Monday, March 31, 2014

A Monday in Great Lent

I made three batches of cookies between Friday-Saturday.
I personally favour the one with chocolate chips and 
hand cut cranberries... :)

Mr. Husband bought me this small rose bush
over the weekend as a 'pick-me-up' which was really
sweet of him :)

We have much to be thankful for...

I was glad to be able to make cookies again,
am glad for my marriage and all that God has given me...

It's hard to imagine that we are so quickly going through
to the end of Great Lent; 
the swiftness of the days astounds me.

Soon I hope to be making cookies for 
and then will be the changing of icons to Paschal ones,
with Annunciation for us being this coming

I am planning on getting yarn for another
knitting project...
for an old friend's child who is ill...
There are many difficult things in this life
but God is with us
and He is our Home... 
May we all have His Mercy. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

More than halfway to Pascha!

 Well dearly beloved friends,
we have made it to another Friday in Great Lent.
I know Lent can be a very challenging time.
For me as well...
but God is with us and promises mercy.
I have been thinking of St. John the Wonderworker,
and the wonderful stories in this book,
that appears sadly out of print...
I am blessed to have a copy of it but was hoping to get
a copy of it for a dear friend; if anyone has
a copy for sale in their church bookstore, etc, do let me know!
(email here).
I took this picture this morning
of one of the pictures that I love of St. John
and that I often think of when thinking of his love
for others, especially children.

I love how loving he looks at them.
A good reminder of how Christ Himself loves children
and how Christ is the source of all goodness and light.
I am reading a story of another beloved Saint,
St. John of Kronstadt,
in the recent issue of the great
journal, road to emmaus:
and it is so wonderful to read more on 

"When you are praying alone, and your spirit is dejected, and you are wearied and oppressed by your loneliness, remember then, as always, that God the Trinity looks upon you with eyes brighter than the sun; also all the angels, your own Guardian Angel, and all the Saints of God. Truly they do; for they are all one in God, and where God is, there are they also. Where the sun is, thither also are directed all its rays. Try to understand what this means."
I was talking to Mr. Husband the other week
about how when I was younger,
I worked at the Bible Camp I loved and had the honour of 
talking to a young girl (who had a troubling dream) about how 
when I first flew in a plane, 
I realized that all the clouds I would see from below, that were dark,
were only hiding the sun that is there
and that we must remember that above the darkest of clouds,
there the sun is still shining.
We do not understand often why there are dark clouds in our life;
why is there tragedy, heartache, confusion...
but Pascha is real;
Christ is Risen from the Dead.
He is preparing a place for us in the Heavens.
Goodness is REAL... sometimes I find that I and perhaps others 
forget... but true goodness, light and mercy is found
in the Person of Jesus Christ.
So I thought I would write on this today,
in hopes of encouraging us in the struggles that we 
find ourselves in.
Yes, we are in a battle that is still being waged but yet
the battle is won; 
I know I can get so fainthearted when I see all the hard things
around me and my faith is often weak...
A few weeks ago I was so discouraged
by what I could see in part as my lack of faith;
but I was reminded of the great gentleness of God and of this
simple prayer that I clung too during those times:

O Lord, it is so easy to walk with You when things go well and nothing seems wrong. Yet, now I feel as Peter must have felt as he saw You walk towards him on the open sea. He tried to come to You and then lost hope and began to sink. When I am down, come to me as You came to Peter. Help me, even though my faith seems weak.

God is merciful and is Love,
the source of Love and the Definition of Love...

May this day be one that we
remember that even as we see our shortcomings,
when we repent of them we are given
the doorway of hope and the possibility to defeat despair...
May God bless and strengthen us in our Lenten Journey!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Knitting while traveling to and fro

Still working on my 

As I have written before, I knit
while driving to church...
so thought I would show two pictures I took
this weekend of the evening vigil service
on Saturday.

We are all going towards the Cross right now
but I listened to a homily yesterday that 
was so encouraging,
that Christ's glory is streaming from the Cross,
that we can be strengthened in our difficulties... 

I love this spot with St. Nicholas' icon...
and it is wonderful to have such a beautiful church 
to drive to while knitting...
So here's more pictures of how this blanket is going:

I did various blue squares...
still have to weave in the ends...

  Wanted to show you a snapshot of the wonderful
bag I am now using to keep this project in!
I won this wonderful bag 
from Wanda's Reinventing Mother's new endeavour: 
These bags are gorgeous, durable, lightweight and seriously
a cinch to use!
I was not surprised in the least that Wanda is selling these bags,
called drawstrings
at her newly opened Etsy store,
CinchIt and through her blog...
I am so excited for her!
She is offering the knitting world (and beyond) a wonderful
set of bags that are not only beautiful but work really well!
The bags I used before for knitting did not close at all and 
I was always worried about losing things.
Now I just put my beloved 
blanket squares in the bag, 

and Cinch it!

Perfect for knitting, quick stowing, a real
grab and go!
Cinch it closed and I am off... :)

Keeping it simple is one of my knitting goals and 
having my yarn, the squares and scissors in 
this bag is a real delight!

And since it is a cloth bag,
I just put it in my much used red purse and I am good to go!
And, as you can see from the pile above,
I am slowly accruing more knitted squares for this blanket!
So reading...
I am on a real Madeline L'Engle re-reading kick right now.
I think my favourite book of her's, at least of her YA fiction,
is her book, the Young Unicorns.

NYC, mystery, beauty, music and 
really good writing.
I am loving it all over again.
So tell me,
what are you reading and creating?
Yarn Along with us!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Tuesday, almost fully half-way to Pascha

Tomorrow, as I heard on Sunday,
is half-way to Pascha.
How much we all want to be there!
But we need to go through Great Lent...
the Resurrection comes by going through the Cross...

So I had a tablet.
It died. Just a Lenten temptation. 
There are many of these.
So now I have a chromebook.
I am learning how to use it and cleaned up my 
Google drive files...
Spring cleaning electronically I gather.
I am thinking a lot these days on how to make our
lives not only more functional, but more beautiful.
Clutter and general apathy in terms of habits/mess
means that a lot of changes that
frankly are not easy to do.
It's funny but building habits like
putting things away immediately are hard to master.
I am weak and so keep thinking and working on it, 
trying to pray...
I managed to clean up my Google drive and my actual desk area...
Laundry, that other constant, still needs to be done... 

Yet the orchid has a second flower now...
and a third on the way.
1 hour of watering, 1 day/week.
God is very merciful.
It takes a long time, at least in my life,
to realize what one needs to do
and how to reorient oneself to live in a more
whole manner, 
which I am seeing is not found in some grand philosophy
or understanding a profound truth,
though we need these too,
but it is in things like cleaning one's desk,
putting away paper, making one's bed,
washing clothes.
So many times it is just the little things that I can do
but doing them consistently makes for 
a more peaceful, ordered and beautiful existence. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Feast of the Cross ~ Midway through Great Lent 2014

 Mr. Husband went to our far-away church for the weekend.
It was lovely and very good to be there.
The Cross is brought out with great solemnity and beauty
in the middle of Great Lent
to encourage and strengthen us in our Lenten endeavours. 
Lent can be quite difficult for many of us.
I know that for me this past week was one that found me at times
fainthearted and struggling.
I think this can be true for many of us.
Yet the Church is here to help us;
to carry us to Pascha, like the four carried the paralytic
to Christ, even going so far as to remove a roof 
to lower the paralytic in front of Christ.
May Christ have mercy on us.

The homily that I heard yesterday morning
included that we in the world must 
find our own path to self-denial, 
to pick up our Cross and follow Christ...
it could be illness, it could be unemployment,
or many other struggles in life,
but that it is better to accept the struggles one is given
and bear them than to ask Christ to take them away,
that sometimes God may answer our prayer for the cross in our life
to be taken away, but that a different cross will
invariably come, and that it may be
even harder than the one that you were relieved of.
It gave me pause to think...
we are often so quick to run away from our struggles
instead of finding peace in the midst of them,
seeking to bear the Cross that will be or become our
path to Christ, our true way forward...
Indeed, it is the place of the Cross and then the 
very tomb of Christ where Holy Pascha begins.
Where Christ is Resurrected.
May we be given the mercy to come to Christ's Holy Pascha.

Friday, March 21, 2014

God's mercy...

All I do is water this orchid once a week, soaking it for 1 hour.
And sometimes I forget to do so on time.
Yet this orchid bloomed this week, in the midst of Great Lent.
Let us be encouraged:
sometimes we can do very little,
maybe all we can manage is a bit of ill-timed watering.
Yet God lets the flower bloom.
He credits us for one glass of water given in His name.
Let us take hear,
for He is merciful and quick to hear,
slow to get angry and abounding in love. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

{Lenten Reading} ~ One of my favourite Lenten books...

I seem to remember Deb writing about this book
some years ago.

I am pretty sure I read this book in about year 2007 or so.
When I was in my white walled apartment with
the kitchen with white cupboards, black and white tile,
with a small area for my prayer corner...
That was a special place,
where I remember my calendar Icon of St. John of Kronstadt 
was lit by my clay lampada, 
my Bible and prayer books on a white dresser 
below it, a shelf with my icons with tea light candles
and a desk with other beautiful prayerful things.
This is a small and gentle book
but it opened Lent to me in a real and new way.
I read a few pages of it recently and see why I loved it so much.
It is so clear; simple, with a directness that rings 
truth without being abrasive or making one feel like a 
heel that should just go hide in a corner.
No: instead it invites one to get out of that corner
and seek God and see that heaven is Christ
and that to live in heaven begins now.
It helps one begin with seeing things as they are,
what we are in need of healing of,
and that our Heavenly Father calls us to Lent,
to fasting, to repentance, for our healing.
The book indeed to me is like
a call from our Heavenly Father to His love.

I have gotten a few more icons over the years;
but I do find that those first icons, that make the 
inner corner of this prayer corner,
are still most dear and treasured
and that this early book I read on Lent is still
one of the best ones for me to read.
I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Yarn Along: Squares and Dragons in the Waters

Lots going on
and so my baby squares blanket is 
inching away more slowly than I would like...

Still, I have done more than 4 new squares
since last week...
just have a long way to go!

Patience is the key!
I am re-reading Madeleine L' Engle's

It's proving to be exactly what I need right now.
What are you reading and creating?
Yarn Along with us!!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Encouragement along the way

I've been thinking of writing some posts 
about what provides encouragement and things 
I would want to read when I am struggling.
So here is the beginning of it.
When you are lonely, make your bed in the morning.
If there is sunshine, let it shine on you.
If it is cloudy, light a candle.
Ask God to spend this day with you and seek to remember Him today;
this way the loneliness will receded a bit at least and you will be warmed.
Just be with God today.
Be simple. 
Acknowledge that spiritually there is more poverty than riches
but that you can seek to be with God today.
Look around you for someone to love,
even if it is just by saying a prayer for them.
Have a routine.
Make something.
Bake, knit, draw, write someone a letter.
If you are in need or want or have pressing demands,
do one at a time and do your best.
Remember to keep the two truths in equal balance:
I am a sinner and God loves me:
do not despair, God's love is deeper than my troubles.

Monday, March 17, 2014

{Lenten Reading} ~ three books to consider

I am doing work for my far away church for their
small bookstore and library.
I wrote on three books that would be
three possibilities for Lenten/spiritual reading that 
we have in stock at our small store.
Below are the three books and the small reviews I wrote
to recommend them.
May God bless our Lent with the fruit He so desires of us!

This book, written by Matushka Constantina Palmer, who lived for 5 years in Greece and spent a significant amount of time at some woman's monasteries. This book contains lessons she learned from the nuns and her time there.  It is a delightfully easy book to read and one that I found to be very encouraging.  I think we can forget that our Saviour Jesus Christ teaches us how to live the Christian life in love. This book is a very kind and loving as it teaches and inspires us how we too can live as Christians.  Wonderful and inspiring Lenten reading! When I read it I found I could not put it down! 

The beginning publisher’s blurb for this book says: “The life of a princess is not all glamour, handsome princes, and beautiful clothes. It is also devotion to duty, sacrifice for your people, and a lot of just plain hard work.”  Royal Monastic is a well done biography on Princess Ileana of Romania, who later became Mother Alexandra, the founder of Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Ellwood City, Pennsylvania.  This book shows how through many trials and sufferings, God can still be with us and bring beauty and goodness in to our lives, bringing salvation and blessings to us and to many surrounding us.

One of my friends said this book transformed his life. I have talked with parents who said that reading this book, including the chapter on the upbringing of children, changed their approach to parenting completely.  Elder Porphyrios is now Saint Porphyrios and his gentle words, his humility and deep compassion for those who sought his help, along with his deep and abiding faithfulness to the Orthodox Church, make this book wonderful spiritual reading to encourage and instruct us.  I cannot praise this book and Elder Porphyrios enough! God is wonderful in His Saints!