Friday, May 28, 2010

A post well worth reading

go read what Ann has to say about marriage - brought tears to my eyes.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

a dose of humility

Well, after spending a great deal of time working out my menu for the Apostles Fast, I come to realize that after nearly 20 years of being Orthodox, I still can't get the fasts straight :)  I used as my sources a lives of the saints calendar I own and an online calendar.  After getting our church newsletter today with fasting guidelines, followed by a brief visit to evlogia, I did a bit more checking, and realize I made a mistake.  It is really rather amusing when I think about it, an appropriate reminder after the weekend - I spent the past 4 days in the presence of Matthew Gallatin, who did a beautiful job talking about the difference in the perception of God according to the East (Orthodoxy) and the West (Catholic/Protestant).  Many in attendance at some of these talks were Protestants, and one point that was often made was - Orthodoxy just feels too fluid too many of them (those of us who are Orthodox may find this amusing :).  In a sense they are right.  It can be frustrating if you are looking for one ultimate source for every detail of living the Orthodox Christian life.  As an "A" type personality, I like the idea of someone defining for me exactly what I must do in a given situation.  Sometimes I want to throw up my hands and say - please, someone, just tell me exactly what I am supposed to do!  That emotion, however, is the pinnacle of pride, because it implies that if I only knew exactly everything I should be doing, I could or would do it.  Orthodoxy is not simply about following rules, nor is it as simple as predestination.  There is no single handbook to go to like the Westminster Confession of Faith, our path to salvation is not quite so neatly definable.  Often we as Christians want a nice neat little set of rules that we can mark off a checklist and say we did it.  Even those who believe in predestination want everything neatly defined, so they can be sure they fit into that chosen few.  A juridical concept of salvation is much simpler to grasp than a therapeutic one.  There is a path, there are rules to that path, but at the same time, God is not a thing, grace is not a thing, and our salvation is not a thing nor a specific moment in time.  Christ is a living human being, Grace is the Holy Spirit actually living within us, and God is a real Being.  Our purpose is to form a relationship with God, to become one with Him as the Trinity is One.  Gallatin phrases it in terms of a marriage.  There are things we do as a married couple.  There are things we do not do.  To get to know my husband, I did not read a lot of books about him.  I spent time with him, as we developed a relationship, we interacted with one another to learn more about each other.  After 16 years of marriage, I am not finished.  I don't have it all perfect, and there are still infinite things I can learn in my relationship with my husband, yet we certainly have a much deeper relationship than 16 years ago, and we become one more and more each day.  The sacramental and ascetical practices of the church are our experience and interaction with God.  Their purpose is not to make us earn our salvation, or to fulfill some neat little set of requirements to soothe God's sense of justice, but to offer us physical ways to develop that relationship.  That is our dance with God.  So, forgive my stumble in this particular moment of the dance, and I hope to correct and update my menu and maybe get a few recipes posted soon.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Apostles Fast

It is menu time again around here.  The past few days I have been putting together a menu plan for the coming fast.  While the end of the Apostles Fast fast is fixed, the beginning is determined by the date of Pascha, which means, early Pascha, long fast!  This year it is at its longest, a full month.  But, it is also a lighter fast, since fish, wine and oil are permitted on all but Wednesday and Friday.  So, I took the opportunity this year to plan a heavy load of fish dishes into our diet for the month of June.  Seems appropriate, as so many of the apostles were fishermen!  I am also taking advantage of the many herbs in our garden, and hoping that maybe before the month is out we will have a few fresh vegetables (though after 2 floods/washouts requiring lots of replanting, the garden went in pretty late, so that may be wishful thinking).  Many of the recipes are from a new cookbook I recently discovered: 400 Calorie Fix, a plan for helping you to relearn proper food portions. The facts it includes are impressive.  The average American today consumes 600 calories a day more than we did in the 70's.  Our plates and bowls are 36% larger than they were in the 60's, and even classic recipe books such as The Joy of Cooking have increased their recipes so a serving is 42% larger than it was in 1931.  All that adds to a real challenge for healthy eating.  The Church Fathers often warn of the dangers of gluttony, and each time we go to confession, we are called to confess both the sins of gluttony and gourmandizing (the sin of requiring the finest foods).  A part of fasting is learning to reign in the passions, we exercise restraint over the most basic of acts, eating, that we may learn to restrain other passions as well.  It is also an act of obedience, as we are not allowed to pick and choose how we will fast.  We do not decide what we will give up, as that is an exercise in our own independence and self reliance.  Rather, we subdue our passions through obedience to ancient rules of fasting.  If you are trying to maintain a balanced diet, or lose weight, fasting can be a blessing or a curse.  Since the simplest thing to do during a fast is to eat pasta all day, it would be easy to pack on the pounds.  And since the guidelines of the church do not restrict the amount of food consumed at a meal, it can be easy to still be a glutton in the midst of any fast.  So, this summer, my goal is to focus on eating more healthy portions of food, and taking advantage of the season with the great variety of local fruits and vegetables available.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

I have so many things I want to blog about, I just can't find the time!  I hope in the next few days to share photos of our chickens, an amazing weekend with Matthew Gallatin, my menu plans for the Apostles Fast, and a few other things I won't mention now.  I also got a new digital SLR camera last week, which I am still trying to figure out - I have been taking photos, just have to take time to get them downloaded (so, Days of Grace is a bit behind, but not because I have not got photos!)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

And the winner is.....

Mat. Emily - random number generator selected your comment number!  I will be in touch to get your address for mailing.  And for those of you who did not win (and don't care for sewing :), Mat. Emily selected pretty in pink, but the other two cases will be available for purchase at my etsy shop for just $20 (plus shipping).  So, if you are interested in having a dress made for your little one with one of the other two cases, hop on over.  Dresses can be custom cut to the length you request.

UPDATE:  Both of the other dresses are listed in my shop, and others are coming soon!  Please take a look, and spread the word if you know anyone looking for sweet little girls dresses at a reasonable price.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Pillowcase Dress Give Away

[dress featured above is available in my etsy shop, others will be added over the next few weeks]

This week I am giving away a pretty little pillowcase dress.  The winner will have a choice from three cases, and length will be custom cut to fit your child 12 months to 10 years.  To enter to win, just post a comment below indicating which case is your favorite.  Want to increase your odds?  Get your name entered a second time when you post about the give away on your blog, with a link to this post (be sure you let me know in your comment that you linked to here).  The winner will be announced May 15.  So, which little dress is perfect for your summer girl?

Pretty in Pink 
Vintage Rose

Daisy Hearts

Sunday, May 2, 2010

"Mothers who love your children, do not set them too soon to the study of history;  let them dream while they are young.  Do not close the soul to the first breath of poetry.  Nothing affronts me so much as the reasonable, practical child who believes in nothing that he cannot touch.  These sages of ten years are, at twenty, dullards, or what is still worse, egoists."
 Edouard Laboulaye

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Letters of Grace Give Away

No, I haven't forgotten about the dress give away, it is coming :)  Until then, be sure you leave a comment for Mary and have a chance to win the latest book give away from Letters of Grace!