Monday, January 30, 2006

Quote of the Day
A brother said to Abba Poemen, "My heart becomes lukewarm when a little
suffering comes my way." The old man said to him, "Do we not admire
Joseph, a young man of seventeen, for enduring his temptations to the
end? And God glorified him. Do we not also see Job, how he suffered to
the end, and lived in endurance? Temptations cannot destroy hope in God."

Monday, January 16, 2006

Quotes of the Day
The man who is sent unceasing sorrow is known to be especially under God's care.

---St. Isaac of Syria

Take courage! When the warmth of the spirit grows weak, we should strive in every way to restore it, cleaving to the Lord with fear and trembling. Everything comes from Him. Despondency, boredom, heaviness of spirit and body may occasionally oppress us and remain for a long time. You should not lose heart, but should stand firm, zealously working according to the rules you have undertaken. And do not expect the soul to be freed quickly from its attraction towards the wrong state; do not expect it always to preserve an equal warmth and sweetness. This never happens. On the contrary, always expect sudden changes. When dullness and heaviness come, realize that this is you, the true you, as you are; as to spiritual sweetness, accept it as an undeserved bonus.

As soon as you turn away -- however slightly -- from God, and no longer place your trust in Him, things go awry; for then the Lord withdraws, as though saying, "You have put your trust in something else -- very well, rely on that instead." And whatever it may be it proves utterly worthless.

We grow cold within when our heart is distracted, when it cleaves to something other than God, worrying about different things, getting angry and blaming someone--when we are discontented and pander to the flesh, wallowing in luxury and wandering thoughts. Guard against these things, and the coldness will diminish.

-----St. Theophan the Recluse

It will steady our faith and help us to trust in times of suffering and trial if we understand that nothing is purposeless, nothing accidental, that nothing is meant to harm us, that everything is intended to help us toward noble character and fuller, richer life.

--- St. Alexandra the Empress

Everything comes from God - both blessings and afflictions. However, one is through benevolence, the other - through good-husbandry and oversight. Through benevolence - when we live virtuously, because it is pleasing for God that those who are living virtuously should adorn themselves with wreaths of patience; through good-husbandry - while sinning we are taught; by oversight - even when taught, we do not change. God contemplatively punishes us, sinners, so that we would not be condemned with the world as the Apostle says, "...we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world" (1 Cor. 11:32).

If sadness has come, then we shall also await the approach of joy also. For example, take sailors at sea. When a storm comes along, they fight the waves waiting for calm weather; and when they are becalmed, they get ready for the storm. They are constantly vigilant so that an unexpectedly rising wind would not catch them unawares and overturn the vessel. We should act in the same way: when afflictions or difficult circumstances occur, we shall await relief and help from God, so that we would not be depressed with the thought that there is no hope of salvation for us.

Can you not endure insults? Keep quiet and you will be calmed. Do not think that you are suffering more than others. Just as one living on earth cannot escape the air, so it is impossible for a person living in this world not to be tempted by afflictions and disease. Those occupied with the earthly from the earthly - experience afflictions, whereas those aspiring towards spirituality about the spiritual suffer with the soul. However, the latter will be blessed because their fruit has been plentiful concerning God.

--- St. Ephrem the Syrian

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Quote of the Day
"No one on this earth can avoid affliction; and although the afflictions which the Lord sends are not great, men imagine them beyond their strength and are crushed by them. This is because they will not humble their souls and commit themselves to the will of God. But the Lord Himself guides with His grace those who are given over to God's will, and they bear all things with fortitude for the sake of God Whom they have so loved and with Whom they are glorified for ever. It is impossible to escape tribulation in this world but the man who is giver over to the will of God bears tribulation easily, seeing it but putting his trust in the Lord, and so his tribulations pass."

Archimandrite Sophrony

Friday, January 13, 2006

Je me rappellerai vous - I will remember you

The worst day of my life happened one year ago today. Worse than the deaths of beloved grandparents and aunts, worse than a near miscarriage after 11 years of infertility, worse than being told that my little baby had cancer, worse than telling my husband that I didn't want to be married to him any more, worse than the end of any love affair. One year ago today, I was sucker punched. Twice.

One year ago today, I was deeply depressed and conflicted about putting my father in a nursing home. One year ago today as I was leaving work to check him out of the hospital and into the nursing home, I received a call from Dr. Karen Hanna, my mother's cardiologist, who told me that my mother's kidney's were working at 30% and her heart at about 20%, and that there was nothing more she could do for her, and it was time to refer her to hospice. One year ago today, after taking my father to the nursing home, I left him there, not understanding what was happening and thinking that my mother didn't love him any more, and went home to my mother, and together we told my daughter that Mom had two weeks to two months to live. One year ago today, my mother began to die.

In that year, I have adapted and so has Elisabeth. We are scarred but not utterly broken. But the grief of losing both of them at the same time is still overwhelming at times.

A long time ago, a friend asked me why I keep photos of Elisabeth when she was going through chemotherapy and looked so awful with her scars and tubes. I said that I never wanted to forget that time, I wanted to see it fresh from time to time to remind me so that I'd never forget. Ethel thinks that I'm morbid, but I think Roseanne understands. Its not that I want to break open wounds that have healed, though it does still move me to tears, its that I need to stay grounded. When I am an old lady, I want to remember everything, the good AND the bad, the joy and the tragedy, and then I will know that I have truly lived.

So, one year ago today, I remember being utterly grief stricken and shocked into horrified numbness. But, I'm not any more. I've been to the depths and I have survived with my heart still willing to spend itself, knowing that at the end of every love, there is the agony of separation from the beloved. Except for God. Except for God.

Mama, I miss you so terribly, every day. You and I were so close, like one person, and I feel like one of my arms was ripped off. I'm still your little girl and I need your loving embrace. But one year ago today, we were still together, we still could hold each other. I remember what your aged bony shoulders felt like, your scent, your voice. Je me reappellerai vous. I will remember you, Mama.

When I think of my own death, I am so very horrified that my death will cause my most beloved daughter to go through exactly what I am going through. I wouldn't cause her that kind of pain for anything, but I know I must, for we all die. When we talk of death, we talk of Christ's triump over death, the sting of death that is vanquished. But the sting is still there, and the separation between loved ones is agony right until the last day. When we talk about the world being broken and sin entering it, now I understand.

My mother died just after midnight on February 11, 2005. I can't believe its been that long.

My father went into the hospital on January 3, 2005, and into the nursing home one year ago today. I can't believe that its been that long.

My grandmother died on June 20, 1970, nearly 36 years ago, and I can't believe its been that long.

My Auntie Anna died on March 11, 1992, nearly 14 years ago. I can't believe its been that long.

Love lasts through time and space and even death. It hurts me that Elisabeth has learned this already.

I will remember.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Are you a heretic?
You scored as Chalcedon compliant. You are Chalcedon compliant. Congratulations, you're not a heretic. You believe that Jesus is truly God and truly man and like us in every respect, apart from sin. Officially approved in 451.

Chalcedon compliant















Are you a heretic?
created with

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

An Experiment in Frugality

Not long ago, an acquaintance emailed me with a question about what Fresh Fields Market is like, and I told her it was fantastic, but expensive. That led to her explaining to me how she bargain shops. I pondered her clearance shopping habits for a bit, and whether her methods of shopping would work for me. I've got to get a handle on my budget because last year, with all the traveling and the moving, my credit card balances are way up and my expenses are more than what I take in. I really need to find another job, one that pays at least 10K more, but I know that would entail another move to a bigger a city, like Atlanta, and I just don't want to leave my little cocoon here.

So, since I've made a budget for 2006, my first ever, and this precludes eating out except on very rare occasions, not even for lunch or McDonalds, I've been cooking more. I've always enjoyed cooking, and now I'm finding that I'm enjoying it again. I've been experimenting a lot, and Elisabeth has been pretty happy with dinner lately.

Anyway, this little email exchange made me ponder what frugality really is. I told her that the cheapest is not necessarily the most frugal, and I believe that sincerely. I think frugality entails buying the best quality that you can afford, and then making it last and stretch and not wasting anything. That's the way that I used to cook, before Mom and Dad moved in with us and Mom did all the cooking. I told my acquaintance thats why I always take the bones home with me, and the drippings from the crock-roasted chicken - so I can make soup and not waste even the bones. I need to get back to that -- and I need to eat less meat and more vegetarian peasant comfort foods which ought to help the bottom line.

I do LOVE my kitchen gadgets. As budget saving measure, I'm trying to always eat at home unless we are going out to a NICE restaurant - no more quick runs for a sub or a hamburger for us - so I'm really making use of my crock pot(s). In the move, I lost the jiggly weight for my two pressure cookers (had already lost one, so I just had the one weight for both), and I decided that it was time to upgrade to a new one. Its kind of weird, but we'll see..... Its a multipot Fagor - it comes with a 4 qt and a 6 qt pot, a glass cover and a pressure cover. It was hard for me to figure out whether it was at pressure or not, since there is no jiggling noise and almost no escaping steam. But, they are supposed to be fool proof nowadays, and everything worked out pretty yummy. I miss my old one, though - I like the jiggly sound.

I had a small pork loin roast which wasn't completely thawed and I thought that since it was slightly freezer burned, it would be best braised with some strong flavors. So, I thought maybe it would be tasty Spanish style. I cut it into 4 thick steaks. I coated them with salt, pepper, lots of paprika and rosemary, and then browned them well in olive oil in the new cooker. When browned, I added an onion sliced, about 3 garlic cloves minced, more EVOO, salt and pepper, about 3 or 4 small potatoes in eighths. Added in about a tsp of fresh orange peel minced, deglazed with the juice of the orange and some vermouth, and added the pork back in. Cooked for 10 min at pressure, then added some frozen peas on top and let them steam in the residual heat while I set the table. Yummy! And I have dinner for Thursday night left over!

So, this was truly a frugal meal. I used meat and peas that had been frozen too long and someone else might have thrown away, added some flavorings that I already had hanging around, along with some potatoes, and had dinner ready in about a half hour. To top it all off, I was frugal with my time as well, since the leftovers will feed us on Thursday night. And I've got a new "keeper" original recipe as well.

So, is it more frugal to buy macaroni and cheese in a box or eat up stuff that's in the freezer? I don't know, but I do know this: we certainly enjoyed our dinner tonight!

Mom and Grammie must be proud of me right now.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Four Things Meme

Four jobs you’ve had in your life:
1. WIA Projects Manager
2. Paralegal
3. Human Resources Benefits Specialist
4. Church Business Manager

Four movies you would watch over and over:
1. The Sound of Music
2. The Quiet Man
3. Moonstruck
4. My Big Fat Greek Wedding

Four places you have lived:
1. Massachusetts/New Hampshire
2. Mexico
3. California
4. Georgia

Four TV shows you love to watch :
1. Food Channel
3. McLeod's Daughters
4. Monarch of the Glen

Four places you have been on vacation:
1. Lake Tahoe
2. Canada - Maritime Provinces/Quebec
3. Cajun Country/New Orleans
4. Santa Barbara/Solvang/Hearst Castle

Four books you love:
1. Little Women - favorite book as a child, along with Eight Cousins, by Louisa May Alcott
2. Jane Eyre - favorite book as a teen, by Charlotte Bronte
3. Letters to a Beginner, by Abbess Thaisia
4. Jordanville prayer book

Four websites you visit daily (Excluding blogs):
none daily, but four I visit very often are

Four of your favorite foods:
1. chocolate
2. lobster
3. pasta
4. pad thai

Four places you would rather be right now:
1. 1964
2. Clearwater Inn
3. San Francisco
4. With Bill

Four bloggers you are tagging:
Nope, not tagging anyone

Friday, January 06, 2006

Theophany miracle
Last night, we went to church where we served Great Compline and Matins of Theophany and a miracle occurred. Yes, a true epiphany of God becoming manifest, and a true Theophany of a visible manifestation of God. As I was ready to go to sleep, my druid dd came into my bedroom and thanked me for allowing her explore her beliefs and, as she put it, "not perform an exorcism on her as some parents would have done." She then announced that she was on her way back to Christianity. She didn't say Orthodoxy, but she did say Christianity. She was very serious and sincere, and told me that she was still mad at God for never answering her prayers, last year in particular, but that she was on the road back to Christianity just the same.

What caused this epiphany and Theophany in her heart? It wasn't MY prayers, because even when praying for the most beloved person in the world, I am unfaithful, weak and distracted and do not pray as I ought. Certainly others pray for her daily, and it is their faithful prayers that God heard and answered.

O Lord, I thank you for the faithful prayers of Faye and Bettye and Candee, for Pat, Becky, Joan, Xenia and Fr. James, for Matushka Elizabeth, Elizabeth, Catherine, Matushka Ellen and Fr. Kirrill, for Diane Marie, Sherry, Theodora, Mary Brigid, Athanasia and Patricia. May You bless them as you have blessed my daughter and me through their prayers. Amen.

Lord, I pray that I can be more faithful in prayer, more attentive, more open to the Theophanies that occur every minute of every day all around me. Wake me up, Lord. Shake me until I put my own reasonings aside and listen, really listen. And give me the grace to be the mother that Elisabeth needs. I know that I have fallen far short in that regard, and continually give her a poor model to follow - a prideful and coarse and and lazy model.

The one good thing that she sees me do, is that I keeping slogging away and always return to the journey, despite everything. But is it enough? I fail in every other way, every day; sometimes I fail in a really big and public way, and sometimes only I know deep in my heart that I have sinned, that I have truly missed the mark.

I guess I just have to rely on God to complete what is lacking in me, for her sake. I don't see that He has completed anything to this point. Sigh.... Maybe I just don't see? Or maybe I'm SO prideful and resistant and disobedient and strong, that He has to break me first? And after everything, everything for 50 years, I'm not broken yet.

I really don't have a clue. I don't really KNOW God. Sometimes I recognize evidence of Him, but I don't truly know HIM. All I REALLY know is that God manifested Himself in Elisabeth's heart last night in a way that she could not deny. And that's a miracle.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Quote of the Day
"Gloriousness and wretchedness need each other. One inspires us, the other softens us."

-Pema Chodron