Saturday, November 22, 2014

Jesse Tree: Day 8

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Today we hear about the covenant that God made with Abraham.  Our reading is based on Genesis chapter 15.  It relates the story of how God called Abram out of the land of Harran and chose him to be the father of his chosen people.  We read about how Abram and Sarai were without child, yet God promised that their descendants would outnumber the stars!  We read of the fulfillment of this promise with the birth of Isaac, whose name means laughter.  We once again begin to see the path God has planned establish His people and to set forth His divine plan for the salvation of the world.  Our ornament today is from our first Jesse tree ornament swap.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Jesse Tree: Day 7

Today we read about the trials of Job.  This is one of the reading we do not have an ornament to correlate.  We plan to frame an icon of Job for next year.  Our reading comes from the book of Job, and tells how Job was a righteous man before God.  Satan wished to show that men are only faithful to God in times of good, and so God allowed Satan to submit Job to many tests of faith.  We hear how despite all of the trials he endured, Job did not sin against God, and God rewarded him.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Jesse Tree: Day 6

After God cleansed the earth, Noah and his family were called to once again spread about the earth, be fruitful and multiply.  Unfortunately, when offered the opportunity to once again follow the Lord, the people chose instead to glorify themselves.  They decided to build a tower that might reach God.  They wished to create something that could compete with the heavens, that could challenge the creation of God.  Their pride led them to build a tower, and so God confused their speech, that man might never try to come together to become like God.  Our reading tonight comes from Genesis 11.  The ornament was made by the Queen from sc*lpey clay.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Jesse Tree: Day 5

Noah and the Flood
On the fifth day we hear from Genesis 6-9.  We have heard how the first man chose to turn from God, and broke communion with Him.  Now we hear how his descendants followed the same path, descending ever deeper into darkness and further from the love of God.  This is a challenging story to read to children. It is hard to imagine the reality of this event; God wiping most of His creation off the face of the earth.  Yet, we must also recall that God offered such incredible grace and opportunity for repentance.  Noah prepared for over one hundred years.  Over one hundred years for people to repent, to turn from sin, to turn back to God.  Only Noah chose to walk with Him.  And so God made His covenant with Noah, and set the rainbow in the sky as a sign.  Our ornament for today is a rainbow created from pony beads and cotton balls, and we love how it glows in the evening light!  Our Nativity book reading continues from the previous evening, with A Perfect Christmas.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Nativity Reading: Day 4

Tonight we began reading A Perfect Christmas.  It is a longer one, so we will likely spent the next couple of nights reading portions of it.  I love the illustrations by Niko Chocheli, made even more meaningful by our experience meeting him.  He is truly a kid at heart (he spent one evening with my son playing soccer with ping pong balls until close to midnight!), and I find his drawings to have an intensity and beauty that match the stories he illustrates.

Jesse Tree: Day 4

The Fall

This evening we take time to consider how humanity turned away from God.  In Genesis 3 we hear how Adam and Eve chose themselves over God.  Because of that decision, sin and death entered the world, and God's beautiful creation became ill.
The ornament for our readings is a small red satin Christmas ball, on which green felt leaves are glued.  It is a fitting reminder to us as Orthodox Christians as we enter this fasting season.  What a profoundly heavy knowledge it is, that the first disobedience of God was one of food.  It is a sobering reminder each time we are called to fast, if we take a moment to consider that little detail, and ponder how many times we choose that which we have been asked not to eat.  It is also a profound message on the healing power of striving to follow the fast.  As we submit ourselves to the church and God, we draw closer to Him.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Nativity Reading: Day 3

One of my favorites.  If you are looking for an excellent book that lays out the Christmas story, answers many questions children have, and offers very theologically correct answers, this is one of the best.  A gift from the crocodile hunter's godmother, we have been reading this book for over 10 years now, and we all still enjoy it!

Jesse Tree: Day 3

ornament a lovely gift from our swap
Today we consider the creation of man.  We again contemplate Genesis 1.  God created man in His image and likeness.  He made man, unique and intelligent; not evolved from any other being.  He made man to walk with Him, to be in communion with Him.  He made humanity that we might grow to be more and more perfected, more and more like Him.  God also made man and woman that they might perfect each other.  The union of man and woman is a sacred one, ordained by God at the very beginning of creation.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Nativity Reading: Day 2

Our book for tonight was Silent Night.  It was fun to have two nights in a row of books that were hymns.  We enjoyed singing these old favorites together!

Jesse Tree: Day 2

world ornament
Today we consider the beginning of our world.  The scripture comes from Genesis 1.  We contemplate with our children the wondrous gift of creation.  God made all things from nothing.  He is the beginning of all, and without Him there is nothing.  He entrusted to Moses the truth of the beginnings of our earth, and we read those truths in the first chapters of Genesis.  In six days, God spoke, and matter came into being, obeyed His every word, and formed itself into the tangible world we experience today, albeit in a less than perfect state now corrupted by death.  Our ornaments today reflect the creation of the earth, and the creation of the sun.

As Orthodox Christians, we must be sure to communicate to our children the un-negotiable truths of the Orthodox faith.
God has no beginning, and no end.
God is the author of all of creation.
God created all things from nothing.
God made each living being of creation according to its kind, to reproduce according to its kind.
handmade from wool felt received in ornament swap

God made man in His likeness and image - man was created a unique being, evolved from no other being or creature.  He was given body, soul and spirit at his creation and was in communion with God at his creation.  

So today we contemplate the beauty and immensity of this creation.  All of creation is God's gift to us.  He prepared an immense banquet table of gifts, with us as the honored guests.  

Nativity Reading: Day 1

As mentioned before, I wrap all of our books relating to the Nativity for us to open during the fast.  It is a tradition that my kids look forward to, and one we have continued for many years.  So I am going to attempt this year to also document each book that we read.  Today, the book selected was The Little Drummer Boy.  It is a favorite here, and we love to sing along.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Jesse Tree: Day 1

I am going to try to document our Jesse Tree readings this year with photos of our ornaments.  Over the years we have participated in several ornament exchanges.  We were also gifted a beautiful bound book of readings.  The set of readings varies from our original ornament sets, so this year I am finally completing our ornaments to match our current readings.  The readings are not straight from the scripture, they are storybook form compiled and written by the queen's godfather (who I hope will consider publishing them at some point!).  But, I can share the scripture basis for each.

Our first reading:  A Shoot from the Stump of Jesse

Today we consider the beginning of this journey through the Nativity Fast, the time of preparation for the birth of our Lord, the Great Light that was long awaited by the Israelites.  We look to the promise that God revealed to His people.  The scripture reading is Isaiah 11.  We contemplate the root of Jesse, the flower that will spring from it, and wonder what/who that might be?

Our ornament is a twig from the yard with a bit of greenery and silk flower hot glued on.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Catching Up

What a busy time it has been.  Over the past few months, I have experienced some extreme highs and lows, from the international gathering of catechists in Arizona (a high) to days in the hospital with our little one with words like encephalitis and viral brain infection being verbalized (an all time low).  Intense joy and intense fear.  We have enjoyed vacations, birthdays, the recovery of motor skills in our little one, and a gratefulness for all of the simple joys of life.  I guess you could say we are having a complete immersion in "real life"!  I hope to share some of those joys with you, and look forward to the beautiful season of advent, and all of the anticipation it brings!  I hope that each of you are well, and I ask that you will keep my family in your prayers.

eta:  our little one is fine - thankfully he has made a full recovery and it appears has no lingering issues. His patron saints are Isaac the Syrian and St. John of Damascus.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Go take a look at Schole Sisters

I want to pass along a link to a wonderful new site that officially launched today. is a group of three ladies tackling the challenge to explore "schole" learning and its application within the home and school.

schole - Greek for spare moment, leisure - meaning time not filled by distraction, but that is used for virtuous activities 

Launching from the idea of "teaching from a state of rest," these ladies are putting together what looks to be one of the best sites on the web for a look at what a true education looks like, the forming of the human soul, mind and spirit in the image of Christ. I look forward to the coming weeks of shared wisdom!

Friday, July 11, 2014

'Real Life'

The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one's 'own' or 'real' life.  The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one's real life - the life God is sending one day by day; what one calls one's 'real life' is a phantom of one's own imagination.

C. S. Lewis

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Showing Sheep

I will start with a gratuitous baby pic, because they are currently my favorite  :)  Here is the little one at his first sheep show....

And then to the important stuff - the Queen showed for the first time, and snagged a first in showmanship for her age group!

 Big brother felt the pressure, and had a pretty good showing himself, both of them netted decent ribbons (4th and 5th) for their lambs.
Off to the state show in another week!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The New Metropolitan

The newly elected Metropolitan JOSEPH!  I am excited to know that we have a Metropolitan who has seen and is very supportive of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd within the Orthodox church!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Cowboy Rides Away

Best reason to go to Dallas, Texas: the final show

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Where I was this weekend...

Any guesses where and why?

Monday, June 2, 2014

A Little Peak

Scaffolding comes down today

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Wednesday, May 7, 2014


We went with a group of friends to see this last night - not what I was expecting, and absolutely worth the time.  We were pleasantly surprised by a couple of moments in particular.  As the narrator sets off on a journey to explore what family is and why it is important to society, he determines to start where it all began.  He journeys to Greece and Rome, and the first images of faith in the film are of an Orthodox priest.  Frederica Matthewes Green is interviewed in the film as well.  It was a very moving film about the importance of love and the family within society, with the revelation that the true irreplaceable love is that of our Heavenly father.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Monday, April 28, 2014

Pascha in the atrium

We had a joint celebration this year, so all of our children ages 3-12 gathered together in our chapel.  Father came and led our celebration, and the children did all of the readings.  It was a beautiful and special time together!
Our chanters came in and chanted as the children entered.  
 Father lighting the Paschal candle.
Processing around the church together.

Listening to the reading of the Gospel.

Singing Christ is Risen!

After our celebration we each returned to our atrium and the children had a short time to work.  One of our girls settled herself in front of the prayer table and spent the rest of her morning drawing the Paschal candle.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Baking and Lazarus Saturday

Prophora for Lazarus Saturday

Making Lazarakia

Lazarus Garden with plants dug from the yard

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Another highlight.....

Who does not have chills run through them as the deep tones of Holy Friday Lamentations fill the church?  And the past few years, I wait with baited breath for another moment.  In the days leading up, my children ask, is it time yet, is it tonight?  Will he sing the bones?  And so last night, once again, we gather to experience another moment of beauty as one of my dear friends sings life into the prophecy of Ezekiel. I am so happy that this year, someone finally recorded it!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A favorite Lenten moment...

Just a quick drop in to share one of my favorite moments of the season.  So much has happened in the past few weeks and I have so many things I would like to post about and numerous drafts begun, but just living the week is all I can do now.  Here is a recording from the service, it just takes my breath away every time I hear it.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Bacon and Spicy Sausage

The crocodile hunter showed both pigs at county, regional and state this winter, earning a second place and a few fourth and fifth placings.  
Bacon, the female pig, has been sold to a neighbor for breeding, so she escaped the slaughter. The male pig is now in the freezer (220 lbs of meat!) awaiting Pascha when we plan to enjoy loads of bacon and sausage.   I am amazed by how much comes from a single pig.  The verdict is in and while he enjoyed showing pigs and plans to again, he definitely prefers sheep.  Watching 20 kids try to show pigs in a ring, it looked like trying to herd cats to me!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Memory Eternal

Metropolitan PHILIP (1931-2014)
Memory Eternal to the man who opened the doors of Orthodoxy to a group of seekers in the 1980's when everyone else turned them away.  His open arms brought my in-laws and husband into the church, and paved the path for my family to come years later.  Because of him, and Fr. Peter and Fr. Gordon, I am where I am today.

Chick Time!

 It's really crazy that just 2 days ago (on St. Patrick's Day) these little ones first saw the light of day when they pecked their way through an eggshell!  I still am amazed that they are immediately packed up into boxes and shipped out, arriving at your local post office two days later.  The crocodile hunter went to the 4H extension office this morning to help sort birds, and incredibly, out of 1250 birds, only one didn't survive the trip.
The girls are raising 25 for a 4H project, and the Crocodile hunter was given a handful of extra birds.  We also purchased 10 Cornish Rock Hens for meat and a dozen Red Pullets, so in all we ended up with about 60 birds.

Monday, March 17, 2014

St. Patrick Seasonal Table

Here is our current seasonal display.  And no, the hens don't relate to St. Patrick, except for the fact that our chicks were hatched on St. Patrick's day, and arrive this week!

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Ordinary

"Do not ask your children
to strive for extraordinary lives.
Such striving may seem admirable
but it is the way of foolishness.
Help them instead to find the wonder 
and the marvel of an ordinary life.
Show the joy of tasting
tomatoes, apples and pears.
Show them how to cry
when pets and people die.
Show them the infinite pleasure
in the touch of a hand.
And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself."

William Martin

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

First Haircut

I never imagined having a baby's first haircut at 6 months, but we just couldn't last any longer!  His hair was in his eyes, hanging over his ears, and so long in the back we constantly got comments about what a beautiful girl!
So, with Bumbo in hand, and a very brave stylist who managed to follow his bobbling head without any nicks, we set a record in this family for earliest first cut.  (compare that to Dimples, whose hair grows so slowly, she was 5 before she had her first cut!!!!)