Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Not What I Thought Would Happen... But May God Be Praised

My icon corner in my old apartment.

I packed up and moved amidst learning a new job.

The job that did not last.

May God be praised in all things.

I was so excited about moving to my new apartment.
My first apartment that was an "adult" apartment,
my first real one bedroom apartment.
I had it painted,
it was my dream come true.
Today, a year after giving notice at my old apartment,
I am giving notice again. It is printed and ready to be signed.
It does feel sad,
but it is temporal.
I still have so much compared to so many.
Today a miracle working icon is coming to the Cathedral.
I am going there to pray
and to vespers at my home parish tonight.
God is good to us.
May God be praised!

The difference

I was in a coffee shop and saw someone crying.
This always makes me wish to comfort the tearful one.
It also led me to crystallize the difference:
everyone in this life has struggles and grief, but Christians
have someone to cry to.

Picture from monastery a bit after Christmas.

My small icon of the Mother of God travels with me;

the holy oil is from Romania, as is the icon of Christ;

both were given to me as gifts from dear family and friends.

We are so blessed to have the prayers of our heavenly Mother.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Trying Again

The Candles.

My beloved gold chair.

The room with sunlight coming through curtains.
I am seeing if this will keep my pictures. Am following the exact process of Picasa 3 in hopes that my pictures will say this time.
I do rather like them.
French - I am learning my numbers. I kept misspelling
I still have to work on them. Sigh.


This morning I woke up
and determined to be gentle with my day.
Soon for breakfast and French studies!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Trusting God Take Two

What's up with Picasa 3 and blogger?
My pictures keep disappearing.
Is this my punishment for not going to a new blogger or something?
My camera is fixed!
Accidentally transferred files to my camera's memory card
instead of my external hard drive.
I hope the pictures come this time, as I really liked them.
I love how the sun comes in through my curtains.
I wanted to capture this before I left my apartment.

As my 'trusting God' original post said,

I have felt unsettled as I know I have to move again.

I don't know how to feel more peaceful about moving;

I know moving is high on the stress charts.

It is funny though.

Most likely I will still have this beloved gold chair,

that I am sitting on as I type this,

that my Dad sat on when I was a wee babe in arms.

Yet is feels so unsettling to have to move again;

If anything, it shows how much I need to grow in my understanding of

what the world is really like.

For example, the world is NOT based in chaos. NO. This is false.

My spiritual father taught us years ago that the correct understanding of the world

is that the Church encompasses the world,

not the world encompassing the Church.

When this is understood,

then we can see how the world is really ordered and that it is not chaotic.

Our world is not based in a broken disheveled dissonant mess;

that are world is experienced this way is true

but it is not its basis. God is the Creator and God is not broken.

Just thought I would make that clear to us all,
including to myself.
How I can learn to internalize this,
and learn to take the peace of God and of the Church,
inside of me,
this I fear will take sometime.
But I know it is possible.
Our prayers speak of it:
O Heavenly King, O Comforter, the Spirit of Truth,
who are in all places and fill all things,
the treasury of good things and giver of life.
Come and abide in us,
cleanse us from every stain,
and save our souls, O Good One.
May God have mercy and lead us to His peace. Amen.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

O Bethany, Rejoice!

Fr. Stephen reposted on grief - worth reading.
When I experience the prayers of the Church,
is when I cannot imagine anyone wanting to be anywhere else.
Rejoice O Bethany!
This speaks of the grief of a sister for her brother Lazarus
and Christ calling him out of the tomb.
It is a Holy Week song and I remember this song coming alive to me
when I was working at my last job.
I was alone in my small library, shelving books, listening to it on
I remember feeling so full of joy...
Today was (old calendar) the Elevation of the Cross;
our priest reminded us that this Feast is directly linked to
Holy Week and that the core of our life needs to stay in Holy Week
that we must revolved around Christ's death and resurrection.
Oh that I can learn this.
Meanwhile, I am really wanting it to be Christmas so I can
Lord Willing, go to the monastery again.
And then I want it to be Holy Week.
Of course the Church knows I need Lent first.
Lord have mercy on us all!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Camera Question

My camera is a Sony and I downloaded pictures tonight.
Thankfully I have all my pictures.
But when I pulled the cord out,
it went funny.
It says the memory stick is full
this I believe
as I took over 160 pictures of a baptism and chrismation today
(no photos here though, as a rule I do not post pictures of people).
But when I go to view pictures I get a dreaded
blue screen of death
and it says
!No Images!
and if I try to delete, it shows 0/0 pictures.
But the memory stick message comes on when I go out of
viewing my pictures on my camera mode.
Help. Does anyone know what to do with this problem?
I guess I will be hunting for my camera information to take it back to the store...
Meanwhile, if anyone has had this problem,
I am all ears.

Greatful to God

This week I helped with panihida at my church,

They can be so sad and this death was unexpected and the person

only in the 'middle age' of life.

I was able to put some of the flowers brought to church in vases;
giving flowers to Saints in church is always a comfort to me.


This Akathist is a wonderful one to pray for those we have lost:
(scroll down as it is the 10 booklet on this page; both monasteries
where I have been sell these).
There are also much shorter prayers for the departed
which are also wonderful to pray,
these are found in most Orthodox prayer books,
God hears our prayers, regardless of length.
God is good to us.
My spiritual father said this week that
To grieve makes us human, to grieve with hope makes us Christian.
Note: I tried to put the pictures back in for my blog post. But it was not working so I have reposted this without the pictures. This is at least the third time Blogger has had problems with my pictures. I hope Google products stabilize soon.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Looking for a new apartment

I will give my two months notice next week.
I am taking to a woman today who
is involved in co-op housing.
Please pray for me.
I prayed briefly in church to St. Xenia yesterday
and feel encouraged.
I am praying that I can find a place for much cheaper that
is still downtown.
I really want to continue to be able to have people over for meals
as hospitality is something I hope to grow in.
Please pray for me and thank you!
I thank God for His goodness.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

How icons come to my home

Emily asked me about how I choose my icons. I started writing back a comment to the question, and realized I wrote a blog post instead. so here it is!

The Saints I am referring to are from the Icons I recently got from the Greek Monastery I went to this past Saturday.

Well, I had been thinking more of St. Panteleimon after hearing about Sylvia's story about how St. Panteleimon has interceded for her family. Also we have an icon of him in the back of our church that I have been aware of for a while. I often like to get icons of the Saints that are in my Church - bringing the comfort home as it were.

The icon of the Theotokos I recognized from a small icon I always noticed in my Church hall on the wall. I was overjoyed to see a larger reproduction of it in the Monastery chapel (I was in their store before I went into their chapel). When I saw this icon, I immediately picked it up.

I have a dear friend whose patron is St. John the Theologian and I have learned a lot about St. John through this friend. Also I think St. John of Rila is named after St. John the Theologian; the Akathist to St. John of Rila that I have speaks a lot about the love of God, which makes sense with St. John the Theologian as his name Saint! (FYI St. John of Kronstadt was named after St. John of Rila).

Also on the car ride up to the monastery, my friend and I were talking about the icons we own. He had one of St. John with St. Prochorus. So when I saw this icon of St. John the Theologian with St. Prochorus, it went in my to purchase pile immediately. Before doing so, I verified with my spiritual father that it was the icon I thought it was. I am no expert and depend on others as well. At monasteries of course you can also ask the nun who is there in the store!

Also at times I buy an icon of a Saint who I know to be an intercessor for a certain need. I got an icon recently for a friend I am concerned for and will pray especially to those Saints for assistance on behalf of this person. I find that the icons I need often come when I need them. For instance, I do not yet have an icon of St. Elizabeth the Mother of the Forerunner, my name's Saint. I believe I will have this icon when I am supposed to - not that it is wrong to order an icon at a particular time. This is no 'one way' to icons! But I do find that in general an icon comes to me when I need it. Often also I am drawn to certain ones instinctively. Or they draw me to themselves. Take your time with building an icon corner. It will come as it is needed.

Also icons are given to us. My first icon of the Holy Trinity was given to me just a few months before my chrismation. I had no idea what it was and asked one of my Orthodox friends in BC on the phone what it was. I told him it had three Angels on it and he quickly knew what icon it was! Now this is a fond memory and that particular copy is on the my apartment door.

I really love icons. They help me pray. I often find myself looking for one in my house, feeling a particular need for help. I love having icons everywhere for they speak of comfort and ready help for us. Also I am still learning to pray church prayers with proper attention. Saying brief prayers before icons helps focus me and is an encouragement to me.

It is important to give oneself room and time to grow in our Orthodox faith. For my first years I did not have many mounted icons - mainly just paper ones taped to my wall. It takes time to learn how to be Orthodox when we are converting. God will give us what we need as we are able and He is merciful. I read this past Christmas Jim Forest's book, Praying with Icons. I found his book to be a lovely introduction that was very personable as opposed to academic and complicated! But even this book, I did not read until I was in the church 5 years, which I mention to show merely the time and patience and gentleness with ourselves to grow and learn.

I thank God for His Saints and Holy Icons!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Three of the Icons I got at the Monastery

Great Martyr and Healer - St. Panteleimon.

The Holy Theotokos, Birthgiver of God.

St. John the Theologian and St. Prochorus.
Through their prayers we can learn
to keep silence before God
and know God's love.
I love getting icons from the monasteries I pilgrimage to.
It feels like taking the blessing home with me.
They were blessed today at the liturgy (old calendar) for the
Nativity of the Birthgiver of God.

Monastere Vierge Marie La Consolatrice

It was a dream come true to be at this monastery

with many from my home parish.

The protection there is felt, as well as their dependence on God.

The air was so clear.
The Abbess talked to us as a group and answered many questions.
One of the life-long parishioners, the next day,
said that he learned more in those few hours than
he has in years.
It was such a relief to pray vespers in their chapel.
The prayers, the incredible beauty, the protection and love
that is there is truly of heaven.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Praying for miracles

In my last post I spoke of miracles and monasteries.

I just found out that

Very Reverend Mother Christophora, Abbess, and Mother Galina

are going to be at my church tomorrow.

This makes me feel so happy and hopeful.

I will Lord Willing get to see two Abbesses and various monastics this weekend.

This in itself is a miracle.

Very Reverend Mother Christophora, Abbess, and Mother Galina

are from Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Ellwood City, Pennsylvania.

We need the prayers of monastics.

They hold our lives and churches together by their prayers.

We need the prayers of the Church, including prayers of St. Barbara.
(The picture above is of a small Icon I was recently given;
it is from her monastery in Romania).
Lord help us all and save us!

suivant - following

Suivant means following or the following.
I am following a partly unknown dream to what I hope is a better future.

The other half of this story is that it is a bit scary to commit
about half of one's life savings to learn a language
to try to stay in a city
that has become a home to me.

On one hand it so great to know what I am going to try to do.

Learn French.


Today I am going to a Greek Monastery with my church.
And I am so relieved.
I cannot say enough about going to a good Orthodox monastery.
This past year has been very hard for me.
I was in a job that proved very difficult;
breaking my foot before that
was really hard;
not only did not I not get good care in the hospital
(not being told that you have two foot fractures
or how to care for an open wound
to name just two incidents)
but the internal wounds that come from a physical wound
take time to heal from.
Often what got me through was remembering the monastery I go to
and seeing pictures of other good Orthodox monasteries
that blog friends went to.
So today I am going to pray for a miracle:
that I can find a good apartment that I can afford
and find a way to better structure my life to learn French
(I am struggling with it already).

Thursday, September 17, 2009

God's provision

I got a call this week: apparently my old government job

was renegotiated (union) at a higher salary.

I got an unexpected check from pay and benefits

for back pay!

I had been praying and had asked St. Nicholas for his prayers.

These prayers were answered within a short time period.

Today after French class I went to my favourite health food store.
They had soup and bread that they were giving away,
as it would expire tomorrow.
So all in one day I was given financial provision and yummy soup and bread!
I have come to a decision as well,
affirmed by my parents
(still have to ask my spiritual father)
of what I am doing next.

Here it is:
1. I am going to look for a cheaper apartment downtown.
2. I am going to use some of my savings (I lived frugally and saved money)
and do full time French starting DV in January for 8 months or so.
3. I will continue doing part-time French meanwhile.
I feel so much better than I did a year ago.
I still have my moments and French is NOT super easy for me to learn,
but I feel more hopeful.
I also need to trust God for my future and not worry.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Ahhhh ...

I had a busy few days.
Minor emotional meltdowns
(sleep deprivation, gets me ever time).
I have been informed that I often have a lot of pathos.
Great word, pathos.
I am taking a quick break from making
French-word and phrases
I was so busy, I did not practice from Thursday until after class today.
Minor panic about this.
Read part of a book today, that I had to give back to the library.
About work / life balance
It is such a CURSE of today.
Importance = busyness.
It makes me sick.
Yet I have the sickness too.
Currently balancing:
*job searching
*French learning
*Church going
*apartment search soon to begin (I need to move December 1st, 2009)
It is good to check in here.
You all mean a great deal to me.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


I am doing alright.
Overslept though today and had to take a taxi to church!
(20 minute walk normally).
I came in during the singing of the Beatitudes and veneration of the Gospel,
so it could of been worse.
I am networking tomorrow night. Prayers requested.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


French class went better today.
Thank you everyone for your encouragement and suggestions!
I have another networking event
this coming Monday night.
I got a cute linen black dress for $12.00 at a consignment shop!
It's my favourite kind of find;
simple, good quality, comfortable.
To be worn under suit jackets, blouses, cardigans.
Also found a great darkish brown suede like jacket
(the blazer type not trench coat).
Really nice with the black dress, perfect for fall.
I am thinking of going to Value Village for further wardrobe updates.
I am feeling more hopeful right now.
I have a lot of scheduling and planning to do.
French learning and network building.
I feel like my dreams are not fully in ashes.
This is a good sign.
I hope and pray that all of you have something
good in your day as well.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

A Full Day

I went to liturgy this morning.

It was good.

I had breakfast and then went to my church (old calendar) for 6th hour prayers.

Remembered Kathleen Norris writing about noon prayers

how it would slow her down,

make her readjust her afternoon plans.

I sat quietly after the prayers and realized how fatigued I felt.

I found myself nodding off...

I started French classes tonight.

I really wanted to record the vocab words that were covered in today's lesson,

so I could listen to them again.

My teacher did not want to do so and told me I was stressed.

Yes. I am stressed. Yes, I know.

But why do people use this as an excuse?

I know that I need to hear these words again so that I can pronounce them correctly.

I went through this already with the last time I tried to learn French.

So other than feeling a tad brushed off, I will be proactive.

I know many people who know French.

I will ask them to say these vocab words into my recorder, so I can listen and practice...

I need to learn more about how to relax.
Any thoughts about this, please share.
So many are in need,
Lord have mercy on us all.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Nativity of the Birthgiver of God

I went to vigil and matins at the Cathedral.
Long, beautiful and joyful.
It was like a foretaste of Pascha,
which, it is...
Blessed Feast!


When I began reading Katherine Hall Page’s Body in the Ivy, I was excited. A clear departure form what she normally writes. Faith Fairchild, her main character, is sidelined by a story of an all-girls school, prestigious and in the East Coast of the States. Soon it was I, the reader who felt sidelined. There were numerous references to Agatha Christie and the plot was the same as Christie’s Ten Little Indians. The allusions to Christie’s work were too many and too obvious. In Page’s book it is a murderess killing the other stranded woman on the Island. I found I could not properly finish this book. The dysfunction caused by a character who, in the story, was dead 20 years I found increasingly sickening. The character was an incredible narcissistic monster. I found myself skipping pages and pages (I hate not knowing who the murder is) and in the end just read the last two pages.

There was nothing I expected in a Faith Fairchild mystery. No cosiness, no family, the only characterization that was truly fleshed out was the evil girl whose actions haunt the other characters. I was left with a sense of distaste for New England Schools and sensed a bitterness and despair throughout the book’s narration.

Some of Page’s books I have thoroughly enjoyed, and even re-read. I am sad to say this is a book I will not pick up again.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Please Pray for my Sister and Brother-in-law

leave for Romania tomorrow
for a two-year term,
to work with orphans with the Christian
organization Heart to Heart International.
Please pray for them,
for traveling mercies and God's protection.
Prayers also requested for us who stay on this side of the ocean
and will miss them.
My sister is one of my best friends.
Rebecca and Mark were the first ones I called after losing my job.
I could not ask for a better sister and I love her very much.
Ever since she was born I have loved her deeply
and remain so proud of her!


I am thinking about the cycles of my life.
No pretending that this past year of my life was not difficult.
But it does not have to stay this way.
Am thinking of which ways are best for me
to become who I already am.
How to live in the world
humble and confident
at the same time.
Seek first God's kingdom and the rest will be given unto you.
There are no rules in this game of life in North America.
How to love in such a world.
How to communicate.
I am learning.
Learning to write book reviews here.
Hosting dinner parties.
Going to book club.
Reading. Cooking. Job Searching.
Taking pictures. Artistic leanings.
How to network in life.
How to live as God desires me to live.
My life needs to be reinvented by God.
Behold, you are a new creation.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Russian Dinner Party

Perogies, Borscht, Salad.

Dark red wine and water with lemon.

Lovely pastries with homemade peach filling.

Chi Tea in smooth blue and white tea cups.

It was such a joy to host.
I thank God for the opportunities to open my house
and be with good friends.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Step one, step two, step...

I am reading a book called
Can You Start Monday Morning? by Cheryl Cage.
She gives some good advice on job seeking.
Now I just need to follow it.
I have been working on these things.
Tomorrow I am having a small dinner party.
Today was better than yesterday
and I pray that with God's help
I can continue to go forward.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

One Day at a Time

Today I...
-signed up for a French class; starts next week
- picked up food for a dinner party I am having this Thursday
-went to a lovely dinner party tonight
I tried to get more done on the job seeking front,
but it was slow going.
I hope to do more tomorrow.
It is a struggle to have the courage to do all I need to do.
Lord help us all.

Book Review - The Body in the Gallery by Katherine Hall Page

I wrote about this author recently. I enjoyed The Body in the Gallery and feel that it is a small departure from her previous books. Much is the same - Faith Fairchild is still catering, still married to her New England bred clerical husband, still living in small town New England. I found many allusions to popular culture, which I do not remember noticing before. Allusions to many TV shows (esp. Mork and Mindy's Robin Williams), and one to Harry Potter's invisibility cloak were threaded throughout. Current high-end fashion and art also weaved another layer in Page's book.

I found many good aspects of this book. These include addressing current concerns that parents are facing - particularly the role of the Intranet on school aged children. Her middle school aged son, Ben, gets tangled in a web of being bullied into cyberbullying. Page is to be applauded for bringing this to the forefront as a important social issue that needs to be addressed by parents with school age children. Also the role of mother/wife/adult woman continues to be examined as Faith continues to grow with her children. This growth is facilitated by her husband's wishing to solve their family problems by having Faith be more of a stay-at-home mom /wife. She comes up with what can be termed a meaningful compromise at the end of the book, but the issue is not fully resolved.

I greatly appreciate Page's commitment to family and marriage that is clear without it being a deliberate nod to a political persuasion or party. She embodies what I sense is the New England commitment to traditional values with the flavour of New York City near by. Even more appreciated is that Page does not fully resolve the complexities of living in our time period.

It is not easy to be a parent in today's society. It is not easy to be a woman and understand what role she needs and wants to play (it seems that one of feminism's greatest triumphs is the giving woman with enough money the choice to work / stay at home). To deal with this complexity while solving a murder or two is no small feat. I look forward to reading her next book, The Body in the Sleigh. Meanwhile, I look foreword to reading her 2006 Body in the Ivy which, by happenstance, I have yet to read.