Thursday, December 18, 2014

Advent

 I have more things to do than I can shake a stick at. Somehow, when I get tired and down, all these Southernisms seem so apt.

Our first table-top tree. Out of the reach of little hands!

I finished the last three censers last night, popping them in their wrapping around midnight. They'll go to the post office this morning. I have small - oh so small - things I'm working on for all of my nieces and nephews (ten of them) and I need to get those done so I can... go to the post office! I've been there almost every business day for a couple weeks. We're all practically on a first-name-basis.


 I'm in danger of letting myself dissolve.

 
While the inside of the house is decorated, I haven't done the outside, with the exception of a simple wreath on the front door. We haven't driven to look at Christmas lights. The Christmas cards and photos are still sitting on my dresser.


At the moment adding anything ELSE to my paltry list seems insane; I have enough to say grace over. (See, there's another one.) So, I will not be baking this year. To be more clear, I will not bake before Christmas. I usually bake baklava and other goodies and send them to family members but I just can't do it this year. I feel awful about that.


A few weeks ago, Christmas seemed pretty far away and all things seemed possible. Now, with one week to go, reality is holding the trump card.


I've been promising myself that when the last things that I must do are done, then I will slow down and reflect. Something I've been very short on this Advent...


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Haste makes Waste

Illustrating a proverb:



Idiot-girl didn't know how to deal with a hank of hand-spun wool.

*     *     *     *     *

30 minutes later...

 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Giveaway for Cozy House Curios!

Cozy House Curios is featured in a giveaway on Ginny's Small Things this weekend! Head on over to enter for a chance to win an adorable hat and booties set (gender neutral!) and find a coupon code for the rest of the items in the shop. Good luck!


Monday, December 8, 2014

Anxiety






Obligations are stacking up like planes over Atlanta; it's that time of year. My breath is catching in my chest. I'm taking intentional, slow, deep breaths and saying the Jesus Prayer. Time to step back and remember what's important.

Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. [Philippians 4:6]

Saturday, December 6, 2014

St. Nicholas

Joyous Feastday!

Last night we had Vespers to celebrate St. Nicholas and then had a little party at the shop of parishioners. Everyone had a lovely time and we had a great turn-out! We welcomed Fr. Matthew Harrington, Matushka Anna and their three children up from St. Francisville, LA as well. It was great to see them again.













Friday, December 5, 2014

A few pieces of family history

I received an incredible gift this year from my father.


He made a box like this for each child (five of us!) and mounted a set of silverware in it.



Here is the inscription on the back:



I had some silverware from the beach house in a mason jar on a shelf with my dishes so I could see them all the time. But this box gives them so much more dignity and elevates them to works of art.


I'm so grateful for this thoughtful and wonderful gift! Thank you, Papa!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Peace

"All I want for Christmas is a little peace."

"Peace on earth, goodwill to men."

"Peace and quiet"

I think we can all agree that peace is a good thing. Usually that's close to the root of what most of us are searching for. And many, if not most, of us feel like we can't ever really get there. This time of year the frenzy cranks up from the usual baseline and it's a struggle not to get caught up in it. But the frustrating search for peace is a year-round deal. I've certainly written on this before (and, to my sorrow, haven't learned anything.)

Peace isn't something that comes from the outside, but the inside. No matter where you go, be it a desert island, a monastery, the middle of a national forest, if you take your unpeaceful self with you, then you will not find peace. Certainly, humans need regular times of quiet, and disorder bothers some of us more than others, but that's not the definition of peace.


St. Seraphim of Sarov said, "Acquire a peaceful spirit, and thousands around you will be saved." Certainly, St. Porphyrios had to work on acquiring a peaceful spirit in the midst of thousands when he was serving a parish in Omonia Square in the middle of Athens.
It is a great art to succeed in having your soul sanctified.  A person can become a saint anywhere.  He can become a saint in Omonia Square, if he wants.  At your work, whatever it may be, you can become saints - through meekness patience and love.  Make a new start every day, with new resolution, with enthusiasm and love, prayer and silence - not with anxiety so that you get a pain in the chest. 
 -Wounded by Love: The Life and the Wisdom of Elder Porphyrios              

Omonia Square in the 1960's
The majority of us don't have the luxury of running off to a quiet place whenever we want some peace. And even if we did, if we take our anxieties and troubles with us, then we will not find peace anywhere. For instance, once St. Nikolai Velimirovich replied to a priest who had repeatedly asked for a transfer to a new parish, “Father, I would be glad to grant your wish for a transfer if only you were not going to take your self there.”

That certainly is a clear answer to the "if only" whimpers: "If only I had more money / a bigger house / a better job / a nanny / a cry room at church..." Here are some more wise sayings on peace:
Our thoughts determine our whole life. If our thoughts are destructive, we will have no peace. If they are quiet, meek and simple, our life will be the same, and we will have peace within us. It will radiate from us and influence all beings around us - rational beings, animals, and even plants.
-Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica, Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives, p.49

"Make peace with yourself, and both heaven and earth will make peace with you."
-St. Isaac the Syrian

Here on earth we are given the chance to conquer all evil with peace and stillness. We can have peace when we live in surroundings that are peaceful and quiet, but that peace is not as stable and as permanent as the peace we acquire while living in chaotic conditions. When you move from quiet surroundings to chaotic ones, your mood changes instantly and you become irritable - all of a sudden evil thoughts assail you, and your mind is in hell. That is the end of our peace. This is why the Lord guides us though sufferings and sorrows - so that we may, through them, acquire real peace. Without Him we would not have the strength to overcome these things.
--Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica, Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives, p.154

And most importantly, here is what Christ assures us:

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. [John 14:27]

Monday, December 1, 2014

Give the gift of handmade!

Head over to Ginny's Small Things for a holiday shopping special! There are many shops sponsoring Ginny's blog which are offering discounts today only. My shop, Cozy House Curios, is also offering a coupon code for a discount, but you have to go look to see!