Friday, August 30, 2013

Along the way...

One of the times that
Mr. Husband and I got back late in the day
from being gone on an overnight trip,
Mr. Husband got our candle that was used
during our house blessing 
and placed it on our icon shelf...
I had to move it and at first where
I was moving it to was unclear and 
Mr. Husband's immediate response was,
the candle needs to be near Christ
and once again I was reminded of how
everything must come back to Christ,
the light of the world. 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

When weary, read this

"You keep writing about hard-heartedness and sleepiness.
I think you are giving yourself too little rest.
When you are overtired, you should not force yourself,
you should not prod yourself into having a
particular feeling.
If you do not give your body rest and
during times of exhaustion force yourself to pray
or collect your thoughts,
or to seek a state of repentance in your heart,
you will never have peace of soul.
On the contrary, you will have confusion of thought and
heaviness of spirit.
St. Basil the Great says:
"If rest if harmful to a young a healthy body,
even more harm is brought to a
sick and weak body by overwork."
Do not be shy about giving yourself some respite and
more hours of rest in order to gain some hours or even
a few minutes of spiritual vitality,
a fresh outlook and clear thought.
Otherwise, one can fall into despondency.
The Lord wants to so little of us,
just a humble spirit,
while He gives us everything through His grace."
~from Letter # 83 of Abbess Arsenia in
Orthodox Life Vol 64: No. 2 March-April 2013

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Great Compassion of Christ and Our Church

We must be patient and merciful toward the sinner if we wish that a long-suffering [patient] God be merciful to us. The great compassion of Blessed Alexander, the Patriarch of Antioch, had become proverbial. One of his scribes stole several gold pieces and fled to Thebaid. However, some robbers captured him in the wilderness and they took him with them. Learning of this, Alexander sent the robbers eighty-five gold pieces as a ransom. That is why it was said: "The mercy of Alexander cannot be overcome by any sin." St. John the Merciful One writes: "The long-suffering [patience] of God is unchangeable and His mercy is kind…How many criminals are there who go out to kill and rob that He conceals in order that they may not be captured and placed under tortures? Pirates sail the sea and God does not order the sea to drown them. How many falsely swear by Holy Communion and He tolerates not repaying them for that with evil? Robbers steal on the road and He does not give them over to the beasts to tear them to pieces…Libertines go off with prostitutes and He tolerates them. Why all of this? Because He waits for repentance and conversion. Truly, God does not want the destruction of a sinner…That is why, brethren, let us be ashamed before the most lenient Lord God."
~Prologue of Ochrid, August 2nd (found here).

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Beneath Your Compassion

Beneath your compassion,
We take refuge, O Mother of God:
do not despise our petitions in time of trouble:
but rescue us from dangers,
only pure, only blessed one.
Each Orthodox Church has special traditions of prayer.
It was a blessing to be at St. Herman's
and pray to the Theotokos in this way after vespers.
Needs mentioned and prayers to the Theotokos offered.
I remember that the these prayers have been 
answered deeply over time for many who go
to this church.
We must continue to pray in hope
for help in times of distress.
We must not despair.

My Grandfather's Brother

Got the news yesterday
that my Grandfather's brother fell asleep in the Lord.
A gradual decline, 
20 years or so after his wife passed on
and a short sickness
and he is plunged into the day that 
begins his life anew.
May God remember him in His Kingdom!
Reading some pages in 
Elizabeth Goudge's 
book of comfort
and found this:
Amoretti LXVIII:
 Most glorious Lord of life, that on this day,
Didst make thy triumph over death and sin:
And having harrow'd hell, didst bring away
Captivity thence captive, us to win:
This joyous day, dear Lord, with joy begin,
And grant that we for whom thou diddest die,
Being with thy dear blood clean wash'd from sin,
May live for ever in felicity.
And that thy love we weighing worthily,
May likewise love thee for the same again:
And for thy sake, that all like dear didst buy,
With love may one another entertain.
So let us love, dear love, like as we ought,
Love is the lesson which the Lord us taught.
~Edmund Spenser. 
It is so hard to slowly see the older generation go on 
to the Lord. I feel so much that we still need them.
Who is going to remind us of how 
we are to live?
Or to see their endurance.
Oh most Holy Loving Lord,
have mercy on us
and on your newly departed servant

Monday, August 26, 2013

Needed: Prayers for Noah

Please pray for Kate, Noah's Mom
and Noah
who have been pulled through a very difficult time.

Almost the Feast of Dormition

Been thinking of how to write...
blogs are tricky and I
worry more than often about
making my life seem what it is not
or what it has not attained to.
Anyway, just to say we were not able
to pray the service to the Mother of God
every day like some do during this fast.
{I wrote about this here}
I remain convinced that growth
takes time and that we often
wish we were or could do more
than we have the strength for.
But I take heart in what,
even if it is small,
we can do.
Like reading a little out of
Fr. John's book after dinner.
We are finding that this book
is best to be read very slowly
as it is so packed with
counsel and
spiritual thought.
So... I have a lot going on in the next few weeks
involving visits with family and friends.
Not sure that I will be able to do a
yarn along post in the next two or three weeks,
the visits are so wonderfully upon us!
I have a lot of things, some new,
for later in September that I look forward too,
nothing life-flipping like last year
{getting married that is}
but new things to do and people to meet.
Katherine wrote about new beginnings today
and I've been reading in many blogs
of all of us seeing the end of summer and
gearing up for a new year.
I know I've been on a cleaning spree and want
all to be organized!
This is one part of my and Mr. Husband's life that
we still have not fully figured out
or had the time to
(between church and home
we find our selves very busy)...
Any suggestions on how to use space better
are welcomed! :)
Wishing you all a wonderful week!
Soon Mr. Husband will be celebrating the
Dormition of the Mother of God
and having family visit!
It's going to be a full and beautiful week,
God willing! 

Family ~ such a blessing!

Some fun pictures of my new
Aunt and Uncle's place...

Mr. Husband and I found this
to be really funny.

Our Dutch Christian heritage. 

The Lord's prayer,
that in Orthodoxy we call
The Our Father.

My Aunt and Uncle spent many years there.

I love seeing Dutch things in the homes of my family.


Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Visible parables done by French Catholics for Africa
some years back that my
Aunt and Uncle have in their home...
Being with my new family is like reading the Psalm verse in Psalm 18
by the paraphrase the message ~
I remember it saying something like this:
and there I stood in an open field,
surprised to be loved.

Leave-taking of the Feast of Holy Transfiguration

"Why did our Lord not manifest His divine glory on Tabor
 before all the disciples instead of before three of them?
 First, because He Himself gave the Law through the mouth of Moses:
 "At the mouth of two witnesses
or at the mouth of three witnesses,
shall the matter be established" (Deuteronomy 19:15).
Therefore, three witnesses are sufficient.
These three witnesses represent three main virtues:
Peter Faith, for he was the first to confess
 his faith in Christ as the Son of God;
James Hope, for, with faith in the promise of Christ,
 he was the first who laid down his life for the Lord,
being the first to be slain by the Jews;
John Love, for he reclined on the bosom of the Lord
and remained beneath the Cross of the Lord until the end.
God is not called the God of many but rather the God of the chosen.
 "I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob"
(Exodus 3:6). God often valued a faithful man more than an entire nation.
Thus, on many occasions,
He wanted to destroy the entire Jewish nation,
but because of the prayers of righteous Moses,
spared that nation to live.
God listened more to the faithful Prophet Elijah
than to the entire unbelieving kingdom of Ahab.
 Because of the prayers of one man,
God towns and people.
Thus, the sinful town of Ustiug
was to be destroyed by fire and hail
had it not been saved by the prayers of the one and only righteous man in it,
St. Procopius, the "fool for Christ" (July 8)."
~August 19 Prolog of Ohrid

Saturday, August 24, 2013

On a Saturday...

We continue to enjoy the
wonderful fruits and vegetables of summer
from the farmer's market in our town.

I wore my pink dress and white sweater that
I got for this summer
to the wedding Mr. Husband and I were at
two weeks back...
I ended up wearing my green pashmina scarf as a
makeshift shrug last minute
as I found the church to be quite warm
and when we got back home,
I realized that the white sweater,
that I had saved to wear first to that wedding,
had a huge tear on the top seam,
parallel to the tag!
So we returned it and I ended up getting
this blue sweater instead
(and it was marked down so we returned an item
and got a refund!).
I had been wanting to have a blue sweater
for the Feasts of our Most Holy Theotokos
as her colour is blue.
So now I will have something,
to wear next week for the Feast of Dormition!
Pictured with it is the Ukrainian
shirt that I was given as a wedding present
and have wore to church feasts with
Mr. Husband wearing the one he was given.

Our garden is really just our kitchen window sill
but I love it none the less...
Monday will be the leave-taking of
Holy Transfiguration.
Soon Holy Dormition.
Sometimes I think I wish I could slow myself down
and take these in better than I am.
Lord have mercy.
Read this the other day and it reminded me of the book
our thoughts determine our lives:

How can we overcome the enmity of our enemies?
By renunciation, meekness and prayer.
Renunciation in everything,
except in faith and purity of life, meekness and prayer,
always and always.
 St. Ambrose writes: "This is the weapon of the righteous ones
that in retreating they conquer,
just as the skillful archers have the custom that by fleeing, they shoot those stronger than themselves."
A brother was offended by his friend but,
nevertheless, desiring peace with him,
went to him to be reconciled.
 However, his friend did not even want to open the door for him
and scolding him from within, chased him away from his house.
The brother then complained to a spiritual father who said to him:
 "Going to your friend to be reconciled, all along the way,
you condemned him in your thoughts
and justified yourself.
I counsel you, even though your friend sinned against you,
 establish the thought in yourself that
you have sinned against him and, in this manner, go to him
 and in your thoughts justify him and condemn yourself."
Thus, the brother proceeded. And what happened?
Just as the brother approached the house of his friend,
he opened wide the door, ran up to him and
embraced the offended brother and made peace with him.
~Prologue of Ohrid for August 10th

Friday, August 23, 2013

If you like the book Everyday Saints...

May God Give You Wisdom! The Letters of Fr. John Krestiankin (published by Sretensky Monastery and St. Xenia Skete)

Mr. Husband and I loved
reading Everyday Saints
out loud in the evenings...
We were given this book,
May God Give You Wisdom!
as a gift earlier this year.
It contains the letters of
Fr. John who is in the book
Everyday Saints.
This book of letters became my reading for
Great Lent.
We have just begun reading it out loud
as our new book to share together.
It's a great way to have some spiritual reading
in one's day and something we
really treasure about our days.
Fr. John figures prominently in the book
Everyday Saints.
(You can read about Fr. John here from the
Everyday Saints website).
You can see more about the book of
Fr. John's letters here,
where the author of Everyday Saints,
Archimandrite Tikon,
writes an essay about Fr. John as
one of his spiritual sons.
Mr. Husband and I just began reading
this book out loud in our evening
reading time.
We are already loving this book
of Fr. John's letters...
If you can get your hand on a copy,
count yourself blessed!

Sorrow ~ Sympathy ~ Remembering

Icon to the Mother of God, Joy of those that Sorrow

it seems that other than prayer
all I can do is mark here the
sorrow of things.
I was at her wedding years ago,
wore my vibrant fuchsia silk shawl
that I had gotten at the Great Glebe Garage Sale.
I brought a tin of cookies,
a book on marriage,
a wedding icon of St. Joachim and Anna.
She was so happy.
Later miles and miles from her
I felt that she was under attack...
I could feel it day in and day out...
We were and are like sisters,
it is no surprise I felt it.
Things fell apart, suddenly, but not suddenly
but horribly
and now it is ending
and we just keep praying
as she has to build a new life
desolate for now
alone, again.
Oh Holy Saviour Jesus Christ have mercy,
how we can suffer.
I sent her the book on Mother Alexandra
who also suffered divorce and knows
the pain.
What else can be done?
We go to monasteries,
we light candles,
we put her name for prayer,
just as she always has at
her churches for me, for my husband.
May God remember all those
who are brokenhearted,
May mercy be poured out.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Marriage ~ a few last things

(picture by our wonderful photographers)

12. Patience as you get routines down

When one is newly married, it takes time
to settle in and get new routines.
Same with any significant change ~ job, child, a move.
It takes time and things often
do not go as quick as one would like.
Just realizing and accepting this can really help.

13.  Family Meetings 

Something that helps Mr. Husband and I
is having family meetings.
These sometimes are to discuss something that
is bothering us.
They are also used to discuss what we need to get done
in the following week,
or what each other's priorities are and
figuring out how to prioritize things together.

When having family meetings,
especially when they have to do with something that is
bothering you or your spouse,
(avoiding green-stamping as we discussed earlier)
it is important to remind oneself of the big picture:
that the person you married is much better and more than
the problem you see attached to them.
Another very important key is when one is discussing
something that merits a 'this is bothering me' conversation
it is important to remind the other person that
you love them and that whatever the person is doing
while it is bothering you in some way,
it does not mean or equal to a failure on the other person's part.

Sometimes it is sadly easy to 'point a figure' at the other person
and forget that it is only one aspect of that person AND
that you yourself have probably done the same thing
or worse.

Giving the person time, the benefit of the doubt
and assurances of one's love for them is important
during this time.

And it is so easy to forget this in what we call
'the heat of the moment.'

14. Flexibility 

Things change quickly sometimes.

For myself and Mr. Husband,
my getting mono in month 5 of our marriage
changed a lot of things
in rapid succession.

All of a sudden all the things I loved doing as a wife,
cooking, cleaning, baking, grocery shopping, laundry
for instance
I was unable to do.

We have to figure out new ways of doing things.
Some of our solutions were
ordering groceries, sending some laundry out when it got bad, etc.

Everyone will have different solutions
when something like this happens.
It takes some time to figure it out
but it can be done.

Sometimes one also has to accept that
sometimes one's standards have to be lowered.
That fully orderly house or
having fresh baked goods
or no laundry in the hamper
may not happen.
And that is OK.

Of course if you live near family or friends,
don't be afraid to ask for help.

For myself,
I had to learn to communicate more on a daily basis
on how I felt and what I felt I could or could not do.

15. Monastery Visits

Visiting health monasteries is a boon to anyone,
including married couples.
We can be given a short respite,
new strength,
inspiration and courage to go on in our daily lives.
We are introduced often through these visits also
to very good spiritual literature that can help us
as families.


these are the lessons I am aware of learning so far!
We are nearing our first year anniversary!
The biggest thing I or my husband
or anyone could say though is that it is ALL done by
God's mercy.

Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Source of ALL good,
of all mercy, of all redemption.

With the Lord,
the Church and all the Saints,
our Guardian Angels,
our marriage can be protected
and the rough patches can be weathered
by the grace and mercy of God.


From what I understand every marriage
goes through times of trial and of struggle.
But I also understand that with God's mercy,
we and our marriages can survive and
we pray even flourish!

As one older woman told me recently,
there are peaks and valleys
but God is with us through them all.

*Note: As is obvious as I am married less than 1 year:  My lessons learned on marriage are ongoing and of course are not replacing the many good sources on marital harmony or help. Talking to one's priest, 
to a counselor whose goal is to sustain marriages and many books may be of help.
 A few books I know of on marriage are found here.

Second Thursday of the Dormition Fast

Yesterday not only did I bake
the peach crisp...

But I made one of Mr. Husband and I's favourites:
fried onions and potatoes in olive oil.

This pan was my parent's.
The handle fell off again yesterday and
I distractedly put the handle on upside down.
But I think it is funny,
so it stays.

The potatoes were wonderful and
there is enough of both the
potatoes and mushrooms for another meal!

We are loving the summer tomatoes. 

This morning it stormed...
was so wonderful to light candles in the
grey of the morning.

Lampadas never cease in their
light and giving of hope...

Our little Dormition Icon...
with St. John and St. Phanourios

It all points back to Christ...
His Cross, the light of His Resurrection... 
I think we are all praying that we will
be revived,
that like the flowers, that
our lives too will bud forth with fruits...

Peach Crisp for the Dormition Fast

We had blessed peaches
from the
Feast of Transfiguration.
A friend had given me a Lenten cookbook
as a wedding gift...
It has this recipe in it:

I love how it mentions peaches for the
Dormition fast!
I added a bit more peaches to this
and thus more of the flour mixture.

5 peaches.


It was so good to bake again!

It turned out pretty well!
The only thing I would want to change
is that I missed having the oats that I have used
when I make apple crisp...
and perhaps a different margarine...
It is wonderful however to have such wonderful things
to make during the fasts!
And to have some particular to days and seasons.
Such a blessing from God,
to have a home that can practice one's faith in peace.

Returning to St. Herman's

I still remember how I would see all these candles
burning during liturgy,
my first, during Lent in the Spring in my
last year of University.

Mr. Husband and I stayed in BC just long enough
to come to Wednesday vespers.
We never know what life will bring and if we
will be able to return to BC in the future.
So I really wanted to have Mr. Husband see my first church.
It was wonderful to see St. Herman on the Iconostasis;
he was my first Saint that I felt a connection too
and I am so grateful;
St. Herman is a wonderful father to us!

The church's icon of the Mother of God.

Our Lord.

By the time I got to vespers,
after a full week of travels,
I was really tired.
So I sat for a lot of the prayers,
but still, it was so wonderful
just to be back.

I remember coming to this icon of St. Nicholas
and not knowing who he was at all,
I told him I was going to his church in MI
and please come with me!
St. Nicholas has been a special Saint to me ever since.
He was one that I was told by a monastic to ask for a husband.
A room at the monastery in MI dedicated to him was the first
one I stayed at years ago in 2005.
God is so wonderful in His Saints!

St. Herman of Alaska.

It was so wonderful to venerate St. Herman's icon...
and have him present in prayer with us.

I remember this picture from my time as
a catechumen and was so glad to see it still there.
After so many years we returned.
I was aware of how many things had happened in those years.
How many sacrifices of parents for their children,
how many heartaches and struggle,
how many joys and baptisms.
My first church.
I pray that to the end of my days I will
never cease to be grateful to God for
St. Herman's and how my life was totally transformed
by the Orthodoxy I found there.
Truly I was given the Church
that is always there,
even in the middle of great loss and devastation.
The Church and God's mercy will never leave us.
My priest in Ottawa once told me that
even if all the churches in Canada closed down
and not one building was left,
the Church is still with us.
It all comes down to this:
God is with us and

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Dinner with dear friends

One of my good friends
I met in my last year in BC.
We met at a how-to-get-jobs class;
I was a new graduate and she was 1
month in BC from China.

We had a lot of lovely times together
and I was sorry to leave BC and our friendship.
So it was so wonderful to see her and her son again!

We had a wonderful meal!
Mr. Husband got to meet not only her,
but her now 20 year old son and
her parents.

It was a wonderful meal!

She has beautiful flowers and
it was such a good time to see them again.

My dear friend loves flowers.
She had me on her church's prayer list for
many years for me to find a good husband.
It was wonderful to see how God answered their prayers
and for her to meet my beloved Mr. Husband!
I am so blessed to have such great friends in my life!