Thursday, July 31, 2008

Squash Soup - Variation #2


This recipe will turn out yellow soup, unlike the first one. It's great for the Dormition Fast.


5-6 yellow summer squash
1/2 onion
1 clove of garlic
1/2 tsp ginger
1 bay leaf
sprig of thyme
salt & pepper
2 cups of veggie broth or water

1. Sweat the onion in a TBS of margarine and a TBS of water on medium until soft. Add garlic and sweat another minute.

2. Add the roughly chopped squash, 2 cups of water/broth, ginger, bay leaf.

3. Simmer for 30 minutes.

4. Puree and thin with a little soy milk. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Nice served with warm Arabic flat bread.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Gifts from God

A little closet under a cousin's staircase, turned into a playroom full of miniature applicances and tiny utensils, just right for little nieces to play.

An opportunity for Little Builder to say "how cool Mamma - I love it!" even though I know how different it looked from the picture in the magazine.

A Memorial closet, built by my husband, and memories of those we have lost but still love dearly.

Great ideas from other mothers like Michelle Melanie, like this bit about the environment and a cool book my sister also recommended, Serve God, Save the Planet.
Thank you Lord, for the people you have brought into my life.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Living in the Heart of Christ, but not in a Monastery

Your Wonderful Comments:

Christina said...
I always wonder about this too. I have this pocket guide to confession and one of the items on the list is something like has your mind wandered during liturgy? are you not focused upon the Liturgy or something like that. I asked my father confessor because I am always distracted during liturgy. If I were to attempt to follow the service, and completely ignore my children they would probably end up running up and down the aisles of the church screeching! He said this is the stage of life that I am in... to bring my children to the services, to help them to learn to appreciate it (even if we spend the entire time in the family room, they will learn to be comfortable at church). My job right now is to take care of my children and my husband. They are my prayer (when i am cooking, doing laundry, etc... all these things are prayers). Let me say, though, that I do not always put this into practice. i grumble about having to clean up another playdoh mess, etc. But when I do these things with love and with self-sacrifice, that is my prayer. And that is part of my prayer rule. Some father confessors on purpose give moms of young children a not so intense prayer rule because our lives are already intense as it is! Great discussion topic... I hope others comment, too, because I want to see what other moms have to say.

July 17, 2008 10:12 AM
Susan Sophia said...
Thank you for these thoughts!
I often ask myself those same questions, over and over.
I really haven't found the answer and wonder if the choices I make, thinking I have the right answer, are indeed the right answer. Did that make sense?
I guess that is where trust comes in. Something that I struggle with constantly. We need to pray, and then trust God will see us through as we make the best decision we can make, all the while asking Him fervently to guide our thoughts and actions.
Oh, I wish it was as easy as it sounds. For me, it's not.

July 17, 2008 10:45 AM
Mimi said...
Your mothering (and mine) is part of our salvation. Hugs.

July 17, 2008 1:01 PM
orrologion said...
"24. It was revealed to Abba Anthony in his desert that
there was one who was his equal in the city. He was a doctor by profession and whatever he had beyond his needs he gave to the poor, and every day he sang the Sanctus with the angels."

That is, do your job, give alms and pray.

There is also a quote from Elder Cleopa of Romania in "The Truth of Our Faith" to the effect of: we say our morning and evening prayers, go to church, and we will be saved.

July 18, 2008 8:37 AM
Papa Nicholas said...
Elder Barsanuphius of Optina states "The Lord calls us to Himself and offers many paths to salvation. Some are saved in the world, while others are saved in monasteries" (vol. 7 of optina series from St. Herman press, pg. 633). A common phrase found in Elder Barsanuphius writing, as well as in our prayer books and in the Gospels is "according to our strength". According to our strength in Christ, we are being saved in the world; while others are being saved in monasteries.

Thank you all for sharing!

I am looking forward to the next issue of the Handmaiden, which will have an article about the role pilgrimages to monasteries play in our spiritual lives.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Please Pray

For Jodie Backus... who is in ICU with life-threatening injuries, suffered while at the Lake with his wife and children.

Summer Squash Soup

Great summer fasting...

2 TBS margarine
1 onion
4 cloves of garlic
4 carrots
4 yellow summer squash
2 large tomatoes
several shakes of thyme
several shakes of basil
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 cup of water

1. Roughly chop all veggies. You're going to purree them later, so don't spend a ton of time here.

2. Sweat the onions, garlic, water, a pinch of salt, and margarine until soft. Use low heat and cover, checking every now and then to make sure it's not sticking. This will take about 10 minutes, so prepare some fruit for dessert or some biscuits as a side. You are trying to make them melty but NOT golden or brown.

3. Add the tomatoes, thyme, basil, and a couple cups of water and bring to a boil then turn to medium heat and cook for 30 minutes to an hour. Stir as needed and add a little water, depending on if you want a thick or thin purree. Or you could add veggie stock, leave everything in chunks and throw in some pasta--do what you think your family will like.

4. Purree and smile at the unusual soup color. Add salt and pepper to taste. We used canned biscuits as a side and cherries for dessert.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Train Trips and Evening Prayers

As we were bumping downing the tracks, the sun started to set, which brought to my mind the hymn "O Gladsome Light". So, we decided to say our evening prayers. When we got to the part where Little Builder adds his personal intercessions, he mentioned the obligatory friends and family, then added this:

Pray that the Train Driver doesn't fall asleep and
that he doesn't throw-up.

:) Sure.

I love to hear my children pray. The baby doesn't have words, but will stand in front of our Prayer Corner and chant her own sounds, then touch her head and bend down to touch the floor. Gifts from God, these children are.

One mom asked what we do for our evening prayers. Currently we use a shortened version of Vespers with lots of songs.

Our Typical Evening Prayers

1 - Bless the Lord, Oh My Soul (Psalm 103)

2 - Blessed is the Man... (Psalm 1)

3 - Personal Intercessions (for train drivers and such; upon the advice of the baby's Godmother, we use the format in the back of the Orthdox Study Bible but severely shorten it for kids... I'll post that one day)

4 - Lord, I call Upon Thee, Hear Me (Psalm 141)LORD, I call upon Thee, hear me. Hear me O Lord
Lord, I call upon Thee, hear me. Receive the voice of my prayer
when I call upon Thee. Hear me, O Lord.

Let my prayer arise in Thy sight as incense
and let the lifting up of my hands
be an evening sacrifice. Hear me O Lord.

5 - Oh Gladsome Light

6 - THE EVENING PRAYER (Kataxioson from Horologian)Vouchsafe, O Lord, to keep us this evening without sin. Blessed art Thou, O Lord, the God of our fathers, and praised and glorified is Thy Name forever. Amen.

Let Thy mercy be upon us, O Lord, even as we have set our hope on Thee. Blessed art Thou, O Lord; teach me Thy statutes. Blessed art Thou, O Master; make me to understand Thy commandments. Blessed art Thou, O Holy One; enlighten me with Thy precepts.

Thy mercy, O Lord, endureth forever. O despise not the works of Thy hands. To Thee belongeth worship, to Thee belongeth praise, to Thee belongeth glory: to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

7 - Luke 2:28-30 (Song of Simeon)
LORD, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word.
For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,
Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;
To be a light to lighten the Gentiles and to be the glory of thy people Israel.

8 - Rejoice oh Virgin Theotokos, Mary full of grace the Lord is with Thee
Blessed are thou among women and blessed is the fruit of they womb,
For you have born the Savior of our souls.

9 - Hymn to the Theotokos from the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom
It is truly meet and right to bless you, O Theotokos,
Ever-blessed and most-pure mother of our God.
More honourable than the Cherubim,
And beyond compare more glorious than the Seraphim,
Who without corruption gave birth to God the Word,
True Theotokos: we magnify you.

10 - Benediction
Through the Prayers of our Holy Fathers, oh Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us, Amen

Just so you know, it takes only about 10 minutes-- just right for the 5 year old and 1 year old.

A Great New Blog!

I found this one through Susan Sophia and Sylvia, so you may have already stopped by, but here goes.

Elenie, a Seminary graduate, has incredible ideas about Children's Ministry. Visit her at OrthodoxEducation.

We all have lots in common, but I've never read a profile so like my dear sister:

Elenie likes Pride and Prejudice, Alias, and the Gilmore Girls.

I lurve (that's cool high school kids speak... gotta get back in the high school teacher mode soon.... smile), just luuuuurve me the activity she has posted about becoming living icons. It involves developing kid's self esteem and their appreciation of each other.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Stuck in a Strange City without a Car

What do you do when you need Thank You cards and can't get to a store?

First, tear the tissue paper from the gift bags into little strips.

Then, cut some computer paper into cards.

Paint on some water-down glue.

Finally, paste on the bits of paper and let them dry.

Have Little Builder trace his name into the inside of the cards while you dig through your mother-in-law's desk for envelopes.

Give thanks to God for all good things!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

I'm a Mom not a What Now?

(from St. Herman Press)

I've been reading Fr. Seraphim Rose, and really appreciating the story of this intellectual Berkley professor struggling with the world and gripping towards Orthodoxy.

However, I struggle as a mom knowing how to live my life, fully given to the Lord and live in this world.

Anne Voskamp, who strives to live a liturgical life, though not Orthodox, had a beautiful post about serving God from within the world. I know that Orthodox teaching differs from this (thus, all the desert asethetics), but don't know where I fit in.

From one of Fr. Seraphim's mentors:

The movement of my mind quieted down, died out in concentration interspersed with prayer. A sense of being responsible for each word, thought, and feeling suddenly rose in me: a warning that these can pollute, disfigure, or erase that flowing presence of Divinity

This sounds great to me, but how to replicate it as a mother?

How to quiet my mind?

How to discern which things in the world are okay to enjoy and which can pollute or erase the flow of the Holy Spirit?

How to help my children hone in on God and not get caught up in the world?

Some things are obvious: I'm not going to play vulgar videos for them.

Other things seem fine, spiritually good even, but I wonder at what point they might become distractions: cello lessons, boy scouts, etc.

Well readers - it's time for your input.

How do I live in the heart of Christ as a mom, not a monk?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Another Prayer Corner & a Song for Morning Prayers

This one from Shelley, who originated the conversation.

If any of you have emailed me with no response, sorry I've been tardy in checking my email. I will do better.

One final thought: I like to carry into our Orthodox life songs from our past, songs whose words are Scripture.

If you don't know this one, let me know and I'll try to you-tube a video of it. It has made a joyful addition to the end of our morning prayers.

This is the day
(echo by second person) This is the day
That the Lord has made
(echo by second person)That the Lord has made

Let us rejoice
(echo by second person)Let us rejoice
And be glad in it
(echo by second person)And be glad in it

This is the day that the Lord has made
Let us rejoice and be glad in it

This is the day
(echo by second person)This is the day

(together): That the Lord has made

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Birth Visualization

I've been watching the lilies bloom and they remind me of preparing for my daughter's birth last Pascha. She was due on Pascha, and during Holy Week I spent many minutes during services watching the lilies opening on the Epitaphios. I had read that this was good to practice and use during labor, to envision your cervix opening. Well, it worked for me, so I'm sharing some lilies with you, in case anyone is preggers out there--or plans to be.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

... to Grandmother's House We Go!

By Train:

Only Nana & Gramps' house has a cool apple tree for climbing:

What do you get a Little Builder for his birthday?

Building Blocks, of course!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

A Gift for a Gift: or Making Prosphora for the Holy Eucharist

To begin, gather the gifts God gives us to experience Him through all of our senses, as you have available:

incense burner
beeswax candle
seal - gotta have this
prayers or psalms to read
list of people you are praying for

If you use this recipe, turn the oven down to 350 after 15 minutes, and bake the bread for another 20 minutes, or you may have the alter boys furrowing their eye-brows, trying to separate the raw dough from the edible bread to use for anti-doron. I would know nothing about that.

Tip: Since there is no oil used in the process, keep the dough from drying out while rising by using a clean, wet dish towel to cover the bowl of dough.

In this icon, Christ is visually the Bread of Life, filling the Eucharist cup.

After we take the Eucharist, we give thanks for Christ our Light & Life, entering us, and we are to go out into the world and live our lives so that we shine Christ's Light and Love.

Here are a few more pics from another post of mine.

Small "City" Parade

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Prayer Corners

From Shelley: It would be lovely if there was a site where there were pictures of people's space, as I was mystified when I first became Orthodox about what to do. Would you consider dedicating a post to that?

Prayer Corners can be very simple or very grand and accomplish their purpose. When we first became Orthodox, I think the idea was just to have a place to help focus your prayer and provide the sensual (visual, olfactory, tactile) experience of encountering God. Now, I also see it as a means and a reminder of bringing our family together to pray. I often look up at the Theotokos or St. Monica and beg for prayers to be a better mother!

Visit these great posts for ideas:

Phillipa has a nice out-of-the-way place to go.

Emma has another unique "prayer space", a Mary Garden!

Visit Sylvia and scroll way down on the right hand side bar to find a picture of their icon corner, with a precious wee kids height space to the left.

You may want to drop by this shrine to the Theotokos.

PhosZoe has a beatiful picture on flickr.

Pelgija offers this cute kids corner on flickr.

I found the jackpot: a whole set of various orthodox moms on Graceful Mothering with pics and comments!

Ireneaus doesn't have a picture here, but does a nice job of explaining what inspired him to do a prayer corner.

Dr. Alexander Roman outlines the Ukranian Tradition, which is very detailed and interesting.

Orthodoxwiki provides a list of various items that might be included.

And from Orthodixie, again no pic, but an awesome description of what goes on around the Prayer Corner.

And if you missed our Prayer Corner the first time around, just click here. My husband is the one who set it up. I love having the place to do family prayers, a way to "kiss Jesus," and the visual reminders of the saints who surround us.

Oh yes, and one more bit about "enviromental" stuff - a different perspective from Sophia. Always want to hear all sides of an issue.

More of your reflections on our Environment

Thanks, Emily, for pointing me to Father Stephen's post here.

Emily also writes a nice bit herself.

Any of Anastasia's posts about her animals demonstrate love toward creation.

And Michelle Melania has a link to a great article and her own thoughts on overconsumption.

And if you would like to consider your spiritual environment as a mother, also check out Michell's ongoing series about Orthodox mother-saints. Today she has my daughter's Saint, Elizabeth the New Martyr.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Best - Volume II

I've been thinking about it and have 2 more definitions of The Best Company

definition #2
Last night I had dinner with two old friends from high school. We've been friends for 18 years, have watched each other change and grow, have hurt each other, forgiven each other, chosen to still be friends through it all. We don't see each other all the time. Our conversation was not so "exciting", full of interesting new ideas. It was more like sitting in the most comfortable place in your house - like on the couch with a cup of tea and a favorite book. This is wonderful company. Another example of this would be watching "So You Think You Can Dance" with your sister - not ground-breaking or life-altering, but life-nurtuting in a quiet way.

definition #3
We don't get this often anymore, since we live so far from our Orthodox friends, but the Best Company is also when you have folks around your dining room table or in your living room, folks you share a common spirit with. You bare your soul as you struggle together. You laugh at this absurd life. You eat yet another variation of a bean and rice burrito and nod your head with a knowing look when extra gas emerges. You pray together. That is some darn good company.

In each person, the image of God is stamped. I thank Him for the pleasure of spending time among His people-gifts.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Best

from Jane Austen's Persuasion

Mr. Elliot: "Good company is always worth keeping."
Anne: "My idea of good company, Mr. Elliot, is the fellowship of clever, well-informed people who have a great deal of conversation and a liberality of ideas. That is what I call good company."
Mr. Elliot: "That is not good company. That is the best."

Another gift from God: the friends I am making in my little city and wonderful children/grown-up playdates!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Gifts from God

A Birthday present from Nana & Gramps - 4 new dresses! the pic really doesn't do them justice, as they are just lovely on. Thank you Nana & Gramps!

Little Builder pretend eating a large playdough donut

a weekend at our old parish, and dear hospitable friends who hosted us in their lovely home

A special treat: my husband was around while I was making prosphora and asked if I'd like him to read an Akathist while I worked. Um, yes. I love when we work on something together!