Tuesday, June 30, 2009

French - Advice Needed

I am researching French classes to take (hopefully full time) to learn the language and pass the government French level tests.

If you have any advice on...

*what to look for in a French school/training centre (and anything to avoid)?

*things I can do to learn French (I am listening to French radio; do not have a TV but hope to find online sources, have some magazines/books)

*any other advice about this


Saturday, June 27, 2009


This week was full of goodness;
brunch and conversation
various friend visits to my home for tea or lemonade.
Yesterday the heavy heat ended;
I enjoyed yesterday and today a cool breeze
when standing on my balcony.
This breeze and coolness seems a deep gift from heaven.
I stand there, enjoying the breeze,
with a sense of waiting.
I am slowly researching various French courses;
there is a possibility of funding to learn French
while I am unemployed.
If this is the avenue that opens, I will have to learn to be disciplined
in learning a language.
Meanwhile a friend is coming over soon for lunch.
Vespers tonight.
May God help us in all things.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

St. Elizabeth the Mother of St. John the Forerunner

Today new calendar is my name's day.
Since my church is on the old calendar, I get this day twice.
St. Elizabeth became my names day Saint a few years ago when I was at a liturgy (old calendar) for St. John the Baptist and my spiritual father gave me her name.
Elizabeth is my name from birth, to honour a friend of my Mother's.
But I know also that St. Elizabeth is my names day saint.
It is wonderful to be given Saints as Mothers and Fathers
to pray for us
while we struggle in this life.
My patron Saint is St. Irene of Chrysovalantou
I know that both Saints have a lot to teach me
and will support me during my travails.
Blessed Feast Day to All!

Monday, June 22, 2009

The next day of the rest of my life

I love Irises.

I my later summers (late teens, twenties) in May/June

I would see many Irises at my home.

This year marks my 32nd year.

This particular day is my Mother's Birth day.

I will call her later on today.

This day and week I was fearing though.

My class is over and nothing new has started in my life yet.

The yawning emptiness of the unknown frightens me.

But I have to go through it.

I know I am in this exact situation because I need to learn from it.

And I need to learn to not fear and to love.

I am praying that God will heal me by His love;

that the time of tearing down, if He wills, is over for a little while

that my life can be rebuilt

and that I will learn to participate in this rebuilding;

in God's salvation for my life

and for the world...

I am learning to take walks alone again

and be okay with being alone

but at the same time,

reaching out to people,

inviting them to my world, my life, my home.

Lilacs are one of my Mother's favourite flowers.
Like flowers slowly opening,
we need seasons to learn how to grow
to let the petals open and flower
without fear of future disintegration or
of wind, rain or hail
that may bruise the open petals.
We need to continue to open our hearts to God's love
and give Him our fear so that He can give us His healing.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Brunch with a good friend

Friends are such blessings from God.
To light candles
pray over the food prepared
and talk and laugh
and read good poetry
is to be part of the celebration of
God's gifts to us.
Lord teach us to pray
and to be joyful in all Your gifts.

Door to Summer

Amidst great beauty, found in poetry

tea cups, the surprise burst of a perfect orange

the anticipation of a summer strawberry

I have been thinking.

We are given every day by God the option to say

YES or NO.

I have seen more that to say YES is to say

NO to despair, to destruction,

to a belief in the world as hopeless

or that we are a hopeless case

unable to be saved by God's


or His Son's redemption.

The book, I have not yet read, speaks of a cat looking for

the door into summer;

Cleo loves summer. Loves being all day by my sliding door

listening to the birds, people, cars going by.

Our door into summer must come

by repentance.

We must ask for this door to be opened; and we must walk through.

It seems that our winters often create the path towards this door;

the door's key is humility;

to know we are made of dust.

To see the door somehow we must fight despair.

My study of despair in Paradise Lost

and through reading Kathleen Norris' book on Acedia

taught me that to be in despair

is fundamentally to have a wrong understanding about reality.

It is even to deny what is true reality.

God is the Creator of the World. God's Christ is the redemption of

the world, of us. The Holy Spirit comes to infuse

to fill us

with the love and knowledge of Christ

within us, deep, opening our inner heart to Christ's light.

God is the source of all that is good. God created the world.

God is the definition of what is most real;

we live upside down

most of the time

not living in the reality of God's hope underlying the world.

To be in despair, in acedia, is to deny God; to deny God's love.

To deny the God of hope

is to deny God's redemption as the hope

that underies all beauty

all good,

all love.

And it is in our nights
in the daily work of living
that we must seek this understanding.
We must learn to say YES to God
to whatever this means
and seek
with repentance
to step out of our despair.

Peaceful Surroundings

I am learning
or seeing more and more
that my surroundings can be peaceful
but that to keep God's peace in my heart is a great
battle and one that does not end.
At the same time, I see hints of promise and
that change is possible; to grow spiritually
means growth in humility
and by knowing this
I know more of
how little I know.
How mired I and others can be; it is not for no reason
that some of our Orthodox prayers beg God
that we will repent before we die.
Yet God promises to be with us
to be faithful
and in this promise
I hope.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


My class is over.
Paper handed in Monday.
Exam finished tonight.
I have these fears that my Christian read of Milton
(which should not be atypical since Milton was a Christian,
however doctrinally confused about the Trinity;
C.S. Lewis and others talk about Milton
being an Arian)
will be taken poorly.
It is sad, however, to be concerned
that one's reading of literature
may or may not be met
with understanding
I will not know until later, if ever, how I came across.
I did my best;
enjoyed myself;
but am sad at times
at how Christians are seen
how God is misread
how little
there can be towards Christians
earlier Christian Literature.
Lord have mercy.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Prayers for…

A childhood friend’s Mother had brain surgery today; the surgery took hours. Cancer.

Another childhood friend and classmate also has brain cancer – for the second time – his wife is expecting their fourth child. The surgery did not get all of the tumour.

A dear friend’s father has surgery within the next hours – cancer again.

And there are others having tests as well.

The sermon this past Sunday was about joy in suffering as a work of the Holy Spirit.

Lord have mercy; Holy Theotokos save us. St. Nectarios please pray for us.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009


I handed my paper in.
Will try to blog about that later;
what I learned.
My final exam is Thursday night.
I am weary
but seeking to rejoice
in the midst.
(My blog comments are fewer on other blogs I read for now,
I hope to be back to 'normal' after the weekend).

Friday, June 12, 2009

A Study of Despair in Paradise Lost by Joan F Gilliland

I have been editing my paper
on Milton's despair.
I love finding sentences that need weeding out;
the hope of creating a well written paper
swells, a joy, hiding within me,
as I sit by the window in the 5th floor
of the University library.
I discovered a former Professor
former as she died in 1997. Cancer at 65.
is her name.
she wrote a PdD on Milton's despair
in 1977
I was 1 years old,
she was 45.
I am a librarian
and did my research to find her work.
I found out where she taught.
I found an obituary online
announcing her death.
She was the daughter in the 1930s
to Missionaries in the Philippines.
She must of been a fascinating woman.
Her funeral was at a Christian place;
I pray that she died a Christian,
just like I pray that I will one day also die.
Meanwhile I am reading the printed pages
of her PhD
typed, printed from microfilm;
and I learn so much
and think of her,
wondering at the amount of hope
she felt writing
complex sentences on despair.
It is a surprisingly hopeful topic,
she talks about the theological history
of the Church Fathers, of Aquinas,
of the 17th Century,
of deep Christian truths.
I hope it made her feel as alive
as it does for me.
For it is in hope that we can say of her,
Memory Eternal.

The Brothers Karamazov

I am slowly reading The Brothers Karamazov.

This passage really struck me; the whole book is incredible; I am still at the beginning of it and am aware of how full of light it is.

"Are you speaking the truth? Well, now, after such a confession, I believe that you are sincere and good at heart. If you do not attain happiness, always remember that you are on the right road, and try not to leave it. Above all, avoid falsehood, every kind of falsehood, especially falseness to yourself. Watch over your own deceitfulness and look into it every hour, every minute. Avoid being scornful, both to others and to yourself. What seems to you bad within you will grow purer from the very fact of your observing it in yourself. Avoid fear, too, though fear is only the consequence of every sort of falsehood. Never be frightened at your own faint-heartedness in attaining love. Don't be frightened overmuch even at your evil actions. I am sorry I can say nothing more consoling to you, for love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared with love in dreams. Love in dreams is greedy for immediate action, rapidly performed and in the slight of all. Men, will even give their lives if only the ordeal does not last long but is soon over, with all looking on and applauding as though on the stage. But active love is labour and fortitude, and for some people too, perhaps, a complete science. But I predict that just when you see with horror that in spite of all your efforts you are getting further and further from your goal instead of nearer to it- at that very moment I predict that you will reach it and behold clearly the miraculous power of the Lord who has been all the time loving and mysteriously guiding you. Forgive me for not being able to stay longer with you. They are waiting for me. Good-bye.”
The lady was weeping.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

An Act of God's Mercy

As some know, my Sister and Brother-in-Law desire to be Protestant missionaries to orphans in Romania. They have seen God leading them for the past three years in this direction. They have been praying that their house would sell. In Michigan, where we all grew up, it is fully a buyers market. Today, they accepted an offer on their house.

Also today, my Grandmother, whose house has been on the market for over two years, had her counter offer accepted.

This is a clear act of God's mercy; my Grandmother had been praying selflessly that her Granddaughter and Grandson-in-law's house would sell before hers. And to see their prayers answered all in one day - wow - the phones were busy tonight!

My family is very close and this day marks many transitions. For my Grandmother, it will be the first time she moves out of a house without my Grandfather. For my sister and brother-in-law, it means closer to their dream to move overseas and care for Romanian orphans. For us all, it means adjusting to having loved ones overseas. We have already been discussing skype.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009


Thank you all who prayed for me tonight! It was a cold day today so I wore my beloved dark red sweater with a funky black skirt and my silver earrings.

By God's grace and your prayers, I was able to hold my own at the dinner. When others ordered fish, I ordered fillet mignon. (It was pretty good, but a bit salty). I was able to professionally talk about being in transition, about the class I am taking and library-shop talk.

However, I learned that I had been misinformed about the job contract. It is not for sure that I will get it - they apparently have other candidates. This is not how the job was put to me when I received the phone call. However I should know more soon, as I was able to talk directly to the head of the library (who I already know on a professional level).

This means I do not know if I have a job, that I will go on EI, and I will look into seeing if I can have the government (as part of career training) fund a French class for me. I have to finish my paper this week and study for my final. Then I will begin doing the other job-finding things.

I am a bit overwhelmed by this; I thought I had a 4 month contract and could stay in my apartment. Now I do not know. But I have to trust God that the right thing will come.

Prayers appreciated.

Tuesday Prayer Request

I am going to a dinner tonight to a library association in town. I know most of the people there (by face at least). Please pray for me that I can have the wisdom and professionalism needed for conversation, etc.

Networks are important for future job possibilities.

I trust that I am still getting the 4 month contract (have yet to hear when I start).

Thank you from my heart for your prayers.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Spirit Monday, Paradise Lost, and Obedience

I went to liturgy again today. I learned that Pentecost in the Orthodox Church is called "Trinity" and that the Monday is dedicated to the Holy Spirit. Fr. Stephen has a great post about this.

I am revising my paper on Paradise Lost and am writing on the despair that is found in Milton's epic. The essence of my paper is showing the despair to be acedia, which Kathleen Norris has examined at length. I research the term sloth in Catholic St. Thomas Aquinas and Aquinas' use of St. John Cassian on the eight deadly sins, which includes acedia. This paper (and the class) has been really helpful for me. It reinforces what I have been learning over the past years. To get out despair and/or acedia is done through repentance and sacrificial love. It has been helpful to see how Paradise Lost shows the destructiveness of evil and the despair that it brings. To realize that acedia is a refusal of joy is to realize why the Saints are so joy-filled.

Ultimately, we are called to love God and love others so much that it becomes an ascetical struggle of self-emptying. I am no where near to this, as I am very young in the faith. I am being called to small (but big to me) steps to grow up; we are called to small obediences and have to choose God again and again.

May the Lord strengthen us for the battle and may the prayers of the Holy Apostles enable us to continue running in the race.

Soon another fast period will be upon us; for those of us on the Old Calendar, this fast is a month long this year. We are called to do what we can and be obedient accordingly.

Walking Along Life's Path

From a walk near my apartment
I read a great poem
by Madeline L' Engle
The poem spoke of an actor
suddenly in a play
not written by herself;
totally disoriented
the actor learns that
growing up
is learning to play a part in a drama
that someone else is writing.
(I would post the poem, but believe it is still under copyright).
I am being challenged to grow, indeed,
to grow up
in ways I did not see coming.
(Perhaps I should of seen it, but that is a moot point).
I am seeing that I have to be willing to change,
to grow,
without promise of the outcome,
without knowing what my future will be.
All I know is that I have to participate in this change
and wow, can it be hard to do.
Lord have mercy.
Prayers appreciated.

Sunday, June 07, 2009


I was talking to a friend about Milton's Paradise Lost and how I heard, in my class, the fear that Heaven would be boring; better to be here on earth where their is death but not boredom. My friend and I did not agree with such a view and her response really struck me.

How could heaven be boring? It will be wonderful - finally the freedom to obey instead of "doing what we do not wish to do."

Oh for such a day.

Lord Jesus, Come! And when You come, Have Mercy.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

A Year Ago...on June 6

It’s funny. I wrote a long blog post but feel it needs to stay unposted. But I wanted to write something about the meaning of this day for me.

A year ago today I made the mistake of jaywalking when I should not of and my foot got run over. I was on bed-rest for two months and it was really hard. The job I lost this past April, I was to start a week before my foot was run over. I could of easily died, if I had stepped out a second earlier; or at least been severely injured.

I thank God that I am still alive. I thank God for the Theotokos and St. George who protected me. I thank God for St. Hermans, Mat. Donna, Victoria and Mimi whose prayers encouraged me so much during that time. I thank God for my church and many friends who helped me (food, laundry, visits, going to the doctors with me).

I had begged God to change me, as I knew I needed so much to be changed. All of the pain of this past year God is using to my benefit. I am being to challenged to grow in ways I had not envisioned. I can see how much I need to participate in the growth I am being called to; I can only pray for God’s mercy.

Today I hope to drop off cookies at my church, go to the Cathedral for liturgy, go back to my church later for confessions and vespers to prepare for Pentecost. I thank God that He is letting me ask for His Holy Spirit again this year. I need God and His mercy, protection and help.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

My First Daybook Entry

The Simple Woman’s Daybook

I thought I would particpate, as I have enjoyed reading various blogs who use this daybook for blog entries.

The librarian in me notes with pleasure that the creator of this blog movement is a Christian woman whose house (I peeked at her other blog) I love. It looked very much like a home I would want to have!

For Today...

Outside my window... is sunshine, red flowers in a balcony across the street, green leaves

I am thinking... that I need to finish the first draft of my paper this afternoon

From the learning rooms... I am learning a lot about through my class on 17th century literature – I will miss this class when it is over! I hope to write a series of short blog posts about what I am learning.

I am thankful for... a really good week so far. It has been great to have time to reflect and recover from this past year. I am thankful that with God I can still change and grow.

From the kitchen... I bought a pizza crust and need to buy cheese today. Will make the pizza tomorrow, I think.

I am wearing... a vintage black shirt and a khaki skirt and white Birkenstock sandals

I am reading... The Waves by Virginia Woolfe and am loving it. The Brothers Karamazov for a summer book club; it is wonderful to be reading this for the first time after being Orthodox almost 5 years. I am excited to see how this book can encourage me to spiritual growth. I am thinking of re-reading King Lear and am still reading literature in the 17th Century, especially Milton’s Paradise Lost.

I am hoping... to get news that my contract will start sometime in mid to late June. I am creating... various blog posts for the week

I am praying... for my friend Mark. He has been diagnosed with sarcoidosis which is a lesser known disease that has flipped his and his wife Brooke’s life upside down. I went to a small Christian schools with Mark from elementary school to grade 12. He is a strong Christian and I am so glad my Mother still passes on prayer requests from my old church so I know to pray for those I grew up with. Please pray for Mark and Brooke!

Around the house... It is almost totally clean! My cat Cleo is loving the warmer weather with the window and doors open. I am slowly putting more decorations up and am really happy about this.

One of my favorite things... other than my cat Cleo!! The books I am reading and the friends God has given me

A few plans for the rest of the week... paper writing, class, going to Home Hardware, reading more of The Brothers Karamazov

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...

Taken on my way to my midterm (I got an "A" by the way!).

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Icon Light

I got this icon over Christmas and New Years holidays when
I was at the monastery.
My lampada, at my old apartment,
was lit in front of a paper copy
of this icon.
When I got the icon of Rublev's Trinity,
the lampada became the light for the icon of the Holy Trinity.
Finally, this past weekend, I had time to put up my small shelf
and now have a light by St. John of Kronstadt again.
When ever I enter this room, I am deeply encouraged to see
the bright light by St. John.
Glory to God!