Sunday, November 30, 2008

Icon Corners - my old and new apartments


My longtime (almost 11 years!) friend Tamie asked for pictures of my new place. I will try to do so sometime this week. First though I feel like I need to finish staying goodbye to my old apartment.
The picture above is from my Icon corner in my now former smaller cute apartment. I knew I would miss my former Icon corner and I do. It was this cute little room and I would light it with candles year round in the morning; it gave me a lot of hope, light and comfort during many hard and difficult times.
My new Icon corner is being assembled; the same shelf with the same Icons is up - a good friend of mine put it up for me the same afternoon that I moved. But it is different!
I picked the wall colour itself - a light blue - it almost seems too flat or dry looking. Perhaps I would of liked a glossier sheen, even though that is not what is typically done. And it looks so bare and empty still. And way to clean looking - by which I mean I do not yet have my prayers, lists and quotes up.
However, at least I have a start. And my Icon of my Patron Saint, Saint Irene of Chrysovalantou, is now up as well. Patron Saints are really important - they pray for us and can be Mothers and Fathers to us. Of course I do not know how to explain why or how this is, but I know it to be true. St. Irene is especially known for her prayers for peace; Irene means peace. I struggle to stay at peace, so she is a real gift to me.
About the Icon Shelf in the picture. The Icons from Left to Right are:
St. John of Rila, Patron Saint of Bulgaria
The Resurrection of Christ
The Crucifixion of Christ
St. Xenia of Petersberg
The Theotokos
Christ
St. Nicholas of Myra
St. John of Rila can teach us about prayer and the love of God.
St. Xenia prays a lot for provision of us - homes, jobs, families - and was a fool-for-Christ. This Icon was the first one I ever bought and is from St. Herman's.
The Theotokos is also referred to as the Mother of God - to understand Christ as Incarnate God and Man one has to understand that His Mother bore the Son of God and is His Mother. She can also be our Mother and prays mightily to Christ Her Son for us. I got this Icon from Holy Dormition Monastery shortly after I was chrismated.
The Icon of Christ was a gift from a fellow parishioner at St. Herman's. I remember looking at this Icon and the Icon of St. Xenia and wondering what I do with them. So I just looked at them a lot. To be honest, for a start, I think this was the best thing I personally could of done. I have a lot of tender memories of this beginning in my life. St. Herman's was the best place for me to have begun my journey into the Orthodox Church!
St. Nicholas of Myra - I was chrismated at his Church in Michigan and this Icon was a chrismation gift. St. Nicholas is also known for his prayers for financial provision and for protection. As a Bishop, spiritually he has been a Father to many through the centuries through the Holy Spirit and prayer.
I have been supported by so many over the past year in prayer - looking for work, the foot injury of this past summer, and starting a new job and moving. I hope I have been humbled by this, as I have seen how much others have interceded for me and I have struggled to do the same.
I know there are seasons in our lives and that we cannot always maintain things as we want to. I remember appreciating Fr. Thomas Hopko's comment about doing and praying as we can, not as we wish we could!
Thank God for His mercy and that there are Saints who can pray to Christ for us!

Friday, November 28, 2008

I've Moved

It went really well.

The movers were wonderful. My friends incredibly helpful and supportive.

My apartment, though box strewn, is most lovely.

And my Icon shelf and lampda are up!

Thanks be to God!

Moving Day

Yay!!!! The day is finally here!

May God be glorified in this day.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

This is Maybe Not that Good

So yesterday I and some friends got a LOT packed. I went to dinner. I went to church. I came back, feeling my spirit lighter.

Then I stubbed my toe of my injured foot my cat's carrier. It is now 7 hours later. My foot hurts. I know what a fracture feels like. I think I broke my toe. It hurts to walk on it. I used my Crutches.

I am MOVING tomorrow morning.

I will probably have to go to the ER, am waiting for the nurse from Telehealth to call me back.

My goodness.

Lord help me!

UPDATE:

My toe is taped. I am feeling much better and am reassured. It still hurts to walk on it. I think I was scared because of my more severe foot injury this summer.

On with life, walking a bit gingerly and packing...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thought of the morning

I was thinking of a few years ago, when I was seeking to move back to Ottawa; I was so worried! Here is something I began to learn during this time:

We are safest in God's Holy Will.
Christ, in obedience to the will of the Father, sacrificed Himself for us on the Cross.
Christ, while being crucified, was still safe.

I have the deep song of the Bridegroom Matins within me this morning - these lines especially:

wake up my soul, weighed down by sleep - beware... O my soul... crying Holy, Holy, Holy...

Although the Nativity Fast has yet to start for me (begins Friday) I am already longing for Lent and especially for Holy Week.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I think it's stress


Two nights ago I woke up in a huge panic - full scale I'd say - was sick 4 times, called two friends. Was up for a few hours. I hope to never go through that again. I did go to work, and had a nice quiet day in the library. God answered my prayer fully on this one - I listened to Ancient Faith Radio and a podcast by Fr. Thomas Hopko on the Samaritan Woman and one by Fr. Stephen Freeman. I felt really fragile at work, so fresh from that very unexpected episode.
When I had left my building that morning for work, the inner door (two doors to get in to the building, one inner door being the one that is locked) was shattered. Glass in various swept up piles, glass still in the inner rim of the door, falling out when I opened and then closed the door. I wonder if I woke up, feeling like I could not breathe, after hearing this door smash. Pretty dramatic, eh?
The whole time I was still aware of God, my icons are still up in my small box-strewn apartment.
Last night, I had Indian take-out for dinner. I called and emailed various friends. I am loved.
I have friends coming each day to help me pack; Friday morning the movers come. The apartment I am moving into is not far away, so it will not be too bad. I need to figure out how to get my Cat Cleo to my new place. Maybe I will walk over with a friend and Cleo in her carrier. Or I may take a taxi. It will depend on how quiet Cleo is being and if she is trying to escape! (I know my little Cat well!)
The door downstairs is fixed, FYI and I am going to see my doctor tomorrow to be sure everything is okay health-wise.
Suffice to say, I believe I am still in need of prayer...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

What it comes down to

More than one friend has reminded me that no matter what happens in my life,

God will not abandon me.

This too must be part of the Gospel. Jesus - Immanuel - God with us.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Gospel

After listening to various speeches by newly elevated Metropolitan Jonah, I began thinking more about what the Gospel really is.

I have this vague idea that I used to think it was the general Good News of Christ's freeing us... I am beginning to see that it is more than this.

My sense is it is exactly what was first preached and always preached:

Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.

I found I was not the only one thinking about what the Gospel is after hearing Met. Jonah - go here for reflections and more of how Met. Jonah has explained what the Gospel is.

Friday, November 21, 2008

My Sister and Brother-in-Law: praying to be future missionaries to Romania

I have one sister in my family. Two years ago Rebecca and her husband went for a two week trip to Romania to care for the orphans there. They feel in love with the Romanian people, especially the orphaned children. It has been interesting for me, as an Orthodox convert, who already has a very high respect for the Romanian Orthodox spirituality and monastics of Romania, to see my Protestant Sister and Brother-in-Law, Mark, work within an Orthodox country.

They have been to some of the most famous monasteries of Romania, have seen how the Orthodox churches are everywhere, and they even got me an icon of Christ. (I do not have it yet, but am getting it at Christmas time, as I live miles from Michigan).

This past summer, Mark and Rebecca went back to Romania for 5 weeks, to help run a summer camp. They came to back from Romania, and decided that they wanted to be full time missionaries to the Romanian orphans.

For me, as a convert to the Orthodox Church, it is a challenge to know how to best articulate the complexity of Protestant missionary work in Orthodox countries. As I know various friends who are Orthodox, from Orthodox countries, I have heard how it is not easy for Protestant missionaries to work there. There is a lot of mixed feelings, suspicion and cultural confusion towards Protestant's Christian expression. The Protestant songs about Jesus, that many converts from Protestant backgrounds know, are confusing to ethnically Orthodox people who find these songs so casual and foreign to their understanding of God and the Church. However, if Protestants go with the right mindset of love and respect and cultural openness, they will be okay. I even know of an Orthodox priest in Chicago who went to Romania as a Protestant missionary and is now an Orthodox priest in the Romanian jurisdiction!

I love Rebecca and Mark very much. I strongly respect the compassion that they have for the Romanian children. At the very time when the US economy is struggling, and there is so much upheaval, Rebecca and Mark are seeking to be obedient to where they see God calling them. Mark has a full time job as an Engineer and they have a lovely house. They will give up the job security and are seeking to sell their house. They feel, as their blog is also titled, that they are on an Extraordinary Life Journey. And I believe they are.

Please pray for them. They still trying to sell their house and they want to start their life in Romania by this April. If the Lord wills them to go, I will stand behind them in prayer; I will also miss them very much. It is hard for me to imagine not being able to call my sister in the same timezone. Lord have mercy on us!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

My last "real" Thursday in my apartment

I move next week Friday - the movers leave their building at 8 AM.

I am thinking that prayers to St. Nicholas and the Mother of God are in order.

It is odd to realize, as I have been Orthodox 4 years, to think that some would think that by saying 'prayers to (Saint, Angel, the Theotokos)' would be odd or heretical. But that is because I see how the prayer books pray - there are lines throughout this saying, pray to Christ for us or pray to God for us.

I am still dizzy intermittently on a daily basis, but I have a week off work, starting next Tuesday. I am relieved. I will finally be moving. My first living room.

I am also thinking of how much work this will all be...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

What I saw today...

I was walking home from work and saw a woman kneeling down, off the curb, gathering what I thought were coins in her cup. I was worried, thinking that no one was helping her pick up the coins; their are various people who ask for money on this particular street. Then I realized, as I came closer, that she was picking up cigarette ends and that I have seen her before.

She talks a lot, but it is not always coherent. She is not young; her clothes usually look very clean, long skirts, shades of green. It is hard to see someone look so beautiful, vulnerable and mixed up all at once. I often think of St. Xenia and the other fools-for-Christ, who appeared crazy but were incredibly holy and are now recognized as saints.

Oh Holy Ones, pray for all of us lost sinners, struggling in these streets... Oh Holy Mother Xenia pray to Christ for us!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Call Centres and Globalization

You know that we live in a strange place when calling to book a plane ticket. I was just transferred to an "international" and talked with someone from "Hurtz" for car rentals, with a Southern accent. When asked why I was calling about, she then asked if I was talking to someone from India or someone from the States. I had been transferred to the wrong line. I then had to call again, to be told I had an even LONGER wait time to talk to someone. OK. So I called another airline, only to have to explain that Ontario is part of Canada, not California...

Our world is changing.

Sometimes I think, I get tired of change.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Alright, now what?

THANK YOU for prayers for travel. I have returned. Loooong day. Left for train via taxi at 5:45 AM; arrived back at 7 PM to home via a second taxi. 13 hours and I am salaried so no overtime for me. Am not that happy about that part, but it was worse that I did not sleep much last night. I rarely sleep well before a big day.

Other than that, I am having some serious worry moments about my new job and if everything will come to settle and be okay or not. Meanwhile, my spiritual Father confirmed that, esp. in light of my moving situation, it is okay for me to not start the fast yet, as we are Old Calendar anyway. This means I am eating chocolate chip cookies along with my veggie soup and PB on toast.

I could tell it was a long day, and that I needed rest, food and less stress when I was standing in line on a still moving train and could not tell when it stopped moving. That is often what my sensations of dizziness are like.

Anyway. My very wonderful Mother has instructed me not to think about work anymore today. So I will go back to eating my cookie...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Traveling for Work

I am traveling to another of my work's offices tomorrow for a meeting. Please pray for me, if you could; I have to get up early AM to do so.

I am thankful for God and the Church supporting me...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Kathleen Norris

I heard Kathleen Norris speak last night. She spoke well. She signed my books. We even talked briefly.

It was good. I am thankful.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Big and smaller news

Wow. The OCA has a new Metropolitan. I listened to one of his last speeches before being elevated. I am impressed; I already had a good sense about him through the podcasts on Our Life in Christ, which is also on Ancient Faith Radio. Go here for the archives which has the podcasts of then Fr. Jonah.

This is huge. I rejoice in the hope I see in this change.


On a smaller note, I had a hard day at work. I feel under a lot of pressure right now at work and my house is non/dysfunctional as it is in boxes. The rest I need I do not feel I am fully getting. However, God has truly blessed me in that for the last few nights, I have not woken until 6 am. Before I was having insomnia, nightmares and waking at 3 AM. I pray I can continue in this better way. I have been struggling with exhausting and dizziness for the last few weeks. My previous job, back last Lent, was very overwhelming; I had increasingly strong episodes of dizziness during this time. This returned when I started my new job. It had lessened and disappeared. But now it is back and is very tiring. Until I move, I do not think it will get much better. (Btw I have been to the doctor more than once about this; I am told each time it is a virus and is stress-related).

I need a lot of help from God. Please pray for me.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Another Day

Shameful that all I thought really about Remembrance Day is that if I still worked in Government, I'd have had the day off.

But I did not and was at work.

Some days in library world are better than others. I can tell I am feeling a bit STRESSED and felt frustrated at some of the clients being, well, a tad bit rude. OK, so the Corporate World has PRESSURE but surely we should try to be kind.

However, I am aware that my spiritual Father would view this as a great practical way to work out my salvation: forgive quickly.

Let it go.

An older-wiser person today said we naturally inhale but have to work to exhale. I think I need to learn this a bit more in life.

Meanwhile, today I am researching IKEA furniture. I need to call the phone company - and the competition! Canada phone costs are ridiculous compared to the States other than their long distance. This is usually better, other than for cell phones.

So much to do, and so many mystery books to read!

Monday, November 10, 2008

A heavy controversial hard topic

Preface: I am in ways shy and certainly have feared hurting people's feelings for years and years. So as long as my friends know this and that I wrote the below the best I could for now...

I know this is controversial, and I know that nothing is simple and that both sides of any party can be rash and foolish. However, it concerns me that some who say they are liberal demonstrated that they can also be intolerant. (Note on this link, I do not know who the author really is, but it encapsulates in his own way the concern). (Also, no offense intended to my more liberal friends nor are they themselves violent to demonstrate their beliefs)... GetReligion covers this in more detail as news...

It is hard to know that there can be such polar opposites. I believe these issues are hard and lot of confusion and heartstrings are involved.

Personally, the animosity and a hatred I have never seen before or since, for those with conservative views was one of the things that brought me into the Orthodox Church. I saw and heard about the churches that had (or tried to get) priests fired, or church missions shut down completely because they remained with the traditional understanding that the Anglican church used to hold.

I know people on both sides of this argument. I know a lot of people who were really hurt in this.

Two last things: one there will be further conflict and two - we (on either side!) are called to be like Christ - loving those who we feel wish us ill.

In all things, let us be humble and love one another...

Salvation in the earthly realm

As many of the readers of this blog (thanks for reading) know, I started a new job this past August. I am running a small corporate library. What most do not seem to realize is how much work this takes. Libraries may be quiet, but we are busy!

Busy doing...

*collection analysis (what do my library clients need)
*collection development (finding and buying what is needed)
*acquisitions (the buying and paying invoices)
*cataloguing (what was bought)
*public relations (showing the client what the library can do for them; i.e. marketing)
*reference (answering questions, getting things, researching; this can take from 5 minutes to three days of solid work)
*shelving the books
*belonging to library associations
*going to meetings
*training and organizing training
*going on training
*making sure the budget balances
*hiring and training the person hired
*project management to improve the library (mine is in a mess when I started)
*sending paper and emailed information on a daily basis to clients (standard things that circulate depending on the type of library; this is on top of reference questions)
*reading licenses for online databases and journals (they all have legal contracts governing the use of them (this type of negotiations is part of collection services and is all I did at my last job)
*liaising with publishers

And if you are a solo librarian, which I am; with others in the company at other locations - solo but not alone; you do all of the above. And I am expected to do this in 4 days/week. (This explains some of the stress I alluded to in a previous post).

Well, I found out about an online course that is specific to my type of library situation! It starts in January. My only concern right now is that it would fall on a Friday, which during Lent is my church's presanctified liturgy nights during Lent.

This course would be an extra 10-15 hours a week. This is a lot, even working at 4 days/week. I am also to head up another project at work which will take my attention and energy (on top of everything I listed above). So this course feels like a type of salvation, but one that will require a lot of work.

I really hope it does not fall on a Friday (you would not think it would, however, so I probably have nothing to worry about here).

This also means the following:

1. My new apartment HAS to be fully set up, clean, functional and beautiful before the second week of January (this gives me approximately three and a half weeks).
2. I need to have better meal planning. I have not been eating properly and need to reorganize myself.
3. I will have to decide what I can and cannot do during the week. I need time at night at home to be quiet and rest.

So there it is. Rather overwhelming for me, but really good too.

Thank God and may He continue to help, guide, protect and have mercy. Lots and lots of mercy...

Sunday, November 09, 2008

These days are full of boxes

A friend came over and helped me pack my good dishes. Not that they are all packed yet, but three boxes of them are!

I have been feeling overwhelmed about work and very inexperienced in how to deal with the situations I see ahead of me. It is strange to be nearly 32 and feel a LOT younger than 32. Here I had thought, years ago, that adults knew what to do and had things pretty much under control. Now that I live in the adult world, I am finding this not to be the case.

I am also struggling to see accurately what is actually going on in my current life. At times the waves (so to speak) in my life seem big and terrible. I have a feeling that they are not really that fully daunting, but the newness of them, coupled with the chaos and disorganization in my home, is blurring my vision.

I read a Psalm last night about God trying us with fire and later bringing us to a place of refreshment. I am hoping to gain the inward strength and stability to be able to better ascertain what is actually going on and face the fears and know what to do to solve the underlying causes of these fear-laced waves.

Lord have mercy and save us!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Peter

Peter is now in intensive care.

As emailed to me and others, "His surgery ended up being a quadruple bypass, so was somewhat more serious than anticipated, and this is probably why his recovery is a little slower."

Please keep praying for him. He is a dear friend, a retired librarian and part of my Church's choir. We need him around.

Thank you for your prayers.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Life and Work

Working in today's culture and in a corporate environment I find to be difficult at times.

Lord have mercy on us in the midst of where we find ourselves.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Monday, November 03, 2008

Prayer Request

Please pray for Peter from my Church here in Ottawa.
He undergoes triple-bypass surgery early tomorrow morning.
(He also gave me permission to ask for prayers for him in the blog world).

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Full Day

Church - good, peaceful
Church meal - simple, fellowship
Reading at friends - C.S. Lewis
Meal with friends - we all ate each others potato things (Fries, chips)
Home - Cleo my Cat missed me today.

I am tired.

Work - stressful.
House - semi-to-full moving chaos.

Sermon today: about God seeing us and understanding us where we are.

A God who loves and sees us, our situations and stays with us in them.

I need God's overshadowing mercy.