christ. As Kat gets older, I find that I am imagining new ways for us to experience the fast, and what they can do for her. She is rather attached to St. Nicholas Day, with the wonderment of a child, as it should be, but she gets giddy about it and it tends to get my wheels spinning. I want to be sure she understands each feast, so she is on track for their purpose, and that Christ's Nativity is of the utmost importance. She always manages to surprise me in her understanding and childlike ways, so as long as we set a good example as parents, I think things will go alright.

I am, however, imagining getting rid of a number of things upon our return home. It always seems to amaze me how little we can live with when we are on vacation. I mean, really! We have only a few outfits, I keep only my yarn tote, our computer, a few books, and about 2 pairs of shoes each. Not to mention, the amount we spend on food is astonishing (in a good way). I have done it before, and I may again, but we will only have less than a few weeks until St. Nicholas Day, when we get home, so I don't know how much will actually get done. I have hopes, there is always that. I have heard about people having kids donate and leave bags of their items for St. Nicholas to pick up and take to other kids, so that is always an option. Any ideas out there? She is 8, so it has to be age appropriate, I suppose. We do like to go drop things by and make her a benevolent giver on the eve of the feast, so I think that will help with the transition, when she becomes disillusioned about St. Nicholas coming in the night.

I am really looking forward to this fast, finally! I am grateful to be anticipating a fast so cheerfully. We have gotten a new vegan cookbook that is mostly gluten free, so it has helped with food. It isn't quite so draining to be thinking of fasting foods that are inexpensive AND gluten free. But, I also really look forward to drawing into myself, finding some spiritual growth or process that molds me a little more in the fire of His great love and mercy.

A glorious and fruitful fast to those who will begin, and those who has already begun. Glory to God in the Highest!

Our Trip to St. Barnabas, So Far

We managed a midweek service at St. Barnabas last night. I had hoped to fit it in, but you never know when you aren't at home. We got there a bit early, but I am glad because it is nice to familiarize with new churches and surroundings. We talked with a man and his son, Luke, for a little bit, who seemed quiet happy to have Kat around for interaction. I think she was also grateful for something to distract her from the unfamiliarity of the venue, as she is rather attached to our home church.

After a bit, we went into the church, which was brimming with comfort and peace. I had recently told Jay that I missed church and finally realized that it was the hole in my daily existence. No matter how comfortable I am here, it is still not home, and we are not in our routine. It got me to thinking about people in far off lands where they have not had the physical temple, and prayers within, and surrounding, them throughout a service, due to communism, and other bleak disturbances. What a misery to have to endure such detachment from the divine services of the faith, but also what a building block for unadulterated faith for anyone, so long as it is recognised as such. Just as Christ prays in the garden of Gethsemane, so does a person in such a situation, I imagine.

The service consisted of vespers and a molebin for the sick. I had emailed our friend, Sarah, who let the priest know I wished to add my husband, dad, and Matushka to the list. Everything was lovely and I could see God in everything, but not just the written images of Christ in the icons of Himself and His saints, but also in the image of His people, His flock, who are quite obviously in His fold. It is wonderful to have found a place so near that we can attend and, if we must, forego the long drive into LA. If we make it to the garment district, I can see the lengthy journey, but for services, I would recommend, without reservation, going to St. Barnabas, in Costa Mesa.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Chrysalis of Life

I was thinking the other night that we are all like a caterpillar, here in this life. We have our fleshly needs, our simple understanding, as we amble along. We are drawn toward becoming fattened; metaphorically, with life, love, and wisdom. As we find ourselves turing inward, this is the moment where a caterpillar begins its cocoon. As we rest and conserve, there is a sense of contemplation, solitude, and growth. In leaps and bounds, our souls are transformed, as in the last days of our lives, we attune our sensibility to the next step in what will become of us. As we are closer to the release, the cocoon provides a more lucid view of that which is around, while still a part of the same body we once knew. The pupa fades away into a life reborn into its eternity. The soul flies away, on the wings of the butterfly, whether it is fed on the fruits of wisdom and love, or ignorance.

This caterpillar's life is the tangible function, like the humanity wherein we are clothed. It is like the veil in which we are draped before we become a butterfly, as our bodies are released from one corporal life, into the spiritual. We do not always know what awaits us, but we can be certain, it will be more than we ever imagined, because how can a caterpillar expect to understand flight, until it goes to its tomb inside the chrysalis? So too, a human cannot conceive of the immeasurable life beyond our flesh, without first dying to this life, to become ready for flight.

Blog People

I just want to say that I am so happy when I see people from all over the country and world, who pop onto my little blog for a little read. To all of you who do, thank you. Please feel free to leave a comment, if you are so compelled, but I wanted to say that I appreciate seeing such a vast global difference in my blog traffic :)

I hope you all have a lovely day, or night, depending on where you are!

Today

It is Thanksgiving today and I am...
...at my grandma's house in Huntington Beach, CA.
...thankful that, at 95 years old, we are able to share this holiday with her.

We will be having:
-Turkey and all the fixin's, almost all from scratch
-2 guests, plus the five of us family, around the table, bringing a plate to a friend of Meema's who has had surgery recently and isn't up to coming out.

I am thinking about...
...My family in Oregon, who will all be there, excepting us
...Moderation in life, love, and food
...How many more holidays we will be able to share with my grandma
...Keeping things on some sort of schedule today

Outside, I see...
...Calm, cool weather
...Grandma's back yard
...Bird feeder

I hear...
...Katherine's show
...Meema and Jay talking in the kitchen
...The convection oven with the turkey inside

I feel...
...A little bittersweet, but supremely grateful
...Happy.

A picture I would like to share:

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

On Her Way Up

I look into the face of my little girl and, now, more than ever, I see her all grown. She is poised, beautiful, lovely, funny, and also still clumsy, for now. I see it a lot in many of the pictures that were taken less than a year ago because, in comparison, she is so much older and shaped. It amazes me to see her maturing so neatly, into a sweet, darling package of love. She is at risk of becoming a girl who is smart, bold, creative, practical, and gorgeous. I am not really sure what we will do with that girl, but I am sure that she will be loved through it all...

My light, my love, my heart...

Glory to God in the Highest, Who Loves His Flock

When we strip away the layers of who we believe ourselves to be, right down to the absolute core of our innermost beings, what will we find? If we take away our logical explanation and listen to the heart's reaffirmations, what will we hear? If we do not like what another is doing, we cannot change it, but ask for God to work in our own hearts and convert us from thinking we know what is right, for if God is truly the God of all, then who are we to assert we can know best for another in matters of the spiritual? If we strip away those outer shells of our conscious knowledge and examine what we find inside, our neighbor may have a soul more pure than anything we can imagine, though we have not understood his actions, practice, and presence. God is omniscient, we are not. To pretend that we are is presumptuous, indeed, for any of us.

In the end, I doubt we will be asked if we were right, but rather, have we known God, Christ, and the Spirit. Did we follow His commandments, do His work, and offer ourselves in service to our fellow man, our neighbor, who is Christ. We are all, in one way or another, a different reflection of the refracting brilliance of God's love and purpose, so rather than quarreling with one another, Christian or not, perhaps emanating the love and life God has given us, we may find peace in His arms, where we may ask Him to direct our steps toward proper understanding.

St Seraphim of Sarov is known for saying, "Save yourself and thousands around you will be saved." In essence, meaning that if we work on our own spiritual growth and gifts, we have God flowing in us and through us, offering a multitude to those around us, thus assisting in being an example, but also benefiting in practice toward our brothers and sisters. If we cultivate our own understanding and focus on our own weaknesses, we do not have the time to muddy anyone else's waters. This is my own crude understanding, but I think it fits. The spreading of the Gospel is not always done with verbal interpretation, but through contact and action with others. We are given to one another to strengthen ourselves and one another, to carry one another when we are weary, to clothe and feed those without, to give selflessly of ourselves in the same manner that the ever burning love and light of God indwell us always, in this life and the next. If He is not with us now, in intimate unity and fullness, how can we expect to know Him when we die. For, as a person who flies toward the sun, we cannot expect to be of ourselves, in separate existence, when we meet. If our souls truly be eternal, we are given this life to regain our wholeness with God here and now, so that when we die, we are rejoined immeasurably. Just as life is a journey, not a destination, so too, Heaven is not a physical place, separate from us, Heaven is God within us, living and working within the soul.

"With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all." Eph. 4:2-6

Please forgive me, a sinner.

"They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.
But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." Matt. 9:12-13

Glory to God for all things!

Monday, November 21, 2011

My Meema

I love my grandma, she is one of my most favorite people in the whole world. She is 95, lives in the same house since 1966, and has something to say about everything. Her wisdom is practical and seems to surpass anything I might imagine. She is seasoned and molded by her many years of experience, through love, loss, people, places, pets, family, and more than anything we can imagine, in our few short years. She has been through both world wars, though very young, and every other war since. She knows what it means to conserve, but it doesn't just mean turning off the light, or the water.

I have decided that the key to life, according to knowing my grandma, so I am not actually quoting her here. Moderation in life create moderation of character and longevity. It is like in Tai Ji, when Sifu talks about not being too far forward, or back, because if you are, you can be taken off balance easily, but if you stay within your proper range, you stay level headed and practical, able to conserve energy, or deliver strength. Also, when we are moderate, we learn to take all things into consideration, so we begin to absorb the currents of all life.

I am supremely grateful to be here, to have time to spend with my grandma in her latest years of life. Her mind is still with her, and she is always thinking of others, after all these years. She has a way with teaching me things gently, like how to let people take care of me, because I won't argue with her and God's lesson is welcome and peaceful in my heart, as it softens in this love.

From the Ashes

Like the phoenix from the ashes
I feel reborn
Time and again
Transformation comes
Into the dark tomb
Encapsulated womb
Manifested growth
Into fullness beyond
A formidable familiar
Soaring high
Diving deep
Cresting luminary
Inhale the intoxication

Sunday, November 20, 2011

My Heart, My Heart

I bare my heart
Your hand, it holds
The dream begins
My life unfolds
Encompassed in mercy
The lessons I learn
For life and love
My soul does yearn
Be still, take hold
My will, make Yours
This story be told
Roused upon Your shore

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Sea of Life

The ocean full of life
Flowing in the moving waters
Illumined by the rise and fall of the sun.
Immense power comes rushing
Slowly and with purpose
Pervading every sense
Every corner and nook
Heavy blackness
Brimming with brightness
Calming and gentle
Intoxicating immensity
So bold and commanding
Fold me in your waves

A Sighing of Self

Thrashing and crashing
Burning passions
Boiling up inside this head
Heart in turmoil
You can't hear me
Still we are talking
Life is a Mystery
God is Love
Do we need more than that?
I know your heart
Can't we leave it at that?
The mouth can only speak
Just words of the mind
The soul's eternal yearning
Breathes through the self in time
Seeping into mine
Inching closer still
Be quiet, don't utter
The silence serves us better...

Friday, November 18, 2011

I Love Color

I love color!
I enjoy bright colors
with contrasting tones
even an absence of color
the beauty in its depth.

I like them vivid,
Muted and smudged,
Streamed and washed,
Blobbed and showy,
Bold and glowing.

I adore the vivacious
Absolutely spacious
Life changing
Mood altering
Mind bending color!

The Beginning of Day One

Well, we made it out to California, more or less. Jay is in bed recovering after the travels, Katherine is antsy to make it to the big beach, but I said we wanted to wait for Papa, so we could go together. I have knitted, gone to bed way too late, awoken with a girl who was too excited to sleep any longer, asking for things.

Katherine and I have taken a walk down the harbor beach, which we have called the 'little beach' since I was a kid. It is a swim beach, which doubles as peoples' backyards to their harbor homes. It was balmy, cool, and calm. Of course, cool in California coastline is not cool Rocky Mountain weather. It was lovely and we saw a few ducks gliding across the green-black waters, before wandering along the back way home. We talked and had beautiful start to the day. She is currently watching a National Geographic show, as we await Papa to emerge from his slumber. I tend to withdraw into myself a bit, when he has these sorts of days, where I seem to conserve energy, just in case.

I am so grateful to be here safely. We are looking forward to having a peaceful Thanksgiving with our family. On the docket for the day, rest, drop mail in the boxes with Meema, on the way to Trader Joe's, and some stir-fry for dinner. If Papa isn't up by sunset, I am afraid he will be missing the beach today, because I will just have to take Kat for that!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Chiropractor, Tai Ji, and Missing Church

Well, I went to the chiropractor on friday to right a couple spots that weren't falling in suit with all of my Taiji. It has helped tremendously, but I have been a couple times to Taiji to try to keep the muscles and structure in shape to not slip away again. I have been sleeping with my legs atop a pillow, so to flatten my back and such, which has been good, but last night, I got cold and didn't sleep a lot.

When I woke up this morning, I laid there to discuss the day and what we could manage. I realized I hadn't even tried to get up and walk, so I did and it was strained, literally! I decided to lie down a little longer and take some naturopathic pain relief and drink some water. Jay settled me in to make sure I wouldn't get cold and the next thing I knew, it was noon! What? I guess I needed the sleep, but church was missed and I always struggle with missing any.

Tomorrow we have Jay's appointments at the V.A., store, and vigil for St. John of Krondstadt. I think if we didn't have more services this week, I would have pushed a little harder to get myself to church, but, instead, I let Jay care for me, which is harder for me sometimes, than missing church. It is probably a good lesson for me, because it is easy for me to shuffle myself off to services, but strangely difficult for me to allow my husband to care for me and make the call that I need some rest. I am sorry not have made it, but more grateful that I let the morning flow the way it should.

So, after getting up at lunchtime, I had a bowl of cereal with Katherine and played some Uno Attack. We played a couple games and, when the tea was ready for drinking, there was a knock at the door. The neighbor came to ask Jay a question about her car, but he was out for a few, so she stayed and played some Uno with us. Now I think it is time for some epsom salts, as per Jay's request for my muscles, and then some stretching and resting.

I love my family, I really, really do.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Memory Eternal, Anna, may you rest in peace

So, it has been kinda quiet on here since the funeral, but I think now is as good a time as any to post about it, while I still have some floating around.

Anna fell asleep in the Lord about 7 hours after I was blessed to say our goodbyes and the funeral was on the following wednesday. From evening on tuesday, her body was brought into the church for viewing, prayers, and the reading of the Psalter. Many people, both family and friends, scheduled time to read the Psalter in the candlelight. I shared a one hour shift reading with Faith, Anna's niece and the daughter of the priest who baptised my entire family all those years ago, when we still lived in Etna. So, when the alarm went off, after struggling with falling asleep and staying there, there was enough drag in me, that I had a hard time waking up. Thankfully, I had already set everything out, so all I had to do was do minimal preparation. I got out of the house in a short enough period, but the little dog saw fit to disturb Katherine, who eventually got up for the day around 4.

I arrived at the church in less time than expected, but I am glad I was early, rather than late, so I could settle in a bit. There were two others in the church taking their turns reading and I walked up to the coffin to venerate. As I peered into the casket, I noticed how peaceful she looked and I felt relieved. In all honesty, I wasn't sure what would be my reaction to any of the day, but relief wasn't anything I anticipated. Anna's body rested there, for final goodbyes, and kissed the forehead of the handmaiden and image of God. She is no longer suffering, Glory to God!

Faith got to the church and we agreed on our sets to read from the Psalter for our shift and went on with it, as planned. As I read and listened to the Psalms, I really appreciated the humanity of the words. The crying out, from the depths of self, in all ways, toward God, our Father. If you have ever read the Psalms, you are likely to understand what I mean by that.

When the next person arrived, we gathered our things, venerated the body once more, and left. After a few words exchanged, we got into our cars and drove off toward home. I figured that since the funeral began at 10 am, I had better just stay up, since I was already dressed and such, so I made my way to an open coffee drive-thru to grab a little something on my way home. I drove out to an area nearby the air force base to sit and drink my concoction and think. It was nearly six in the morning and the sun was barely making its presence known. When I finished my drink, I went home to find Katherine awake, watching a show, covered in a blanket. Apparently she had trouble falling back to sleep and got up to look at books, play, and watch something. We had a peaceful and lovely time before getting Jay up to ready him for the funeral.

There wasn't too much trouble getting to the church, but Faith told me to try to come early, since Anna was a teacher and they were closing the school for kids to go to the funeral, of they wanted, so it might be crowded. We got there at about 915 and I noticed that the person reading might appreciate a break, as it was apparent that she had been up all night, mingled with tears and talking. I offered to take over, so she accepted. Until the funeral started, Jay and I took over the reading, while people filed in. I was very glad to be of service to the family, so they could just greet incomers and spend their time together.

It was a usual service for a funeral in the Orthodox fashion. If you have never been to one, the best I can say is that it is a proper sending off, a wonderful bit of closure, no matter the cause. I am grateful to have this prospect for a funeral for myself, when the time comes. Fr. John stopped after the reading of the Gospel to say a little something and one of the things that I really loved was the quote on the back of the paper icon card that Anna chose. "I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again." ~Anonymous. Fr. John also mentioned that it was Anna's wish to have anyone, who wanted to make a donation, to give them to Faith, for her mission trip to Albania.

Afterward, we all had our last goodbyes and awaited the funeral procession to the cemetery. We followed the police escort (which was pretty neat, by the way) all the way to the final resting place of Anna, where we would sing more prayers. As the hearse was opened to withdraw the casket, her three sons, two nephews, and husband dutifully carried it to its rightful place. As they walked, I only imagined what my funeral might be like. I don't know who will carry me to my rest. If I am old, when the time comes, perhaps I will have some grandchildren who are able, but the idea made me cry. I know this isn't about me, but what good is death if it can't help us reflect on our own life and death. So I ask, who will carry me to my rest, because it has touched me in a way I didn't know was surfaced enough to call for attention.

Everything finished up and we all went back to the church for a meal. I believe that the mood had changed entirely, for the fullness of closure in the service allowed for everyone to bond and be solemnly cheerful, in a way. Funny thing about funeral's, they act as a catalyst for family reunions and I saw people, who are nearly family, that I hadn't seen in years, even decades! It was good to see people and I even had a dear friend who is like another grandmother to us, Elizabeth, remark to me that she is so glad she is Orthodox because all of the services are so beautiful. I have always thought that the measure of a faith lies in how they treat their dead, and I truly believe this.

Toward the end of the meal, Faith sat down next to me and she handed me a profile card about her intended trip to Albania and said she knew that I liked to knit things. I said yes, before she even asked. I then related how I told Anna, just a few days earlier, that I wanted to knit something in her memory, when she was gone from us, but no one else was in the room. It was quite clear that it is meant to be. I will be knitting things to send with her and, if you are a knitter or crocheter, maybe you would like to send something along, she hopes to have raised enough money to leave this upcoming summer for two years, so we have a bit of time.

Well, that is that, however anti-climactic. Life is as it will be, we are blessed to have our family, friends, struggles, and triumphs. May the God of peace, love, and light be with all of you.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Stuff and Nonsense

This is one of those times when I have nothing, and everything, to say. I am floating onward, however, very little upward action seems to be happening, but I may just look down at some point and notice a ascent. There is a bit of a reprieve right now, as things, though busy and fairly hectic, are offering a lull of peacefulness amidst the din of daily life. It is a bit of a calm, but I am not expecting a storm, because, in reality, that seems to be the order of each day, so normalcy can hardly pass for something stormy. It is what it is, but church, family, and knitting keeps me sane-ish.

I have been daydreaming again about having a soup kitchen one day. It is something very dear to my heart and, God willing, I hope to somehow accomplish it before I die. Some people dream about where they will live, maybe where they will travel...I think about serving soup to people who don't have much. I dream about knowing them on a first name basis and that somehow we will learn from one another, in this whirlwind of life; perhaps give me some glimpse into the face of God, or that I may offer my heart, which He gave me and tends, to those who come. I even imagined staying open all night long, if we had to, so 'they' wouldn't have to go out in the seriously cold temperatures that Colorado so bitterly offers us nearly every year. So, of course that leads to the having of beds and such places. And the daydream grows into an entire story.

We are trying to wake up at the same time every day now, so I had better get myself off to bed. Until next time.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Latest Dress

Well, I made another dress for Katherine. A long while back, I chose some material with the intent to make her another 'Felicity' dress, but it has been sitting around for some time now, washed and ready. It is so pretty, these pictures won't do any justice, because it is such a lovely, warm brown and the flowers are so nicely set. I hope to get her in the dress for a picture soon.




I wanted to add some of the lace that is on the bottom to the neckline, but, as of now, she is vetoing that idea. She says she likes it just the way it is. I will admit, if she says she likes something, she will wear it, so who am I to upset the apple cart there?



Hopefully she will wear it for church this weekend :o)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

I love this!

‎"Our life depends on the thoughts we nurture. If our thoughts are peaceful, calm, meek, and kind, then that is what our life is like. If our attention is turned to the circumstances in which we live, we are drawn into a whirlpool of thoughts and can have neither peace nor tranquility."
~Elder Thaddeus from 'Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives'

Mish Mash

Well, the family is up in Greeley with Jay's folks and I am here at the coffee shop, sipping a latte. It is always bittersweet when we are apart. On the one hand, I enjoy the freedom of not having to always schedule everything and I can be spontaneous. On the other hand, I haven't got anyone to tuck in at night and watch an evening show with. I suppose it serves to give me appreciation for having them around and it won't be so hard when Katherine says, "Please, mom, just one more book!" After already having 2 more books! I love that she wants to be read to, but sometimes I am tired at her bedtime, so I push myself to do read another, so long as they aren't terribly intricate.

That girl loves the library and I am so pleased! Even if she isn't a fluent reader, just yet, I am so glad that she thinks that books, the library, and reading are super fantastic! She will do anything to get to go to the library, even so much as clean, so I know it is important. The favorite book right now is called, The Snow Globe Family. Very cute and funny. It is about a 'big' family (humans) and a little family, who live in the snow globe. All the snow globe family wants is for it to snow again, like it used to, but the big family has forgotten all about it, everyone except Baby :) You will have to check it out to find out the rest. Just what the world needs; creative, fun, appropriate stories for kids of all ages!

Taiji is going well. It is a nice outlet for me. It is helping with my posture and strength, which I really need. I have always seemed to have poor posture, but the older I get, the more I am realizing how much I will appreciate good posture into my later years. Katherine is also getting quite good at her Kung Fu, where she is advancing along quickly. She and I are both supposed to test at the end of the month. Taiji doesn't really have belts, but it is more of an accomplishment sort of thing. Traditionally, Kung Fu doesn't either, but it is this way to give status and keep track of people's ability, I think. My favorite stances that Katherine does are when falls back (you'd have to see it to really get it, unless you are familiar), and empty stance. Her long legs and svelte body do some justice to these in particular.

So far, I like 8 better than 7, but maybe it was just the year for us all. However, since she has turned 8, Katherine has been more articulate and I can see how she is growing into a thoughtful young girl. One of the things that makes me happy, as her mom, is seeing her learn something new from a friend and, rather than feeling like her friend is outshining her, she gives credit where it is due and will work harder to be good at it too. I have seen this in her Kung Fu, where there is a girl, Lizzie, who has been in class one month longer than Katherine, so also is more progressed. Sifu also helps all the kids take correction well, there isn't a class pet, who is somehow the example, they all have their own forms that they do well, some that aren't so great.

Another thing that I am enjoying about Katherine is when I heard her read, One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, to my youngest goddaughter, who is 2.5. I think if she had a younger sibling, to give purpose to reading books, she'd be further in her reading skills, but for now, this is great. (The goal is, and always has been, to develop a love of reading, without pushing too much. So far, so good.) When I was about her age, maybe a little older, I remember reading to my younger brother and sister a number of bedtime stories. I can't tell you how many times I read out of the enormous Busytown book, because it was my brother's favorite. Those are some good memories and, as I look back, we were sort of like in Peter Pan, telling stories into the night.

I would love to give Katherine a sibling with whom to play, read, and share her life. That is not our lot these days. When people would ask after we were first married how many kids we planned to have, I would tell them, "We would like to have at least one of each, and if it take 12 girls to get to a boy, so be it! Or vice versa, but we will just take what we get." It is much easier to say, when you are married for month, that you are willing to accept the children that God blesses you with, as you imagine the endless possibilities. It is much harder, when you are married nearly a decade and have one beautiful child and the hope begins to dwindle with age and life. It is a challenge to accept that, when you say you will take whatever God gives, that sometimes it is nowhere near what you imagined, but that the blessings in between are for greater purpose. Oh my, what a heart full of heaviness and gratefulness.

Well, if we ever can, we would adopt. Katherine is all over that one, but the girl doesn't quite get that it necessitates time and paperwork. Perhaps we are getting closer to something like fostering to adopt, or domestic adoption, however, I am not choosy. The benefit of growing up with a love of babies and being a babysitter and nanny, is the developing of a heart that can love any child, no matter what.

On another note, I may go see a movie with a close friend tonight, where they let you take margarita's into the theatre. Jay would really like me to do something like that, but I know that he will only want me to, if I am up for it. I am trying to decide. I am leaning toward going, but we will see what I end up with. I am still feeling a little heavy from the week of death and funeral. I don't think my internal clock has completely reset, but it just may be me, lingering in thought.

I think that is it, for now. I think when I write next, I will be posting about the funeral. There is a beauty in all the services of the Orthodox faith and the passage of death, funerals and burial, are no exception. Until then...

Monday, October 10, 2011

Memory Eternal, Anna

I got an email from my mom a few days back about a long time family friend, who has been battling with cancer, on and off, for years, was nearing her end in this life. My mom asked if I would go represent the family in making our peace and saying goodbye. In all honesty, I ought to have made my appearance sooner, when we could have had a one on one conversation, instead of a one-sided one, due to her coma. Somehow, it escaped my mind completely, for a couple days, until I was abruptly reminded, then realized I may be too late, when her niece posted that they did not expect her to live past yesterday morning. The nurse was amazed that she was still around in the afternoon, resting in her bed, overlooking the beautiful yard full of color.

I went to church in the morning, fully anticipating that I would not have a chance to see her, and resigned myself to God's will, that if I was meant to be there, it would be, and if not, I might find acceptance. After church, I met with a couple of ladies from knitting to get some much needed needles to finish my dad's sweater and to knit for a few, then I came home to get Katherine ready for a birthday party. I got the message, in between all of the hubbub, that Anna was still with us and that I may come by whenever I can and that they'd contact me if she reposed before I arrived.

I didn't see any sense in dragging everyone over there, as I was capable on my own, and I wasn't sure what to expect, but that Katherine had the party planned for quite some time, which things turned out just fine in the end. After bringing them by the party, I gathered my things and my courage and set out to the unknown. It had been ages since seeing Anna, and most of the family, so I wasn't sure what to expect. On the way, I called my mom (don't worry, I have a cordless earpiece, it was as safe as having a passenger in the car talking). I told her I was on my way over and what the prognosis was. She said she was glad to know I was going and to please give hugs and kisses to everyone, in her stead. Anna and my parents are from the same generation and it is Anna's brother, Fr. Ambrose (then, Fr. Alexei), who baptised my whole family. We chatted for a few and I expressed how I felt like I was going there without anything to offer, to which my mom said they would just be glad I came. She asked if I had a little icon in the car to maybe lay there with her, so I took the one of the Theotokos.

Faith was there to greet me and show me in. Fr. John, from St. Herman's was sitting there next to Anna, with Peter, her husband nearby and I think there was one more, too, perhaps her sister, Justina. Fr. John got up to leave and I asked a blessing before he left, then I sat there next to Anna's right side. Most people began moving about, with things to attend and Faith stayed there with me for a few minutes. She said she was going to go out for a few minutes and then come back. I expected people would be in and out of there, perhaps staying for some time, but I realized they had all been there regularly, up to that point. I noticed that I was left with Anna in quiet, without so much as a sound, besides her breathing.

I sat there quietly for a few minutes with a hand on her arm, trying to gather some thoughts to articulate, because they say she could hear us. I began by telling her that I was sorry I hadn't come sooner, but I was grateful to make it when I did. I was back and forth between crying and talking. She lay there so peacefully and I found that felt helpless. I had nothing to give, so I told her I would do my best in praying for her, though it could not ever be enough. As I calmed to a quiet solemnity, I realized I hadn't seen anyone in awhile, but that I wasn't about to leave her alone. I decided to tell her stories of our family, both my own little family, as well as, my parents, brothers and sisters. She seemed to respond to a few things I said, as much as a person in a coma could do. When I related that our anniversary is the feast of Sts. Joachim and Anna, she opened her eyes most of the way. I wasn't sure of how much she was aware of, so I imagined that it was reactionary, but perhaps not completely intentional, but it seemed she was communicating with me. Soon Ian, her nephew, and Justina came back in to check before going, or resting. We were all talking and said they were so happy to see me, asking how the rest of the family is doing. We chatted a few more minutes before they went back out again.

A couple more people popped in momentarily, but I was mostly left to sit and talk, or keep the silence. After getting through the current family events that seemed pertinent, I looked over and saw a Psalter sitting on the table next to the bed. I leaned over to retrieve it, aiming to read her something to fill the quiet for a bit. I told her how it came to be my favorite psalm, then proceeded to read it aloud. As I read psalm 27(26 septuagint), it seemed to bring new meaning to it. It nearly made me cry, but it also offered strength and purpose to the moment. When I was finished, I set it back on the table, to linger in quiet just a little more. Her son came in with a friend of hers, so I gave her my seat, as I recognised this was quite obviously my cue. I gave Anna a hug, kissed her head and told her how we love her.

I recall there were moments, when we sat peacefully, that my heart spoke to hers, assuring that we'd carry on and that I could see her in her boys. At that moment in a person's journey, laid in wait for repose to consume, the people around you seem to reflect all that you have given them. There were pieces of laughter, a smile of recognition, but mostly, there was a quiet blanket of love that seemed to encompass everyone and everything. She has brought God's love to her family and friends, which was more evident in that glimpse, than ever before. What a blessing to witness.

As I left the house, I thought a bit about everything. It occurred to me that I was able to be there with Anna, while everyone else took an hour to relax, because someone else was on watch with her. They ate, slept, made phone calls to other family, all the while, Anna and I kept one another's company. I am grateful to have been a part of their relief and to have had something to offer. Glory to God! Maybe they imagined they were giving us time together, which was true, but I think it was useful for them as well.

This morning at 1:10 a.m., she passed from this world to the next and is without the bodily struggles anymore. May she find rest in a place of coolness, a place of green pasture, where there is no sickness, sorrows, or sighing, but life everlasting.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Wayfaring Stranger

I am a poor wayfaring stranger
While traveling through, this world of woe.
But there’s no sickness, toil or danger
In that bright land, to which I go.
I’m going there to see my father
I’m going there no more to roam;
I’m just a going over Jordan
I’m just a going over home.
I know dark clouds will gather round me
I know my way is rough and steep;
Yet beauteous fields lie just before me
Where God’s redeemed, no more shall weep
I’m going there to see my mother
She said she’d meet me when I come;
I’m just a going over Jordan I’m just a going over home.
I’ll soon be free from earthly trials,
my body sleep in the old church yard,
I’ll drop the cross of self denial and enter in my great reward,
I’m going, I’m going there to see my Savior
I’m going there no more to room,
I’m just a going over jordan.
I’m just a going over …


Be at peace, dear Anna. May your transition to the next life be quiet and peaceful, surrounded by those you love. They all have reflection of what you have given them and will care the spark of life and love from your heart into every place. May your memory be eternal in all you love.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Waters

Stagnant waters
Calm and cool
Dark and deep
Contain a dormant myriad

Stillness becomes prepense
Layers of existence
Fade into profundity
Yet exude imperfection

The vast collective
Brimming with a hum
Though restrictive in nature
Idly awaits the dawn

A break in monotony
Commencing rapt reverie
Beckoning to stir
A sleepless illusion

In the midst
A creeping conclusion
Ushers respite and repair
As waters repose

Peaceful disturbance
Reverberating within
Reflecting without
Settle upon a Rock

Monday, October 3, 2011

One Upon a Nativity

The other day I was telling Katherine of the story from when I was a kid and we were really poor, though it never seemed so, since we always had a roof over our heads and food to eat; with the repetition I remember, it is a good thing I liked hot cereal, especially cream of wheat! You see, Katherine hasn't got any context for having a limited income, being an only child whose parents are blessed with always having enough of everything, though it has been shaking in the past. I will tell the story I acquainted her with, because I think it is worth telling.

In 1988, I was ten years old. It was winter time and my mom had begun working again when we moved back up north from our short stint in H.B., because she had the most marketable skill set as a nurse and she'd had recent experience in Cali. My dad was at home for us kids, so there was always a parent in the home, thus he was responsible for the home front. My mom travelled some 45+ minutes through the mountains on a shuttle bus one way, to the next biggest town for her job, so she got up extra early every day, then came home sometime after 6, I believe. You can imagine the length of being away from home and family.

Day in and day out, this was the way things were; my dad was wrangling 4 kids, a couple cats and a dog, while my mom spent endless hours out of the house, caring for everyone else's family, so we could make ends meet, though split six ways, plus paying for the shuttle to work, you can imagine what we had. It was going to be Nativity soon and we didn't even have a church close enough to go celebrate the feast. I remember snow at twilight, as my siblings and I devised a plan for the eve of the feast, while my parents were out on a walk. We decided that we would wrap our own things to give to each other, so we would have gifts to give and receive. The tree, which I think may have been someone else's before coming to our house, was alit with fun lights from my aunt. They were like lava lamps, but with colored water and the bubbles were much faster. We scrambled around getting things together and watched for my parents' return. We made sure that the lights were off in the rest of the house, so it was just the tree, shining in its own beauty.

I don't remember a lot, but I do recall some hugs and smiles. If memory serves, it was night when we opened things, but I won't rely on the timing, just the subject, so bear with me here. We opened the things we had wrapped for one another and a couple of other little items, when my mom appeared with a rather large box (or was it a giant plastic bag?) for each of us. One for each of us kids, though we knew there wouldn't be much, there was a personal blanket for us. They each had a corduroy top and flannel underneath, with batting between. She had embroidered our names and the year on the edge. I still have mine, though it is a bit worse for wear, it has moved with me to every place I have lived since. You see, somewhere in all the working, traveling, and parenting, my mom had gotten up early and gone to bed late, to make these for us, so we would have something new on the feast of Nativity.

These are my parents, who loved one another so dearly to have 4 kids, with whom to share their love. In times of having very little earthly goods, we were afforded the opportunity to see the spiritual goods and character, with which God has embodied in them, however imperfect they may be. I was reading the other day about a monk who was talking to the person who wrote the article, on having kids, before he and his new wife were ever pregnant, they wanted advice. They thought it would be more complicated than the answer they received. In effect, it was that what makes for good children and parenting, is for parents to love one another. The kids will see the example of love and sacrifice through the parents devotion to one another, in all ways. This is what I believe God has blessed my family with and also why so many people like to be around us. My parents worked very hard to maintain a home for us through it all, for that I am grateful. They have been through more than their share of struggles and have made it through. They are an example for me even now, as a wife and mother, because they have been here and understand.

I love you, mom and dad. Thanks for your faith, work, love and devotion!

Off They Went!

Jay and Katherine left for their overnight trip to Cherry Creek Reservoir just about an hour ago. I rode with them for a couple miles, then kissed them both, and sent them on their adventure! I am really hoping that they have the time of their lives and want to do it again one day. Katherine had a hard time going without me, but she will be alright, once she focuses on going to the reservoir, campfires, marshmallows, fishing, games, rides, walks, and more! Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers, as you all know of Jay's health, but they are determined and only about 7 miles away from home, so I am simply hoping they have a smooth, enjoyable time.

Well, here I am, sitting in the coffee shop with the computer and some knitting. My dad's sweater is getting big and bulky and I couldn't find what else I was looking for, so I brought the unicorn project with me. Katherine asked me if I would make her a unicorn and, when the Knitting Habitat was closing, I got some yarn on clearance and will be using it for this project. I think the only reason I haven't made it before has everything to do with the fact that it will require assembly. I will be knitting the legs separately from the body, and I will have to stuff it. If I can get one leg done, per week maybe, I will be able to get the whole thing done for St. Nicholas Day, or Nativity.

Here's to having some time to use as I please!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

No Time Like the Present

Outside my window...

The sun is shining and the birds aThough a friend told me of it long ago, I have recently begun saving the tops and bottoms of carrots, celery, cabbage, mushrooms, bell pepper, onion, etc. and sticking them in the freezer. The intent is to gather enough to make veggie stock. This follows my attempt to be more frugal and to use more of each item. I didn't pay any less for that end piece of onion than the middle, more desirable part, so why not make the most of it! After only about 1.5-2 weeks, I have the better portion of a gallon size bag full in there. I look forward to making the broth to use with some recipes that call for it, particularly the ones for things like pumpkin soups cooked with veggie broth and pureed together for a hearty, delicious winter meal.re eating from the feeders. The heirloom tomato plant, 'Shortie', has a number of ripening fruits, as does Bertha, the cherry tomato plant. The chard is in full abundance and the beets are coming up nicely; I hope to get some tasty, colorful beets out of them!



I am thinking...

...about canning this zucchini relish and bread and butter pickles this afternoon. They are both in the preparation stages, then will come the cooking and canning. Also, thinking about Katherine and her Papa going camping, starting tomorrow at 11 am, for 24 hours; what will I do with myself?!?!?!


I am thankful for...

A place to rest
Family
Food, with the ability and abundance to preserve some for future use
A mild autumn, with slow changing leaves and gentle weather shifts
Our home and the means to maintain it


From the learning rooms...

Katherine is getting more into reading, though still it isn't her favorite thing to do on her own, she still LOVES having someone read to her; she is, and always has been, auditory, so I don't worry too much, it will come. We are hoping to set up some sessions on video chat with my dad to do art with Katherine, which they have done once before, but since my parents' move, the art supplies are not at home and settled yet. Perhaps, perhaps.

I am learning how to be more thrifty, because it is economical, but also practical. I will be trying to plan our meals in more detail, so as to save money shopping for each item, so there aren't any surprises, though this will prove more challenging than it sounds, for me. I am trying to use left over things to make something new, and so on.

I cannot speak for Jay, but I am sure he is managing some lesson in all this. He has been trying to find some free audio books, so he doesn't have to use his eyes, due to headache issues, so if anyone has any suggestions of books, please feel free to drop an oar in.


From the kitchen...

Though a friend told me of it long ago, I have recently begun saving the tops and bottoms of carrots, celery, cabbage, mushrooms, bell pepper, onion, etc. and sticking them in the freezer. The intent is to gather enough to make veggie stock. This follows my attempt to be more frugal and to use more of each item. I didn't pay any less for that end piece of onion than the middle, more desirable part, so why not make the most of it! After only about 1.5-2 weeks, I have the better portion of a gallon size bag full in there. I look forward to making the broth to use with some recipes that call for it, particularly the ones for things like pumpkin soups cooked with veggie broth and pureed together for a hearty, delicious winter meal.

The canning, of course, and I also want to make some kale chips from the recipe in Color Me Vegan. I am trying to decrease our animal protein consumption, for many reasons, but to list a few, they include, inflammation, digestive ease and overall wellness. I have noticed that when we have very little meat, and stick to eggs and fish as our moderate animal products, we all do much better. So, we are trying to gear ourselves into a moderate, doable, and healthful dietary shift, including getting coffee out and green tea in. I have noticed it has been causing some undue side effects, especially for Jay, that aren't worth that cuppa, though a special treat now and again isn't the end of the world, but we have to start somewhere.



I am creating...

Still working on my dad's sweater, after having taken out a large chunk twice, to finally get the increase to be what I wanted! If that isn't love, I don't know what is! I have been experimenting with the tea cosy I am making for a friend in trade and I want it to be *just* right, so that is fun. I hope to get some sewing done, as Katherine has requested a dress, for which I have everything I need, I just have to get on top of it. I need to get my socks on the needles, too.


I am going...

to Taiji regularly and it is a much needed stress relief. It has offered me some time to myself and it helping with my posture. I have let my own personal maintenance go in these past few years since Jay's illness set in, so it is helping me regain some of my energy and strength, both physically and mentally.

I am (still) reading...

That book about St. Maria Skobtsova of Paris, Pearl of Great Price
A book of poetry from the library by Thoreau
Knitting patterns :o)


I am hoping and praying...

...that I learn my lessons well and can apply them to my life.
...that moderation, in many aspects, pervade my life.
...that I can settle into a routine and stick with it. We are notorious for beginning one, then shifting, due to health issues, or some other friend or family influence.


I am hearing...

Classical music on the radio and my fingers typing.


Around the house...

I have a number of things to sort through, because my mom and dad sent me a veritable load of material and yarn. Not to mention, the boxes from a friend I have in the garage full of sewing supplies! I am always wanting things neater around here, but learning what is practical to expect in a home with a disabled husband and a homeschooling daughter, with a cat, two dogs and two fish.

A few plans for the rest of the week:

Kat and Jay go camping; coffee and knitting with a sweet and caring friend; returning to volunteer to help keep the church open on wednesdays; Taiji for me, Kung Fu and dance for Kat, maybe some hunting with a friend for Jay; a birthday party and church. Other than that, I can't say for sure, but I will have to figure out what to do for the 24 hours my little family is camping!


Here are some picture thoughts I am sharing...



From our trip to Kenosha Pass on wednesday with our friends :o)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Prayer of the Optina Elders

I have posted this before, and it is such a nice prayer, I thought it deserves a reposting. It has such a concise and purposeful content, I need to remember to say it daily.

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.

Amen.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Kenosha Pass Hiking Pics

Kenosha Pass, CO. A beautiful and perfect day in the Rocky Mountains!







Tuesday, September 27, 2011

In All Things

Do you ever just have those moments when you are stopped in the tracks of your day and things don't seem so hard anymore? I just had one. For all of my complaining in struggles, I really ought to be sure to search out and state what the silver lining is, because there always is one, like in my favorite Psalm 27, 'The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is my strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid.'

In nearly all my years, I have not lost someone close to me. There have been people that I have known who have died, but they were more acquaintances, so the attachment is different when it isn't someone with whom you have woven a bond made from heart strings, smiles and words in all necessity. I was small when my grandpa died and wasn't even born when my dad's dad passed on, so I still have both grandma's, as well as, mom and dad, aunts and uncles, brother, sisters, cousins, friends, etc. Glory to God!

The closest I have gotten was to be there through a good friend's second pregnancy knowing, from part way in, there was no way he'd survive past birth. If my heart breaks just a fraction of what it did when I hugged my friend at the memorial, or saw the pictures of them together as a family, or every time I think of and tell their story, or when the white doves flew at the March of Dimes for all the babies with birth defects who couldn't be with us today, I am sure to find a new meaning in God, as times like that can only further the internal search of life, love and family.

Each life is beautiful. We are blessed to be here together, even with the ones we'd rather not be, and we ought to be grateful for every single time we open our eyes each day, for those things filled therein, every breath we take to sustain the very beat of the heart. We are, none of us perfect, but we cannot teach love through hate and animosity, so no matter what we think or feel, if we are not overrun in love, how can there be any peace and joy? If we can be so attached to ourselves in our fallen and broken nature, we can certainly strive to envelope the entire human race in our hearts, just as we keep ourselves, and as Christ commands, we begin with our neighbor. Our own troubles do not outweigh our brothers, but our pride and selfishness would have us believe it does. Our love can only multiply and uncover compassion, forgiveness and understanding; who among us would willingly shun these gifts?

Life is precious and we have so little earthly time to become united, must we be so blinded by our daily woes, that we cannot see the simplest perfections in struggling together? Take a moment to reflect on how bad things really are; remember the orphan and widow, poor and destitute, those captured and imprisoned unjustly, those who have lost a spouse, parent or child, those with terminal illness, disability or physical pain daily. Some of us live with these things, others know someone, and there is hardly a life not touched by one of these afflictions, but if we all take one small step at a time toward healing ourselves with and through one another and crush dissension, just imagine what could be.

Some would call me a dreamer, but this is the mixing of my head and my heart; it always has been and I doubt things will change. In all things, God's will be done.

It's Only Tuesday

So, I can't wait for this week to be over, and it's only tuesday afternoon!!! We are out of the house for the better part of each day and I am so tired. It is quite convenient that friday marks the last day of september and saturday will be october 1st! This week we have had a doctor's appointment for Jay, vigil and liturgy, and will have dance and kung fu for Kat, Tai Ji for me, a friends' in the mountains, Berry Patch Farms (which also assumes canning will follow, another appointment for Jay with Voc. Rehab., and Lair o' the Bear, because we are in the neighborhood. I think my head may stop spinning mid-october, but I am not making any promises.

That all being said, I can officially say that, in october, things will slow down. The biggest piece in that puzzle is sticking to it and not over scheduling us. The things I have to happily reconcile with each week are: Church, Kat's schooling, Kung Fu and dance, Tai Ji, and Kat and papa's date night, because they MUST have one, or else I will never hear the end of it! So, on top of that, there is the daily routine that involves Bible reading, the Psalter and saint of the day, basic chores, family time, and so on. All the while, saving money to make a trip to Cali. Whew! Man, I thought this week was looking busy, but I think the older she gets, my tiredness will grow in proportion to her activities and social life! If she wasn't an only, I wouldn't be so concerned about her having some time with kids her own age, but it doesn't always fit in the way we would hope.

Well, that is the 6 weeks of our lives, starting next week. Good grief! The goal in all this time is to be frugal, focused and quiet. Can we do it?!?! If we buckle down and tune out the sound of the world, it just may happen. It would be SO nice to get out of town and spend some time in sunny California, but I refuse to overbook us when we are there! Last time seemed to work out really well, as far as timing and seeing people, but I still didn't get to see my Goddaughter in AZ on the way home because I got sick. I would actually like to plan a special trip, just to see them sometime, so they aren't just a flyby, as it were. In any case, last time we saw the West family, in their home and at the beach, which was great and we hope to see them again. We also got to visit with Jay's cousin and her family in San Diego and it was totally worth the trip, but it seem so short, although I am not sure any of us would find a good stopping point in talking, unless we had oodles of time. We spent a couple afternoons with Nicole and Sophia at the beach, which was super relaxing and much needed. Seeing my grandma was great, as always, she loves having Jay around to do 'man' stuff. He is really handy and can fix a lot, not to mention, he cooks and cleans, so she thinks he is wonderful.

Please keep us in your prayers as we embark on the journey of the next 6-7 weeks, I am trying to avoid burnout and hope to attain some hapy medium, where everyone gets what they need and a little bit of what they want. Talk to y'all soon!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Psalms of the Church

I go through phases, it seems, of appreciating the Psalms. I would say that I always appreciate them, in a sense, but there are particular times when I am really drawn in by a specific one, for its words, purpose or whatever it is offering at that time. Tonight, during the reading of the six psalms during the vigil, I heard Psalm 142 (septuagint) almost as if I had heard it for the first time in its entirety. The phrasing and words grabbed me and it transported me to a place with momentary clarity and peace. Here it is:

"Hear my prayer, O Lord; give ear unto my supplication in Thy truth; hearken unto me in Thy righteousness.

And enter not into judgment with Thy servant; for in Thy sight shall no man living be justified.

For the enemy hath persecuted my soul; he hath brought my life down to the ground.

He hath sat me in darkness, as those that have been long dead; and my spirit is faint within me, my heart within me is troubled.

I remembered the days of old, I meditated on all Thy works, I mused on the works of Thy hands.

I stretched forth my hands unto Thee; my soul thirsteth after Thee as a thirsty land.

Hear me speedily, O Lord; my spirit waxeth faint.

Turn not away Thy face from me, lest I be like unto them that go down into the pit.

Cause me to hear Thy mercy in the morning, for in Thee do I hope.

Cause me to know, O Lord, the way wherein I should walk, for I lifted up my soul unto Thee.

Rescue me, O Lord, from mine enemies; have I fled unto Thee for refuge. Teach me to do Thy will, for Thou art my God.

Thy good Spirit shall lead me into the land of uprightness; quicken me, O Lord, for Thy name’s sake.

In Thy righteousness Thou shalt bring my soul out of trouble, and in Thy mercy Thou shalt destroy my enemies.

And Thou shalt destroy all them that afflict my soul, for I am Thy servant."

These Psalms are so very human and that is part of why I like them. They are so grounded in humanity, but focused on Divinity. They have managed to be a solid part of the Old Testament, but are extremely relevant to the New Testament as well. We use them in prayer, both at home and in services. They are Scripture, but they are so relatable that they offer comfort in all times of life; in triumph and despair.

The point of this post is that when I heard this psalm, I heard the person, the you and me, every one of us. The core of each of us, because who hasn't felt this way at some time, who hasn't thought these things, wholly, or in part? The psalms are a beautiful reflection of the plight of each of us and a testament to the Divinity and workings of God. I love them. Do you have a favorite? One of my favorites is this Psalm 27(26 septuagint):

"The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell.

Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident.

One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple.

For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.

And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the LORD.

Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me.

When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek.

Hide not thy face far from me; put not thy servant away in anger: thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation.

When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up.

Teach me thy way, O LORD, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies.

Deliver me not over unto the will of mine enemies: for false witnesses are risen up against me, and such as breathe out cruelty.

I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.

Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD."

V.A. and the Holy Cross, All in a Day

Ah, the V.A.! Oh how I loathe that hospital; where doctors are pharmacists and government medicine reigns. I kept my mouth good and shut this visit, because it is apparent to me how the western medicinal practices focus on the management of symptoms, rather than dealing with, and healing, what has gotten altered. Also, I kept my mouth shut because Jay asked me to let him do his thing because he has to jump through all of the hoops to get to the departments for any possible useful treatment. *SIGH*

I actually feel kinda bad for them, because they don't know what it is they aren't being taught; that their practice is only half-hatched. That is why I like holistic doctors best, where east meets west, it is like having a two-parent household, whereas one or the other is more of a single parent shindig. Two is good, offering more balance, like two legs. You get my drift.

We got a parking space up front this time, on a monday of all days!!! That was helpful in getting us up there to sit around and wait some more until someone calls you up for vitals, then go wait some more until the Doc is ready for you. However, Jay's doctor is very nice and he does try, I mean, at least he isn't a stodgy old boy, who thinks new fangled things are just that. He does care, though his job outside the V.A. is as an OB/GYN, LOL! That is funny to me somehow.

It does, however, prompt me to be more diligent in getting our dietary needs battened down. Though it is hard to stick with things all the time, it gets tiresome, but most things worth having require attention to detail and vigilance. Oh, so tired sometimes...

Well, we are on the forefeast of the Exaltation of the Universal, Holy and Life-giving Cross, so we will be getting ready for vigil in a little while. It is a wonderful feast and I always look forward to when we sing, "Before Thy cross, we bow down in worship, O Master, and Thy Holy Resurrection, we glorify!" Alternating it 3 times total in Slavonic and English.

this is the write up on : "† The Universal Exaltation of the Precious and Life-giving Cross
"Saint Helen, the mother of Saint Constantine the Great, when she was already advanced in years, undertook, in her great piety, the hardships of a journey to Jerusalem in search of the Cross, about the year 325. A temple to Aphrodite had been raised up by the Emperor Hadrian upon Golgotha, to defile and cover with oblivion the place where the saving Passion had been suffered. The venerable Helen had the statue of Aphrodite destroyed, and the earth removed, revealing the Tomb of our Lord, and three crosses. Of these, it was believed that one must be that of our Lord, the other two of the thieves crucified with Him; but Saint Helen was at a loss which one might be the Wood of our salvation. At the inspiration of Saint Macarius, Archbishop of Jerusalem, a lady of Jerusalem, who was already at the point of death from a certain disease, was brought to touch the crosses, and as soon as she came near to the Cross of our Lord, she was made perfectly whole. Consequently, the precious Cross was lifed on high by Archbishop Macarius of Jerusalem; as he stood on the ambo, and when the people beheld it, they cried out, "Lord, have mercy." It should be noted that after its discovery, a portion of the venerable Cross was taken to Constantinople as a blessing. The rest was left in Jerusalem in the magnificent church built by Saint Helen, until the year 614. At that time, the Persians plundered Palestine and took the Cross to their own country (See Jan. 22, Saint Anastasius the Persian). Later, in the year 628, Emperor Heraclius set out on a military campaign, retrieved the Cross, and after bringing it to Constantinople, himself escorted it back to Jerusalem, where he restored it to its place." (Great Horologion) A fast is kept today, whatever the day of the week."

Well, I had better get on top of some things today, because they won't get themselves done! Later!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

New Template, Yay!

So, if you haven't already noticed, I have been messing around with my blog template. It is the first time in years! Let me know what you think, I kinda like it.

I will blog about other stuff later, maybe the things going on this week, but we will see. Until then, have a great week!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Right now

Outside my window...

The sound of birds singing in the evening twilight with alight breeze gently moving the bamboo chimes.



I am thinking...

About my family and how productive today was, but I am tired.



I am thankful for...

My husband, of 9 years, this past thursday
A beautiful daughter who is growing into a solid young girl
A place to call home
Good friends
Video chat, so I can see my family out west (and even knit with my mom online!)
Food to eat
Mild weather
A caring church family
Patience...


From the learning rooms...

Hmm, Katherine is into dinosaurs a lot; Jay is into reading a lot more, when his eyes can manage; I am harnessing my ability to follow directions in a cookbook and be more organized around the house.



From the kitchen...

It is CLEAN! I scrubbed the kitchen today, so that makes it extra special. As for food, we have borrowed a new cookbook and really like it so much. We made a really tasty soup puree, as per Kat's request, that has things like parsnips, potatoes, white beans, scallions, garlic, shallots, tarragon, dill, etc. and it is a family favorite that is very warm and filling. We also plan to make some kale chips soon and tomorrow night, Jay has chosen to have mushroom topped/stuffed baked potatoes that are made with sauteed onion, bell pepper and mushroom-YUM!!




I am creating...

My dad's sweater, my vest (if I ever finish that thing!), A tea cosy for Columbina, a dress to be sewn for Kat and I think that is all that is on the needles or table.



I am going...

To take it easy and practice my long-suffering through patience and being in the moment with my family more.


I am reading...

That book about St. Maria Skobtsova of Paris, Pearl of Great Price
A book of poetry from the library by Thoreau
Knitting patterns :o)


I am hoping and praying...

That we get enough rest until the holidays hit and afterward
That the VA is favorable and quick with Jay's added disability request for extended coverage
That we get some rest tonight and have a fresh day tomorrow, for a relaxing sunday


I am hearing...

Canadian Geese, an airplane and my little family talking.


Around the house...

There are still things that need to be worked on, but things are neat enough for a sunday afternoon.



A few plans for the rest of the week:

Oh boy!!! Two appointments for Jay, services for the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, friends, Berry Patch Farms, canning, Lair o' the Bear, Costco....Um, I think that covers it. At least it starts AFTER tomorrow!



Here are some picture thoughts I am sharing...


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

9 years ago...well, close enough

Well, nine years have past, as of midnight, and we have been married that entire time. In our short married life, we have had a baby girl, been through a number of jobs and unemployed, moving, a deployment, a good job, buying a condo, working too much, pets, cars, serious illness, near death moments, healing, rebound illness, disability, schooling, growing up, growing up a child, road trips, reality; you name it, we have probably been there.

When I look at the big picture, I can't help but see what has stayed constant. Precious few have stuck around the entire time, though they do exist. The main one that I know has been the backbone of support for us as a couple, as parents, and as a family, is our church. We have had enough changes and things fall apart, we might as well be at rock bottom, but we are together, and quite happily, though it is overshadowed with the stark reality of today.

Our happiest, most jubilant days are spent there, as are our saddest, most desolate ones, we find solace, support, and strength to pull through. A solid rock of centuries old wisdom, comfort, and peace, with shelter to weather any storm. What a blessing to never have to question our faith through all of the trials which have befallen us and to be granted a deeper understanding of this faith of our fathers.

Seasons of life come and go, they weather on like the leaves of the trees, but the faith which has been handed down to us for two millennia stands strong, like the evergreen in winter. We may be dashed against the stones of life, we can always seek consolation in the arms of an unchanging, staunch, and compassionate faith such as this. I, for one, am grateful. Slava Bogu!

I love our faith and church, my husband and daughter, and the time we have.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Air is Cooling Off And So Are We

Well, it's that time again where I post something about how we are all worn out from whatever it is and that we will be using these upcoming weeks to lay low. We have had a lot going on, but we have also got more coming up. In the next two weeks alone, we have 6 days of church (for special feasts), 2 appointments for Jay and a trip to Berry Patch for raspberries galore and we wanted to include a visit to the art museum somewhere in there. That doesn't even include our anniversary on thursday!

I love our birthday-anniversary-liturgical-new-year-feast day-berry-harvest month, but october is so welcome every year. It has a couple of extra services spread out, but the weather changes, for certain usually, the days are full of walks, changing leaves, soup, hot cereal, tea, sewing, knitting, and so on. Can you tell it is my favorite?

Now for the part that I don't like, where I have to tell everyone that, although we love peoples' company dearly, we have to slow things down a bit or we will never make it through the holiday season. I am aware it doesn't begin for about 2 months, but if you have lived with someone, or have, chronic illness, you will understand how important down time really is. If we don't take the time now, we will pay later. Chances are, we will pay a little later anyway, there isn't really anything, besides going to church, that doesn't have some repercussion after the fact, or contribute to an oncoming issue.

Jay's health is stable, over all, but he has had some very off days lately which are concerning to me. He hasn't had a problem with migraines for a long time, at least, we haven't had to use his migraine stuff for full-blown migraines in awhile, but he got one last week, even taking his migrelief preventative. He got a bad one on Labor day, too, so I know something is off and we need to slow down. Stimulation, whether good or bad, is trying on his system, so the more we can limit that, the fewer issues he tends to have.

I went to church last night and, halfway through, began sneezing. I thought it may have been the new incense, but as it turns out this morning, I have the beginning of a cold. I am sure I needed to slow down, but unless I am unable to get out of bed at all, I still think I should go to church. I got totally ready to go, and was doing ok, until right before we were supposed to go, I just started sneezing and sneezing. I was in tears to Jay and Katherine hugged me a lot. I just don't like missing church, but God knows best and I am sure there is a lot of purpose in this. I made myself some echinacea, lemon balm, ginger, rose hips, red rasp leaf and chamomile infusion last night and I am due for more.

Well, to the point of this post. We will be going on a sort of lockdown soon, until mid-november. We are really hoping to scrimp and save to make it to my grandma's for Thanksgiving, which means we will have a 'Crafter's Bench Christmas', because we will spend any extra money to go, but it is worth it. Meema is 95 and won't be around forever, so it means a lot to me to go; she is like another mom to me, in some ways. So long as we can all be together through it all, that is what matters, right? I have things I can sew and knit and, since the weather will change, I will be doing it more anyway. So, in the interest of everyone's health and ability to make through the winter months and holidays to come, we may have to bow out of many different things, but it has everything to do with us, not you.

One thing that has to be remembered about chronic illness is that, although the person may seem functional, it is not in the same fashion of an average person. Their energy may be spent long before they want it to be, but they will smile through a lot of it. When they get tired, it may take days to recover their strength, or may have to sort of a side effect, like headache, etc. Also, please keep in mind that he may not even know how much he needs to rest, even if he knows he isn't in top shape (relatively).

Well, that is it for now and thanks for understanding! Glory to God for all things!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Whispering

My heart knew Him well
As a child, many things are clear
He has always whispered to me
Whether I have ears to hear
But I have made other choices

There are times when I have walked away
Yet, He follows my every footstep
I have looked for different meanings
In various places and people
But have seen He is in all Creation

I have turned my back
While He laid the feast for me and mine
I have been all things, and more
Still, He awaits my return
In each lost human moment

I have begged for Mercy and Life
Because I am the cause of the death within
I realize that I am the one in desperation
While He sits with open arms
Freely offered and ever-present

Unity in Trinity and Trinity in Unity
Adjoin our hearts and minds
All of us, one with another
For we are cut from the same cloth
Though we have worn ourselves thin

Fuse us to the point of unrecognizable
Bring us peace in Your Mercy and Light
Grow us in Your Love and Understanding
To the inconstant, be the Rock
For the broken, heal the imperfection with Grace

Teach us to be as that child
The one who comprehends the inconceivable
Wearing our faith and diligence with honor
Pinned to our hearts within
Keeping us contented and simple

Lord, have Mercy on us all
With Your guiding, perpetual presence
Usher hope and comfort
Contributing to Peace and Love
Glory to God for all Things

The Girl Who Stole My Heart...and My Wimple



This one above is my girl in her special blanket that she has had since she was a month or two old, that my dad's mom made her and that thing on her head is the wimple. I made it for myself because I like to keep my hair short and it is like a hat and scarf joined together as a tube shape. It has a really pretty and simple pattern called Old Shale. She decided it was cozy and perfect, so she appropriated it for most of our trip to the mountains for her birthday!




This is Katherine and her good friend the first morning in the mountains and Kat is wearing the vest I made her (with the wimple, of course!!!) that I mentioned in my previous post. That vest only JUST fits and I hope it will last her, otherwise I will be picking up some stitches on the bottom edge to lengthen it!

Well, just wanted to remember to share the vest with you all, since I had posted about it earlier. Have a wonderfully blessed day, full of love and peace!