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

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Why I Cover My Head in Church

It is simple to say that I have been on a journey. This is a  journey which took many years, one which has changed me. Tonight, I read an article about why women throughout the ages have worn head coverings in church, which caused me much reflection. I didn't always wear "headgear" and as a child it was not scarves but instead hats. Hats that were the rage at the time, and in fact, there were hat shops where we purchased the "in thing" that would compliment our outfits, ranging in colors and shape. It was always about how we looked--the "style". If you didn't have a hat in church, the nuns required you to cover your head with a tissue or handkerchief. Modern Church members no longer have an emphasis on such attire, at least in America.

One may be hard pressed to even find a hat shop today, but "how we look" has not changed, with many still frequenting beauty salons for colorings and styles that are becoming, with no intent to cover our heads, not even during a storm, let alone a church service. It is almost rare in church to see someone attending to what was considered an apostolic tradition, that is: woman covering their heads with opaque cloth. Today's woman will not do it. I used to think that way but now, would not feel right without my head covering. It felt really odd at first, and it took all the courage that I could muster at the time.

The difference, for most women, is that they simply are not ready. It took me a while before I understood that in wearing a head garment, I was doing that which is necessary for the salvation of my soul, and am in obedience to what has been divinely ordered, structured and placed.

Our role models have left us with perfect examples of what is expected, beginning with the Theotokos, as well as other woman of the bible, whose characters exemptlify modesty, humility, patience, love for others and prayerfulness--gentleness, peacefulness and steadfastness. Ready to do His will, not theirs.

We see that angel Gabriel was awed by the beauty of Mary the Mother of God, because of her purity. Many women today, because of the society we live in, have missed the mark and are blind-sighted. They would find headcovering to be ridiculous--probably wouldn't come to church if forced to wear a head garment and that's okay--they aren't ready. Maybe, they'll never reach the spiritual maturity to understand. It is not ours to judge.

It takes courage to be different. Courage that does not come from us, but is through grace. Let me set the tone then--you enter into a spiritual realm of  unseen beauty, and through obedience, you prepare, get your lamp ready so to speak. The atmosphere is calm and quiet and in peace, your candle is lit. You are His creation, and humbling yourself like the ointment bearer, in tears, are thankful for whatever has changed you, from what you were and would have continued to become, without divine intervention.

Your life now is one filled with light, the earthly blinders have been removed, and there you stand spiritually in front of the throne, not like the tree barren and naked, because it's leaves have fallen, exposing and dead, as in the fall, but (covered) leafy, protected, and connected. In your state of humilty, obedient, constantly asking for mercy and forgiveness, you have become right minded. You share in all the promises and hope to be the receipient of all good things. Not because you are deserving, but because you are willing to say "yes" to God, whose love for you is immeasurable, eternally.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Bottom Line

Most of the time it could be said of me that I lean toward being a bottom-line type of person. In other words, just give me the facts, pure and simple. This is kind of a strange behaviour considering I am a detailed person. That being said, every fact must be taken into consideration before a determination on any subject matter can be made. Even the smallest detail overlooked can change a picture entirely.

If your one on the non-believers who think that Easter is celebrated, as it was practiced in ancient times, with colored eggs and spring-like pagan activities, by believing Christians today, your deluded. Faith filled Christians, enjoy playing in the sun, with colored Easter eggs and bunnies, but I can assure you,  these Christians who are deeply rooted in their faith, find in these actions, ways to celebrate the Risen Christ, as part of their feasting. They are not participating in the worship of a false god. It is not about the candy. During a prescribed period of prayer, sacrifice and alms giving, they travel on a road paved with denying one's self pleasure, much fasting, having vigilance, watchfulness and giving forgiveness.  For joy cometh in the morning, after the Resurrection.

 Many people, then and now, are empty and misled. Christians have celebrated (Easter) Pascha, which is the first Sunday following the first full moon following the spring equinox following the Jewish Passover, as prescribed, according to the Council of Nicea, since A.D. 325.The Light of Christ illumines us all who are Baptised in Him--all who have put on Christ. We are historically grounded, and deeply rooted in church theology, bible teachings, --having eye-witness testimony, and the account of the saints throughout the ages. We believe in an historical  Jesus, born, crucified and raised from the dead. He is "the first born from the dead" and we place our hope of salvation through Him. Celebration of life, you bet, He is life, He gives life, and eternal life comes through Him. There is no life apart from Him. And to that end, we joyfully celebrate. Everything is called to "renewal" including us--this time of year when we remember what He has done for, and given to us. The invitation is extended to all--Come one and all even unto the eleventh hour.

You can gain the world and have nothing. Do you want to be rich? I am rich because I believe that Jesus was the ransom paid for the release of my captivity from sin and death. He died for you also, for all humanity. Christ's redemptive sacrifice on the Cross (Matt. 20:20-28), is a good place for you to begin to find the truth. The redeeming truth that will open the door of knowledge to you and set you free.

Proverbs tells us that the Light of the Righteous Rejoices....What happens to those who continue on the other path, through their own choice? (Proverbs 13:9) "Light is with the righteous continually, but the light of the ungodly is extinguished."

The first commandment of God, given through the hand of Moses, warns us of worshipping false gods or Idols. (There are many examples of these.) The title Easter is the Feast of the Resurrection of Christ, also known as Pascha (from the Hebrew word for Passover) Christ proclaimed Himself the true Passover and offered Himself as a sacrifice. The Lenten Spring is a very serious time for all Christians, who serve their God in ways that are pleasing to Him.

(John 14:6) "Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." No one comes to the Father except through Me." This was the answer Jesus gave to Thomas when he wanted to know where Jesus was going and what was the "way." THERE IS ONLY ONE WAY!

Scriptural reference taken from the Orthodox Study Bible.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Awed by the Beauty

The following is taken from the Akathist (Salutations) service                          Tone 3

Awed by the beauty of thy virginity
and the exceedingly radiance of thy purity,
Gabriel stood amazed and cried to thee,
What worthy hymn of praise can I offer unto thee?
      And what shall I name thee?
      I marvel and stand in awe.

Wherefore as commanded I cry to thee:
Rejoice, O thou who art full of grace.

March 25
Most Holy Theotokos

Where Is Love

This title comes from a song that was sung by my late sister, Ruth when she was in high school. Some of the words I recall is: "Where O where Is Love? Does it come from up above, or is it underneath the willow tree that I've been dreaming of ...
"Where, oh where is he...who I close my eyes to see. Will I ever know the sweet hello that's mean for only me?"
 Everyone is searching for love. Those words have taken on a new significance since my teen age years.

Many years later, my thoughts turn to a scriptural passage of a man called Nathanael where Jesus mentions him in (John 1:50) as sitting under a fig tree. "Because I said to you, 'I saw you under the fig tree,' do you believe? You will see greater things than these."

The church feast yesterday, on our way to finding Pascha, the third Sunday of Great Lent, is "Sunday of the Veneration of the Holy Cross. The faithful commemorate by preparation during Holy Week, the Crucifixion of Jesus. The Cross is made from the wood of the tree. Finding "life" is a struggle and to find Him requires sacrifice which includes humility and pain. Nathanael was under a fig tree, when Philip found him, sharing the good news that he found Him, who was Jesus of Nazareth. Nathanael was found to be sceptical. (John 1:46) "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?' Philip said to him, "Come and see." This invitation is present still today.

Later, we hear of a fig tree which is wilted and dead, cursed and withered in a prophetic act, signifying judgment. The cross for us is victory over death and destruction, for those who find Him. Christ and His cross go hand in hand. It is through His death on the wood of the cross, that we can have life. He is the first born of the dead.

Another reference to the fig tree is in (Rev.6:13). "As a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind." This reference was taken from the entitled Seal Six: Cosmic Disturbances. Today, as in the old testament, we see many who have fallen away from the author of life and creator of all. A small breeze comes their way, and they fall from the tree of Life. The cross is planted firmly on earth. All we need to do is embrace it.

He saw Nathanael and He can also see you. Whether you are hiding under the tree, or kneeling at the foot of the cross, none will escape the wind.

"Where is He, who I close my eyes to see,"? she sang. Will He be in a fancy place, with all the foods you can eat? Or the most comfortable? The best society can offer...entertainment and good times, after all, it's all about the party. Recalling the birth of Christ, in a cave, it was a very humble scene, (none of the above).

There was another tree, in the middle of the garden of Eden. This tree through Adam's gluttony led to a broken world. The tree of life offers us through the Holy Cross, the way to love, and life eternal through Him who bore it up for us. The choice is ours and ours alone.

The song continues..."Must I travel far and wide, until I am beside the one I can mean something too..." Where, O Where, O Where  Is Love?"

Scripture references: Taken from the Orthodox Study Bible

Thursday, March 13, 2014

What Do Pillsbury Cookies and Singing Have in Common?

This is a perfect day to pen some thoughts, as I sip my morning coffee with the temperature in the teens and snowing--again. Just part of the process and groaning of winter, becoming Spring. I tell myself that everyday, as this is the reality I've grown to know in my many years of existence on the planet earth. Nothing mysterious here, just the same ol' same ol' one day at a time. Pussy willows soon, please?

One thing that hasn't changed in our family is the love for chocolate cream pie. My mom used to make one on every holiday, and I carried on the tradition. So you can imagine the exasperation of Jean, who made one for Steve's birthday, only to drop it on the floor. It was a  huge disappointment and  mess, at the same time. Little Ryan, my youngest grandson, loves chocolate pudding, of course with cream on it. And, licorice, (not at the same time). The two fail safe ingredients in my kitchen--cream and Ranch. Nathan, on the other hand, loves grandma's chocolate chip Pillsbury cookies and  chocolate chip ice cream. Nathan is content with ketchup, on just about everything. Once a fussy eater, he no longer doodles....and can pack down a portion.

This time of the year seems long, especially for the children who can't wait to be riding their jeeps outdoors, and playing in the sandbox, as Ryan told me yesterday. He could almost imagine the pears growing on the tree, which grows over the top of the canopy. Three-year-old Ryan remembered eating those Bartlet dwarf pears last fall. They were sweet, now that I come to think of it. He is a fussy eater, never the less, there is something special about growing your own produce, or playing having an eating party. We spent more time with learning activities, in between watching Handy Manny, the tool series on Netflix, by piecing in colorful stickers in their appropriate pages. Often he'll say, show me how to--and, all it takes is once. A learning activities book is suitable now and I can see an eagerness for him to excell, his mind is growing at an exceptional and unbelievable speed. His father told me that he now is sleeping in his "big boy" bed, no more crib. He has given up the binki, but it has remained in the back of his little mind. We know that binkies are for babies and baby Leo has been given his. They are no more....We spend many mornings making grandma and his (second) breakfast. He loves cooking and trying new foods which are placed on a platter in the center of the table. People like to choose at every age, instead of being forced to eat. He particularily enjoys sausage, meatballs, sauce and wholesome breads, broccolli, and anything with cheese. It's even better when he has had an opportunity to participate in it's preparation. Ryan likes to please other's. Yesterday, we made Pillsbury cookies for his brother, Nate. They have been playing together more and fighting less. Nate was telling me about t heir sledding experiences. I'm so glad someone is enjoying the winter...They are learning how much they really do care for, and love each other. They actually paint together, without getting it all over the place. They can make a puzzle together..remarkable! My kitchen is covered with their artwork and my home with their messes and photos.

Nate told his classmates that Ryan is afraid of ants, he told me yesterday. But continued, he's not afraid anymore, because he threw his slipper at it. Situation resolved...While it seemed funny when Nate related this story to his friends, little did he realize that I remembered clearly when Nate was afraid of ants and bees. We had to face that issue each and every time he climed up and down grandma's stairs. The fact is, I remember when their dad was afraid of flies, bees and racoons. So it continues, the circle of life.

One thing they both have had in common, was they miss their mom. She has a huge responsibility and her day starts extremely early, with Mr. mom, (daddy) doing his fair share getting the kids off in the morning, while she is battling the Boston traffic. (I'm not sure who has the short end of the stick here). Ryan is good about missing mom until he can't take it anymore and like most kids his age, it starts with "I miss mommy. " Yesterday, I made the mistake of waking him up from his short nap, the one he took in the car seat, which is usually the case, while driving back from my home to his, in order to meet the bus for Nate. I should know by now that waking him makes him mad enough to keep his coat and boots on, and causes a steady "I want my mommy and sometimes daddy," rant. The only time we could change his mind was when we went out to the car to secretly get the cookies which were placed in a paper plate and zip-lock plastic bag, to surprise his brother Nate. Nate was so thrilled, that he put the cookies on the couch and, in bending over to hug his brother, which Ryan wanted no part of, the cookies came smashing to the wooden floor, exploding in many, many "contained" crumbs. We carefully divided them up, some which remained intact, for dessert after dinner, some for a quick snack, and the rest for grampy. Mission accomplished! Ryan had his cream, as he left the balance of the Nestles chocolate milk for the drain. Nathan, after drinking his milk, ran upstairs and brought down a picture of mom, dad and Ryan, and placed it by the computer telling Ryan that if he missed mommy, the picture would help. Nathan is a big brother. He knows how to help-- as he's been there. Yes, he too missed mommy. Now that he's older, I notice that he also worries about his mommy coming home. He is quite the little man, looking out for everyone. Yet, he is dreaming of the day when he will become a pilot. Nothing will keep him back, he is just that smart and determined. Nate is a very happy and accomplished little boy.

It hasn't been that long that Ryan has been talking, but the things that proceed out of his mouth are deep. Last week, I made four breads for the Pre-Sanctified Liturgy pot luck supper which followed Liturgy. He eyed them curiously, especially the Italian herb bread, which he politely asked for the crusted piece, to be eaten with sauce. Ryan, like his uncle Steve, is a bread eater. I told him that I made the breads for that night. He said "for church" and I said "yes". So, he said, while eating his portion, that it was good, and "the rest is for Jesus." Ryan is sensitive and quick minded. Nothing goes by him without his observance. He likes to talk about church and Jesus.

On Wednesdays, it is a chore to pack all that has to be brought with us in transit from houses. The service at church begins at 6PM which is cutting it close with traffic. Just in case the parents cannot be on time, I also bring along a headscarf and my Liturgy Music, which is in a binder, in the event that I should had to go straight there. Looking at the music book, Ryan said to me "you sing for Jesus?" I noded..." he said, "and you sing to me."

That's one I hadn't thought about...

Last night the topic was... "Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted." It is not just meant for the deceased, explained Father Peter, but for anything you long for like the loss of paradise-- It is that which is missing that causes you pain and suffering that you grieve for. The hope and promise is that you will be comforted. We are to grieve, and we are to be comforted, especially by those who love us. Have you learned to give comfort to others? Have you ever thought of simple ways that provide comfort to those around you? We are all called to love others by providing comfort in any way to help with their grieving.

Like Pillsbury cookies, chocolate cream pie, and Italian herb bread, I had to ask myself, has my singing provided some "comfort" to those who were in need of hearing?  That, from out of the mouth of babes.