Saturday, December 31, 2005
Friday, December 30, 2005
I've finally succumbed.
I'm up north visiting my family right now, and could really use some prayer, if any of you get around to it. This city has always had a weird psychological effect on me.
Thursday, December 29, 2005
May his memory be eternal!
Thursday, December 22, 2005
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
There is an interesting article on a church growth survey, and other articles I haven't read yet.
Yesterday Deanna gave me my Christmas present a little early -- and it was a brand new digital camera! I used to take pictures all the time (I took hundreds when I went to England for five weeks back in 1994, though I haven't scanned any of 'em yet), but my camera hasn't worked for years, and Deanna noticed a while ago how I kept grumbling about how I would like to take pictures of this, that, or the other thing -- so now I've got a new toy. And, of course, one of the first pictures I took was of Deanna herself.
I would have posted something last night, but (1) I wanted to figure out how to copy photos from the camera to my computer first, and (2) I fell asleep a little earlier than usual, while watching the new Simpsons DVD. So, my apologies for not posting an update on Tuesday like I said I would.
There's not too much new to report, apart from the fact that Deanna was recently diagnosed with gestational diabetes, which means the range of hospital food available to her (which is always so delectable) is even narrower now than it was before; it also means that, whenever people drop off seasonal cookies and sweets and things, she passes them on to me because she doesn't expect them to still be fresh by the time she'll be allowed to eat them. But this is apparently a temporary condition, and not uncommon for women carrying twins.
According to the latest ultrasound, the condition that put Deanna in the hospital in the first place is exactly as it was during the last couple of ultrasounds, so thankfully that means nothing has gotten worse. (Remember how the doctors said, four weeks ago, that they didn't expect the twins to last more than one, maybe two, weeks? And remember how the doctors said, two weeks ago, that they gave the twins maybe another week-and-a-half? False prophets, all!) The latest ultrasound also indicates that the twins are in the neighbourhood of 2-and-a-half pounds each.
Tomorrow, the twins will hit 27 weeks, and a doctor said on Monday that it might be possible for Deanna to come home and finish her bed rest here when she reaches 28 weeks. That would be nice. Although, I'm going to be spending a night in Seattle next week and speaking at a conference on the morning of New Year's Eve, so it's probably best if Deanna doesn't come home until after that -- if she were to come home and stay in bed all the time, she would need me to be there so that I could run errands for her (and, so help us, I may even have to learn to cook for her).
I think that about covers it. The plan for Christmas Day is for her mother and brother to spend the morning with her at the hospital while I'm at church, and then I'll be having lunch at my parents' place in Surrey, and then I'll be heading to the hospital to spend the late afternoon and/or evening with her. It's a strange way to spend our first Christmas together as a married couple -- and it's weird to think that, at this time last year, we were still planning our wedding -- but hey.
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
hi all... here i am in the States. every time i come home is joyous but always with a sense that i am suddenly missing part of myself...which i think has to do with not being in my own house, with my phone (sob) and not being in Canada :) but... i have nothing to complain about. i am blessed to be able to be with my family.
Victoria, i appreciated your post/lament about how our culture seems to think that love is shown by giving material gifts... i think it actually is a problem... i struggle with it for sure... perhaps one way to deal with it would be to make gifts of give smaller but meaningful things? i do not think there is an easy answer or even just one answer.
i am so thankful for each one of you! hoping and praying that everyone is well!
ps: Peter how is Deanna? (it's tuesday) and RW...any word on the interview you had last week?
Okay, this is really nothing more than an excuse to post this picture. There had been some mention of the song "On the Road Again" in relation to the many travellers out there at this time of year.
But, as well, I might add that the hierarch being embraced by Willie Nelson here is none other than His Eminence, Archbishop JOHN (Metropolitan-elect) of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada. Recently there had been plans for St. John's Institute here in Edmonton ( a popular student residence and the venue for the recent Pan-Orthodox Young Adult) to be sold to the University of Alberta. But, thank God, Archbishop John stepped in and said if this were the case, he would not de-consecrate the Chapel! All of the old 'Gidos' (Ukrainian Grandpas) on the Board of the Institute came out and stood behind their Archbishop. So, thankfully, the Institute will not be sold and will still be an Orthodox presence on the U of A Campus!
Monday, December 19, 2005
i am in the london ontario bus station and have wireless on my laptop; so here i am! saying hello. i should be DV in michigan by tonight... we are a half hour late which is great because it means less than a 2 hour layover!
i hope and pray that everyone is doing well. i was at the london church and talked to ryan about dave being there before... it was nice to see everyone, of course and i felt very loved by the welcome everyone gave. Fr. Polycarp, of course, teased me and called me the returning prodigal daughter :)
okay. the bus is leaving now... God love and peace to all...
Friday, December 16, 2005
Top Ten Signs That Indicate You Might Be An Orthodox Christian
You might be Orthodox if...
10. You are still in church four hours later after the priest concludes the Liturgy by saying, "May the holy Trinity protect all of you."
9. You forget to change your clock in the spring at Daylight Savings Time, show up an hour late, but the service is still going on....
8. ...but there are people in your community who still can't get to church on time when the clock gets set _back_ an hour in the fall.
7. You consider an hour long church service to be "short."
6. You buy chocolate bunnies on sale (after Western Easter).
5. When someone says, "Let us pray..." you reflexively stand up.
4. You went to church four or more times in a week.
3. Your priest is married...
2. ...and your vocabulary includes several titles for the wife of a priest: Presbytera (Greek), Preoteasa (Romanian), Matushka (Russian) and Khouria (Arabic). And you always get a funny smile when you use the wrong term at the wrong parish that you are visiting.
And the number one sign you might be Orthodox is...
1. You say a prayer before you pray.
Orthodox Kids Do The Darndest Things
As I was driving my 4 year old son to preschool, we had to detour around a construction site. He seemed a little perturbed by the change, so I said, "George, construction doesn't last forever." He replied, "I think it will last until the last day." I was puzzled, so I asked him to clarify: "The last day of what, George?" So he said, "The last day until no one is left except God, because God lives forever!"
My 4 year old son was showing me a church he built from LegosTM. Since he seemed to be getting interested in things relating to church, I asked him if he wanted to be an altar boy in a couple of years. He answered, "No, I want to be a race car driver!"
My son (almost 4 yo) was showing me picture he drew. Lately he likes to draw what he calls "maps": pictures with roads, rivers, etc, on them. On this particular one there were some orange lines and he said: "There are pipes that are carrying regular water." Then he pointed to some blue lines and said: "These pipes are carrying Holy Water. They go to Church."
My twin 6 year old girls have been getting interested in guardian angels, and in angels in general. For example, one weekend they made wings out of construction paper, taped them to their backs and pretended they were angels ("Daddy, you can be Jesus!"), and I must say they were behaving pretty angelically as well.
Anyway, at school they have been learning about some safety issues: avoiding strangers, about fire, etc...., and that had been making them a little apprehensive. They want to be assured that their guardian angels would protect them. I asked them if they wanted guardian angel icons in their room, and they were agreeable, so I ordered some from a Conciliar Press catalog I had.
Now it so happens that at the time it was my father's birthday, so after they talked to him on the phone to wish him a happy birthday, they wanted to make something for "Papou" for a birthday present. They decided they wanted to make for him a couple of "guardian angel icons," so they got out some construction paper and colored markers. As they began, my wife told them that there were some "rules" for writing icons; she said "People usually pray make when writing icons," so afterward, I could hear them in the dining room chanting together aloud while they were coloring: "In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit... In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit..."
A few years ago, during a heavy thunderstorm, our power went out, so we lit some candles around the house for light. Our then-three year old twin girls were looking in wonder at the candles, and then one of them said "Daddy, we're in church!" Out of the mouths of babes...
When my twin daughters were three years old they received from my sister (their Godmother) icons of their patron saints, St. Catherine and St. Juliana. Although they had already had several icons they received at their baptism, they didn't have icons of their patrons until then because St. Juliana is hard to find, and my sister didn't think it was fair to give Catherine her icon until she found one of St. Juliana, which she finally did, from Holy Transfiguration Monastery. So they were looking at them one night, kissing them, and comparing them to the icon of St. George that their baby brother received from his Godmother. Now coincidentally, about that time I was given a small icon of Christ from a friend who had purchased it during a recent trip to Greece. My girls also wanted to see "Daddy's icon," too, and after Juliana observed that she had an icon of St. Juliana, Catherine had an icon of St. Catherine, and that George had an icon of St. George, I had to laugh when she pointed at my icon of Christ and said, "That's St. Daddy!"
At my son's baptism, he was given an icon of St. George which was written by his godmother. My daughter, who was three years old at the time, was studying it intently for awhile, and then a look of disappointment crossed her face. When I asked her what was wrong, she said, "I want an icon with a horsey on it!"
Thursday, December 15, 2005
A thoroughly ridiculous line of reasoning, as far as the plot goes, but along the lines of a good John Grisholm thriller, this is a highly enjoyable book. I'm not a big JG fan, but when a rebuttal to this book showed up in the orthodox messanger, I thought I should have a read, so I could at least pretend to know what I was talking about!
It was entertaining, but that's it. Nothing terribly profound to take away from the experience, or even very thoughtful. It was one of those books you buy at an airport stand for a long flight. So I was really surprised to discover how so many people have taken this book to heart, and lent it a credence it doesn't deserve.
I found a good article you may want to peruse. Understandably, the Catholics have jumped on this thing with a lot of vehemence. Anyway, it looks like it will be a good movie.
Hmmm. This brings up so much. I was reading a blog the other day that I stumbled upon, about how this movie would present an even better opportunity than "The Chronicles..." as far as evangelism opportunities go.
It made me wonder. About evangelism, that is. And are our protestant brethren putting us to shame in this matter? They are so much more unabashed about it. And concerned about it. Proselytising the unsaved. And in much more than "another notch in my evangelistic belt" sort of way. They think about it a lot. It's enough to make me wonder why I don't think about it so much...
What better gift than a book? And what better book than The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, especially this year? It will generate high interest in kids who don't usually read because of the movie tie-in-- I think perhaps even teens will find it cool this year because of the movie, though the book is written at a younger reading level.
I found what was apparently the very last copy at the Willowbrook Toys R Us. Beautiful cover, nice photos from the movie-- inexpensive paperback, an easy gift even if you aren't too flush with cash yourself. If you want to give to younger children, there are a number of junior reader versions and subsidiary books-- activity and coloring books and so on. And so you can take part in getting the Story "past watchful dragons".....;-)
Make the sign of the cross on your gift and say a prayer for the kid who will be opening it Christmas Day before you put it in the Christmas Bureau bin. You will never know who they are or what they think of the gift, but God and the angels will be there when they open it...
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
I will be chewing on this one for some time to come. It makes clear the central thing about Lewis that the writer of the nasty "Narnia shows everything that's wrong with religion" article in the Guardian can never understand-- what Jesus was talking about when he said we must come to Him as a little child.
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
however, I want to express how excited I am to be a part of St. Herman's. I spent last night in wheaton Illinois, driving around with Sufjan serenading me, arriving at Isaiah and Elise's house, around 10pm. They were so hospitable, Jude and Esme were so cute, I got to hang out with them a bit in the morning. Jude has good taste in music, as was earlier reported somewhere in cyberspace.
but what was so crazy, and so normal all at once was the way that they had food for me, a great tasting beer aptly named Trinity, and were forthcoming with their story, asked me about mine. It was like I had known them for a long time. Christian hospitality at its finest, the kind I have grown used to being a part of this great family. anyways. It was great. I look forward to when they come back to vancouver.
St. Herman's taxi is continuing to run well, thank you for your prayers.
reading here, I understand more, like Peter said, how we all need each other to pray for each other. So many needs, many things to celebrate, but many things to hold up in prayer.
Happy Feast Day! Through the prayers of our Holy Father Herman of Alaska, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us.
Sunday, December 11, 2005
Bring an appetitizer and some beverages; if you need to bunk down over night, Kurt would be more than happy to have you count sheep on his side of the bed :P
But wherever you sleep on January 1st we don't care, we just need you there to help us rejoice -- and to rejoice fully; hence, just don't be a party pooper. So come one, come all; it should be a blast!
Looking forward to seeing all you party animals there!!!
I think there's a few of you who might know this guy! He was a bit confused as to how I "know" you and how I'm affiliated with a St. Herman's blog (of course, then again, so am I) but he's a smart lad and figured it out. It was fun to throw around names that I know as though all of you are real and not merely a figment of my electronic imagination. It looks as though I'll get to see him again in a few weeks when I'm home for Christmas. He and his dad will be at the Cathedral in Wichita, KS for a mutual friend's ordination into the diaconate.
Saturday, December 10, 2005
Friday, December 09, 2005
Thursday, December 08, 2005
I hope everyone is doing well; I enjoy reading other’s blogs by the way and am very grateful for each one of you on this blog. It is wonderful to see the church across many miles (and kilometres!) supporting each other.
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
December 5th, 2005 Eve of St. Nicholas.
Festal Vespers with litya tonight, at the Cathedral, Bishop Seraphim presiding. This was my first experience of an Orthodox celebration of the feast of St. Nicholas. Growing up in the Netherlands I knew all the legends surrounding "Sinterklaas", 80% of them devoid of the spiritual truth about the man who really lived.
I have much nostalgia around this festive time of year--the annual parade through Amsterdam of St Nicholas in his Bishop's getup riding on a white horse with all his zwarte pieten in tow scattering candy to hundreds of kids with their families lined up along the streets...waking up in the morning every morning for a whole week leading up to December 5th and running to our shoes to see what was in it, and yes, finding carrots half chomped through by the schimmel (white horse)....Doing surprises (sur-PREE-sus) with our class or our family: gifts wrapped and disguised within elaborate cardboard and construction paper sculptures of animals, vehicles, robots, people, and other imitable objects, given anonymously by the family member or friend who drew your name out of a hat, addressed to you with an awkwardly rhyming poem from sint en piet which mostly makes fun of your foibles and alludes to the gift inside...
Ever since I've come to North America (8 years ago) I've missed this early December celebration that used to mark off the beginning of the Christmas season. And although I rejoiced to discover St. Nicholas as a true saint when I became Orthodox, indeed, one of the greatest saints to both the East and the West of Christendom, I was also a little sad. This new discovery makes a lot of the old Sinterklaas songs seem too silly, or even offensive, to sing in light of who he is to the Church. I won't be able to celebrate sinterklaasfeest in quite the same way ever again.
But there was something special tonight. Maybe it was a combination of the presence of our own beloved Bishop, the veneration of our icon of St Nicholas (reportedly wonderworking), the wonderful tropar to him, the service interwoven with hymns reflecting on Mary's conception and birth-giving of Christ in preparation for Christmas, the simple and small gathering around tea, coffee, and cookies afterwards--something about all this left me with a feeling that I somehow associate with my memories of this time of year, growing up in Amsterdam.
One of the hard things about becoming Orthodox has been that (as someone who needed it and desired it) in gaining a liturgical calendar and tools for the spiritual geography of our physical time, I have lost some of the few markers I did have before (which I loved and cherished in their sparsity). Technically I haven't lost them (Easter, Christmas, St Nicholas, Pentecost), but the way they are prepared for, celebrated, and spoken of has changed drastically and there sometimes seem to be none of the external markers (certain kinds of decorations, combinations of colours, songs, atmospheres) which evoke in me the memories of all previous celebrations of a given feast, and connect that Day with all those Days gone before. Last Pascha I really missed my Dad's mix-tape he played every Easter morning during my childhood, with lots of Keith Green on it and excerpts from the soulful '70's Young Messiah.
I have not grieved this loss with many tears, partly because I do not think I have lost that much more than nostalgia, and partly because I know that it is only a matter of time (though it may take years) before my experience of the liturgical year deepens and vests itself gradually with all the new externals that do not yet evoke the memories and connections for me which anchor in my heart the building and deepening of the thruth and the blessing that a feast brings year upon year.
Nevertheless, the memories of childhood, the atmospheres of time that were learned when time was long and deep, cannot be replaced, or lost--nor the later additions to my inner landscape (Anglican Advent) that are so connected to the spiritual awakening I had as a teenager.
The strange thing is that there was something tonight that was familiar, something subtle, something nameless, but something that was present in my memories of St. Nicholas days past. And it suddenly struck me that a very likely reason (since none of the externals are the same) is the presence of the Saint himself.
Perhaps, no matter how much sinterklaasfeest has lost its connection to the image of Christ which the Saint bore, when an atheistic nation (whose few christians don't believe in saints anyway) is still remembering him in some way--remembering his anonymous generosity, loving eachother in honour of him--he comes and honours them with his presence...secretly, anonymously, giving them his blessing as they celebrate.
I discover I have not lost Sinterklaas. I only know him better now.
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Monday, December 05, 2005
Saturday, December 03, 2005
I know I have seen true shepherds in priests—and this helps me see it also in God, as it gives me something tangible to see and experience. When I am in church, learning about these grace and love filled teachings, I feel so alive, and at the same time so safe, loved and at peace. The next morning the teaching was again confirmed—my more protestant-based flip calendar’s verse [paraphrased from The Message] was John 10:27-30:
My sheep recognize my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them real and eternal life. They are protected from the Destroyer for good. No one can steal them from out of my hand. The Father who put them under my care is so much greater than the Destroyer and Thief. No one could ever get them away from him. I and the Father are one heart and mind.
Friday, December 02, 2005
Just wanted to let you all know that the web address for the Youth and Young Adults blog has changed, so you'll want to update your browsers and links.
1 Timothy 4.12 can now be found at http://www.ocacanadianyouth.orthodoxmission.org/.
Thanks to Fr. Justin for helping us to host the blog, safe and sound.
To all 1 Timothy 4.12 contributors, there is no need to re-sign up... the address and increased online security are the only signficant changes. But if there are any youth and young adults who would like an invite, feel free to email myself, Fr. Justin, Pasivirta, or Gabe F. from Saskatoon.
Grace & Peace!
Thursday, December 01, 2005
Does anyone have a quick recipe for apple crisp this that uses regular oatmeal? :) I have company coming tonight for tea and I forgot to take my cranberry break out of the freezer... what can I say other than "busy week"...
Any other quick suggestions, please post them... thanks!