Monday, December 5, 2011

St. Barbara Day

Another St. Barbara Day come and gone, and this was the best one yet.  The crowd almost doubled this year, with over 85 people attending (and at least 50 of those were under the age of 13)  A huge storm was coming in, and all day people were asking what the rain plan was.  Well, I don't have room for 85 people inside, so I really didn't know what we were going to do.  We moved the party up an hour earlier, hoping to at least have a little fun before the rain hit - but St. Barbara was looking out for us, and the storm heading our way broke up and slowed down, and didn't really hit until this morning.  The only lightning around was from the fireworks and over 150 giant sparklers!  We had unusually mild temperatures, it was 60 degrees - so no hats or gloves needed this year.  We had a lot of trees come down this year, so my husband saved a bunch of logs for seating around the bonfire and we ate lots of vegetable chili and roasted hundreds of marshmallows!Several people who came this year asked why a bonfire and fireworks? 
Well, St. Barbara was the beautiful young daughter of a wealthy pagan in Heliopolis.  Because of her beauty, her father locked her up in a tower, where she spent her time looking out the window and contemplating creation.  She came to understand that the idols of her father must be false, for all of creation proclaimed the truth of the One True God.  While her father was gone, she had a third window added to his bath house, to symbolize the trinity, and she cut a cross into the marble with her finger.  Upon his return, her father became enraged when he found his daughter had become a Christian and drew his sword to kill her.  Barbara prayed and was miraculously transported into the mountains.  A shepherd there betrayed her and she was taken before the emperor where she was tortured, including attempts to burn her body.  To the frustration of the emperor her wounds would heal overnight, and torches used to burn her went out when they came in contact with her body.  Finally she was beheaded by her own father, who was then struck down by lightning, his body completely consumed by flames.  St. Barbara is considered a patron to those who die a sudden death, and as well as patron to artillerymen, miners, those who work with explosives and others with hazardous occupations. 

Friday, December 2, 2011

Please say a prayer for Matushka Anna and her family, as they are dealing with the loss of another precious unborn baby.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Cyber Monday Top Pick: April Cornell

Well, my order has already been placed, and if you are looking for great deals on sweet little girls dresses that harken to days gone by, then look no further than the April Cornell Cyber Monday Sale with prices 30-60% off!  This is the one sale of the year that I look forward to, and the deals are not to be missed.  My top picks?  The basic petticoat dress is a staple - layer it under dresses that are getting too short, use it as a night gown for a girl's sleep over, or my personal favorite, the perfect late night Pascha dress, simple, comfortable and easy to bleach!  No kidding, we have it ranging in size from 12 months to 10 years, and all have seen lots of wear.  The new favorite for this year - this dress, a gift from Grandma for Christmas  :)  And yes, I bought something for me, a dress I have had my eye on all season - so happy to get it at such a deal!  (Sale prices don't show until you put something in your cart, but most dresses are half off, even the clearance dresses - we stocked up for next summer at an average of $12 per dress)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Counting Blessings while awaiting the coming of the Great Light

Autumn thanksgiving is about light, because there is something beyond incredible about the light this time of year.

225. the warm golden light that fills my kitchen each early autumn morning, making it a joy to come in and make breakfast

226.  the glow of a single golden leaf, fallen on the skylight above the bath tub, it radiated light
227. the light of home, the coppery golden hues of the church dome rising tall above the turning leaves

228. light reflecting onto the holy waters of baptism, as friends await their turn to literally be immersed into the light of the image of Christ in his mothers arms
229. lampadas swinging in their little alcoves, lighting the way to the divine edible Light offered each Sunday
230. soft flickering light of 30 little candles, young virgins all gathering to walk with His most Holy Mother as She, the true Holy of Holies is brought into the temple.

231. The soft light of the sun, working its way through the dark mist on this Thanksgiving morning. 
We too are a people who walk in darkness, a darkness that is this culture, which holds up all which is dark and consuming, telling us we can only be happy by consuming more, until it all consumes us.  May we all walk this season awaiting the coming of the Light, and never forget that the rest is just a distraction. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Reading Through the Nativity Updated

Here is a list of some of the books we have used over the years to open throughout the Nativity Fast.  It is not comprehensive (my books are already wrapped, and I am sure I as we open them I will find a few I forgot), but it contains most of our families top picks.  Some of these books are out of print, but most are still available used.  I have offered a few details as I saw fit, and this collection represents 12 years of gathering books.  While it is occasionally a joy to add a new book here or there, if it is worthy and beautiful, both in language and in illustrations, we are very content with the current selection, and it offers more than enough reading for the season without becoming a burden.  We also have a selection of books related to saints of the season, I will add those in a later post.  If you have a favorite that is not listed below, please leave a comment with the title to share with others.

St Nicholas Books

*The Legend of St Nicholas – Demi – beautiful illuminated illustrations
The Real Santa Claus – Marianna Mayer
The Real St. Nicholas – Louis Carus – collection of stories from around the world, large volume your family will read aloud from for years
*The Saint Who Became Santa Claus – Evelyn Bence – great explanation of how Santa Claus came to be – short story book (oop, but can get a cheap used copy)
Saint Nicholas, The Real Story of the Christmas Legend – Julie Stiegmeyer – good story – St Nicholas portrayed in more Catholic looking vestments
The Miracle of St Nicholas – Gloria Whelan – Orthodox Russian Christmas miracle story - this book brings me to tears every year
The Baker’s Dozen – Aaron Shepard – a legend of a St. Nicholas miracle – the story of how 13 came to mean a baker’s dozen

Nativity Books

*Who is Coming to our House?  - Joseph Slate – great repetitive rhyme book – excellent for younger ones (though my 10yo loves it too!) tells story of the animals in the stable preparing for Mary and Joseph to arrive
The Miraculous Child – Alvin Alexsi Currier – Orthodox tale of a Russian Christmas miracle, great story, language a bit stilted in English
The Legend of the Candy Cane – Lori Walburg (fun story, though debated historically)
*Long Was the Winter Road They Traveled – J. Patrick Lewis – beautiful illustrations, told in rhyme
*The Very First Christmas – Paul L Maier – excellent book, accurate and detailed explanation of the nativity narrative, told by a mom answering questions from 8yo son – one of our very favorites
The Little Boy's Christmas Gift - John Speirs - the illustrations are breathtaking, as many join the journey to visit the newborn king, including a small boy with nothing to give him
The Donkey and The Golden Light - John Speirs - Beautiful story of a donkey who not only witnesses the birth of Christ, but then is also the one who carries Christ into Jerusalem and witnesses his death and resurrection
Silent Night – Margaret Hodges – beautiful history of how this hymn came to be
What Can I Give Him – Debi Gliori – good for young children – based on Rossetti poem
What is It The That the Christmas Tree is Telling Us? – Orthodox – translated stories about the Christmas tree – English is a bit awkward
The Story of the Nativity – Orthodox – again, translation a bit awkward
Tonight You Are My Baby - Jeannine Norris - no mother will be able to read this one without tears, so be forewarned, a very moving look at Christ's birth through the eyes of a mother who knows what is to come (I'm tearing up just typing about it)
Father and Son - Geraldine McCaughrean  - this is the father version of the above book, and also a sure bet for tears on the part of the reader - a look at the Nativity through the eyes of Joseph, who wonders how he can teach this child about the world when he was the One who created it
The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey - Susan Wojciechowski - thanks to Mat. Emily for introducing this one to us last year, and the movie is wonderful as well!

* family favorites

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

New Recipe for the Nativity Fast

Here is a soup we enjoyed this afternoon; perfect seasonal ingredients, warm and filling on a chilly fall day.  It has been adapted from a recipe included in the new Taste & See Cookbook.

Brazilian Black Bean and Pumpkin Soup

3 c black beans, cooked (or 1 can)
6 c vegetable broth (or water)
1-2 chopped onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree, or use fresh pumkin puree
1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes with juice
1 t cumin (or more to your taste)
salt and pepper to taste
juice of 1 lemon, and zest
chives or scallions, thinly sliced - as garnish if desired

Since it was Tuesday, I sauteed the onion and garlic in oil first, but the recipe calls to just dump it all in a pot, so on a strict fasting day, just skip the saute!  When the onions softened, I added the tomatoes, broth, beans, pumpkin and seasonings.  Bring to a boil and let it simmer until the flavors are nicely mixed (we were in a hurry, so I served it pretty quickly, am curious to see how it tastes after sitting a while.)  The pumpkin gave the broth a sweet flavor which the kids enjoyed.  It was a mild tasting soup, and I think if you like a bit of a kick, you could add more cumin, or perhaps curry or garam masala for a different twist.  The recipe also says you can puree part or all of the soup.  I skipped that as well for time purposes, but will puree a portion of it next time.  This was so easy, as I had leftover black beans from yesterday, and have lots of pumpkin around here right now.  I am thinking this would also work really well with butternut squash in place of the pumpkin, and I have a dozen of those waiting around to be stored!  I think this recipe will have to go into my Nativity Fast rotation for sure.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The most pure Temple of the Savior;
The precious Chamber and Virgin;
The sacred Treasure of the glory of God,

Is presented today to the house of the Lord.

She brings with her the grace of the Spirit,
Therefore, the angels of God praise her:

"Truly this woman is the abode of heaven."

 Happy Feast of the Entrance of the Theotokos in the temple!
for details on how our church celebrates this feast you can check out the Festal Celebrations page
and if your church holds a Presentation Tea, please leave a link in the comments, I would love to see pictures!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Welcome Home

We added to the family on Friday night - here are pictures of my newest little god-daughter

She and I will share a patron saint (can you see the icon of Anna behind us?)
She was baptized and chrismated along with her two big sisters and mother.  (Dad was chrismated long ago, and has found his way back and brought his beautiful family home with him.)

A celebration fitting for the season, shrimp and rice, crab ravigote, stuffed mushrooms, hummus and vegetables, fruit and punch, decorations all in the colors of the beautiful season of the Nativity Fast.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Saturday Morning Surprise

The crocodile hunter had finally given up hope that his precocious jungle fowl would return from her latest roaming.  She has a bad habit of wandering off into the woods and not returning at night to the safety of the barn.  She hasn't been seen in over a week, and we all figured a fox, coyote or one of the many local dogs had made a meal of her. Until this morning
Apparently she was simply fed up with the daily theft of her eggs, and like Jemima Puddle-duck, she wanted to sit!  And sit she must have, because this morning she proudly marched back to the barn with 7 little chicks in tow.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

On Fasting

Stint your stomach and you will certainly lock your mouth, because the tongue is strengthened by an abundance of food.  Struggle with all your might against the stomach and restrain it with all sobriety.  If you labor a little, the Lord will also soon work with you.
St. John Climacus

Monday, November 14, 2011

Living the Nativity Fast

The following is a compilation of information and resources I have come across over the years concerning the Nativity Fast.  The Nativity Fast, or Advent as it is often called, is one of the two great fasts of the year. The difference between it and great Lent, is of course, that during the Nativity fast we are anticipating a birth, so the atmosphere of this fast is one of happy anticipation. It can also be a difficult fast for the Orthodox, as the rest of the world is caught up in Christmas parties and celebrations full of the food and drink from which we fast. The following ideas are a collection of ways to commemorate the days of the fast without pre-celebrating the feast.
 Make the 15th an eventAdvent is different from Lent, where the  beginning is hard to miss, often the 15th comes and goes with little notice taken.  Make the 15th a special day by starting family traditions to begin the fast.
Ideas: set your Christmas tree up the night before after the kids have gone to bed. Then spend the rest of the week slowly decorating it. Begin one of the many activities outlined below to mark the days of Advent - a Jesse tree, Advent calendar, prayer chain, or Advent wreath

Reserve special items that only come out during the fast - (in our house, all Nativity related books, toys, music and movies are stored away until Nov 15th, then pulled out to enjoy during the season and packed up again on Jan 7th )

Daily reminders
Below is a list of activities that can be done daily to help mark the fast – select from among these the ones that appeal to you and your family without becoming overwhelming.

Establish a family time and altar  If you do not already have one, this is a great time to start the habit of evening family prayers together – prayers, readings, lighting candles etc – these become the focal point of the fast.   When you receive Christmas cards – place those on your altar and pray for those people that evening.  If you have a table or piece of furniture available or even just a shelf, drape with a red cloth and place icons, candles

Advent wreathcan just be votive holders with candles and some greenery laid around it – some people use colored candles to mark the Sundays, others just use beeswax candles.  One idea is to decorate the candles with an icon for each Sunday of the fast (these commemorations fluctuate from year to year)  Another beautiful option is the wreath made by Ann Voskamp's son Caleb, our family has truly enjoyed celebrating the seasons of the year with this beautifully crafted piece.

Jesse Tree a series of ornaments or symbols that begin with creation and track the story of our salvation through the Old Testament, ending with the birth of Christ.  There are many versions of this, and it may take time to create your own, but it can be a wonderful way to see the importance of the Incarnation in the scope of history.  There is also a lovely coloring page version of the Jesse Tree as an alternative (or to go along with) ornaments.

Advent Calendarhung in a prominent place where the children can see it on a daily basis – there are paper ones that can be purchased, or you can make your own.  It can be very simple – of felt with items pinned on or elaborate with sewn pockets

Christmas Storybooksin our house all of the books related to Christmas are wrapped up in inexpensive paper and placed under the tree on the 15th of November.  Each evening, the children select a book to open and we read it together.  A basket is placed by the tree to contain the opened books, which are then revisited throughout the season.  We don’t attempt to have 40 books, 20 or so have been more than enough to keep us busy, and the children get very excited each year when they open old favorites they haven’t seen since last Christmas!  It’s like getting a whole new library of books each year.

Prayer chain this can be used for one of several activities. Cut strips and staple into a chain.  Can track alms giving during Advent, use it as a prayer list of people to pray for each day (add someone new each day) or use it to count your blessings, writing something you are thankful for each day of the fast.  Hang your chain somewhere visible in the house and watch it grow through the fast.

Almgivingin the spirit of St. Nicholas, try to find some way to involve your children in activities of giving – visit one of the shut ins in the church, let them send notes and Christmas cards to the shut ins of the region,

Christmas tree Traditionally – Christmas eve (not very practical for most.  My family decorates the tree on the 15th as our way of marking the start of the season (artificial of course) – if you use a live tree, St. Nicholas day (Dec 6) or St. Herman’s feast day (Dec. 13th) are great days to mark with decorating the tree.

Nativity Sets

Wooden set children can handle and play with

Playmobil makes a wonderful set that makes for hours of play

Family set - one idea is to not place out all figures – make a star path with 40 stars from the manger across a table or shelf.  Mary moves one star closer each day – as she passes each star, it can be moved up onto a blue backdrop behind the nativity set until you have a full sky.  Alternative to using stars is to make a stone path (shown above).

The week before Christmas, place a new figure each day, let your kids come home from the Christmas liturgy to find the baby Jesus in the manger.

3. Mark the milestones of the fast –
Participate in the liturgies and activities offered by the church.
One way to mark these days, print off paper icons (from the internet) and put them into picture frame Christmas ornaments, hang each saint on the tree on his or her feast day
          Presentation of Theotokos – Nov 21st
          St. Katherine – Nov 25th
          St. Andrew – Nov 30th
          St. Nicholas – Dec 6th
          St. Barbara – Dec 4th
          St. Herman – Dec 13th
          St. Lucia – Dec 13th
          St. Stephen – Dec 27th
Icon coloring books – our favorites -  Potamitis Publishing
Read the lives of the saints (can be a bedtime activity or a part of the family altar time) we should spend at least as much time sharing these stories with our kids as we do sharing fairy tales and other books

4.    Celebrate Christmas!
Special meal after liturgy – helps to emphasize breaking of fast with young ones – special foods saved for this night
Place Jesus in the manger, ready to be found when the children come
home from liturgy

One of the wonderful things about being Orthodox is avoiding the post holiday blues – do you remember the feeling you had as a child on the 26th of December, or even as an adult?  Everything is over, the presents are opened and there seems to be nothing left to look forward to but a long dreary winter.

12 days of Christmas – stockings with 12 small gifts to be opened each day of Christmas
January 1 – St. Basil’s Day – make vasilopita!
Theophany table – change cloth drape to gold, remove wreath, set out 11 votives and Christ candle
Theophany – special bottles for them to bring for the service to be filled with Holy Water , I bought a cheap bottle painting kit from Target/Hobby Lobby
House Blessing – a good motivation to get the house cleaned and ready to start the year!
Nativity Links
Jesse Tree ornaments

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Short Reflection before Advent

- People's lives are sheer misery because they do not simplify things.  Most of the conveniences we have cause difficulties.  Those who live in the world often suffocate from abundance.  They have filled their lives with gadgets and devices but this only makes it more difficult to enjoy.  If we don't simplify things, one convenience will result into numerous difficulties and we will end up miserable.
When we were little, we used to cut off the spool at the end and put a wedge in it, turning it into a nice and enjoyable game for ourselves.
- Geronda, what helps the most when one is trying to grasp the joy of austerity?
- It helps if you can grasp the deeper meaning of life But seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.  Simplicity begins from there, so does every proper approach to life.

Elder Paisios - With Pain and Love for Contemporary Man

Friday, November 11, 2011

I'm hooked

115 lbs of apples

Fuji, Cameo, and the delightful Ida Red, to which I owe the amazing pink hue of the juice.....

and apple jelly... can you believe that color? I am in awe.  And the best part, added to my pantry, next to the 20 pints of applesauce and 15 of apple butter, I can say that the home canned jars now far outnumber the store bought  :) 

Note:  the best resource for canning information I have found - Pick Your Own - no nonsense recipes for everything from applesauce to tomato sauce and everything in between

Monday, October 17, 2011

On Halloween

I received an email this week about someone looking for this post from a few years ago, so since I can't seem to find the time to write anything new at the moment, I am reposting it.
I did not touch this topic last year, as it is such a controversial subject among believers. There are those who feel strongly both ways. I would ask that whatever your opinion, you at least take the time to consider the following: how do we make the decision to participate or to not participate? The same way we make all decisions as Orthodox Christians, by looking at what the Bible, the Church Fathers and the Canons say.

"...Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."
 Phillipians 4:8

So, if that is what we are to hold up and think about, the lovely, the gracious, the worthy of praise, how does Halloween measure up? There is nothing lovely about glorifying death. In fact, that is the exact opposite of what the Church is about. We celebrate life. We are weeks from entering into a time of honoring the incarnation of our Savior. We should be turning our hearts and minds to the fact that God humbled himself by becoming fully man in order to destroy death. Think about that just a minute. The One True God, all powerful, all knowing, all honorable. Put on flesh. Lived on this earth. Suffered temptation from Satan. Endured mockery, pain, death. Entered Hell. CRUSHED DEATH. FOR US. Why would we want to celebrate that which he endured so much to destroy?

So, no, it is not just all in good fun. It is not just a harmless night for our children to dress up and get free candy. IT IS A NIGHT THAT HOLDS UP ALL WE REJECT. IT IS A NIGHT FOR SATAN. So, my question is "why?" Why would we WANT to participate? Because it is fun? Because it is uncomfortable to keep our kids home from school that day? Because someone might make fun of us or our children? Because we don't want our kids to "miss out"?

Each morning as we read the lives of men and women who gave their lives rather than eat food sacrificed to idols, children who died rather than bow to anyone other than God, how can we ask those questions? I think of the mothers who encouraged their children to martyrdom.  They weren't worried their kids would be made fun of - they were worried their children might not attain eternal communion with God. They didn't try to protect their children from embarrassment, they exhorted them to stand strong against the world, a world that hated them and their God. This world still hates us, and it hates our God. So, give your children the strength to stand against evil, teach them to be martyrs!

“Abstain from all appearance of evil” 1 Thessalonians 5:22

If you are interested in reading what others have to say on this topic - here is a selection of links to articles that say far better than I what our duty is as Orthodox Christians in this world. If you have never given this issue thought, or if you are unsure about what is right, I challenge you to take the time to read at least one of these articles.

Finally, on the practicality of the issue. I really do encourage you to consider keeping your kids out of school on Friday when all of the parties will be happening. Avoid too much shopping with your children over the next few weeks. I try to limit the places we go during this time, since even a trip to the local drugstore is full of nightmarish images that can affect a young one in ways we often don't realize until much later. My daughter had years of nightmares from a grocery trip to Sam's where she turned a corner to be faced with a life-sized plastic witch. The night of October 31 has always been stressful for me, with young kids how do you avoid the ringing bell? Our former parish used to have an Akathist to the patron saint of our church. What better place to be on this night, than in church, praying for the world. If your parish does not offer a service that evening, gather with a few friends (preferably in a home that is not in a suburban neighborhood if possible :) and say the prayers yourself.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Orthodox Figures for the Nativity

A friend from last year's St. Emmelia Conference just sent this to me and I wanted to share because it is just so beautiful.  It was custom made for Orthodox families, the Theotokos even has three stars!   So, if you are looking to add some amazing Nativity figures to your seasonal table, go check out this etsy seller.

Friday, October 7, 2011

"True hospitality is sharing your life . . . with those outside the family circle. False hospitality is trying to re-vamp your life with camouflage and pretense so that it will fool a guest into thinking your life more elegant and more picturesque than it really is."
         --Irene Parrott, Friday to Monday (1941)

ht to Pleasantview Schoolhouse for this quote, a good reminder of this, and here's to hoping to share some true hospitality soon!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Blessings on an early Monday morning walk

215. early morning chill in the air, misleading start to another 90 + degree day
216. the doe with her fawn, standing in the neighbors yard, frozen still, watching my every step
217. sunrise over the lake
218. early morning mist hanging low over the water, sun hasn't reached it yet
219. the way the rising sun colors everything in its path with an orange pink glow
220. the absolute, ordinary beauty of sunrise and sunset - since the fourth day of creation the sun has been rising and setting as we rotate 'round it, we take it for granted, hardly even consider it most days,  yet each time I witness it, it takes my breath away
221. smell of honeysuckle in the bushes
222. hum of crickets mixed with the chirp of birds, morning sounds and lingering night cadences all mixed up
223. pounding rhythm of feet on pavement
224. the way the Jesus prayer flows so easily to the pace of pounding footsteps

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Call

Last week Father asked a question at the Paraklesis service.  When you get the call saying your mother is dying, what do you do?  Does anything else matter?  Do you concern yourself with daily life and routines?  Do you explain, I am just so busy, I'll try to get there when I can, but you know how it is, so many other commitments, it's such a busy time of year?  No, you drop everything to be at her side.  You rearrange your schedule, you lay aside all earthly cares, do whatever it takes to be with her, to show her you love her.  Every August first we get that call.  Our Mother is dying.  Do we notice?  Have we changed our own lives and pace to be with her?  Will we come running to her side?  Or will we allow the world to pull us in a thousand directions?  The church gives us two whole weeks to come, to mourn, to offer our prayers, to be with her, to sing those beautiful hymns. 
Our Mother is dying, let us run to her.

Monday, August 1, 2011

"If a human being were a machine, education could do no more for him than to set him in action in prescribed ways, and the work of the educator would be simply to adopt a good working system or set of systems.  But the educator has to deal with a self-acting, self-developing being, and his business is to guide, and assist in, the production of the latent good in that being, the dissapation of the latent evil, the preparation of the child to take his place in the world at his best, with every capacity for good that is in him developed into a power"  (Charlotte Mason  Volume 1, p. 9)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Sobering Time

The weeks of summer fly past.  Trips, training,  gardening, canning and cooking consume every moment.  There is a seeming lull in the liturgical year, as if all energy was expended throughout the marathon of Lent and the Apostles Fast, and we collapsed into exhausted celebration with the feasts of Ascension, Pentecost and the Apostles.  Life seems to pull at us - with fewer added services, life in our home takes on an agrarian rhythm.  Everything builds around the harvest, whether from our own garden, or the weekly CSA box, or the Farmer's Market, I spend much of my time considering what foods must be frozen, canned or cooked.  Enjoying parties with family and friends, breathing deeply the humid air, a feeling of indolence and joy at letting go of a few responsibilities.  I suppose that is the way the end of the year should feel - hot, heavy, with thoughts turning to the next plans...the liturgical gauntlet of September with its many services.  So it is good to have a sobering time.  A time to call ourselves back from the carefree days of July, to ease us back. 
 For that, the church offers the Dormition.  We end the church cycle as we begin it, with she who was permitted to hold God both within her and in her arms.  So many names......... she is the ladder of Jacob..... the burning bush of Moses....the cloud of glory which contained our Lord.  She is the ark, the tabernacle - holier than the Holies.  She gave birth to the light which illumines the world, and the stone cut from a mountain by no human hand.  She is the gate that shall ever remain shut - for the Lord, the God of Israel has entered by it.  She is the very temple veil she stitched, and the golden urn which carried the Manna.  She is the rod of Aaron, which sprouted the Flower of Immortality, and who gave birth to the Rod of Jesse.  She is the holy altar who bore the bread of life, the branch of the unwithering vine, and her prayers are the sweetest of incense to her Son.  As we enter the season of the dormition, may we remember the most holy Theotokos, and beseech her prayers on our behalf - for what better mouth to voice our needs to the ear of the Son of God............. than those of his Mother.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Busy Week

It's been a busy week around here - today was the 11th day of training for Catechesis this summer, with 3 more to go next week.  Wednesday means certification! 

Today was a materials making day - our intrepid group spent the morning building the walls of Jerusalem, using the above as our model, we set to work figuring out how to recreate it!

I am pretty sure when we signed on, none of us realized it was going to mean an education in woodworking!  Here are two catechists who are now quite proficient with a mitre saw.  Next up, learning how to use a scroll saw!

It's beginning to come together -  

And our amazing formation leaders spent the day painting puzzles pieces and Good Shepherd materials for us.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Garden (Over) Abundance

Still trying to claw my way through an abundance of cucumbers - so far 4 jars relish, 12 jars bread and butter pickles, 8 jars dill spears, and countless batches of refrigerator pickles.

And these are still taunting me from the sink!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

A Picture Perfect Saturday Morning: or blessings #206-214

yummy home baked goodies, Laura's little maple cakes, lemon corn muffins, fruit and salad....

.....freshly squeezed lemonade.....
......dancing on the front porch to Pa's fiddlin'  tunes .....

... an excursion to a 200 year old mill - where the cornmeal for those yummy muffins was ground....
....little girls in bonnets all in a row....

.... watching the fish.....
....dancing like no one is watching....

......a final turn on the tree swing ...
......and beautiful bouquets of flowers to take home with the memories - Thank you V!