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, February 29, 2012

The Seed of Corruption

It was once said that you could determine the whole book by its first and last pages. The same goes with any movie, as with the movie The Godfather Part II, as it begins with gun shots, and death. A young boy flees to the safety of another country, leaving his homeland, but is unable to escape the legacy of his forefathers. Through his misdeeds, he becomes the seed of corruption.

During the movie you see little else than the violence which corrodes everything and everyone around. The one word I seem to hear more often than not is "family business." I was brought up in a home where "family business" was sacred. You were not to tell anyone what went on in your home. One of the characters on the movie, Michael, played that role masterfully as he excelled in "secret" misdeeds.

The weight of his "sins" shows itself in destruction pain and loneliness which is evident in his face which is longated, and bears an empty gaze. He wears the banner of mistrust. Nothing will mask the inner pain, which now bares upon this character physically, yet, patiently he waits for the opportunity to attack as his quest is for vengeance. Nothing will fill the void and the hell he's created upon himself in the guise of the love of his family. A family that did all the right things socially, but inwardly lived a life of secrets and corruption. Scenes show Baptism, and First Communion, and family birthday parties with children, crying babies in the background, and devoted wives who accepted their husband's authority or paid a bitter price, being completely dependent on them. This is how it was. They ate together, played the parts well, but did they really love each other? Did they have freedom? Did they live in fear? Did they seek above all "peace"?

Hand kissing and asking for the blessing of your elder, was a sign of respect. Like everything else, having gained the blessing, the person in this movie, turned on him and killed him. Thanks for the blessing. How do you break out of a culture of violence when it was carried within you to a distant shore?

God talks about it in the very first page of the bible, in Genesis. He knew it was not good for man to be alone. As Creator, He made them male and female, and blessed them. Everything on earth has a seed and God called His plan good. He knew we would fail, and His plan had a provision for that too. As leaders, you must reap of "good seeds", having "good intentions."

Michael was responsible for having his brother-in-law killed, and lied to his sister about it. He did the unspeakable and had his own brother killed. The movie scene, places Michael as the silent observer. His brother is "taken out", after he recited a Hail Mary, in a fishing boat, unexpectedly. These are only two examples of what we call a "bad seed" even if for the sake of one's family "business". Shouldn't we be trusting in God for the difficult decisions facing us in our lives? We should never be the author of death, as that is His job alone.

The expected vengeance to Michael was not from his enemies, which he feared, but from his own wife, who "lost love" for him. He was a changed man. He could look her in the eye and tell a lie with effectiveness. She learned to hate--hate even the child she carried within, "his" seed. What was the outcome of the aborted baby? She joined the cycle of death and destruction, which is a downward spiraling, and one that is hard to break. It is said that the more you do someting, the better you become at it. Hate is no different.

All the money and comfort in this world will not soothe your pain and suffering. But God, from the beginning, has provided a way back. She is cast out from the family. A scene shows visitations with her two children, and the evidence of the loss of affection of her son, toward his own mother, as she begs him for a kiss. They are the unwilling victims. The cost is great and indeterminable.

Michael did not want to pursue the path of his father, but assumed the role, for the sake of the "family business," which was handed down to him by his father. The movie shows that at one of his father's birthday parties, he dares to tell his brothers that he has enlisted in the service of our country, to their disapproval. Such news would grieve their father, on his birthday. What about Michael? His life, his opinions? His choices?

Now the final chapter is upon us as tonight we will learn what becomes of the head of the family, as commonly called "the Godfather". Is there, perhaps, a hint of "redemption," for the "quite" man, who had even learned to strike his wife in anger? Will there be repentance and sorrow for the many sins he committed, and for the all deeds, a lifetime of corruption, before he too goes to the grave?

(Isaiah 3:3) "Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore."

It's the same story, as that in the beginning of the bible and the movie. How will it all end? We have been given the truth, yet rejected it, as we did our Lord and Savior. There is only one answer, and that is that God's judgment will be tempered by His mercy. He is able to restore to those who seek him, through repentance, life in abundance and salvation now, and for all eternity. His gift is love, peace. His gift is creation, and the gift of His only begotten Son. (A gift of creation, given in Love). Not, like Michael, who's wifes hate for him, manifested that hate to her unborn child, for his child, their child, who secretly terminated his young existance, refusing to bring it into their corrupted world. How does one endure all that pain and suffering?

What is your legacy? What will you teach your children by your actions?
Through you, will they learn of war or peace? If you don't root out the seed of corruption, nothing else will matter. Stop the hate before its too late.

Now imagine this, an empty room, all you can see is a beautiful rose. You see its color, red. You did not have anything to do with its presence or beauty. Yet it has captivated you and given you not only pleasure to look at it, but the scent has filled you with delight. We know what the effect of the rose has been on you. The question remains as to what effect your presence will be on the rose.

Hopefully, we can learn co-existance regardless of our differences, respecting each other without harm and with appreciation for the gift we are. We must learn to be gifts to each other.

Will Michael ever learn? Will we ever learn? Why are we hell-bent on destruction? Lent gives us an opportunity for reflection and to change direction. All we need do is come to the "Giver of Life."

Reference of scripture are taken from The Orthodox Study Bible

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Preparing for the End of the World?

People seem sure that this is in fact, the year the world will end. I watched several people hoarding food supplies and preparing for their survival, on Fox News this morning. On who's authority does this come? It is a lie. We simply do not know...."when."

If you really think about it, you will understand just how foolish it is. Those of you who have watched the television show "hoarding" know that it is thought a sickness to accumulate more than you actually need. We are reminded of a warning that comes to Wealthy Christians: (1Timothy 6:17-19)"Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share. Storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life."
You may recall the story about the man who built more barns to store the abundance of his crops and his goods, thinking he could take his ease and be merry. The answer is clear. Given to us in (Luke 12:20), "But God said to him, 'Fool! this night your soul will be required of you: then whose will those things be which you have provided?' (21). "So is he who lays up treasurers for himself, and is not rich toward God."
To those who think they can self-sustain for even two years, I ask you to think about how long will you be able to keep the crowds back? Realize that this action is foolish.

It is time to think about what is really important. (Luke 12:22-23)In this passage we read: "Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. (23) "Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing."

The end comes when God says so, not man. We should always be spiritually ready to meet Him with gladness.(Hebrews 13:5) "Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."

In the end, I hope you will place your "trust" in Him. (Scriptual references taken from: The Orthodox Study Bible)...

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Getting Unplugged

We live in a world where we run around in circles. As great lent begins for us Orthodox Christians, we need to unplug and stop running and slow down, to gain focus on what is truly important in our lives. It can be compared to many of the elderly who go to the doctors feeling extremely ill, not because of their infirmity but, from the side-effects of the many pills they are taking, unknowingly. We become trapped in our own mess. We do not find time for God. Sometimes, we wonder, where did all the time go? Regret, is a hard cookie to swallow.

What does it mean to unplug? It means to break routine. Doing things differently. I used to laugh at the rountines of my grandmother and parents. Everyday was the same. They would make their bed the first thing in the morning, followed by breakfast, dishes and chores. I'm not saying that all routines are not good. Certainly, the kids need to be on time for the bus and parents need to be on time for work. This generation is so scheduled that they can hardly breathe. Time to get off the merry-go-round, as the faster you go, the chances for getting off become fewer and fewer, until you are captive of it.

How do you know the important things that God has in store for you and your family, if you don't ask Him? What is required, is to tune out and tune in to Him. Lent gives us that opportunity, an opportunity to make time for God. Spend some time alone, and in a quiet and peaceful setting, find that He still loves you, that He still cares, and listen carefully, for His counsel.

He will probably tell you that you should be obedient, even when you are sick and tired, you will find the strength, for He will carry you. Did you ever feel that you need a place to hide, away from all the cares? Hide in Him, and you will find rest.

Do you still think that you do all things by yourself? That is a good place to start...Without God, we are nothing, and I hope you will never have to find that out the hard way. We are all so stubborn and hard hearted, and self-centered at times. The "me" generation.

Getting free from life's entanglements is where we should all begin.
Let go and let God, and in Him, you may find something that you've been missing.

Maybe, your way or the highway, is not the best way after all.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Unexplained

Saturday morning we held a Liturgy, a memorial for the departed souls, in our church. Later that evening, at Great Vespers, the priest recalled, that morning, having become aware of a very strong scent, with a rose-like smell, coming from the vicinity of the two Icon stands. Unknown to him, my husband, John, told me of a very strong, somewhat like incense smell, that had bothered him during the service. John has allergies, and if he is exposed to certain rose-smelling scents, he must leave the church. Sure enough, he was ill following the service. He was congested before the service as well, so who's to say. Hearing the same story from two people, was a confirmation. Since John wasn't well enought to attend Great Vespers that evening, I relayed John's story to the priest.

There are unexplained happenings all the time. We had a myrrh-streaming Icon of St. Anne in our church, in that very area, almost one month to the date. I wondered if that had anything to do with the "appearance of the scent". Perhaps, we have a myrrh-streaming Icon of our own? Who can explain it? I could smell it Sunday, as I approached to venerate the Icons, on the stands.

Sceptics must have "proof" or they will not believe. Not everything can be proven, therefore, we have what we call "mysteries." There is after all, the known, and the unknown. On Sunday, we heard from the Kontakion from the Triodion, the words "and the hidden things disclosed" as much is beyond our understanding.

We worship, in our faith, with all our senses, to the capacity that we can, as it is revealed to us. As we grow in our faith, what we were not aware of previously, we become enlightened to, and find ourselves looking back to a time, where there was little or no understanding.

Many came to "see" the myrhh-streaming Icon, because they were looking for something. That something, sometimes, is just a reassurance, as they, like doubting Thomas, find it hard to believe.

The Lenten Spring has arrived, and we will enter into the gospel, to see Jesus with his twelve apostles, eating their passover meal. Christ with fervent desire, speaks to them of the Kingdom of God. Saying clearly "This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you."(Luke 22:20). Then, we will walk with Jesus and we will witness the denials, and trials, and finally, after hearing the shouts from the crowd, "Crucify Him" we will look upon our Lord and Savior, Jesus hung on a cross.

This is not the end of the story.

It is the beginning, a New Covenant between God and Man. Many will come to see the "unexplained",but will they come to receive the body and blood of Christ present and offered at each and every Liturgy? This is the greatest of all Mysteries.

What struck me in today's reading, (Luke 19:40), is what Jesus said in response to the Pharisees who called out to Him from the crowd asking Jesus to rebuke his disciples. Jesus said. "I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out."

We are bursting at the seams wanting to reveal "immediately" to a world greatly needing to know the truth, which sadly today, many have been kept from receiving, by so many diversions. All will be revealed as creation stands in the ready to proclaim the good news that "cannot be contained nor silent", as all things hidden will be disclosed.

Do you have spiritual readiness? It means to be watchful with perseverance and having supplications, boldly making known the mystery of the gospel, which is the good news of salvation, "Christ, crucified and risen from the dead." Will you then, journey with us? Lent begins now. Come and hear, taste and see!

All scriptural references are taken from the Orthodox Study Bible.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Are You Above Love?

All over the internet today we will see words and hear songs that tell us that we have the potential to love others. Do we really need the reminders? We infact, love many during the course of our lifetime. Love is uncontainable and it calls us to action. We love our family, friends neighbor and counrty? It is commanded to us to "love your neighbor," and "love your enemy." Thank God for the love in our lives....

There are those in this world, who unfortunately "deny" love. Deny the existance of love, and their need for love. They are the cold and hungry in this world. The selfish, and self-centered are starving and lonely, and in ways, dwarf the physically impoverished, as they disallow their greatest need. It's like cutting off your oxygen, their is "no life" without love.

The truth is that you cannot live without love, it is what gives you life. If you cannot love, then you are your own worse enemy, you are living dead. So put the grouchiness and hardness aside today, and replace it with patience and kindness--good deeds toward others.

The truth of the matter is found in (1Cor13:2) "And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing." Everybody wants to be something!

Love is the ultimate gift. This gift cannot be broken or tossed away. It is always there, does not grow old, and cannot be undone. It is proven safe through any trial, is steadfast always, and remains eternally. The only profit we can gain in this world, is through love. Love accepts you just as you are, because you are lovable, and you, knowingly or not, are loved.

Love has accepted you, but have you accepted Love? Love is not a feeling, but it sure feels good to hear someone say, "I Love You...To those I love, and to those whom I've loved and they have gone on, Happy St. Valenines Day, I will always love you.

Monday, February 13, 2012

St. Valentine's Day Cookies

Today, as I ponder what kind of cookies I will make for St. Valentine's Day, I recall the many different kind of cookies, enjoyed for over forty years.

The favorites have been, chocolate chip, peanutbutter kiss, anise with colored jimmies, oatmeal, canoli, sugar cookies, cinnamon and walnut rolls, crustada, and twist cookies.

My family and friends have always looked forward to having confections of various shapes, sizes and colors. Maybe, I'll make huge, heart-shape cookies, decorated with sweet confections.

Years ago, my aunt used to make molasses cookies, and as a very little girl, they were my favorite. This year, gingerbread has led the list, so far.

My love for baking "treats" has led many to my door over the years. People still say that I should open a bake shoppe. People in life deserve my cookies because they are so sweet.

I don't know, maybe I'll throw in some whoopie pies, too. Every season has it's own specialty, and nothing says "I love you" more than something from the oven. Maybe, it'll be a carrot cake, with a cream cheese frosting? Or a chocolate moose with cookies and cream?

Doesn't matter so much how you take the time to tell other's that they are special, it only matters that you do.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

What I did for Love

February is an interesting month, fewer days but because we so look forward to the spring, it seems like our struggle becomes more intense, in our quest, to leave the dark cold days behind. Yet, next week, we will brighten the lives of those we love by our guestures of love for them. It's like being in the sun, you just want to bask in the love of another. Thinking about others, places you on another level. Smile, you can endure all things, just knowing somehow, that love will get you through every circumstance, you become renewed.

If you do not know love, you are nothing but a clanging bell, an annoying thing. Love, on the other hand can change people, one at a time. It can lift you from despair and send your spirit soaring high above. Little things, little gestures mean a lot to those who haven't much. Just a smile or greeting can make a big difference in a person's life.

I may have been dreaming, but I think I heard that the divorce rate was up to 75 percent on the west coast, yesterday. Tell me, please, that I am wrong. The answer is clear, society now says "what can you do for me?" If you love me, you must do this...It's all about you. NO. It should be, what can I do for love? I cannot make you happy, but in my love for you, you will find happiness, because love never fails. We are called to love each other. Like, tag, pass those good loving and kind deeds around.

Distortion, everything has been turned to mean just the opposite and, as a result, we are chickens running around with our heads cut off. Have we become blindsighted? Several years ago, and several days ago, I heard people saying that they aren't baptising their children anymore. It used be said that "Oh, they'll decide when they get older." What a crock! Did you achieve grace on your own by what you said or did? (Eph2:2)"And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, (8) For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them."

The carpet has been laid out for us to walk on, having been "prepared for us." He leads us in the path of Righteousness. The Holy Spirit, guides us, fills us with what we should say and do, as we are "His workmanship", God does not make junk. That path, is a path of love. What I did for the love of my children, was have them Baptised into the faith. This is easily understood as it was commanded by Christ Himself.

What I did and do for love, is to become humble, prayerful and obedient. Yesterday, on face book, someone asked the question, after reading a post concerning head coverings, should we be covering our head in church? Ladies all over the world "still" cover their heads, and I had to ask myself the question, when did we stop and why? How much faith and courage will it take to rise above what has become popular (not to), in order to do what is required, right and proper. That is the real question, isn't it? Because we live in a society that tells us "how we should think and what we should do, that step is a big one. What will people say, and think about "what I look like?" Sadly, most of us lack conviction for our faith.

Quiet, loving, humble and obedient, I stand before my God, head covered, not boasting of what I have done, but being His workmanship, what He has done through me, a sinner, asking for His mercy.

What have you done and what are you doing for Love? St. Valentine's day is next week, and commercialism is doing its job in telling us what we need. Teddy bears, flowers, chocolates, and pajamagrams. What we really need is to be loved unconditionally, just as we are. Just the way the Good Lord made us to be.

All gospel references were taken from the Orthodox Study Bible.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Stumbling stone and the Rock

What do you consider yourself most like -- a pebble, stone, or a rock. Maybe, your a stumbling stone? Stumbling stones roll around, like pebbles, insecure and waivering with uncertainties of life, and, in their misdirections, are clogging, and become stumbling blocks. In your lack of faith, have you become a stumbling block to yourself and others.?

Give to me the Rock of ages...that I too become a "rock" to those who surround me, even in my weekest resolve, having become steadfast, unmovable, grounded in my strength toward You, that I may not become a stumbling block, but a beacon of light and hope to those who need it the most.

There are people that I know who are, and have become, a source of strength in the life of another. At times, they need not even say a word, just knowing that they are there is enough. What does not waiver, is the love that they have for you, no matter what....The anchor that one clings to through any storm. The rock gets them through.

Rock of Ages, cleft for me
let me hide myself in Thee....

Taken from the Orthodox Study Bible (Psalm 31:1-2)

"In You O Lord, I put my trust;
Deliver me in Your righteousness.
Bow down Your ear to me,
Deliver me speedily;
Be my rock of refuge,
A fortress of defense to save me."

Time to get anchored down...Do you know the Rock?

(1Cor10:1-4) "Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of the spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ."

We believe, "For at Communion, at the Eucharist, there is a real participation in the Body and Blood of Christ. Just as Christ's human body is united to Him, so we are untied to Him. As many grains become one loaf, those who take this communion become one in Christ."

Who cares about predictions? True or false, we all have to weather calamities, as in all the ages before us. The greater question is: from where will you derive your unfailing strenght and hope? Who will you cling to?

Some feel that they do not need the rock, they can do it all on their own. Here is clear message--a thought for you to ponder today. (1Cor:10:22) "Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than He?"

Living out our faithful relationship to God in the Church, let us (Rom12:9)"cling to what is good."

David's Song of Deliverance--(2Kingdoms 22:2) "O Lord, My rock, my fortress and my deliverer; (3) My God will be my guardian, in whom I will trust; My defender and the horn of my Salvation, My protector and the refuge of my Salvation, You will save me from unrighteousness. I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; And I will be saved from my enemies."

Who is your rock?