Saturday, August 30, 2008

I'm Just Sayin'

I don't know what to think about this...

...except to say that if I brought to my priest a confession which was as heavy laden with all of the things I didn't do and listed the numerous ways in which others are at fault for the situation in which I find myself, I hope he'd send me away unabsolved.

Writing the letter was a waste of their time. Reading it was a waste of mine.

Lord, have mercy.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Heart to Heart

Rosko has kindly nominated me for an "I heart your blog award." How sweet!

Here are the rules:
The rules of the award are:
1. The winner can put the logo on his/her blog.
2. Link the person you received your award from.
3. Nominate at least 7 other blogs.
4. Put links of those blogs on yours.
5. Leave a message on the blogs of those you’ve nominated

You can all be thankful that I'm speechless.

Well, I'm trying to learn to play by the rules better, so here goes:
Put the logo on my blog - check.
Link to the person I received the nomination/award from - check.
Nominate at least 7 other blogs and link to them (wow - 7 is alot!) - check
Leave a message on the blogs of those I've nominated - Hmmm. Well, let's just say that about that rules thing, I'm still learning ...

(The truth is that the blog I heart the most is Fr. Stephen Freeman's Glory to God for All Things. Everyone hearts Fr. Stephen, don't they? And what's not to heart? But I'm not going to list his among the blogs that I heart the most because I suspect that he's a busy fellow - really busy - and I don't want to burden him with playing along. I presume/hope Fr. Stephen knows how much everyone hearts him by the number of comments left on his blog. So I'm giving Fr. Stephen a pass - even though I heart his blog alot.)

Here are some others I heart, though. Just to keep it interesting I'm not going to limit my choices strictly to Orthodox bloggers:



Dixie (seems many others heart her, too!)


Pr. Weedon


Smitten Kitchen

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

OK, I admit it ...

... I still love to sing them.

I'm crashing a funeral at work this noon just for the opportunity to sing "Lord, Thee I Love," "For All the Saints," "O Day Full of Grace," and "At the Lamb's High Feast We Sing" all in the same service. (None of which are on this recording, by the way - yet the recording includes several others which I also love to sing and do sing, at least in the car - maybe also occasionally in the shower).

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Writing an Icon - Take Two

Several weeks before the Dormition fast began, I decided that I was ready to give painting an icon a second try.

My friend, Phyl, has been of great help, encouragement - and patience! She is working on an icon of Christ the Bridegroom (a commission) and I am working on this icon of the Theotokos.

When I first decided on a subject for the icon, I looked around for about a week to find a prototype which would not be too difficult, one which I found to be beautiful, and one which would be of help to me (if it turns out!) as I grow in my own relationship to the Mother of God. I scoured books and the internet searching for just the right image, yet nothing seemed to be just what I was looking for.

One day while I had some down time at work (work is often a bit slow in the summer) I was continuing my search and finally took my eyes away from the computer screen long enough to look at the wall above my desk - and there was the perfect prototype: a simple yet elegant icon of the Theotokos, which I had hung there a long time ago.

I found this icon one day about 5 years ago, while I was helping BossPastor clean out some cupboards in his office. It was neatly nestled in a stack of books. I remember asking him, "What's she doing in here?" He said that he didn't know he even had it or where it came from. It was a little faded, but I lthought it was beautiful from the first moment I saw it, so right then I took the icon into my own office and hung it over my desk, where it has been for the past several years. It was right in front of my face all along (there's sort of a metaphor here, I think).

Anyway, Phyl and I worked a little on our icons last night, as DearHusband and the boys are out of town for a couple of days visiting his mom for their town festival, Watermelon Days. (It is easier to work when it's quiet here - but it seemed almost too quiet - distractingly quiet!) I still have alot of work to do on this icon, but I glimpsed the light at the end of the tunnel for the first time as I finished up last night.

Tonight I hope to lay a second coat of paint on Mary's garments and perhaps a first coat on the garments of the Savior. With any luck, I'll be able to begin the build up of color which adds depth and brightness to the fabric.

Pray for me!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Thinking and Doing

I saw this this passage from Lynda Barry's What It Is on the blog Is God Anonymous, which I stumbled upon yesterday:

The thinking part of you
is not the doing part of you
or the experiencing part of you
The thinking part of you can
tell you that a decision has
been made but it's not the
part of you which decides things
This is why thinking is not
the same as creating through
the thinking part of us seems
completely unaware of this

I'm not sure about the entirety of this thought, but I do find a bit of resonance with the thought that the thinking part of me is not the same as the doing part of me. I've though this lots of times, but never put words on it.

In overdrive, the thinking part of me often paralyzes the doing part of me. And I sometimes use the doing part of me to escape the thinking part of me.

(And by the way, to answer the question posed by the blog title of my source, no - I don't think God is anonymous.)

Friday, August 15, 2008

Dormition of the Theotokos

About the Feast
The Orthodox feast of the Dormition is very similar to what Roman Catholicism calls the Assumption of Mary. According to Orthodox Tradition, Mary died like all humanity, "falling asleep," so to speak, as the name of the feast indicates. She died as all people die, not "voluntarily" as her Son, but by the necessity of her mortal human nature which is indivisibly bound up with the corruption of this world.

The Apostles were miraculously summoned to this event, and all were present except Thomas when Mary passed from this life. She was then buried.

Thomas arrived a few days later, and desiring to see her one more time, convinced the others to open her tomb. Upon doing so, the Apostles discovered that her body was no longer present. This event is seen as a firstfruits of the resurrection of the faithful that will occur at the Second Coming of Christ. The event is normally called the Dormition, though there are many Orthodox parishes in English-speaking countries with the name Assumption. In Greek, Dormition is Koimisis—falling asleep in death—from which the word cemetery derives.

As with the nativity of the Virgin and the feast of her entrance to the temple, there are no biblical or historical sources for this feast. The Orthodox Church teaches that Mary is without personal sinscitation needed, as well that Mary truly needed to be saved by Christ as all human persons are saved from the trials, sufferings, and death of this world. She truly died and was raised up by her Son as the Mother of Life and participates already in the eternal life of paradise. This life of paradise is prepared and promised to all who "hear the word of God and keep it." (Luke 11:27-28)

Celebration of the Feast
The feast is preceded by 14 days of strict fasting, with the exceptions that fish is eaten on the Feast of the Transfiguration (August 6). On weekdays before the feast, either the Great Paraklesis (service of supplication) or the Small Paraklesis is celebrated.

On the eve of the feast, Vespers is served and contains three Old Testament readings that have New Testament meaning. In Genesis 28:10-17, Jacob's Ladder which unites heaven and earth points to the union of God with men which is realized most fully and perfectly in Mary the bearer of God. "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!" In Ezekiel 43:27-44:4, the vision of the temple with the door to the East perpetually closed and filled with the glory of the Lord, symbolizes Mary. And in Proverbs 9:1-11, Mary is also identified with the "house" which the Divine Wisdom has built for herself.

Sometimes Matins is served on the morning of the feast. The Gospel reading is from Luke 1:39-49, 56. It is read on all feasts of the Theotokos and includes the Theotokos' saying: "My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden, for behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed."

Divine Liturgy is served on the day on the feast. In some churches, it is the custom to bless flowers on this feast before the Liturgy. The epistle reading is from Philippians 2:5-11, and speaks of "Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men." The gospel reading is taken from Luke 10:38-42 and 11:27-28 together; this reading is also always read on all feasts of the Theotokos. In it, the Lord says, "blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!"


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A Contest

YoungerSon returned from his orthodontic evaluation with the news that he will need braces fairly soon.

I spoke with a couple of friends who have kids a bit older than ours are - friends whose kids either have been in braces fairly recently or whose kids are currently wearing braces, just to find out what kind of expense we are going to be looking at here and whether it pays to shop around (it doesn't). It's a chunk of cash, even spread out over the two years they think he'll be wearing them.

My friend K. had the best advice, though. "Think of it as a car payment," she said.

Not a bad idea. Problem is that we already have a couple of car payments - and we really can't afford a third one.

So here's the contest - it's a race!

They won't put braces on YoungerSon's teeth until all of his baby teeth are gone and the adult teeth are in place. He still has 6 baby teeth (though I don't know how this can be - seems he loses about one a week!).

So - if I can pay off my car before YoungerSon's adult teeth are all completely in, I win! (Well I'll at least be able to just continue to make my car payments to someone else for another 2 years and it will be relatively painless, as long as the car keeps going for another couple of years). If all those baby teeth come out at once and the new ones are in shortly thereafter, I lose.

Either way YoungerSon wins - though he might not think so for a couple of years.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Stockyard Days

The town where we live (also the community where I grew up) got its beginning as a stockyard hub in the 1880's and though it ceased to be a stockyard town only some 20 years later, our little city continues to honor the industry upon which it was founded with it's annual Stockyard Days celebration each August.

We don't normally take in much of the festival, but we always go to the parade! This year's Stockyard Days parade was held this evening - I snapped a few shots of my favorite parade participants:

Pletscher's Greenhouse - Though they aren't the fanciest float, they are definitely the classiest act in the annual parade. Employees with armloads of roses follow the wagon and give one to each woman at the parade. (I'm a bit partial to these folks, anyway, as I worked at this greenhouse one summer during college).

A creative representation from the local mosquito control people.

The marching band from my old high school - and a fine band they are! Most years it seems that the band merely vamps as it passes by us (you know what I mean: that click-step-click-step thing they do between numbers. One year the parade was interrupted by a train and the band stood there click-stepping at the tracks for a REALLY long time!) Anyway, marching bands are always a highlight of any parade for me.

As with lots of town festivals, the "royalty" from other area town festivals come for the parade. I have no attachment to th town of Big Lake - but I just thought it was really funny that these lovelies had to ride atop a really big baked potato.

The KrackerJacks - I LOVE these guys and look forward to them every year. They are a little drum ensemble who can juggle their sticks and throw candy without missing a beat! (And they don't stop for that "click-step" stuff, either.) I think they have the most fun of all the participants.

This is Bernado, a 13-foot, 1500 pound Hereford bull. His presence in the Stockyard Days parade needs no explanation.

A Brief Time Away

My family enjoyed a little 3-day getaway during the first part of this week. My MIL rented the lovely Medayto Lodge on Green Lake in Spicer, MN and we spent a few beautiful days fishing, yacking, relaxing, and just enjoying ourselves.

Here are a couple of photos:

The house (now a retreat center associated with Green Lake Bible Camp) sits right next door to the camp.

Thank God for patient uncles! Our BIL graciously invited our rambunctious boys out for a little fishing jaunt ON the water (instead of just next to the water!)

The ones that didn't get away! Actually there were 3 such big bass - the biggest fish our boys had ever caught. It was the highlight of the trip for them!

What was it my BIL said? "Better to have baked and burned than never to have baked at all." We had a fire in the fire pit by the lake each of the nights we were there. The first night we made s'mores, and the second night we made pies in the fire. It's a bit of an art and sometimes it take a pie or two to get them just right. This first one's a wee bit brown.

This is better! (We made apple and cherry pies that night).

We also had a wonderful dinner one evening with friends we don't get too see too often. This was a special treat - I miss them. We enjoyed a delicious meal, some decent wine, and good conversation together. (It's always a special bonus when the kids seem to hit it off, too!)

Anyway, we are back in town and I'm grateful to have the rest of the week off - to recover!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Dancing with Matt

Saw this little vid at Grace's blog several days ago. I, too, found it strangely touching. I don't know why ... but I've gone back there to watch it several times since. It's given me just the smile I came looking for. (I'm waitin' for him to come to New Brighton, Minnesota - I'll go and dance with him!)

Where the Hell is Matt? (2008) from Matthew Harding on Vimeo.