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, December 27, 2011

All of Creation Rejoices in You

"All of Creation Rejoices in You" is the title that comes from a hymn that we sing to the Virgin Mother of God, the Theotokos this time of year, during the Liturgy of St. Basil. The words always strike me. Everything in nature and in the heavens, participated in worshiping God, as He is born to us, from a Virgin Mother, as a babe in Bethlehem.

This year for Christmas I received a lighthouse, which everyone knows that I am so fond of, maybe because of what it stands for, a beacon to warn, and a stucture of light. It calls all to the source of the rocks, in preparation like the light from the star which called the three wise men.

Accounts of nature and "their gift" to the newborn king, are present in the hymns which enlighten us as to their participation, as "all creation rejoices" in this wonder.

I love the song of the finch in the spring when they return to nest around my home. Singing in preparation for the lenten tones, I find at times they join in, while they accumulate, on a branch of a tree just outside my window, filled mostly of yellow, and rose colored birds. I received a beautiful notepad with one finch on the cover, wearing a golden crown. It touched me that she remembered my story. Christians are aware of nature and, the Christmas scene in its full wonder expressed, in all its glory, which included: the Sun, stars, cave, light, animals, shepherds, angels, manger, and wisemen with gifts. A foster-father, Virgin Mother and her milk, the attendants who bathed the babe, and all mystery, glory and wonder!

Christmas Troparion:
"Your Nativity, O Christ our God,
has shone to the world the light of wisdom
For by it, those who worshipped the stars,
were taught by a star to adore You,
the Sun of righteousness,
and to know You, the Orient from on high.
O Lord, glory to You."

The Kontakion...
"Today the Virgin gives birth to the Transcendent One,
and the earth offers a cave to the Unapproachable One,
Angels with Shepherds glorify Him,
the Wise Men journey with the star,
since for our sake the eternal God was born as a little Child."

Let all the earth worship You and praise You! Let it praise Your Name, O Most High!

The Hymn to the Theotokos:
"I behold a strange, most glorious mystery:
heaven -- the cave,
the cherubic throne -- the virigin;
the manager -- the place where Christ lay,
the uncontainable God, Whom we magnify in song."

Taken from Saturday's Great Vespers, the Entreaty:
"For unto them that sit in darkness and shadow, God has appeared in the flesh, born of a woman. A cave and manger have received Him, shepherds proclaim the wonder; Magi from the East offer gifts in Bethlehem. And let us, with our unworthy lips, offer Him praise like the Angels. Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace. For the expectation of the Nations is come. He is come and has saved us from slavery to the enemy."

Christ is born, Glorify Him!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

We Have Found Joy In A Secret Place

The words of the hymn of today, says "we have found Joy in a secret place." Yet my mind says how could it have remained secret, that is, the birth of Christ, when the star exposed the child hidden in a cave. It would have been like a giant flashlight focused on Mary, the Ever Virgin Mother of God, and Joseph her espoused husband, and Jesus lying in a manger.

It had to be kept a secret as Herod was in hot pursuit of the one who would come and overthrow his kingdom. So much so, that upon hearing of the King to be in the presence of a baby, he had many infants killed. The census would surely work at stopping any adult thought to be him, by searching any male that fit the bill according to the prophecy. Why did not Herod see the light, the one that the three wise men followed? Could it be that the light was not visible to all?

Another hymn answers the question for us. It says that the wise men were "taught by a star to know Thee" the Orient from on high. Clearly the wealthy, resourceful men, called wise, were eager to know who the king was, and were willing to travel at great expense and distance to go to him, prepared with their offering because they were sure that the babe that they were looking for, was the King of Kings, the long awaited One, the Saviour of us all.

We know that because they told Herod on their way, that it was He, a baby, that they were seeking. In their wisdom they did not go back to tell Herod that they infact, had found Him. Jesus was hidden from the heart of Herod, who was also seeking Him, but to destroy Him. Herod was close by, but never no matter how hard he tried, found Him.

It is clear that God invited those who He wished to be present at the birth of His son, Jesus. The lowly shepherds, and angels who glorified Him and the attendants who bathed the Christ child. Another hymn tells us that things in nature gave to Him in that secret place.

Jesus the pre-eternal God and creator of all things, Light of the world, enabled a star, (the uncreated light) to teach to the wise men, who the Son of God is, and where He was. All they had to do was come. That is what we are asked to do, come. Come and See!

The Light of the World, Jesus, extends to those who hear, an invitation to come to the stable. And like the wise men, who set the example for us to follow, Worship Him. They were never the same....and neither will you be.

For those who sat in darkness have seen a great light. He is the Light of World, to which the darkness cannot comprehend.

(1Cor 3:19) "For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God"
Taken from the Orthodox Study Bible.

There is so much we do not really know or understand. We must therefore step forward with faith and with hope. May the joy and peace of Christ be with you all this Christmas season, and may you receive every good thing.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

How old was the aged Joseph when he espoused Mary?

Now most of you that know me, know that I am inquisitive by nature. One day, I saw a Christmas card that had a picture of a grey-haired Joseph. Now, you and I know that if that were the case, there would be a few changes in the story line. I believe it is important to promulgate the truth, so here are some findings as I know them, to help set the record straight.

Since I was a youngster, I had always thought of Joseph as being a young man, one that most grooms in America would tend to look like, energetic, thin and someone that would sweep his sweetheart off of her feet. In Joseph's case, we were led to believe by pictures and Chrsitmas cards sent through the mail, that he had dark hair and was considered to be a handsome man. And if your going to sell a screen production, perhaps that's what Joseph should look like. But, was it the case?

Today I watched the Nativity Story, a very good, and moving Christmas account that was, like the rest, a movie that guides the (viewer) to think that Mary would fall in love with him, as there were hints of a flirtation going on. Then of all things, he is shown delivering the baby, like any married man would do, in that unusual case.

There is a problem with that though. One of the Icons that I'm currently viewing in a book entitled ICONS, (introduced by T. Talbot Rice, Pg. 47, shows at the bottom right, two attendants bathing the babe. This plate No. 16 entitled Icon of the Nativity, First half of the fifteenth century, School of Novgorod. Formerly in the Ostroukhov collection, is now in the Tretiakov Gallery, Moscow.

Describing the Icon in part it reads: "The three kings and a shepherd appear on either side of her, having been guided to the spot by the angels shown in the upper register; below Joseph (who is shown at the bottom left of the Icon), hears of the Child's birth whilst attendants bathe the Babe.

Researching another source, The Meaning of Icons, by: Leonid Ouspensky, Vladimir Lossky, Pg. 158, we find "a confirmation" of two figures bathing the Baby on that Icon. It reads in part on page 160: "The two women are the two midwives whom Joseph brought to the Mother of God. This scene from everyday life shows clearly that the Child is like any other new-born babe and is subject to the natural requirements of nature."

The movie, The Nativity Story, shows Mary's father betrothing her to Joseph, a young man. He was probably in reality ninety. History tells of his previous marriage at forty, having six children, (2 daughters and 4 sons, which lasted forty-nine years. One of his sons was called the "Lord's brother, James (the less).

The romantic story of the young couple, certainly does not "fit" the facts one of them being that the "choice" of Joseph was made by God through a miracle.

I noticed that after Mary was espoused to Joseph, she questioned her mother as to why her father had done that to her, in the movie, saying that "she did not love him." Her mother indicated that it was out of necessity.

No wonder people are so confused as to the truth, when there are so many variations to the story of the greatest event in the world. (Taken from the Festal Menaion, the Nativity According to the Flesh, second canon) "Honouring Christ alone, our Benefactor, Who in His compassion is come into our midst. O Virgin, sprung from the root of Jesse (Isaiah 11:1), Thou has passed beyond the boundaries of human nature, for Thou hast borne the pre-eternal Word of the Father. According to His good pleasure, by a strange self-emptying, He passed through thy womb, yet kept it sealed.

There was not much said in the gospel about Joseph the step-father of Jesus after the age of twelve. But what is known is that he did not fail to honor, respect and protect his family all the days of his life, in a way that most people today would not understand.

It was none the less, a great movie to watch, and no matter what the age of Joseph, or to what extent he actually participated in the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus, he is one man to emulate.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


It may not come as a surprise that some people of the sixties, along with their many other revolutions against things like wearing a bra, having a haircut or simply refusing to go along with the way things used to be, decided that Confession was "not necessary." The trend caught on, so that it continues even to this very day. Clearly they are wrong...

Defiance is as good a term as I can come up with, as some have said, "I will not go to Confession, I do not believe in it." "He cannot make us go," another said. First, we must acknowledge that we are all sinners, knowingly or unknowingly, whether we admit it or not.

We can all buy into not wanting to. What are the benefits? Are there benefits we are not aware of? One I can think of is the prayer of absolution, removing our sins from us. Literally, a clean slate, so to speak..... Confessing to ones self, what good is that? You know what your shortcomings are, already. Can you really remember each and every one? Going to the Master, you will experience change. Change begins when you are ready to say ... verbally, I did... or I am...he knows already, but like any parent, He wants you to admit it.

We all know that wounds unattended to can fester, and in growing worse, may cause you greater discomfort or death. Are you suffering? Do you need healing from your sins?

It isn't just entirely what the priest says, but what happens to the spirit as you speak about "the hidden" because you are facing an Icon of Christ. The word is "exposure." Your life will change after the release of the unspeakable, because you have the courage to express it, let it out, and then the healing begins.

When I was a child, I used to hear people say, "you know what you are." Sometimes it takes a lot of thought before you can admit what you are. You sometimes don't even know, and even if you do, the first step in admitting it, is very hard. Take the alcoholic, for an example....Once the truth comes out, there is still much work to continue avoiding what makes you (sick) in the first place. Confessing it is only the first step. Not eating of or avoiding the fruit, is the second.

The bible shows us that Jesus is there, when we expose our inner most secrets, secret thoughts --in order to "free us" from any guilt or consequence of our "condition". He died for each and every sin, a free gift to us. Looking at the gospel, the people who had no compassion for the adultress woman, who was about to be stoned, was lovingly saved by Jesus from her death. (Who, without sin cast the first stone?)

During our Great Lent preparation, there is a Hymn of Kassiani, where the words read, the woman who had fallen into many sins, offered Him spices before His burial, as she was at that point, (the ointment bearer). Then, lamenting, before Him, a woman of woe because of her love of adultery and sin, wiped His feet with oils,her hair and tears, perceiving His Divinity. She hid herself because of fear. (Becoming Eve), in the garden of Paradise, was knowing full well His righteous judgments.

Eve, and the woman, attribute their failings and sufferings to sins, which has also given them a dark and lightless night. "O incline Thou to the sighing of my heart," she asks of the Lord knowing that He who can drawest the waters from the sea by clouds from the heavens, can wash her clean and make her renewed and joyful, by cleansing her body and soul.

"Confession is made unto salvation". Healing begins when you go to Jesus and ask Him to release you from the pain and suffering caused by your sin, and He, having heard you ask, does not turn a cold shoulder, but says "I forgive you." He is the only one that can deliver you from your bondage because of His great and rich mercy.

He is waiting to "set you free from the chains that bind you" and heal you from all your pain and suffering. Release your burden unto Him, alone. Confession is necessary for your well-being, healing and salvation. This gift is available through the priest, who has the ability to absolve you of your sins, having no further care for them.

And this, is another of the great mysterys offered by the Orthodox Church, as given by the Apostolic Tradition established by the early Church, appointed by Christ to the twelve. The Early Church understood that the grace of ordination endowed the shepherd of the flock with the discernment and compassion to speak the words of remission, on behalf of Christ, to those who confess and turn from sin. For God has promised the removing of sin from us "as far as the east is from the west" (Ps. 103.12), by the "Stirring up of the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands" (2Tim. 1:6). It is the Grace of the Holy Spirit to enable the priest to serve God and His people.

Sometimes, you can only know these things through experience. There are no words to describe what God can do for you.....if you trust Him. Let go and let God. Receive the gift that God waits to give to you, and just to you alone.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Naked Santa

We have come a long way from the truth, where the much revered St. Nicholas, having the title of wonder-worker and is known to help those in need, has been made an object of disrespect. Where is all this happening, pray tell?
In the good old U.S.A. specifically, in San Francisco, CA. where it is not against the law to be nude. And as such, as many nude Santa's are gathering and are trying to obtain the title of the most naked Santa's, in the world's record book.
I wonder how we got so far off-track? What are our children to do with irresponsible adults in their midst, who apparently have no more morals as common sense. Is this just the sign of the times or are we to expect worse? Can it get any worse than that? The world is watching us, and what do they see? Absurdity...A mockery of what was good, to what is now insanity.
Who needs that type of Santa? Who needs groups of people, which are applauded for their indecent agenda--that of the decaying and immmoral generation now in our country.
All the while, displays of the holy Christmas nativity scenes are not forthcoming.
Give us back Christmas the way is used to be. I want the real Santa, at least one with clothes on.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Virgin Mother of God

Can a virgin give birth to God without seed? Could the people of Israel cross the sea without getting wet? When listening to the words so wisely given at last night's service, one would wonder why the church was not packed to capacity, unless of course, you know the answer to the questions I just posed.

Those were some of the thoughts I had as a young married woman in my early twenties, as friends tried to distort the gospel truth, saying Jesus had brothers and sisters. Today, the Orthodox Church with its fullness offers an explanation. After Israel's passage, the sea remained impassable. This was indeed a miracle, so was Mary's virginity.

The Virgin Mother of God, remained a Virgin after Emmanuel's birth. He took flesh from Mary and became incarnate by the power of the Holy Spirit. There is no one else on earth that came from Mary, who in the appointed time, gave birth to the Pre-eternal God, the Word who appeared as Man, for our sake. He was God before all ages....Glory be to Him!

Jesus invites us to come to the stable. Come and find Him. He is calling out your name.....Are you listening to His voice?

Thursday, December 1, 2011


December first, when people will be contemplating on their tree and gifts, I'm thinking about the Cave. Whether it is a Christmas tree or Holiday tree, it is still a tree. Your disposition is what makes it otherwise. We transform ordinary things to something spectacular. But are we transformed?

If I were an artist, I would draw a lifeless hole admist a hard rocky entrance. I would try to create a feeling of great trepidation and coldness. This, in my mind would not be a place of joy, but utter dispair. Darkness and I have never been friends. It would encompass feelings of sadness and loneliness. Yet, it is a place where many are accustomed to be--cut off by sufferings, pain, and grief. Self-loathing and unforgiveness and hate. For you too, there is a gift waiting for you in the cave.

But now enters into this place, (the cave), a young virgin, giving birth to a Son. And the cave became the queens palace, dispelling the darkness within the cave of mankind, with the illumination, therein. Her Son, is the Only Begotten Son of God.

Yes, you must enter into this cave to receive Him and He will transform your heart and give you the illumination of His everlasting light, peace and great joy.

It's not about the tree, afterall, but hope. Time to think about experiencing the Real Joy this Christmas.