See Grandma, my eyes are really dark blue....not big brown ones like daddy

See Grandma, my eyes are really dark blue....not big brown ones like daddy

Ryan and friend

Ryan and friend
Mommy, Daddy, I'm saying Hi to Grandma?

This one is for you, Grandma!


soccer with determination and no airplane distractions

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

"The Extravagance of Love"

How much would you spend on someone you love? Would you be extravagant? One explanation comes from the Orthodox Study Bible, on Page 245 John 12:3"The account of the anointing contrasts Mary's act of devotion--the "extravagance of love"--with Judas's bitter cynicism. This interpretation was given from the Gospel reading of John 12:3.
"Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil."
(4) " But one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, who would betray Him, said, (5)"why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?" (6) "This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it."
(7)"But Jesus said, "Let her alone; she has kept this for the day of My burial."
It is commonly observed that woman were dominated by men, who, in restricting their roles and actions, lived lives in submission to them. I wonder in this account what would have happened to Mary if Jesus hadn't come to her rescue.

Mary's act of kindness to Jesus, shows great love for her Master and great submission to His will in preparing Him for the day of His burial.

"The harlot spread out her hair for You the Master; Judas spread out his hand toward the wicked. She to gain pardon, he to gain silver." (the service book of Holy Tuesday Evening.)

Colossians 3:25 "But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality."

Everyone has the same standing before the same Master. All authority is for the sake of loving service and all submission is to God. The Orthodox Study Bible, p.468

We know what became of Judas. The priceless myrrh of the harlot was blended with tears and "her you justified at once;" The services for Holy Week and Easter, on Holy Tuesday Evening.

And we will be hearing about Mary again...soon.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

"The woman caught up in a multitude of sins."

Holy Tuesday service is full of examples of Love.
One of my favorites this night is the Hymn of Kassiane where a woman lamenting of her lifestyle, provides myrrh in anticipation of the death of someone she loves, covering His feet with kisses and dried them with her hair. She has observed Him, and knows who He is. What does she want? "In Your boundless mercy, do not reject me Your handmaid." Earlier we heard in John 12:17-50, the anticipated death is upon Him. "Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour"? No, for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify thy name," Then a voice came from heaven, "I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again."
The reading continues to explain that people heard the voice, some saying it was an angel, but Jesus said it was heard for their benefit. What more did he have to do? He raised Lazarus from the dead. So why, with the many signs witnessed by them did they not believe? Isaiah is clear, "He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart."

The next revelation is that people were afraid, even though some believed, of the Pharisees and being put out of the synagogue.

The woman, humbled and tearfully asked Him to "incline now to the groaning of my heart" she senses His divinity. Her name is Mary.

In John 12 17-50, Jesus tells the unbelievers, "While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light." "He departed and hid himself from them."

Mary asks not to be rejected by someone she loves, Jesus. While Jesus was rejected by those He loved. Such as: "the wretched Judas."
"For reason does not know enough to seek what is best."
Quotes were taken from the Services For Holy Week and Easter.

Monday, March 29, 2010

What your entrance says about you.

This is going to sound funny, but what were you driving the last time you made your entrance to that special place? Whatever it was, it said more about you than anything that came out of your mouth. We are judged by what we wear, drive and own.

Last evening, as we were on our way home, we spotted the white limo that I've become accustom to seeing around here, lately. It sticks out like a sore thumb. It says look at me I am successful, have money and esteem. I've yet to find out who owns that vehicle or, for that matter who's riding in it. Everyone turns their head to look for a possible movie star, as one is said to be living around here, secretly. The windows are dark so as to provide protection and privacy. At first, I thought that someone was having a wedding as it is white, but it can't possibly be that because of the frequency that I observe that limo and time I saw it. Black ones of course, are usually for funerals. Sometimes executives rent them for various reasons.

It made me reflect on Palm Sunday, where, before the Passion of Jesus, He was being praised for raising Lazarus from the dead. Coming to celebrate the passover with his disciples on a colt, the foal of an ass, triumphant and victorious. They sang "Blessed is He that comes, King of Israel." We hear the word King. King has much significance as a title even today. It implies, at the top, the highest, and so it was proclaimed.

Another story, on another day finds His mother Mary, journeying on a donkey, having taken the only donkey because of her pregnancy, transporting the "King of all," within her. Later this week, we will hear the words. "Is this your King? Why did Jesus who is the King of all, who was praised by Hebrew lads bearing palm branches, singing Hosanna in the highest, come to Bethany on a dumb beast? The "King of Israel," arranged for His mode of transportation, which could have been a white or gold chariot pulled by the finest white horse. We find the answer in the old testament prophecy of Zachariah (9:9) where the Triumphant Entry of Christ is foretold.

"Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem; behold thy King cometh unto thee: he is meek and having salvation, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass."
In another passage in the new testament, even the demons know Him. Luke 4:41 "And demons also came out of many, crying out and saying, "You are the Christ, the Son of God!" And He rebuking them, did not allow them to speak, for they knew that He was the Christ."

The Old and New Testament is clear on the subject that Jesus is the Son of God, the King of all. Looking at Matthew 13:14, another prophecy --" 'And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says:'Hearing you will hear and not understand;
And seeing you will see and not perceive;
For the hearts of this people have grown dull.
Their ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed,
Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,
Lest they should understand with their hears and turn,
So that I should heal them.' " (The Orthodox Study Bible)

The vehicle that Christ chose was humility.
Matthew 16:15 asks us the question. The previous, (14) shows that the other's thought He was one of the prophets. Yet, in (16) Simon Peter says of Him "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Just before His passion (20)"Then He commanded His disciples that they should tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ".
(15) "But who do you say that I am?"
So much for appearances.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Revelation fulfilled

"As the Lord approached His saving Passion, He was saying to the Apostles on the way; 'You see, we are going up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man will be delivered up as it is written of Him.' Come, then minds purified, let us walk with Him, and be crucified with Him, and for His sake, die to the delights of this life; that we may also live with Him, and hear Him declare: 'No longer do I go toward the earthly Jerusalem to suffer; but I go up to my Father, who is your Father, my God and your God. And I will raise you up with me to the upper Jerusalem, to the Kingdom of heaven.' " Taken from the Services for Holy Week and Easter. Palm Sunday Evening.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Holy Pascha and the appearance of Holy Fire

The Holy Fire has been a known custom since the first centuries of Christianity. The custom of Great Antiquity, is historically recorded and describes the celebration on Great and Holy Saturday, at the very place of the burial and Resurrection of Christ the Savior. The account most detailed was written in Greek in 1122, and this is the one I've chosen to replicate here.

St. Gregory of Nyssa writes: "And when he saw them (the shroud and the cloth), Peter believed, for the Tomb was filled with light, even while it was still night; the interior of the Tomb was visible in two-fold manner: both to the senses and to the spirit" (On the Resurrection of Christ. Sermon II).

"This was the inspiration for the institution in the services of our Church (most certainly, in accordance with the apostolic tradition) of the custom of holding candles during the celebration of the Feast of Pascha." by Archimandrite Callistos "Undoubtedly, the rite where in the presiding priest of a church gives lit candles to the people during the singing of "Come, receive the light from the unsetting Light and greet Christ risen from the dead," which has been handed down to all the Orthodox Churches, a custom of great antiquity.

The typicon of the Church of the Resurrection, 1122
"...And at the second hour of the holy day (Great Saturday) the myrrh-bearers come and begin to fill the lamps and get them ready in all the all-holy and life-giving Sepulchre in the presence of the Patriarch, arch-deacons, the second deacon, the paramonarios, three other deacons, and three chanters. And while the myrrh-bearers are about their duties the canon is sung together with the office of the hours. And when the myrrh-bearers have finished filling and preparing the lamps, the Pariarch seals the Holy Sepulchre and takes the keys with him, and then all the lamps in the church are extinguished. The Partiarch goes with the clergy all in white vestments into the Church of the Holy Resurrection, without igniting the lamps and, without a censer, quietly begins Vespers behind the Holy Sepulchre...Immediately after the end of the readings of the prophecies the Patriarch ascends the steps of the sacred altar and entrusts the censing to the metropolitan, the bishops and the presbyters, and they begin to cense - he himself, the hierarchs, and the priests with him, censing the church outside the Holy Sepulchre and going around it three times. The Sepulchre is then closed. Then they go out and, after censing the lower level, go up to Holy Golgotha also to cense it and the Holy Garden, and the church of St. Constantine, and the Holy Prison until they come to the doors of (the Church of) the Holy Resurrection, to the so-called 'Door of the Myrr-bearers,' Then the sub-deacons take the censers from the hierarchs and the priests and all of them go up the sacred steps. The Patriarch begins to say slowly and without ceasing, 'Lord, have mercy.' when the Patriarch comes down the steps, the archdeacon and protodeacon support his arms on both sides; before them goes the sakkelarious, while the paramonarios and kastrinicios follow after. Then the Patriarch falls with his face to the ground opposite the steps of the altar and tearfully prays for the ignorances of the people and extends his hands aloft. This he does three times , and those with him also do likewise. The people without interruption exclaim: 'Lord, have mercy,' when the Patriarch and those with him go into the Holy Sepulchre, they prostrate themselves three times and pray for themselves and for the people, and the Patriarch then takes a light from the Holy Fire and gives it to the archdeacon, and the archdeacon to the people; thereafter the Patriarch goes out and those with him, singing the verse: 'Shine, shine, O new Jerusalem'..."

The two are still sung in our Churches even to this very day. One Holy Saturday, "During the first hour on Great and Holy Saturday one of the sultans of Bagdad came hither with the local ruler, filled with raging fury, and went into the narthex. Immediately, threatening and malicious messengers announced his presence to Archbishop Christodoulos and led him to the narthex. When the God-pleasing and very correct archbishop arrived, the menacing and delirious ruler said: 'I do not allow you, O Archbishop, to celebrate the festival today; it is for this reason that I have come, for by creating this celebrated miracle through means of sorcery you have filled all Syria with the faith of the Christians and have undermined our way of life and almost converted (this region) to Romanism (Christianity).' The God-pleasing archbishop, however, replied with a meek voice: 'If you have even witnessed this miracle only once or twice, and not a thousand times been reassured of it in fact, then it would have been easier for us to endure your words that this is accomplished through the art of sorcery; but since even during the time of the previous archbishop you ordered iron to be placed in the lamp located at the Holy Sepulchre instead of wicks and we saw how by the will of God it suddenly burst into flame like wax; then how long do you intend to tyrannize us who have seen the unusual?'

Then a tax a seven thousand gold pieces was demanded of the archbishop, "and if he did not receive them, then he would in no way permit him to celebrate the holy and universal feast of the Resurrection of Christ." "At being in such an inescapable position, the archbishop exhorted the murderers to deliver him from this present life with the sword, for this seemed a beneficial way to be freed of their hostility. But the Lord, who provides in difficult situations and is powerful in times of weakness, resolved even that contrivance: the secretaries provided two thousand gold pieces and vouched for the archbishop in remittance of the remaining five thousand, and thus put an end to the malicious perfidy of the criminal ruler. "When the archbishop was being harassed in the narthex, the Lord of miracles, in accordance with His unattainable and indomitable power, filled with Divine Light two of the tri-form lamps which were hanging in the place where, they say, the revered Body of our Lord and God was anointed after being taken down from the Cross. This miracle was proclaimed in the narthex and instantly the mixed crowd of Christian people and pagan hagarenes ran into the holy church of God: the Orthodox with intense love and flaming faith, and the godless Hagarenes with murderous thoughts and destructive intentions, in case anyone was found holding openly a burning candle, of killing him in the church itself with the swords and spears with which they were armed. The most wise archbishop and his clergy hastened to the Holy Sepulchre of the Lord together with the Hagarenes. Looking in and seeing that the radiance of the Divine Light had not yet appeared there, together with the Hagarenes he locked the Divine Tomb and, lifting his Mosaic hands high toward the east, he prayed without ceasing with the Christian people to the God of all things. At about the sixth hour of the day when he looked at the Divine Tomb of the Saviour, he saw the divine appearance of the Light since through the Chapel of the Angel he could enter the door. Seizing the opportunity to distribute this Light around the chandeliers found in the holy church of God, as it is customarily done, he had not yet left the Tomb when he saw the entire church of God suddenly filled with an inexpressible and divine Light, such that pious people surged from the right side to the left, some to the porticoes and others in Golgotha, and the third group to the chains hung in indication of that. All were filled with amazement at such an unexpected appearance of the Light; even the godless Hagarenes were smitten and ashamed. For they say that from the Ascention of Christ until this day, the shining Divine Light has occurred each year in one of the lamps of the Holy Sepulchre, but on that occasion the divine pouring forth of Light spread throughout the entire church, so that everyone with one voice exclaimed: 'What God is great as our God? Thou are the God Who worketh wonders!'
"At the moment, as the accursed ruler, who was standing in the section of the Catechumens with a flashing yataghan in his hand, looked into the church something unusual and miraculous occurred. By divine economy, it happened that the largest lamp, which exceeded in the size a kratir and which hung before his very eyes, suddenly was filled with the Divine Light, despite the fact that there was not even a wick in it and it was empty of water and oil. In the face of such a miraculous spectacle the destructive and unfortunate ruler was struck dumb; and he openly said to all that he saw a hand like fire and that it accomplished all these wondrous miracles."

"Let us not appear to the majority of people as a false miracle what was accomplished with the Cross of one of the drakondias (indeed, I do not entrust my sinful conscience to anyone but the Sleepless Eye, which tests us in the depths of our thoughts). For over one of the drakondias standing on the right side of the holy church of God, on the cross which was above it, there appeared a star, shining in its center like the sun. A little later, it divided into four parts and shone in the form of the Cross, so that all ran towards it and sang out victorious hymns to God the Arranger of our destiny. I suppose it signified that the power of your holy reign, true to God, will subdue the hateful Ishmaelite and dim the profane faith of the Hagarenes as the impure and pagan Hagareness admit. And the Lord God, Who by the Cross granted the victory for the ever-memorable among kings, Constantine, granting the same name and the same holy ethics to your reign, as this star indicates, so may He Himself now subdue them to you, strengthen and fortify you, O sovereign, over every people and arrange in you and iron kingdom! I, Nicetas, the least of priests, have written this in the year of Adam 6455 (947 A.D.)"

Reference: "Holy Pascha And The Holy Fire" compiled by: Father Demetrios Serfes, Priest

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Making a Tough Decision

I don't know about you, but when I have a very serious decision to make, I must mull through it, and rehash, ask other's for their opinion, look for confirmations. And, still even after all that I'm not sure. Then, of course there is prayer, asking for God's help. Frankly, sometimes I enter into something uncertain, hoping that I did the right thing. Then, sometimes I realize that what happens, just is. Then, also there are the regrets. Decision making is not always easy. It has to come from the heart. Yet, if I've done all of the above, ultimately, I must trust in the Lord.

The feast of the Annunciation which is celebrated today, says a lot about the character of the Mother of God. So, if you would, I'd like to share a few of my thoughts, the female ones.

1. Of course she had to feel afraid, seeing an Angel. That doesn't happened everyday. Not only an angel but one of the Captains, Gabriel, not from this world.
2. Then, it was an "on the spot" decision. (I'm not certain I would have had that much courage).
3. She, being a child herself, was a dependent on her family, and of course, espoused to Joseph. What would she tell them, knowing the penalty of that crime was to be stoned to death? Saying "yes" meant death.
4. She was pure, and undefiled, not knowing a man, and not having children, was she aware of the responsibility of motherhood?
5. What would she would suffer as a result of her decision? In today's terms, what is the cost?

Then there is the view that she was conceived "immaculately" without sin, and that was without her knowledge. Of course, you have to believe that there is such a thing as "original sin," in which I do not share in that dogma. It suggests that Mary would have had no decision, and her "free will" would not have existed. (The bible clearly says that Jesus is the only sinless one). Angel Gabriel waited for her approval. "Yes", was her immediate answer. If she was predestined, created without "free will", God would have "forced her" to love Him. That's not the God I know and Love. He wants and awaits our decision. Otherwise, He could have created us all Robots. We would be His slaves. No, you cannot force anyone to love you! Someone asked me, then how could Mary have had the courage to do what she did? It is a mystery. God can do anything. Look at Saul, Paul for another example of saying "Yes" to God, a choice we will all have to make at some point.

Mary was pure, holy, undefiled. "She decided" to become the Theotokos, "God bearer" or mother of God. She placed her trust in Him, and He dwelt in her virginal womb, one of the great mystery's, saying "Yes," to God's plan of salvation. He chose Zion and Mary. Mary could have said "No", but an all-knowing God knew she would accept His plan for her. A plan that opened paradise to the "thief," and is available to us. A beautiful song called "Mary Did You Know," which I heard recently, contains words that stuck me as a mother, "and when you kissed the face of Your child, you kissed the face of God." Blessed are you, Mary for you have born the Savior of our souls.

Holy week is here, and once again, we are reminded today of what is being asked of us. The same as what was asked of Mary and Peter, "Do You Love Me?"

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Static or Peace

We are all called to live a calm and peaceful life, so which is it, a life of static or of peace, are you living? Better yet, where's the peace? Everywhere you go there seems to be unpleasant noise. People are upset with many things, mostly politically caused static.

The year I was born television came into the world, so I was told, and now you know that, I've been around long enough to see many changes. I remember better programs and wholesome ads and family oriented shows. Things were not so vulgar. It is very different now, I have noticed that things have gotten mighty loud. I'm not just talking about my neighbor's loud music on Saturday mornings while he cleans cars. I don't even hear the language that I don't know anymore because I've learned to tune that out of my mind. I'm referring to the patience of many that have grown tired of the unfairness to us all. How can bills that have not been read in its entirety be voted on? Why are they so big to begin with? What has become of dignity? Looks like battle lines are being drawn. People you don't accomplish anything that way.

Peace can only come when you learn to tune out all the static around you. If it is the television that upsets you, hearing the same news on every channel over and over, turn it off. It's not worth your health. This is the Lenten season, I don't care to hear the madness of what has transpired, with the fighting continually upfront and squarely influencing my every thought with negative vibes and disturbing statements that are making us all crazy. Out of that can only come violence and unpleasantness. My father used to call the TV the "devil box." Some said that he was crazy. Maybe there was some wisdom in that after all.

My mother had it right. "Be Quiet!" The bible says (Matthew 6:3)"Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.") Now there's some wisdom for today. Be careful what you share. How often do we look to other's for their thoughts on something, even before we tell them how we feel? If we agree, then everything is fine and dandy, otherwise, we say nothing because we do not want conflict, or we say far to much, causing our brother to grow angry. Before you know it, we're fighting again. We know what's best, after all.

We live in difficult times, and find that we are divided. Divided as a nation, family and with friends. This creates a dangerous and growing threat to peace and love, and well being.

I often hear people tell me, "if you don't like something, get involved to enact change." Inside I still hear my mother's voice saying "Be quiet" because stillness allows me to concentrate on the sounds of nature, and on the readings of the saints in this holy season. Today is especially quiet as the television is off and as I prepare to celebrate the great feast day of the Annunciation.

Reflection of this occasion finds me recalling the words of Angel Gabriel when he visits Mary the holy and obedient of God. He finds it difficult to look upon her beauty. I find that moment to be very special, the moment she agrees to be the mother of God. (Luke 1:30)"Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God." (38)"Then Mary said, "Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word." The Orthodox Study Bible

It's all we need to do, accept God's will for us. Yes, there will be rainy days, and tense moments and they will all pass. Be still and listen to the Alleluia verse for the feast day of the Annunciation.
"He descends like the rain on the grass like showers that water the earth! May His name be blessed forever, His name continue as long as the sun!" Liturgy book of St. John Chrysostom

The truth is that we should be mindful of the things we are in control of. Think good thoughts and be gentle like the rain on the grass-bringing water to the root without harming the plant. So that plant, that springs from the ground, will bring forth life and provide nourishment and beauty in its days in the sun.

It all begins with you.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Phrophecy 5th Century Monk on Mt. Sinai

One of the leading ascetic writers of the 5th century, St. Nilus, prophesied this: Go here to read it in its entirety. An officer of the court of Constantinople, he exiled to Mt. Sinai to be a monk.

"After the year 1900 toward the middle of the 20th century, the people of that time will become unrecognizable. When the time of the advent of the Antichrist approaches, peoples minds will grow cloudy from carnal passions, and dishonor and lawlessness will grow stronger. Then the world will become unrecognizable. People's appearances will change, and it will be impossible to distinguish men from women due to their shamelessness in dress and style of hair. These people will be cruel and will be like wild animals because of the temptations of the Antichrist. There will be no respect for parents and elders, love will disappear, and Christian pastors, Bishops, and priests will become vein men, completely failing to distinguish the right hand from the left.

At that time, the morals and traditions of Christians and of the church will change. People will abandon modesty, and dissipation will reign. Falsehood and greed will attain great proportions, and woe to those who pile up treasures. Lust, adultery, homosexuality, secret deeds and murder will rule in society. At that time, due to the power of such great crimes and licentiousness, people will be deprived of the grace of the Holy Spirit, which they received in Holy Baptism and equally of remorse. The churches of God will be deprived of God-fearing and pious pastors, and woe to the Christians remaining in the world at that time, they will completely lose their faith because they will lack the opportunity of seeing the light of knowledge from anyone at all. Then they will separate themselves out of the world in holy refuges in search of lightening their spiritual sufferings, but everywhere they will meet obstacles and constraints. And all this will result from the fact that the Antichrist wants to be Lord over everything and become the ruler of the whole universe, and he will produce miracles and fantastic signs. He will also give depraved wisdom to an unhappy man so that he will discover a way by which one man can carry on a conversation with another from one end of the earth to the other. At that time men will also fly through the air like birds and descend to the bottom of the sea like fish. And when they have achieved all this, these unhappy people will spend their lives in comfort without knowing, poor souls, that it is deceit of the Antichrist. And the impious one! He will so complete science with vanity that it will go off the right path and lead people to lose faith in the existence of God in three hypostases.

Then the All-good God will see the downfall of the human race and will shorten the days for the sake of those who are being saved, because the enemy wants to lead even the chosen into temptation, if that is possible...then the sword of chastisement will suddenly appear and kill the Perverter and his servants."

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Health Care with Reform

The question is do we as citizens claim health care as a right? Do we have the right to expect affordable health care? What is affordable to some, may not be affordable to the masses. What is needed then, is compassion. That means someone has to care about the costs which extend the affordability of those who are needy, or they simply will suffer as a result. We will always have the poor with us. We cannot sweep health needs under the carpet, while the institutions, doctor's and insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies get richer without concern for the unfortunate. How do we address their issues? Do we care? We are in this all together, and that is a fact.

Can we become a country that lets its people go unattended during a crisis? No, we bring them to the hospital and the first question should not be are you insured. Perhaps, if everyone were insured, could a crisis have been averted initially, avoiding higher and unnecessary costs and suffering, having been able to be treated by a clinic or health care provider when the situation was at an early stage?

Why is it that people are tossed around from place to place without receiving the help they need? Medical Coverage. I've seen it myself while working in a medical office. Basic dental care should also be included in a health care policy, avoiding abscesses and the suffering they cause. It is not all cosmetic and good dental care affects your whole body. Right now it is available to either the very poor, or the rich unless you have a dental plan, without a cap that makes good dentistry attainable. Reform is needed here.

Health Care should be extended to all people. Our concern should be on keeping our people healthy and prevention should be made the priority concerning the wellness of our people. Why are our people ill? Lets work to make food better, affordable and other deterrents of health a thing of the past, like smoking and obesity. Make exercise affordable and available to all.

Is the attitude that we now have: "Unless you have money, we don't care about you" acceptable? Or, is it, why should I pay for your problem, its not mine? Then a No Vote should be your answer to the debate concerning health care.

It has become messy. Payoffs, and the bottom line, is always what is this going to cost? Why don't you focus on all the money you spend unwisely, and cut the "pork spending," write-offs extended in business practices, and giving money to those who don't have a need for more, and you'll find a few bucks to help out your brother. There is a huge gap between those that have and those who have not.

The problem with Health Care, expressed by the majority of people that I know, is to fund abortion, or the killing of the unborn, with our hard earned tax dollars, and find this killing of the innocent to be an aberrant behavior.

It discloses the real truth in this country. That is, that we have become immoral in our behaviours. We do not teach our children the values instilled on us since the beginning of the establishment of this great nation. Our answer to problems that arise are: ignore it, or get rid of it. That is only after denial. Our value has always been in our children. Look to places like China if you think we should involve ourselves in killing our infants by abortion. Should the concern be for another mouth to feed, then the questions is why are you asking that question now? If you are a citizen of this nation, hopefully you are a responsible one as your actions affect all of us. Having children outside of wedlock, on a government sponsored program is not what I would call being responsible, putting aside procedures allowing scientific methods of multiple birthing experiences which is in my opinion, insanity.

Have we become irresponsible in terms of morals? Having children should be a well thought out process which includes bringing into this world a human being that will be loved and cared for. This is the question that should be sought after, which would have an effect on abortion in this land. That question is asked of and falls on the responsibility of churches, and parents alike and not on school teachers who teach sex to children too young to understand the consequences of their actions. It always began at home. Having babies should not be a government process. Legislating life is a dangerous avenue when left into the hands of a few decision makers.

Putting that aside, we have a huge decision at hand for the masses in this country, our brothers and sisters, a nation that has got to pull together and use the intelligence that I know we so "proudly" say we have. And, prayerfully, we must choose as ultimately, a nation of unhealthy citizens is all our concern. Failure to adequately address these issues will bite us unpleasantly either way you look at it.

How do I see it? Good health is a solution for this nation, a "cost saving" in the end. That means we need a program that meets the need of all its citizens. We must remain healthy people in order to sustain our country, that is: Can we afford to be otherwise? What's it going to take? It will take hard work. Americans are not immune to that. Together we can...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


People who have suffered silently for years, from various perfumes, and other scented items have just receive their justice in the city of Detroit. What do you say? Leave your Vote...

It wasn't that long ago when people who were sensitive to second hand smoke, and who suffered from coughing, wheezing, and asthma, along with potential lung and other medical issues were alleviated from this problem throughout the town. I was instrumental in having people in my office years ago moved into a conference room for their nicotine-pleasure. It became obvious to me that many of the office personnel who smoked, didn't take more than one puff or two before the phone rang. They were chain smokers and seemed to always have a cigarette burning in their ashtray. The ceilings were shamefully black, and I could only imagine what our lungs looked like. No one smokes in restaurants, or other public places, thankfully. I am so grateful for the ban.

Sensitivity to scents is another matter. It is a real problem for some people. My husband is one of them. I've had trouble wearing scents as they make him sneeze without mercy. It gets so bad in places we go to that he is forced to leave. Fresh air and the use of a nose spray works. What he dislikes particularly is scented candles and having to use bathrooms and other places that release scents into the air on a continuous basis. Sometimes, scented church incense bothers him to the point of having to leave Liturgy. It happens in grocery stores, and anywhere that he comes in contact with strong scents. I recall him starting to sneeze in a mall and the woman who was wearing the offending perfume was a considerable distance away. I must be careful with home products and soaps, even Christmas trees bother him. Most women like perfume, and I'm no exception. Luckily I've found a few that he can tollerate.

Tonight, I heard that a ban has been placed because a plea requesting the removal of a substance that a sensitive person made was refused. It could have been dealt with differently, like providing another space for the co-worker, understanding her health concern. It was an ugly ending --a law suit and ban even of deodorant. How do we deal with such a sensitive issue? Read it here. Cast Your Vote.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Special Requests?

The conclusion reached when I asked what arrangements were being made to celebrate Pascha, was "we'd better eat at home." I will need a few weeks to shop for all the special things and find the perfect lamb.

We have a service in the morning, so finding the correct time was the easy part. Eating at home will assure us of the concerns with our specific food allergies and intolerance and dietary needs. We pass on the ham as one member is allergic to all pork products, and several of us are on a low salt diet as well. You will not find any wheat or wheat products on our table. And "hold" the eggs, please, another allergy. Wheat and egg are usually found in most products. There is a custom with dying red eggs on Holy Thursday, symbolic of Christ Crucified, and once delivered to church to be blessed on Holy Saturday, they are opened by smashing one end with a partner, saying "Christ is risen," while the other says " Truly He has risen." It represents the coming out of the tomb. (That tradition after the Resurrection Service will be missed, that is, the eating of the egg).

Chocolate will be kept to a minimum, if we can find the "peanut free" variety. "Gluten free products are more readily available now, but the diabetic in the bunch needs if anything, whole wheat products. Looks like cake will not be on the list this year, I thought of "sugar free" jellow with cream, but it has hoofs in it. I'll probably have to come up with different varieties for the occasion, maybe rice pudding with cream, low-fat and sugar free would be good.

No matter what it will be, it will be great to be together. I'll come up with something. Ideas are welcome and appreciated. Would you believe even ice cream has egg yolk in it?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Representing the Cherubim

On Saturday, we hosted a group called Shiloh who featured Gospel Acoustic Music. You can go here to read more about this faith based group who features music to my ears. During the course of the evening we were entertained with great jokes and stories about the group and their personal testimony of how Christ has changed their lives for the better. One member took the time to tell us about their music selections. I was very impressed with the song "Mary did you know."

Their music has a mission, it is specifically chosen so that a message can be revealed, unlike some of the louder musicians, we can hear the words. The Orthodox Church has understood this concept from the very beginning.

Our weddings are not proceeded by Here Comes the Bride. One of the reasons is it is understood to have been derived from a bar, years prior. Orthodox church music is written not to entertain it's congregation, but to represent the cherubim, singing to God in the Divine Liturgy. We do not use instruments, which man has made, but our own instrument (our voice), which God has made. Our voice is not always pleasing, but the joke has always been, that the angels fix it on the way up.

There are eight tones, which holy words are written to accompany, and if done correctly, are very beautiful. The idea is of course, that the words are heard and not drowned out by accompaniment. This is called singing Capella.

The book of Revelation5:9-14 describes songs sung (Three doxologies) by greater choruses. Elders with the most eminent angels sing a new song. Then the priests, followed by the choir and then the entire church. All creation, the whole cosmos join in a hymn of Glory to the Father and the Son, when we sing to God in the Divine Liturgy, "we are representing the Cherubim", who are singing to Him in heaven.

The worship of God is unceasing, an ideal which inspires the round the clock services of Orthodox monastic communities. (They even read through meal time). They do not rest day or night and pray without ceasing. (Ps. 103:20-22; 148; 150; 1 Thess. 5:17). ("Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us!" reverberates throughout the services of the Orthodox Church. A perpetual thrice-holy hymn of the "cherubim and the seraphim," underscoring that the Divine Liturgy on earth is one with the heavenly liturgy of the angels and glorified saints. Rev.4:10"The elders participate in the heavenly worship through the physical acts of prostration and casting down their crowns."(based on Scripture and signifies humility before God. "The casting of crowns shows that the honor and glory of the saints derives from, and belongs to God." ( Taken from the Orthodox Study Bible.)

Many Christians have been known to bear persecution with joy, singing hymns. This is a powerful testimony to the Christian faith such as we read in Acts 16:25.

The supper has begun in the Eucharist, the Church is betrothed to Christ by faith, The coming of the Bridegroom for the marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev.19:9) , the final eschatological union of Christ and His Church is awaited. And the Orthodox sing on Pascha (Easter)" Shine, shine, O New Jerusalem; the glory of the Lord has shone on you...(Rev. 19:1) "In contrast to the song of doom for Babylon (ch.18), the scene returns to the heavenly liturgy with an outburst of celestial triumph. Alleluia!"

On Pascha we sing, "As many as have been baptized in Christ, have put on Christ, Alleluia."

In "His" Church we Worship. Worship is not entertainment.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Mankinds Enemy Death

"He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, "O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will" Matthew 26:39. All scriptural references are from The Orthodox Study Bible.

When I read this passage I think of the many times we fall on our face and pray out to God to help us. No one truly knows the extent of our personal sufferings. We call out to God to alleviate them. Then it says, "not my will but Yours, Father."
We do not want to carry our cross. We do not want to drink of our cup. Is there any other way? Death must come to us all and we abhor death and struggle against it.

Jesus knew that he must drink the cup. He knew the pain and suffering associated with being "flesh," and went to His suffering and death voluntarily. (His passion, and death, abolished for all time, mankind's enemy "death" by His death and Resurrection).

He faced death courageously with a willing spirit. Jesus knew that the Scriptures must be fulfilled, see (Matthew 26:54).
Soon we will celebrate Pascha, and Christ's victory from death to life, from earth to heaven. We will sing of Christ's Resurrection from the dead and all of creation will rejoice. For death has been vanquished. Radiantly we will glorify Him!
This event, some 2,000 years ago, establishes for us all, "life", for all eternity, for with God, there is no time. The invitation is extended to each and everyone of us, through faith.

Our faith is confirmed in (Revelation 1:18-20) "I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.

(2Timothy 1:9-10) "According to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel."

It began with a plan. The Mystical Supper, which is extended to us each and every time Liturgy is celebrated, we hear the words of Jesus, found in (Matthew 26:26) "Take eat; this is My body." Who will receive the Christ, the Son of the Living God? Or, will you be like Peter. (Matthew 26:75)"Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times." So he went out and wept bitterly." Love is a decision.....It's your free choice.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Do You Have A Sixth Sense?

Could it be that your perceptive, or intuitive? I try to anticipate things, perhaps it is a skill to be able to see things so completely or maybe its just that being organized has helped me to sense when something is not right or missing. No, it goes beyond that.

It is said that we do not use our brain completely and in fact hardly to its potential. I've always been observant, but no it goes beyond that. Did you ever have a funny feeling that something was wrong, or that someone was thinking about you? Years ago, it was said if your hand itched it meant money, if it were the left hand, or meeting someone if it were the right or hand shaking hand. If your left ear was ringing, someone was talking badly about you, and it were the right, someone was saying something nice about you.

When we were children, we played a game, placing three cups on a table with something hidden under one of them, you had to guess which one. I still don't know how I knew.

Then, it was the phone. I knew when it was going to ring, especially when it was my sister calling. I knew when she was going into the hospital to have her first baby, and she was down South as her husband was in the military. Maybe that was a coincidence, I thought. Yet, is it? I know when my husband is going to call me, and I go to get the phone, many times, almost twice a day. I even wake up to grab the phone when I am sleeping. Maybe I do have a sixth sense.

A few days ago the kids were over for dinner and since we do not know whether the new baby will be a girl or boy, I heard Steve say "ask ma she's good at guessing." I think it will be another boy. I can't wait to find out. We will love it no matter what.

I have read that you can develop your sixth sense, if there is such a thing, but sometimes not knowing is better than knowing in many cases. I sometimes think that it had to be difficult for Jesus, who prepared his disciples for His impending death.

Besides knowing when the phone is ringing, I know and can feel when someone I care about is thinking about me. Everyone knows when someone is looking at them, feeling their stare. I don't know how...I sometimes remember my entire dreams in detail and in color, and can at times hear myself singing songs with lyrics that I cannot remember when I am awake.

When we were teens, talk about having ESP was the rave. It means extra sensory perception, and we all agreed that all of us had just a little bit of it in us. That is, a premonition. It was mostly said in fun, a pretense. So what do you think, Do you have ESP-the sixth sense?

One Halloween night, it was more...I had a feeling that I was going to be in an awful car accident, a feeling of impending death. As a Catholic, I began to recite an act of contrition, and sure enough, the car that I was in, was in a horrible car crash, hitting two parked cars, and when the dust cleared, the driver was unconscious and I walked away without a scratch. Hospital staff could not believe that I was in that car which was totalled, as they said the passenger almost always gets killed. That was more than a premonition, it was a miracle.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Understanding FEAR

I always appreciate the comments that I receive on blogs. Especially ones that cause me to grow in some way. Fear is necessary in our relationship with God, and that is undeniable. And while it is necessary to acknowledge fear as a wisdom, it is not in my mind the greatest known human emotion felt for Him. It is far greater to do something out of love for someone rather than fear. Fear says I have to. Love says I want too, freely. Freedom of choice. Otherwise, God could have forced us to Love Him, rather, He wishes that all would come to know and love Him on their own, because they see His greatness. And, they come to realize that He loves them unconditionally. God is good. Fear has everything to do with punishment. God took the punishment for me. I have nothing but praise for Him.

Fear is a natural emotional response to a perceived threat. As a child the fear of punishment by your parents is real, but their love you trust is stronger. As well, the fear of an unexpected event or impending doom is real. We as humans have a capacity for what we call "fear" as it is part of our human nature, a survival mechanism to a response to a threat of danger.

There is another side to fear, a learned behaviour. A child not knowing that a fly won't hurt him will fear it until evidence proves otherwise. If that fear is not confronted, the child who becomes an adult will still fear the fly. A small person will fear the larger when confronted physically, and will often avoid the fight. A show of not being afraid will influence anothers decision to attack you. There is something to be said about the insecure, small person who is defensive and aggressive, to ward off potential attackers having the "eye of the tiger" can make one fear you.

Fear is usually associated with lack of trust. Yes, it wise to observe that other's in authority can cause you pain and death. It is also wisdom to trust that a loving person, chooses instead to protect and care for you. Your faith in their love for you causes you not to fear them.

It is great wisdom to understand that while God is to be feared, His love for you is much greater, and it is His desire to Save. (A Loving God who dies for you, does not instill in you anything but praise and love.) It is in this that I trust, and in this faith, fear is diminished by hope and love.

Love can overcome fear. David never saw Goliath as a giant. Fear can be a learned behavior that can be changed by faith. Nothing will happen to me today that God does not know about. And I will put my trust in Him. Nothing is bigger than God.

Psalm 5 7-12 (The Orthodox Study Bible) The fixed psalms of the First Hour...
"But as for me, I will come into Your house in the multitude of Your mercy;
In fear of You I will worship toward Your holy temple.
Lead me, O Lord, in Your righteousness because of my enemies;
Make Your way straight before my face.
For their is no faithfulness in their mouth;
Their inward part is destruction;
Their throat is an open tomb;
They flatter with their tongue.
Pronounce them guilty, O God!
Let them fall by their own counsels;
Cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions, for they have rebelled against You.
But let all those rejoice who put their TRUST in You;
Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them;
Let those also who love Your name be joyful in You.
For You, O Lord, will bless the righteous;
With favor You will surround him as with a shield."

Revelation 21 6-8
"I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.
I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts.
He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.
But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolater, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death,"

1John 4:17-18
""Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.

Father Paisios Eznepides, says it best:
"When someone leads a simple life, humbly looks upon himself and feels the need of God's providence, then he puts aside all his concerns and worries, and has faith in Him. When God sees that his soul depends on Him, and not on himself, He will mercifully protect it; this soul will intensively experience the sense of God's providence and feel contented."

No one has to force them to go to church, to praise and worship God. There is some wisdom in that!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Go here to read an interesting article entitled "A rite that's passing" which appeared in the Boston Globe recently.

The article speaks about a rite that is what is termed "passing" and in a homily given, explored reasons why Catholics no longer go to confession. One veteran priest, who wished not to be identified, said "many catholics today have a more modern view of forgiveness." He admits to: "hardly ever hears confessions-"which I consider the sign of a healthy parish."
According to the article, it was said in VerEecke's sermon, that there is "too much emphasis on love and not on eternal damnation." and..."Fear worked for centuries. It should work again."
I am not shocked to read that a religion allegedly can hold "captive" the mind, and soul of a person by instilling in them "fear." It is what I was exposed to growing up, the fear of punishment. It worked well for my parents, I admit. Yes, it did probably also work for centuries. Control is not a healthy way to nurture as you learn through experience, it drives people away. Maybe that's the reason for the poor attendance and dwindling numbers which reflect many who no longer want to subscribe to or agree with this way of thinking. The area I live in has seen the closing of churches. These churches have softened their hold on communicants from what I remember, years past. Still they are not attending, and most in my generation, had a more liberal view of forgiveness, unlike the strictness my forefathers knew.
Do fear tactics really work on children or people for that matter? Can you really love someone your afraid of? Does Fear of God keep you from a Loving God? Belief in a God who died on the cross for you, but is out to punish you at every whim and is responsible for all the calamities in the world, in my view is irresponsible. Children who grow up with that type of influence leave with bad feelings. Truth has always been known to work better. The God that I know and serve is a "loving God".
(The bible, in 1John4:17-19, taken from the Orthodox Study Bible, clearly answers the question). "Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. (18)There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. (19)We love Him because He first loved us."
If your faith journey is based on force, or fear of damnation, it may be time to reflect the gospel message.
Fear has nothing to do with Love. Love is God. And, perfect love casts out all fear. If your message is based on fear and not on love, you are doomed to fail.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Victory through the Cross

We're half way there on our journey to Pascha. Encouragement comes from various places, one in particular was from the blog of Fr. Peter-Michael Preble, entitled "Archbishop Nicolae's Meditation on the Sunday of the Holy Cross." Please find it here.

The instruction comes forward for us believer's "whoever wishes to follow Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me." (Mark 8:34) Once again my thoughts go toward fasting and alms giving, attending many services and other obligations required by Orthodox Christians at this time of the year. Then again, I reread the scripture and the word take up hits me squarely in the face. Everyone has a cross, some have more than other's it seems, but take up is the difference...It means acknowledging that you have a cross, and that you cannot bear it alone. Admitting your shortcoming is significant. The other word, "deny himself," because we live in a society that says me and my first, is very hard to achieve.

This lent admit it, your not perfect, you need not look far. And, look around, there are many who need only a fraction of what you have, if you would only see them. Denying yourself means becoming aware of other's suffering. And that can only be achieved when it's not all about you.

Most people think denying yourself during the fast is not to have meat, or dairy and to some extent, there is wisdom in abstaining from foods leading to a greater end. Yet, if you do not grow from that discipline, you've missed the point.

We all have crosses in our life, but what is The Cross in your life? You'll know it when you are on your knees praying for God's help. But here's the key, Victory through the Cross. We are not participants in agonizing, and self mortification, which expresses more of a lack of faith, but in the "joy at all times" because "through the Cross, joy has come into all the world." That joy because of the Victory "is" our "emphasis." It is the resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. The Good Shepherd gave His life for His sheep, in order that we have life in abundance. "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." (John 10:10).

If you are gloomy or depressed it is more of an acknowledgement of not having put on Christ, who commands us to "Rejoice in the Lord always" (Phil.4:4). The Kontakion of the Cross, expresses well the meaning of living the victory of the Lenten-Spring.

The Kontakion of the Cross
"No Longer does the flaming sword guard the gate of Eden.
For a Marvelous quenching is come upon it, even the Tree of the Cross.
The sting has been taken from death,
and the victory from hades.

And, You my Savior has appeared unto those in Hades, saying:

As a footnote taken from the Orthodox Study Guide, on Page 459, Phil.4:4, "Paul often uses the word always in relation to prayer. Rejoicing always is a fruit of perseverance in daily prayers."

This is a time when we slow down and observe and reflect and change. We discern and hold fast to the beliefs we have received. We are tested, and in trying not be misled we move forward in the journey toward Pascha.

(Thessalonians 5:16-22) "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil."

And from the Kontakion of Meatfare Sunday, "then deliver me from the unquenchable fire
and make me worthy to stand at Your right hand, O Righteous Judge."

The Archbishop ends by saying "May the Lord make us worthy of His Glorious Resurrection."

Yesterday, I watched the movie "Saving Private Ryan," the ending gets me every time. The elderly man, visiting the grave of a fallen soldier, asks his wife if he has been a good man. Then, he steps back saluting the person responsible for his life, having given up his own for him and our country. Before he died he whispered, "earn it." That is what love is.

We do not have to "earn salvation," it is a free gift from Christ himself, our true and only God...."Through the cross joy has come into all the world."

On Holy Thursday, we will read on page 319 from Holy Week and Service Book, "Lord, on the Cross You tore up the writ of reckoning against us, numbered among the dead, You bound up its tyrant, freeing all from its bonds by Your resurrection. This has illuminated us, loving Lord, and so we cry out to You. "Remember us also, Savior, in Your Kingdom."

Friday, March 5, 2010

Happy Moments

Some of the happiest moments that I spend is with my grandson, Nathan. Yesterday, he came over to see his grandma, ringing the doorbell as usual and waiting in anticipation of our greeting. He always has a big smile on his face, and usually walks right past me to "his" room of toys, because he misses them. It's not long after that he is asking for food, and as usual, it is waffle toast. Well because grampy forgot to buy some at the store, I offered to make pancakes. He Cried. Nathan is set in his ways already, a person that does not like change. I made them anyway. Of course, he had to bring his table and chair in to the entertainment room and set it in front of the computer, where he likes to view a DVD while eating breakfast. So, it was pancakes with syrup and cream. One look at them, he decided to give it a try. "Um, I like pancakes." So much for the tears. It was also chocolate milk. Of course, I was to watch the DVD "Up" with him. A very good selection, I must add. I noticed that he is reading now and can name various parts of cars, planes and says large words like ridiculous. He is mastering the English language quite well, for four. I told him tomorrow was Friday, so what is today? He said Thursday. Amazing! He wants to do eveything himself now..."I can do it, grandma" my big boy is growing up.

We played ball, made puzzles, read books and it was time for going outside. We decided not to go to see the airplanes today, because we really didn't hear too many flying and we didn't want to be disappointed. Nathan would have gone just to see the wind socks and his favorite orange plane. Although it was warm enough, the sky was grey and tiny snowflakes were falling occasionally. We decided that it would be fun to walk down the street and look into all the catch basins. When he was a baby he always wanted to stop and listen to the water running while I pushed him in the carriage. Now, he walks without complaint along side me, noticing everything and every sound, birds, basketball hoops and even the plastic turtle with a flag that was missing at a neighbor's house. He still loves the flag, and chimes and birdhouses.

I took time to show him the baby buds forming on the ends of the forsythia, which will soon be ready to sprout open to beautiful yellow flowers. We saw tons of pine cones on the lawns of neighbors which had fallen from their pine trees. Luckily, we don't have any. Every now and then he would call my attention to an airplane, "I hear One" he would say looking up. He knows the difference between an airplane and jet and he lets me know which one it is.

Of course, he loved the dirt and dreamed aloud of the time he would soon be able to bring his trucks outdoors to play in the dirt along with thoughts of the swing, his other favorite outdoor activity.

It won't be long now, I told him as we viewed a huge pussy-willow bush in full bloom. He was amazed and I explained that soon there would be green leaves where the white furry buds were. Our adventure did not end up at McDonald's as he would have liked, but at grandma's for lunch. Initially, he was disappointed and didn't want to come upstairs, and then after taking off his boots hat, mittens and coat, left them on the living room floor, stating "I'm mad." I let him get over it and we had lunch. The fresh air increases his appetite, and as usual, he did a pretty good job.

All good things must come to an end and it was time to go home with mommy. He can't wait until he can go to the airport to see the planes and have breakfast once again with grandma.
I can't either. The snow did not accumulate and in fact, the driveway and stairs were completely dry today with the rest of the snow dissipating on the lawn.

He remembered the flowers of last fall, his favorite orange, and how he picked some for his mommy to put in a vase, because he loves her. He enjoys the garden with it's chimes, and Chippy, wrens and finches of all colors and oh yes, we mustn't forget the bugs, worms, dogs and kitty.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Vegetarian Chili

Last night we had our pre-Sanctified Liturgy, as is our custom, we were invited to commune together in our church hall for a Lenten pot-luck meal which is meatless and dairy free. When I first became Orthodox I had food allergies and so abstaining from egg and dairy were an everyday event. Seventeen years passed and so did my allergies through the grace of God. Working mothers find cooking for a family according to the fast to be a hardship, if they do not plan ahead. It was not our culture or tradition, so I needed to start from scratch gathering recipes from cookbooks, friends, trial and error. I now have many quick recipes that fit our lifestyle and are enjoyed by family members and friends year round. Last night I made Vegetarian Chili. It is easy, nutritious, and economical to make. I was asked several times for the recipe, and so here it is, from my kitchen to yours.

1-4 0z. pkg. of Millie's Chili Mix with beans
2 Cups of warm Water
1 Can of Tomato Sauce, (80z.) and (1/2 Can of Water)
2 Cups of Chi-Chi (med.)
1 Cup of Vegetarian Beans, drained (Heins)
8 Veggie Patties, cooked and cut in sm. pcs. (Morning Star)

Place in a crock-pot and cook down, stirring occasionally until thickened.
Serve with corn-chips or cornbread.

Mix contains: No meat, No MSG, No Transfat, No Cholesterol
Patties (optional), contain: soy, wheat, egg and milk

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

"Gluten, Dairy & Egg Free" Tofu balls & Pasta

I've been making Tofu balls for years and find it to be not only a healthy vegetable substitute for meat, but a treasure during the Lenten fast. These meatless balls go well with any type of "gluten free" pasta or spaghetti.

The 14oz. soy product is found in the produce department, and is packaged in a white plastic container in water. Tofu balls require the "extra firm" soy. I buy soft for use in dips and shakes.
Soy can be used to replace dairy in many recipes as it takes on the flavor that you give it with flavorings and spices.

Any Tofu unused should be stored in a tight container in water, according to instructions on the package. I generally use the entire package in this recipe.

Remove the soy from the package, draining out all of the water, squeezing it with your hands as you would when making spinach pitas. Place in a bowl and set aside. Crush crackers in a plastic bag, using a rolling pin until the gluten free crackers are a fine consistency. (I use Kellogg's Corn Flake Crumbs and EnerG Crackers, approximately 3/4 Cup total.) Add up to one tablespoon of Garlic powder and crumble 2 tablespoons of dried Parsley, mixing well. (one beaten egg may be added). Place into a 1/4 cup measure, pressing it down firmly, carefully removing and forming it into a ball.

In a non-stick pan, heat 2 tablespoons of Canola oil, then add the rolled Tofu substance, formed into the size of a large meatball, and brown on all sides. Gently turning so as to keep it intact. Medium heat works best, in order to avoid sticking and burning to the bottom of the pan. The cooking process should not be done until all the balls have been formed, initially.

Remove and drain after browning on a paper towel, placing the browned balls in a deep dish with your favorite (heated) sauce to be placed in the oven, 350 degrees for a half hour.

I like using Ener G crackers which are suitable for gluten sensitive enteropathies. They are Gluten-Free, Wheat-Free, Milk-Free, Lactose-Free and Egg-Free. The corn flakes and pasta used are both Kosher and Parve as well. The egg in this recipe helps to hold the mixture together, and is used only for those who are not sensitive to eggs.

Serve with your favorite gluten free pasta and sauce, (optional: topping it with grated cheese).

Monday, March 1, 2010

March Madness

We've all heard those little sayings like "March Madness," "March Ahead" or "Spring Ahead," or how about "Beware of the Ides of March"? This is a possible reference to the assassination in 44 of Julius Caesar. My favorite, the "March Winds."

March Madness could possibly mean...Mother nature make up your mind, already. March winds we are familiar with every year, and they have not disappointed us today. I like moving forward toward Spring, with each day becoming a little bit longer and brighter, while observing the tell-tale signs all around us now in nature.

It is a time for cleaning up the dirt from the mess of winter. I like to go through draws and closets to remove outdated or out grown items to make room for the new ones. Like Spring cleaning, it's time to renew, period.

It's time for lighter and brighter colors, and a time for watchfulness that we don't get stuck or weighed down by the past but adventure into the new, feeling like a new person. Put on the hope and promise of the Lenten Spring, as in the Poem of Saint John of Damascus of the 8th century tells us "for Christ God has carried us over from death to life, from earth to heaven." (The first Ode Sung on Pascha).

Neglect not to heed the warning, found in one of Wm. Shakespeare's plays, to "Beware of the Ides of March," "a great danger ," never know what is lurking around the corner.

March has arrived. It's a time to "Spring forward," and become renewed from the death of winter to the Spring of Life. For which we are eternally thankful.