Sunday, March 22, 2015

Miss Moppet in Church

 I love it when they reach the age of delighting in venerating the icons. :)

Note: dress was originally either mine or one of my sisters'.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Catching Up

It's been an age since I've posted. Let's just say I've been busy.

Last Thursday I left the house at 4:15 AM to drive to the airport in New Orleans. My ultimate destination was Antiochian Village near Ligonier, PA

view from my room Friday morning

I was there to be part of a group meeting to create a resource for Orthodox priests to deal with miscarriage and stillbirth, including burial and memorial services. You can read more about that here.

From bottom, moving clockwise: Mat. Elizabeth Lein, Bishop Mark, Archbishop Benjamin, Kh. Linda Ellison, Dr. Phillip Mamalakis (not pictured: Fr. Peter J. Gillquist, Fr. Ian Pac-Urar, myself)

Chapel of Sts. Peter and Paul at Antiochian Village

There was still some snow hanging around in protected areas. The children would have had fun playing in it.

When I walked out to get some fresh air during one of our breaks the two resident white ducks came up to say hello. I got some video of them but I won't inflict you with it. The one on the right was very vocal.

Most of the conference attendees had left by the time Saturday evening rolled around but we were blessed that Fr. Peter J. Gillquist was still there along with his khouria and children. He celebrated Vespers for us.

Sunday morning Mat. Elizabeth and I were the only ones left. We walked up to the cemetery and nearby chapel and took photos. I was able to venerate St. Raphael's grave (shown below). The third name down is that of Fr. Moses Abihider, the first Orthodox priest in our town. I wrote about that connection here.

And here is a reliquary containing relics of St. Raphael in the chapel next to the graves.

We also got to go see the Antiochian Heritage Museum briefly and I was excited to see the Women with Icons exhibit as well as many original illustrations by Niko Chocheli and his mother Leila Chocheli.

Getting home was more complicated than planned, as my flight via LaGuardia airport was cancelled due to high winds in New York. I was rebooked on a plane through Atlanta but I had an additional five hours to while away at the Pittsburgh airport, in addition to a 2 hour layover once I reached Atlanta. I was sustaining myself on caffeine by the time I drove the hour and a half home from New Orleans, arriving at 1:20 AM Monday. During all of that wait, I was very glad I had brought my knitting!! I managed to finish these preemie socks, now in the shop.

(shown on a doll - I didn't sneak a newborn home)

After the cool weather in PA, the warmth here was shocking. Spring has definitely sprung. The azaleas are coming out... are the snakes.

This little specimen was a very cute Texas Brown Snake. They only get up to about 12 inches long and are non-venomous. Once we identified it, we let all the children who wanted to hold it (excepting Miss Moppet).

I've been busy with Lost Innocents site updates (heartbreakingly beautiful babies...), laundry and swapping out the winter for the summer clothing, but I hope I am back up to speed on the blog now. I have Etsy work to do and I need to finish the sections of the miscarriage/stillbirth booklet that I am responsible for. And oh, of course, all of the usual Lenten services. Thank you for your prayers for my safe travel!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Pattern for Toy Censer Available!

I'm so excited to announce that the pattern to make the toy censer is now in the shop! You get a PDF with full instructions and a total of 28 color photos to help you follow along. It shouldn't be difficult to make. I know a lot of people have been looking forward to the pattern!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Martyrs both Old and New

 Today is the feast of the 40 Holy Martyrs of Sebaste. You can read their story here, but here is an excerpt:


It was winter, and there was a severe frost. They lined up the holy soldiers, threw them into a lake near the city, and set a guard to prevent them from coming out of the water. In order to break the will of the martyrs, a warm bath-house was set up on the shore. During the first hour of the night, when the cold had become unbearable, one of the soldiers made a dash for the bath-house, but no sooner had he stepped over the threshold, than he fell down dead.

During the third hour of the night, the Lord sent consolation to the martyrs. Suddenly there was light, the ice melted away, and the water in the lake became warm. All the guards were asleep, except for Aglaius, who was keeping watch. Looking at the lake he saw that a radiant crown had appeared over the head of each martyr. Aglaius counted thirty-nine crowns and realized that the soldier who fled had lost his crown.

Aglaius then woke up the other guards, took off his uniform and said to them, “I too am a Christian,” and he joined the martyrs. Standing in the water he prayed, “Lord God, I believe in You, in Whom these soldiers believe. Add me to their number, and make me worthy to suffer with Your servants.” Then a fortieth crown appeared over his head.

Now, this was in the year 313. You might think that this sort of thing was common then, but not anymore. Well, think again:

 ISIS announced the execution of 21 Copts but only 20 names were confirmed, most of them were from the province of Minya (Upper Egypt). There was an inaccuracy in the number of Egyptian Hostages; there were only 20 Egyptians (Copts). Then who was this remaining one non-Coptic victim?

 Ahram-Canadian News was able to gather information about this man. He was a Chadian Citizen (Darker skin shown in picture) who accepted Christianity after seeing the immense faith of his fellow Coptic Christians to die for Christ. When Terrorist forced him to reject Jesus Christ as God, looking at his Christian friends he replied, “their God is my God“ so the terrorist beheaded him also.

Through the prayers of all the martyrs, both old and new, may God give us the strength to persevere in our faith!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Vegan Rice Pudding

I made some rice pudding this evening that turned out beautifully! It is dairy-free and naturally gluten-free.

Vegan Rice Pudding

1 cup medium-grain rice
2 cans coconut milk (not "lite")
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar (or substitute some other sweetener)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon

Combine the rice, coconut milk and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Immediately turn down to low and cover, allowing to simmer for 25 minutes. Every 5-10 minutes give it a quick stir to break up the rice. Add the sugar, vanilla and cinnamon and return to a simmer. Simmer for an additional 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently. It will be the consistency of oatmeal at this point. Serve warm or chilled.

While I can't say "you can't taste the coconut", it's hardly a dominant flavor. Everyone who has had some this evening has loved it, including Miss Moppet (she ate the majority of mine while sitting on my lap).

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Wintry Mix

[Shared from The Siren's Call]

About once a winter we see something in the way of frozen precipitation. This winter (2014-2015) we hadn't seen anything yet, and with the daffodils blooming it seemed as though our chances were slim.

Yesterday the high was 82 and today we have barely nudged above freezing (it's currently 29 in the middle of the day). A more than 50 degree difference in the space of much less than 24 hours is quite extreme!

This morning the drizzle finally changed to a wintry mix and it's been going on for about 3 hours now. The children were quite excited.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Very Springy Out There...

   I posted about spring yesterday, but today I feel like I ought to post about early summer. It's 82 degrees, sunny, humid and breezy. Nice, unless you're in the sun. Thunderstorms later. Tomorrow's high is supposed to be 36. The high.

   But, leaving seasonal schizophrenia aside, here are some more photos from the yard this afternoon. I noticed the azaleas were just starting to bloom so I made another round of the yard for photos. This time of year things bloom overnight.

(Technically, these camellias are late winter, not spring, but we have a lot of overlap.)

(the beginnings of the hydrangea...)

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Upcoming meeting...

[Also shared on Lost Innocents]

Next week I will fly to Pennsylvania and stay at Antiochian Village for a few days. I was invited to work with some other Orthodox Christians to help draft a memorial service for miscarried and stillborn babies and put together resources for priests and parishes to use to assist grieving families. Other than having put together Lost Innocents, and having lost four babies, I don't know exactly what I'm bringing to the table, but I am happy to contribute however I can. This group will be meeting under the auspices of the Committee for Pastoral Practice of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the US. Please pray that we will have a productive meeting and that we will all have safe travels.


  Beginning Sunday afternoon, we had four and a half inches of rain in just over 24 hours. Since then we have had alternating drizzle and thick fog. The ground is soggy, like stepping on wet foam. The air is likewise saturated, and a balmy 78 degrees today.  Spring is here.