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

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Peace and Quiet

Today was one of those days that I appreciate the most, looking out of my kitchen window toward the wooded area, which was snow-covered and peaceful, I observed the critters moving about, silently. It was one of the reasons that we fell in love with the land in which our home is built. Solitude and peacefulness is something that comes with a cost just as those who purchase land on a lake or sea coast. I cherish the beauty of the gardens and relish the clean air we breathe. It wasn't that long ago that I recall swinging my grandsons on a beautiful sunlit morning, while we watched the birds gather seeds from the hanging feeders. My own little corner of the world, you might say.

Day in and day out I read about the controversy going on such as those wanting to foster the unity on campus, and in silence, I ponder the situation. You can't please everyone all of the time. There is such a thing as the rule of fairness. My grandfathers came from other countries with the hope of a better life for themselves and their offspring, (us). They didn't come here to change our country, but to become part of the great melting pot of ethnic people that exist here. This is after all an "All America City" we live in by choice. Freedom means having a choice to live where we want.

Years ago, growing up here, in a small town, I recall all seven of us eating at the table where a very nice chocolate pie was being served. Mom sliced it up without a measure, trying to cut seven pieces evenly. Still some objected saying "hey, your piece is bigger than mine." Nothing is perfect! We learn to deal with it. There is to be no favoritism if we expected peace and harmony. Co-existing is hard work. Nothing comes easy in this world, we all must try to do our best to get along with our brothers.

At 6 P.M. the fire whistle would blow from the station which was located near Main Street, and as a younger student, it didn't bother me. Years later as a mother, trying to put my baby to bed, it was a different story. Every time the alarm went off, it scared him so that I'd end up having to rock him to calm him down. Didn't like it one bit, but had to put up with it. After all, it announced possible quitting time at work, evening. Maybe it was the way people knew what time it was and they set their watches to it. I don't really know....It just was.

Everyone knows how annoying it is for someone to be leaning on their horn, any time of the day. It was one of my moms pet peeves. Another, annoyance would be loud music blaring from a parked car, or someones home music center. Anyone having the luxury of a practicing instrumentalist or drum player close by--gets it. Airplanes, and loud trucks, especially those cleaning up roads all hours of the night--get it.

We get used to noise that I call pollution. Noise pollution is at times unhealthy just as dirty air is unhealthy to the body. Living in the city I recall that the noise from subway trains would keep me from going to sleep. After a while, you sort of get used to it. Around here, before and after a certain time, noise can be considered "breaking the law." Most people have respect for their neighbor and wait until a decent time to run a lawn mower or chain saw.

Respecting others is a great way to keep the peace. Honestly I don't know how churches are allowed to play songs from their bell tower to be heard at great distances, without disturbing someones peace. Some go off right next door practically to other churches or, at the same time. If it's good for the goose it's good for the gander, so it is said.

A group of students petitioned Duke College to allow over a speaker system,  on Friday afternoons, broadcasting from Duke Chapel Bell tower, "a call to prayer."  Some view this as much a way of advertising as ringing a bell, so to speak. Church bells are rung all the time, without objection, whether it is disturbing someone's peace or not. I've heard that the call to prayer method is vocalized and can be utilized in some places sometimes five times a day, from predawn, sunset and sunrise. That is not what is being asked for here though, right now. Duke has reversed its decision, fearing that the once thought of fostering unity on campus, has met with the opposite effect.

It seems, according to WNCN -- "Franklin Graham had some harsh words for Duke." Reports of "pulling funding" and some security concerns were instrumental in the reverse decision making of Duke authority. Some fear that Christians, who are the majority there, are being pushed to the back, so to speak. I wonder if its more apathy, than anything else.

In the end, basic rules like "keep it simple, stupid" apply. Or, "when in doubt, leave it out."

What benefits all? My vote is for "peace and quiet"...

Saturday, January 10, 2015

I believe in God, but I'm not religious

Today I found out that a popular saying means several different things. St. Paul in the midst of the Areopagus had something to say about it. Acts 17:22 "Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; (23) for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, I proclaim to you:" After reading this, "being religious" takes on a new meaning.

How can you really worship an unknown God? How can you love someone you don't know?

Paul goes on to tell us who He is: (24)"God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. (25) Nor is He worshiped with men's hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. (26) And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; (28) for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, 'For we are also His offspring.' (29) Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man's devising. (30) Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, (31) because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He Has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead." (some having believed what Paul said, followed him.)

I wonder if I had to approach people, who somewhat believed in God, and who did not know Him, what I would  say. Paul talks about the creation of all, life-giver, repentance toward God, the Resurrection of Christ from the dead, and judgement of all mankind.

I wonder if people today understand things in the same way, that is, they know and believe that there is a God, but not having the luxury of being "churched" really do not know Him, nor do they know how or where to go, if they had an interest/desire to learn more. There are so many religions to choose from. Luckily, my parents were church goers but there are some who were not as fortunate. How would you decide?

The bible goes on to say "to join Paul and to believe meant to "enter" the Church as the corporate expression of Christian existence."

Entering the Church has everything with your belief. If you don't go, it says clearly that you are on the fence and not really to sure about things concerning "faith" in God. Remember the unclean spirits knew who Jesus was. Knowing who God is, does not save you. Maybe other "things" are your god. May be at this time you think you don't need God in your life. Whatever the reason, time is marching on, and will be at a point, spent.

The bible explicitly says that;(Acts 17:30)"Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent,"

When I hear someone say,  "I believe in God, but I'm not religious" I hear in my mind the "but", which prepares me for the excuse to come. It says to me, I'm not interested. Perhaps, it might be they do not feel the need to experience God and what He has to offer, or maybe they are too busy. Preoccupied, their time is more important.

One can believe in God, but without works it is fruitless. James 2( :19 ) "You believe that there is one God, You do well. Even the demons believe-and tremble! (20) But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?" 

What can keep us from the love of God? Loving, worshiping and serving God is a personal decision.

Maybe it's time to take that first step to life, life eternally and enter or reenter in. You don't have to be "religious" to step out in faith.

All scripture references have been taken from the Orthodox Study Bible and commentary

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Coming Out!

"The wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad for them, And the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose; It shall blossom abundantly and rejoice, even with joy and singing." Isaiah 35:1

There is a highway of holiness and whoever walks this road will not go astray. Those with everlasting joy on their heads, walk singing with gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

There is only one way to find that highway of life--eternal life and that is through the entrance, one of rebirth. "Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters: "Let your soul delight itself in abundance. Incline your ear, and come to Me, Hear, and your soul shall live; And I will make an everlasting covenant with you." Isaiah 55:1-13

The invitation is extended to all, rich or poor. "Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon."

We recall today the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan by John. "The torrent of delight is baptized in the river, drying up the flood of evil, and gushing forth divine remission."  "granting deliverance from the servitude of the ancient sin, and sanctifying and enlightening us."

What happened in the waters was a transformation. "Eternal life is coming to reclaim Adam." 

Isaiah 35: "They shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away."
Isaiah 12:3-6 "Therefore with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. And in that day you will say: "Praise the Lord, call upon His name; declare His deeds among the peoples, make mention that His name is exalted. Sing to the Lord, for He has done excellent things; This is known in all the earth. Cry out and shout, O inhabitant of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel in your midst!"

Tone 6 of the forefeast 
"Prepare, O River Jordan!
Behold, Christ is coming to be baptized by John in you!
Rejoice, O barren wilderness!
Dance in gladness, hills and mountains!
Eternal Life is coming to reclaim Adam.
Forerunner, call out with the voice of one who cries:
"Prepare the ways of the Lord! Make straight His paths!"

The Gospel of Matthew 3:13-17

At that time, Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?" But Jesus answered him, "Let it be so now; for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he consented. And when Jesus was baptized, he went up immediately from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and alighting on him; and lo, a voice from heaven, saying, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased."

Coming out from the water, we see the manifestation of the Trinity. His plan of salvation and a new beginning for all mankind. A new chance...Have you been Baptized and received the Living water and rebirth freely offered to all by His great love and compassion?

Today, at the blessing of  waters, we recall Adam. Jesus, the Bestower of Light, was baptized in the flesh, in the Jordan, to enlighten those in darkness. Through the mercy of God, we hope for salvation, sanctification and enlightenment. And, are exceedingly glad.

All references are taken from the "Orthodox Study Bible and service books"

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Celebrating the Forefeast of Christ's Theophany

The Great Vesper Service was so spiritually rich, it is the Forefeast of Christ's Theophany. The words were so powerful in their meaning that I wanted to share a few lines that I have reread over and over. This one, sung in tone 4, is special because it is directed to all of us.

"O faithful, let us celebrate the Forefeast of Christ's Theophany!
Let us sing hymns to honor the noble baptism of our God,
for He wills to approach the Forerunner in the flesh!
As a Man He asks for the baptism of salvation:
the regeneration of all those who accept Him in faith 
and become partakers of the Spirit."

"Seeking baptism, He comes to His servant.
Be filled with joy, O river Jordan!
Dance, earth and seas; hills and mountains!
Exult, O hearts of men,
for a great light is coming upon you! "

"You are the River of peace and valley of Paradise,
O All-powerful Lord.
How can a river receive You naked, in its course,
the One Who mantled the heavens with clouds?
You shall strip the evil Enemy naked,
clothing mankind with immortality!"

There is one question remaining. Are you clothed in immortality?
Christ was led as a sheep to the slaughter in order to grant Resurrection to the human race.
Each and every one of us, through faith can become children of God.

"Christ the King of glory had entered,
saying to those in chains: "Go forth!"
And to those in darkness: "Come to the light!"

All the World has been Enlightened and Sanctified by the Lord's Baptism

When Thou, O Lord, wast baptized in the Jordan the worship of the Trinity was made manifest! For the voice of the Father bare witness to Thee, calling Thee his Beloved Son. And the Spirit, in the form of a dove, confirmed the truthfulness of his Word. O Christ our God, who hast revealed Thyself and hast enlightened the world, glory to Thee (Troparion).
Today Thou hast appeared to the universe, and Thy Light, O Lord, has shone on us, who with understanding praise Thee: Thou hast come and revealed Thyself, O Light Unapproachable!
(Kontakion) from the same source.

The Lord has appeared on earth as long foretold and He has left his footprint, Sanctification and great mercy.

Epiphany, celebrated in January, is a time when believers accept into their homes the blessed water, keeping some in reserve for when we need refreshment. There have been stories of healing from people who drink blessed water, and as well as, enjoy victory over other situations, like storms, protection and the granting special favors.

 My little grandson, says "get the holy water out" I'm sick, and runs to the refrigerator.

The voice of the Father bore witness to You Jesus, and Spirit in the form of a dove confirmed the truthfulness of His word. When You were baptized in the Jordan, enlightening and sanctifying the entire world. During Holy Week we hear the words sung from the troparion of Cassiane, "O thou Who dost gather into clouds the water of the sea." Vesper services begin with Psalm 103 which give us the beautiful image of creation, "The waters stood above the mountains" and "Thou makest springs gush forth in valleys, they flow between the hills." Waters permeating the entire planet, evaporating and flowing from Jesus who once stood in the river Jordan, refreshing us all and, all creation for all time. I recall reading that the waters "turned back." because they were afraid, identifying Jesus in the Jordon.

Christians live in blessed assurance and hope, for Christ came into the world to save us. He is still with us and will return as He promised. Revelation 21:4  "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes;" Taken from the Orthodox Study Bible

Friday, January 2, 2015

Time Has Changed Us

Soon the first day of the New Year 2015, will be over and I can't help but think that time goes by at a good clip. Some of us saw the New Year come in, with the drop of the ball located in times square, in NYC.

I no longer feel the need to party till the wee hours as years previous. We enjoy our church service followed by dinner with friends.

It was unusual to be snow less this season, but we certainly didn't lack for frigid evenings. Yet, the ice is not frozen. One day last week it was forty-five degrees, unbelievable for this time of the year. The winter's just begun but somehow it doesn't feel like it.

My husband and I found it a world of pleasantness walking today at the village with the sun overhead and the air so crisp. Stopping in at the Freeman Farm House, we observed the lady of the house making candles, by dipping wicks, manufactured by area mills, having tied several onto dowel-like sticks, into hot melted processed fat.
The dripping set of three or four on a stick was then set over a rack to harden. Going from row to row she eventually got what looked like a tapered candle, unscented, and unlike the honey wax type, white. Looking down to the floor I observed a pool of greasy fat and realized the mess of it all and I was grateful that I wasn't born at that time. We are so fortunate today.

It was surprising that one candle would be used to light the entire house at night, and would be passed between family members as needed. The light from the family room usually came from the fireplace where family members gathered for warmth and conversation. Only the candles made that day would be used for an entire year. Without question, they were both frugal and conservative.

The fat they used was so soft that it actually did not hold up as well as the ones made from honey, creating a fire hazard greater than their fire places. Life held many challenges in the past which are hard to grasp in comparison to today.

Like a drop in the bucket, time has changed the way that we live, dramatically.What will tomorrow be like in comparison, I wonder.

I wonder if they had new year's resolutions and what would they have been? I don't think it focused on weight loss as people in that era were thin. They worked constantly, and had little time for leisure as we do. Most everything was homemade, unlike the way we live today, where we purchase our food, clothing, and basic necessity items.

We actually have very little in common with those who lived just a couple hundred years ago. It's a new day and new year and a time for new challenges and new beginnings. Make it a good one...