Friday, March 31, 2017

Friday, with cookies, cake and the praises of the Theotokos at our local Church

Husband came home last night with renewed work worries.
Lit a blessed candle for him this morning...
our hope is in God, who made Heaven and Earth....
Went on a walk and to 5 small little corner stores in our area
looking for raspberry jam, no one had any... I resolved to 
get some later in the day at a small grocer that is bigger than our little
corner stores... 
I managed to bake a cake and also some cookies for Pascha.
Read more of Laurus and am enjoying it... 
Went to church tonight, wonderful to see the 
icon of the Theotokos and stand there, 
hearing the prayers....
Went to local small grocery store afterwards,
got raspberry jam for the cake, to make with melted chocolate
for frosting tomorrow!
Terrific amount of wind and rain, 
my umbrella, which I stopped using after seeing one
in the trash and realizing the wind was just too strong,
got a bit battered, but still usable, thank God.
Husband worked really late tonight.
Things are still a bit of a struggle here...
we keep our hope in God... 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Thursday feels like Friday

(I could not resist putting in this photo,
I find it really funny.  Sadly the problem it is 
dealing with is real and I know not just a problem here!)

Yesterday I got my hair cut!
Was time and I am glad to have it ready for warmer weather! 
I have really thick hair, so thinning and layering is best!
I got to go on some walks this week,
which was really great.
I could not resist getting out the teas I collected in Holland...
I am hoping that my parents can come as planned (DV) this summer
and I plan on having some of the tea then, to celebrate
our special once-in-a-lifetime trip to Holland last fall.
I get really homesick for this special trip at times...
just being with my parents, in the country we are from,
it was so wonderful... I think what I loved most was just 
being with them, enjoying food that we bought from the store
and taking walks together... 
it's slow reading but really good...
I savour the time I can actually just read and take notes.
I really want to get back to writing essays again,
it's been a real challenge as we have had so many other hurdles to deal with...
next up is going to be another trip to NYC for my right eye's problem...
I will probably get another shot in the eye, so I welcome all prayers,
as it is something I hope will be healed without further things needed... 
Today I hope to get more done on my long list.
It's really a balancing act and I feel already that I am running out of time.
But that is life and I just pray that what I am supposed to do
day by day is accomplished,
by God's mercy!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Prayer Request for Another

Product Details

Many, at least us who are Orthodox,
may know the book that
walks kids through death
and what an Orthodox funeral is like...
and the comfort of Christ's Ressurection... 
The book is called
which is published by Pascha Press.
I can recommend this book highly and have
it stocked in our church bookstore.
The author, Marjorie Kunch, who is 
just a year older than myself,
at 41 years old,
had a routine mammogram and found out that she
has breast cancer.
You can read more here, at her page for updates and
support, including financial, which is needed.
She starts chemo tomorrow.
Please pray for her!
She has a loving husband and two young children and this is all very
sudden and very difficult!
Lord have mercy on His handmaid Marjorie! 

Monday, March 27, 2017

Monday... and reflections on what one is given in various seasons of life

A quiet day for the most part.
Since the time change + other things, we have had a hard time
getting to bed on time.  
Still dealing with some fatigue because of that.
I am ordering take out for dinner to help out with this.
A real blessing to be able to do this.
Construction has continued and was interesting to watch.
Am enjoying Mat. Constantina's book of stories.
Very readable but a lot to digest, as it were.
I really liked her analogy early on of how she had to learn
that the spiritual life is not like baking a cake;
that one does not merely put the ingredients in and voilĂ , have a cake! 
I really appreciate and understand Mat Constantina's words on
not judging others, on doing as you know best to do and not
worrying about it and about how it is important to have a 
spiritual father instead of, to put it in my words, have a 
DYI approach to the spiritual life - 
Orthodoxy best lived is not like that - like Mat. Constantina's words
on the spiritual life being like baking a cake - 
but by having input from someone (i.e. a spiritual father or mother) who
can guide you in things.
There is something that is really hard to explain that I have learned 
since moving here:
about spiritual fathers.... I am still learning and trying to figure this out,
but I can tell you what I see at this juncture.
I used to think it was simple:
find a spiritual father, depend on him for everything pertaining the spiritual life
and be saved.  
Finis! Finished! 
In general this IS the best way... 
but there is something in this that must be understood.
It was this book
that helped me understand about this and to understand
what had just happened to me, 
when I was newly married and living in NJ.
I was given so many blessings in this time.
Including an early visit to a small monastery
and words that I still remember,
As I said earlier, I left everything when I married my Husband,
left Ottawa and moved to New Jersey.
This included a lot of my daily patterns and prayer life.
It was rather cataclysmic in a lot of ways.
I could not remember how I even prayed in a lot of ways,
from my life in Ottawa and my new life as a wife.
Added to this, God allowed that I lost my main prayer book
the day that we fly from our honeymoon to our new home together.
Favourite much used prayer book, with bookmarks from my life there,
it was simply gone and I had no way to replace it,
it was out of stock everywhere online, at the time.
(I've since gotten 2 copies of it!).
So the small prayer rule I had, the very book I used was gone.
My Husband had a very different prayer rule and 
I struggled to adopt this and adapt to it.
Even now this has not been fully successful, to be honest.
Anyway, back to what I was trying to say....
I also left my spiritual father, I 
I was really leaving him so that I could get married
to my beloved Husband.
And I will assure you that my spiritual father told me I had 
to leave him, that while some can keep their spiritual father
when they move, that it is not what I was to do.
And my dear beloved spiritual father in Ottawa was 
absolutely right.
He was right that he would not be able to advise me
because he would not know my life here.
He was right because of my new life here is so different that
my old life and ways simply do not fit here.
I can tell you that I do have a new spiritual father and that I am
very blessed.  He's wise, gentle, traditional and very experienced.
But it is not the same and is not as much like what I used to think
of in terms of having a spiritual father.
I am not able to depend on him like I did the one I had in Ottawa.
I confess as the church subscribes and do not have
weekly discussions or talks like I did in Ottawa, not even 5 minutes of such.
But I can tell you that whatever God gives you is *enough*.
It is here that Fr John Krestiankin's letters helped so much.
Basically what I learned is of his advice to many 
that there are simply not a lot (I think he would say even not any) elders
like there were in the days past --
not that there are not living Saints - I know someone who knew 
Fr John Krestiankin himself and said to me recently:
"I think he will be a Saint one day"
-- but what Fr. John was saying is that it is very important to read
Orthodox books and also to be more independent. 
(Of course we are not talking here about independent as in
do what you want, feel free to sin, not at all! many of his letters are
very firm to people, saying even that they have not begun 
to live as a Christian!)
From this I had to learn to trust God in new ways.
And understand that what I was given in Ottawa was a real gift.
That it was for a season.  That it was for my healing.
I can say without a doubt that my Ottawa spiritual father helped me
grow up and be ready to marry my Husband.
I also understand now that not everyone is given
a spiritual father that they 'obey in everything'... and that God 
gives something different to everyone.
I think that this is one of the biggest things I can say right now:
God gives something different to everyone
and that we are saved together but by means that are often ordered by God
for each person according to what they need and are 
able to receive at the given time.
Now, this said, may I be sure to say that this does not 
mean, because one does not have a spiritual father in the way that,
if there were enough of them would be what everyone should have,
that one is exempt from the basics of the spiritual life for an 
Orthodox Christian.
We all need to go to the sacraments of Holy Confession and 
receive Holy Communion.
You do not need a holy elder to have these two things
and in God's mercy He can save us through His means
through the Church.
And I think it is a is good to read books, be aware,
pray that God will lead us... it is good to go to Orthodox Monasteries when 
we can go, it is good to have Lent, to pray and fast as we are able.
The older I get the harder I realize life is. How easy it was when
I was younger to not understand other people's struggles and that
for some just making it to church is a huge victory. 
That God will help us as small and struggling that we are.
That He loves us.  That there is HOPE even 
when we are not at all where we wish we were spiritually or
do not have the resources or life we wish we had.
We can trust that God is still with us, in everything and that even 
when we struggle, like I did recently, with our lives as they are 
at present, that God can use it all and that He is here to pour out 
His mercy.... 
And trust that what God gives us is *enough* and that He will make
way for what is next in His time...
Anyway, there's things I have been pondering for a while!
Thanks again everyone for your encouragement and prayers.
I've received news about my Dad, he has a small broken bone in his leg,
a clean break and basically if you were to break a bone this is how you would want to 
do so!  Please though pray for him as it is hard to be laid up for the time
it will take to heal, with need for the leg to be elevated and such.
Thanks again for your prayers!
I am always inspired by my parents by how they take each day
and seek to trust God in everything! 

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Whew, Better, Looking forward...

Thank you so much,
everyone who has sent comments my way on my last post,
I can't thank you enough.
I know that these feelings of missing Ottawa come to me
rather suddenly and I just have to wade through them.
I had a nice weekend,
had an early dinner with dear friends on Saturday,
had Patrick's 40th day memorial service,
vigil, and we were given things from Patrick's house that 
dear friends of ours found there for us. 
We took home a lot of treasures from Patrick,
my Husband is really excited about some that were found for him,
that I may be able to show you later when they are on display.
The table full of papers
...are especially meaningful to me...
 I had found them at Patrick's last Monday,
in the last hour I was helping with the packing and sorting. 
I did not dream it would be given to me and am so touched. 
It's a bunch of hand written recipes and 2 vintage cookbooks. 
I am carefully sorted and put them in page protectors.
 They will be in a binder I have for recipes and I can't wait to bake, 
cook and share them with you all!
I must add some things that I have been reflecting on that I did 
not have in Ottawa and have now.
I can remember how I would come back home
after Holy Week and have my pretty paschal food and 
best table setting, Sunday morning of Pascha,
and I would have no one to share it with.
I remember the loneliness of going home after church
and not having a family to come home to or with.
Now I have my Husband and it's so nice.
Also it's just been an intense year - about 
double the travel we usually have, we got sick
various times, and I am still dealing with my 
new eye issue (it's not better, I probably need a second
shot-in-the-eye in a week Monday) and life as we know it.
But we must never give up, must always
remember our blessings and seek to be thankful.
That's a huge thing right there.
Prayer request: My Dad hurt his leg last week
and goes to doctor tomorrow about it.
We are hoping it is merely sprained,
but of course don't know for sure.
I won't go into details here but my Dad was 
really protected in this all and I thank God so much for that.
My parents-in-law hope to visit us in May and we are really
looking forward to that!
And I am honestly thankful for my life here...
it's just a work in progress and sometimes it's easy to 
remember the good things about where one last was and
forget the difficult or fail to see the wonders that I have here.
Thanks again so much for your kindness and prayers,
they are so appreciated!!!!