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

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

O Godly-wise Andrew

Monday, we remembered the first-called Apostle Andrew as we entered our small but beautiful chapel, where his icon was exhibited and venerated.

Most of my life, having the surname of Peter, I was aware that he was called "foremost disciple". But what I didn't know was that the Apostle Andrew revealed Him to his brother, Peter. Andrew heard the voice of the Forerunner and was the first to follow Jesus. Enkindled by His love, Andrew obeyed the Lord with fervor. He was united to Him and was called "O Godly-wise Andrew." Saint Andrew has lead many to Jesus.

Saint Andrew was the "first to meet the Christ". Andrew brought the faith to Romania, in which our church shares it's roots. He was crucified for his faith, thus the X appears on his flag, proudly displayed from the parish house.

To honor Saint Andrew and his feast day, the headscarf that I wore was the official tartan of Saint Andrew's Society of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. This sash was given to me by my children as a birthday present. I am a most humbled to wear it in his memory.

We rejoiced in his holy memory and believe that he stood with us in our midst, while through his prayers, we received blessings.

Saint Andrew, your heart was enlightened with the perfect brightness of His divinity. By your prayers may we be granted enlightenment, purity of our hearts and salvation of our souls.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanks Given

That's what it really should be called, and as I ponder the events of the past few days I realize that it is not just a turkey dinner for me.

Some of my "turkey meal" memories predate the twenty-fifth of November, like the many meals that were served at our church hall, and the cheerfulness of the fall gathering of friends, and neighbor.

Our town usually has a bonfire, which was not allowed due to the weather this year, where the teens gather in celebration of pregame activities of the traditional football rivalry. Others come back to town to see friends who have graduated, joining them for a drink or two. It is a time for class reunions and catching up. My son and his wife were among them. They had a great time, unable to get out much lately, but we had a better time than they did, spending it with our grandsons.

Families gather for the holiday, sometimes celebrating both Christmas and Thanksgiving at the same time, as they will not be able to be together on the "real" calendar date, as traditionally enjoyed many years previous.

It is a time of reflection, of years and events which have gone by and all our loved ones, who we miss and think about. Yesterday, my husband and I shared our turkey dinner with my brother, his wife and our nephew. My eldest brother surprised me when he brought over a home-made chocolate cake with white frosting, as he is recovering from pneumonia. There is never talk in our house about shopping on "Black Friday." Some people wait an entire year to buy something at a "good price" that they ordinarily could not afford. This is not a high income area for most, who live paycheck to paycheck or who run short when there are five weeks in a month.

As I recall, we were thankful just to get something at all. Everyone had at least one gift to open, and of course, we all got unmentionable items just to keep us humble.

Poverty is a word that means different things to different people. Some feel very rich if they and their family have good health. There is no poverty when you are loved. Things do not bring you happiness, only love does. Yesterday, I did not cook a turkey, but I did make a Thanksgiving meal for my elderly mother-in-law, complete with ramekin sized meat and apple pies. Her meat was ground-up and we have for her squash, turnip, potato and broccoli. I made gluten-free stuffing for my husband and set aside a pie, for a later date.

Today, I will do it all over again, making a complete turkey dinner with all the trimmings for our immediate family, which we will share on Sunday. Many people fight about who's house they will go to, some alternate, in keeping a sense of fairness. We are just thankful to get together when everyone can make it, due to the livelihood of our family members. Our newest grandson, Ryan, will not be able to eat turkey, but he is the cutest butter ball of the bunch. Everyone has a favorite, Nathan loves chocolate cream pie, which is traditional. Coconut cream, apple pie, pumpkin, and pecan, will be served for dessert. We try to give everyone what they like, at our house.

The best part of it all is wrapping up left overs to go, as I simply do not want to have "temptations" around, especially the sweet kind, which I usually just sample.

This year "our boys" did us proudly, winning the football game which means we didn't have to eat crow. My dad would have been happy, as he once played as a second string quarterback for the local team. His "gift" was basketball, playing for a semi-professional team in New York City, while he was in the Coast Guard, during the war.

I can still picture my mother wearing a dress, and looking pretty special for my dad, as Thanksgiving was always so "special" with the many faces around our table. I came from a large family, where it was evident that my parents were so much in love, and their happiness will always be one of my fondest memories of them.

On Friday, when we were at my grandson's home, we were looking at a show which featured the Vietnam war and helicopter's--his favorite--eating popcorn. It brought back a flood of memories of another time of Thanksgiving at my in-laws where the discussion was always about her mother's Canadian French stuffing using cinnamon, which differed from my mom's traditional Canadian French sage, Bell's stuffing, but were equally as good.

We are left with memories, memories made by people in our life, here and gone, who love us. It wasn't the Macy's parade, or even the turkey, anticipation of the Christmas season, although it was a part of all of it. It was simply being the lovers of humanity that we are all called to be, even down to the littlest child and baby who has nothing to give but his love.

Would it still be thanksgiving without a turkey or all the Christmas do dads? You bet it would as long as you are blessed with love, you have everything! Savor it...

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sweet November

Of course, I would consider November a great month, as it was the month I was born in. Every month offers something special, and the fall is a great time of year, even in advent.

Advent is celebrated by Orthodox Christians this time of year, which began at midnight, or today, the fifteenth of this month through Christmas. Preparation for a any event heightens it's coming. Our calendar squares indicated by their pink coloring, is our traditional St. Phillips fast. The prescribed exception is Thanksgiving...

This is not a time to celebrate Christmas, as it has not come to pass, yet. That yet is an important word. We had a group who played at out church hall on Friday night. The vocal artist expressed this best when she quoted a bible verse from out of her head, that she used frequently. "I will praise Him, yet." Meaning, even so. Times are rough for many and through many circumstances, even when we do not feel like it, we praise Him. Nothing can or will surpass His deeds. Fasting from simple pleasures and giving to others, will heighten the joy of the Christmas Feast.

Each year, after the leaves fall and it becomes dark, we are reminded of our need for His love, and the need for Him to fill our lives, lest we become as "void" as fall and the impending winter. Some people even go into a state of depression, due to the lack of light. Following Him, demands that we must carry our cross whatever it may be. The needy become more visible this time of year, yet, they are always among us. Somehow the leave-dropping allows us to see our neighbor more clearly.

It is no secret that I have many icons which are hung all over my home, supplying it with it's own type of warmth. The air is filled with the aroma of scented candles and flavored coffee. I'm engaged in music, reading, and actually look forward to this time of quietness. It's a time of prayer and reflection, to what is coming upon us--forty days from now on the 25th of December. One guess, it's not just Santa. Although, St. Nicholas is a real saint, who was born in Myra, in the fourth century, and his feast day is celebrated on December 6th.

Apart from the Birth of Christ, what joy could we possibly be celebrating? The giver of all good things, in His goodness, begins for us with the understanding of why He came.

Ponder that! Then, you will have something to rejoice about on December 25th. Receive the timeless One, and His gift that lasts forever.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Gift of Love

Emotional love is illogical and irrational but there is another. Love is God, who makes us partakers by his gift of love to us. This love is received by us in order that we become other worldly. We see things through different eyes, eyes of illumination. A walk in the Spirit comes from life in the Spirit. Having our flesh crucified with Christ, and born anew, we are New Creations, through Baptism. The way of life in the Spirit is expressed through service to God and one another. Love is a decision, to become Christlike and bear one another's burdens.

Galatians 5:22 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

We Christians, walk in the Spirit, which is Love. Love is His gift to us. God is Love...

This is the season to remember those who are suffering and needy. The homeless, hungry, lonely, and hopeless. Give them the only gift that matters, your love. Then, this world will become a better place, and you will have made a difference in someone's life.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Emotions are irrational.

It was said recently that all feelings are irrational. Feelings are neither right or wrong, they just are. We all have them and so we all suffer from irrational behavior. We behave and act as we are, human.

You probably have heard the good advise being given to someone recently suffering from a loss, "do nothing now, if you can help it." Things look very different beyond the period of grief. Changes made at this time, may be irrational and regrettable. The tears shed during this time, are natural and necessary to acknowledge your loss, and after a given time, will subside. If not, treatment may be required. Our human response is not the way we should be, but is a byproduct of our brokenness due to the fall. Emotions are a predisposition and genetically inherited condition. Someday, we will be changed, and every tear will be wiped away."

I recall, many years ago, when my eldest son was eleven months old, and having become ill with a high fever and a yellowed skin, I brought him to the hospital for an examination. Being the weekend, I got an attending physician. He didn't know what was wrong, and they would run some tests, after admitting him. I was a wreck, highly emotional and "totally irrational" at the moment, and when asked simple questions, I froze, unable to answer. That is why emotions are not to be trusted. The doctor told me, that even though the baby had not gone out of the house, he contracted Roseola, infant measles. I may have been a carrier, exposed while grocery shopping.

Jesus wept. This was to show his true state of humanity. Weeping for someone else brings out your pain. Pain is a product of our fallen condition here on earth. Jesus used this experience to show us His glory, and as He prayed to His Father, His friend Lazarus was raised to life. It is totally irrational that any of us should die, it was not supposed to be like this, and was not, prior to the lost of relationship between God and man.

Why was Lazarus raised? I think one of the reasons was to show how much God loves each and every one of us. It was a foretaste of the Resurrection of Christ, and what we also will experience some day. Love is an emotion that can cause us to behave irrationally. Words like walking on a cloud, floating on air, and the like, express the giddiness's of falling hopelessly in love. These signs and more, which initially manifest, have the tendency of curtailing with time. The irrational motion is not to be confused with Love which is not self centered, must dwell in a relationship that shares all hopes and dreams, and secrets, which exists to please the other. God is Love. A Love that endures all things, forever. That Love died for us. Love is the only thing we will take with us, and that will remain, (love never dies). God is love and we were created in His image and likeness, having the capacity and freedom to decide to Love God and have love for each other. Love which is not emotional, demands that we "do unto other's" finding God's presence in each and every one of our brothers.

And to love, is the only rational reason for our existance that I know of.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Grandma's Birthday Party

Children say the darnedest things. It was decided that after our church banquet on Sunday, we would all head up to Bill and Angie's house to celebrate my birthday. It is much easier with the baby and his big brother.

During the course of the meal, Nathan was so well behaved that one could have said that he was a little man. Ryan tucked into his carriage, was content to quietly suck on his pacifier while his happy parents got a chance to eat without interruption, with the entire family. It was some time since we had gotten together since the baby arrived, several months ago.

It was enjoyable getting caught up on the latest events in each of their lives. As a mom, I am careful to spread my attention around. Nathan, who sets down at the table, could be heard saying, "Grandma" and "excuse me", anxiously waiting to tell me everything, mostly about his toy airplanes. He has become quite the conversationalist.

As usual, everyone wants to talk at the same time. It is hard to believe how smart kids are today. His parents explain everything to him. They grow up so fast....

The time had come to leave and Nathan's mother explained that we were all leaving to go to their house. He had a surprised look on his face, and looking around, he replied, "Everyone?"

I don't think their house is that large. What a wonderful day we all had. What a great family I have. And, it was another spectacular birthday. I am truly blessed to have their love.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The St. Michael Banquet

Putting on a banquet for the parish feast day is quite an event of its own. Many details need to have been worked out in order to assure by preparedness that this anticipated dinner will be a happy occasion for all in attendance. I'm happy to report that everything was at it's finest.

The head table, or featured quests and speakers included: the president of the council member's of the church of St. Michael, Spiro Thomo. Our parish Pastor, the V. Rev. Hiromonk Peter Preble, visiting priest Fr. John Daly of St. Nicholas Church, His Eminence Archbishop Nicolae Condrea, and Mr. Walter Haddad, president of the council of Eastern Orthodox churches of Worcester, who in turn, addressed us with a brief presentation.

The meal, organized by Henrietta Panu, delicious and most appropriate for November, was a turkey dinner with all the fixings. Served on eloquent white dinnerware, which included heavy flatware and brown cloth napkins. Centerpieces of colored gourds complimented the other harvest arrangements in the hall, which were provided by Linda Nizamoff.

Family and friends from St. Michael and St. Nicholas parish, filled the Romanian hall almost to capacity. The sunny but brisk day, added to the ambience of what has become a rich tradition which spans many generations. Next month, we will participate in the feast day of St. Nicholas, which usually follows a joint Liturgy and consists of a fish dinner, due to pre-Christmas fasting regulations.

A large screen in the room, entertained us with photos of the more recent happenings at our church, featuring many happy and successful events. Although our church events are filled with mostly seniors and older adults, we on occasion, have amongst our midst visitors of the "smallest" kind. To the right, on my page, you can see Ryan, two months old, taking it all in. He chose to be present with little notice, but we all know, that if he wanted to, he could have made his presence well known. He did not go unnoticed though, and we would like to thank Carol Porra, for the fine photo of him, and the many others that she takes as unofficial or official, photographer of our church.

Spiro said profoundly, as he did last year, that the holiday's are just ahead and wished us well in the New Year.

We have a lot to be thankful for-- each other, and, for a tradition that has brought us together to celebrate the feast day of St. Michael, our parish nameday, our love, faith and, our wonderful church.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

My Cup Runneth Over

It's Sunday morning, and I'm overflowing from the richness of yesterday. Last night we turned back the clocks, and sometimes, that's what we have to do with our lives, to appreciate how to go forward. Beautiful days have gone by, but they are not lost, they remain within us. Yet, with the grace of God we can see the beauty that lies ahead off us, life being a cycle. It is that way with all things. The church is an example of that promise, easing our concern for the future.

There is an age of wisdom, that is when you can let go and completely trust in God's plan. There are years of planting seeds and years of reaping in life, but there is only one sure thing, and that is His love for His creation, all of us. Cast your cares upon the waters, and believe.

Enjoy the years here, where you have been planted. Feel the warmth of the sun upon your face. Feel the breeze on your skin, and smell the clear air. Drink in the water of life. Interact with all in peace. Find joy and love, and you will know that God exists. He exists for you, personally. When that moment happens for you, and you are thankful for what you have and are, and you are standing in front of the altar of God in church, and you get a funny feeling, a twitching on your nose, that makes you want to cry, you are in communion with Him.

He knows your there because He's always been with you. You realize that all good things come from Him out of His love for you, and your happy. Who else knows and gives you your hearts desire? Who else can fulfill it? Looking back, He was there all along, whether you acknowledged Him or not, and He will always be there for you, no matter what, just like the loving Father that He is.

There is no complexity in it. The church should be full of God-seekers. They will come, not because they are commanded, or forced, but because they feel the warmth of God upon their face, and are "drawing near." Who does not need God in their life walks blindly not knowing where they are going, not knowing where they've been. Who do you think has picked you up thoroughout all your life? Whether we choose to admit it or not, we all need God.

Today is all we have. God reveals what He has in store for you. (Psalm 23:6) Taken from the Orthodox Study Bible, "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever." He offers us life, and life eternally.

Yesterday, our Archbishop said of the remains of the Saints, Constantine and Helen and St. Dimitri, "that God was not through with them." There is no such thing as "was" to God. What God has done for previous saints, He does and can do for you, when you seek and call out to Him. God has always had what you need, as a loving Father does for His children. Maybe it is a case of timing? What keeps you from Sunday worship? Why would you not choose to seek God's face, is yet another mystery.

Someday, you will be at the end of your journey here on earth. And God, the giver of life and all good things will be waiting...Will it be then that you will be thankful for all the goodness of life He has bestowed upon you? He is calling you today to fill your cup with all good things. How will you respond to His invitation?

This morning, we will gather in a small parish church, where we will worship God, thanking Him for the life He gave us, and the love that we share. This is the gift that God has given me, the fullness of life, and my cup runneth over with Love. Love that comes from Him.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

On My 62nd Birthday

Where did I go on my 62nd birthday, to talk to God. The photo shows me in church serving Great Vespers with parish priests and our Archbishop.

The Archbishop had just flown back from Romania to Chicago, then, to Southbridge. He addressed Council members just prior to the service. Tonight to those in attendance, he remarked about his experience while in the "old country," where people kept vigil to see the relics of St. Dimitri, St. Constantine and Helen. "God is not through with them," all we need do is go to God, because He is not through with us, either.

Today was a great day, a day when I had the chance to say "thank you" for all He's given me, sixty-two years of life, and much happiness.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Sipping French Vanilla Coffee and musings

Today, most people that I spoke with could not get beyond, the freezing-cold rain that we are going to have to endure. Forcasted through tonight, we are expecting almost two inches of cold wetness. Especially hard for travellers, and small children going to and coming from school. It has put a dampening spirit on some, as I can surmise from the computer this morning.

I'm having a very usual day, not one of cleaning--who would want to do that on such a dark, depressing day? No, I'm sipping a cup of French Vanilla Coffee. It was hard to choose from amongst my many varieties, all equally special. One for each mood, and that fits me fine.

I can still smell the chocolate chip cookies that I baked for my family especially my grandson, Nathan. Ryan will have to wait a little longer until he can have grandma's cookies. Also cooling on the counter is a banana bread, that I baked for my mother-in-law. It is hard, for me to just look, but look is all I can do. Instead, coffee is the the allowed treat.

My skin is looking radiant and I can thank St. Columba of Iona Monastery in Southbridge, for the wonderful product that they are now taking orders for, on Facebook. It is made from goat milk and has other known skin moisturizers. Just in time for Christmas shopping and protection from the harshness of winter. I have noticed that the heals of my feet, which were especially dry, no longer are. When I get out of the shower, my skin is beaded something like the wax application on a car. I think that there will be back orders, so I'm going to get my order in early. Most people that have tried a sample of the soap, loved it. I'm sure my favorite will be the one that is heather scented. My birthday is Saturday, this is a hint for my family that never knows what to buy me because I'm petite and a difficult fit. Candy is out, and I still have a certificate for the hairdresser. Let's face it mom, the kids say, "You have everything." "We never know what to buy you." They are right."

We are creatures of habit, so if you have a few moments to spend reading this, you may find some unexpected humor. It had been probably a whole year that I struggled with the thought that my SUV was continually needing repair, in small ways but none-the-less creating a climate of concern, and more recently, had the thought of trading it in. The breaks were not performing well, and the back hatch would not close every time, as it should, unless you knew the "secret spot." The locks were all functioning, except the one that counted most, on the driver's side, requiring me to vacate the car to lock it, on the passenger side. We had just had the breaks fixed, so that spring sound came as a surprise to me, as the pedal would dip down just a little more than I wanted.We recently had the air conditioner fixed as well as the seat which would not fold down, on the driver's side. The tires on the passenger's side were losing air, the battery, which was newly replaced, had a problem with the readout, just below the plus sign, and I was losing patience. The fact that I had much difficulty cleaning it off in the winter, was just a tad bit as irritating as the side step-up, especially when icy, to mount the vehicle, which were both starting to rust, presenting a hazard. My mother-in-law has difficulty getting in, and the inconvenience of only having two-doors proved to not be the car of choice for my grandchildren. Yet, I grew fond of that old car, like a friend, who was an extension of my legs, and big part of over ten years. He served me well, accident and all. But, I traded him in on Tuesday. I had mixed feelings.

Mixed feelings is the word, yet life goes on...He didn't take care of my needs anymore. The new vehicle, also white, was like night and day. On the way home, it felt like I was driving on the ground. I also found that I was like a new driver who had to "learn" how to use the breaks, which were so sensitive, and being a sedan, required but a touch. Tuesday was the night we had to vote and because the line was so long, we went to the dealership where we got the car first, then, to what seemed like "madness," as the lines had not diminished one bit. I waited in the car, (in a full, dark, parking lot), having voted previously. Upon return, my husband could not get in the car, the keys were still in the ignition, so the car could not unlock. The parking lot was completely dark, and I couldn't find the unlock fixtures on the door. I had to start the ignition, to find the lights. The door knob isn't supposed to be where it is, and I kept reaching down out of habit, but couldn't find it.

There is no key-pad in the new car, so I will need to remember not to lock my keys inside, and the lights do not automatically go on and off. It must be done manually, or I'll have a dead battery in the morning. Also, there is a new feature, illuminating the panel, which can fool you into thinking that your car lights are on, when they are not.

I couldn't appreciate the features and package offered by Honda any more but I think that you almost need to be schooled on how to use, especially the windshield wipers. Luckily, my daughter-in-law and husband, who has the option, knew how to turn them off, as you can only play with something so long. Technically so advanced from the simple turn on and off wipers of days gone by, I washed my windshield in the rain, twice. I was glad to put them on intermittently, but when it started to pour, I found that I had to play with the gadget to get the wipers up to speed. A little scary while driving. I'm a fast learner, and I'm totally impressed with all that it offers. No longer do I have 6 cylinders, which I do not need. Just think of all the gas money I will save.

The salesman at the dealership was not sure of the code for being able to open the doors, when the car stops, especially on the driver's side, so were going back for a few adjustments. By that time, we will be "old buddies." We're going to get along just fine...I'm happy with my decision.

So, if your planning to buy me a new car for my birthday, your too late, John did, already. What do I want for my birthday? "Nothing more," your love will do. You make my life complete, just as you are. Because just as you are, you are my greatest gift...

Monday, November 1, 2010

Being Reconcilled

Reconciliation is attaining a state of being put right, or friendly, pleasing, or to gain by goodwill. It is consistent, a direction, or goal that is usually mutual, and reoccurring. This state of being made correct, and accountable, pertains to one of the healing Sacraments of the church, called the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Most people reconcile their checking accounts by comparing their balances to the bank statement, once a month. Immediate action may be required in order to maintain a good balance. Reconciling your account to keep it in good standing, is important to help provide you with the peace of mind that all is well.

It has become easy to substantiate the activity of your account on a daily basis with an on-line banking service, where transactions, can be tracked, showing deposits, withdrawals and current balances, which help you to avoid penalties and overdraft fees.

I wonder if my cousin Fran, still deposits an extra twenty-five dollars for every check she writes? That was her method of keeping her checking account reconciled, figuring if she had a credit balance, it would provide her with peace of mind, without taking the time to prove each month.

Reconciliation means to know we are in a state of being "put right" and in good balance with someone or something, by our effort.

Come to think of it, Fran may have had a good idea, after all, saving both time and money.
It could be compared "spiritually" to the good-deed doer. Setting aside a savings of another type, has little to do with reconciliation, except to keep on the right side of humanity, and keeping a good account for the day of judgement.

We must be reconciled with one another in order to be at peace. It is done with the words, I forgive, will you forgive me.

This was written for the One Word at a Time Carnival, at Please go there to read other entries.