Saturday, March 31, 2012

Another Birthday for the Little Princess

Yesterday she turned 11.  Here she is on Sunday of Orthodoxy, holding the icon her godfather carved for her several years ago.   We are waiting until after Pascha to have a proper party, but her special day included lunch out with Mama, baking her first loaf of bread, shopping at the local saddle shop (she is saving every penny for feed so she can get a horse), dinner out with Daddy, Akathist service at our sister parish with her godmother, and spending the night over with her godmother!  

Thursday, March 29, 2012


I am slowly trying to pull all of my recipes into one place, so they are easy to locate.  There is now a page in the header that links to a list of recipes organized by the liturgical year.  For now, the only season that is nearly complete is the Lenten season, but as I have time, I will continue to add to it to create a list of our family favorites for each fasting and feasting season of the church.  As always, I love to get ideas for new family favorites, so if you have a link for a great recipe, feel free to leave it in the comments.

Monday, March 26, 2012

A Matter of Focus

How easy it is to lose focus.  This world moves so fast.  Everything around us pushes us to lose sight of what is important, instead becoming distracted by things around us.  Sometimes the things that distract us are wonderful, beautiful, worthy, but they too can pull our attention away.  

 So how can I challenge this lens through which I view life?  I slow down.  I breathe more deeply.  I calm myself.  Then I am able to see.  Then the lens will focus, without my shaking, hurried hand.  When I am able to do that, often a beautiful moment appears, one that could have easily been lost.
A quiet still moment.  One that I too easily overlook when I move quickly through life.
What is your focus this season?  

Friday, March 23, 2012

Flash Back Friday : The Russian Icon

Well, since my computer crashed, I honestly have not had the heart to go back and try to find all of the things I wanted to blog about in the past few months.  But, as I slowly manage to reorganize photos, I hope to put up a few things from last year.  So, here are photos from last year's St. Nicholas play.  The script is linked at the bottom, as well as under December in the Festal Celebrations tab.  The script was adapted from a story out of one of my favorite St. Nicholas books, The Real St. Nicholas.

Our setting this year -  a remote Russian village in the no-man’s land between the Russian and the German fronts during World War 2.  Two German soldiers travel through snow filled paths, looking for a village suitable to house the wounded. 

They enter the home of a Russian family.  The mother seems friendly, but the old man in the corner clearly does not want them to be here.

Russian spies sneak into the house at night, hoping to kill the German soldiers.

the German soldier sees and recognizes the icon of St. Nicholas in this Russian home

the crocodile hunter as narrator

Super sweets!  After the play, kids (and adults too!) enjoyed filling bags full of candy to take home - candy canes, gum drops, lollipops, licorice sticks and chocolates.   Of course, there were golden coins in all of their shoes when the performance ended.

A final photo moment - Father takes some of the little ones for a spin in one of the props!

The Russian Icon Script Download

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

On Patience and Seasonal Eating

- Geronda, why don't we have patience today?

- The current situation does not help people to become patient.  In the past, life was peaceful and people were peaceful and had the endurance to be patient.  Today hate has invaded the world and people have become impatient.  In the old days people knew they could eat tomatoes by the end of June, for example, and they were not concerned about it.  They would wait until August to eat a watermelon.  They knew in what season they would eat melon or figs.  But today they will import tomatoes from Egypt earlier rather than eat oranges, which contain the same vitamins.  You may tell someone, "Come on, why don't you wait and find someting else to eat now?"  But no, he'd rather go to Egypt and get tomatoes.  When people in Crete realized that, they started constructing hothouses in order to grow tomatoes faster.  Now they constructed hothouses everywhere in order to have tomatoes availalable in the winter.  They will work themselves to death to build hothouses, to grow all kinds of foods and make them available throughout the year, so that people will not have to wait. 

         And let's say that this is not that bad.  But they go even further.  The tomatoes are green in the evening and in the morning they have turned into plump red tomatoes!  I scolded an officer of state once regarding this matter.  "Having hothouses is one thing." I said, "but using hormones to ripen the fruits, tomatoes and so on, overnight, is going too far because people who are hormone sensitive will be harmed."  They have destroyed the animals too: chickens, cattle, they are all affected.  They use hormones to make a forty-day old animal appear like it is six months old.  Can anyone who eats this meat benefit from it?  They give hormones to cows and they produce more milk than the farmers can distribute to market.  As a result, the prices fall and producers go on strike, they pour the milk on the streets and in the meantime, we drink milk with hormones.  Whereas if we left everything the way God made it, all would go well and people would have pure milk to drink.  Notice how hormones make everything tasteless.  Tasteless people, tasteless things, everything is tasteless.  Even life itself has no taste.
Nowadays, young people lost their zest for life.  You ask them, "What will give you peace?"  "Nothing," they reply.  Such vigorous young men and nothing pleases them.  What has happened to us?  We believe that we will correct God with our inventions.  We turn night into day, so that the hens will lay eggs!  And have you seen theses eggs?  If God had made the moon shine like the sun, people would have gone mad.  God created the night so that we may take some rest, and look at us!
We have lost our peace of mind.  The hothouses, use of hormones in produce and in animals have made people impatient.  In old days, we knew that we could reach a certain place on foot in a certain amount of time.  Those with stronger legs would get there a bit sooner.  Later, we invented carriages, then cars, aeroplanes and so on.  We try constantly to discover faster and faster means of transportation.  There is an areoplane which covers the distance between France and America in three hours.  But when someone goes from one climate to the other with such great speed it's not good, even the sudden change of time itself can be confusing.  Hurry, hurry...Gradually man will enter a projectile and with the squeeze of a trigger, this projectile will be launched only to burst open at some point and allow a madman to emerge!  Where is all this taking us?  We are heading straight to the madhouse!

Elder Paisios from With Pain and Love for Contemporary Man

Monday, March 19, 2012

Payoff for a Hard Summer's Work in the Kitchen

Bean Catsup.  Or rather, more properly, "Mawmaw's Bean Catsup."  A recipe a good friend shared with me last summer, one that has been around in her family for generations.  Little did I know when they sent over a jar last year for us to try that I would be introduced to the greatest Lenten condiment ever!  Once I realized just what a gem this recipe was, I stocked the pantry.  Seriously, as in 20 jars.  Enough to get us through the Fast, with leftovers to share with friends.  Now, I realize the timing of this post is terrible.  And I strongly urge you not to attempt to can any tomatoes that are currently on the market.  Ugghh, flavorless, colorless Frankensteins, grown in some greenhouse or hydroponic whatever, don't waste your time (more on that later).   But, should you be looking for a project for a hot summer afternoon, file this one away, and I promise, you and your kids will thank me (or rather, Mawmaw) next Lent.  We like to serve it over white beans or pinto beans, but I am sure there are many other ways to use it.  And while I consider this more of a relish than a ketchup, who am I to argue with generations of brilliance?  To quote Angie who passed this recipe along, "it's 'catsup', and that's how the old folks spelled it!"

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Spring Chicks for St. Patrick's Day

Too cute to eat?  Maybe right now, but in about 14 weeks, the freezer will be full.  This is our first foray into meat birds.  The egg laying flock is currently at about 45 hens, and we added a handful of Ameraucana hens to that number this week as well (can't wait to see those first blue and green eggs!).  As for most of these little guys, they are Delaware males destined for a short but meaningful life, then into the pot pie they go. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Sunday of Orthodoxy in the Atrium

The atrium is the term for the prepared space for children in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd.  It was the term the ancient church used to refer to the place of preparation for the catechumens, those being prepared in the faith.  On the first Sunday of Lent, we talked with the children about the Sunday of Orthodoxy.   Additional icons were placed all around the room, and we gathered at the prayer table.   Each child was given time to walk around the room and select a favorite icon, and a few children had icons they brought from home.  The icons were all placed on and around the prayer table, and each icon and its story was considered.  The term "windows into heaven" was introduced in relation to icons, and we joyfully proclaimed together 
"This is the faith of the Apostles, this is the faith of the Fathers, this is the faith of the Orthodox, this is the faith which has established the Universe!"

Monday, March 5, 2012

On Becoming an Orthodox Theologian

As we slowly work our way through implementing and adapting the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, I find myself constantly looking to better understand the differences between the Orthodox and Roman Catholic faiths.  Growing up a Reformed Protestant, I do understand the western mindset (and still struggle to overcome it!), but I knew very little truth concerning the Roman Catholic Church.  To faithfully represent Orthodoxy in the Catechesis, I must first understand the faith in which it is rooted.  It also means I am searching to better understand the teachings of the Orthodox Church.  The result, I find that my google searches often look something like this: "catholicism and theosis",  "orthodoxy and baptism", "catholic rite of baptism" etc.   Now, before you take the title of this post to imply that I consider myself on the road to becoming an Orthodox theologian, let me assure you, that is the opposite of my message here.  In my searching, I ran across an interesting statement concerning theology in the Orthodox church, one that I am sure we could all hold as a good reminder, any time we consider ourselves becoming "knowledgeable" about the faith.  

"Orthodox theology is of an explicitly mystical character. Theology in the Eastern Orthodox church is what is derived from saints or mystics of the tradition, and Eastern Orthodox consider that 'no one who does not follow the path of union with God can be a theologian'.  In Eastern Orthodoxy, theology is not treated as an academic pursuit, but it is based on revelation, meaning that Orthodox theology and its theologians are validated by ascetic pursuits, rather than academic degrees."

Once more I am reminded of how little I understand.  Once again I am reminded of the danger of 'studying' the Orthodox faith, rather than living it.  How easy it is to learn about the faith.  How easy to impress others with a list of deeply spiritual books read, or well thought out arguments, or carefully written blog posts.  What is the "proof" of Orthodox faith?  Our life.  How we live.  How we act.  What we say.  What we do.  How the light of Christ shines forth from us as from the saints.  Our humility.   How we dance with God.