My journey to the Orthodox faith, part 3

31 10 2007

     Vera decided to stay home.  We have three cats and two dogs.  Someone had to see to their needs.  Vera told me later that she kept praying  this part of The Trisagion Prayers:  O Heavenly King, O Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, who are in all places and fill all things, the treasury of good things and the giver of life: Come and abide in us, cleanse us from every stain, and save our souls, O Good One.”  ( These prayers are part of a group of prayers that Orthodox Christians pray each morning and evening.)  I had driven to the emergency room by myself.  It was hard to see Jim shout out strange and confusing things.  He would ask the same question over and over.  My oldest daughter, Sandy, came as soon as she could to be with me.  Later, my son  Ben arrived.  Maria, my other daughter lives about 18 miles out of town.  She took it upon herself to inform friends and relatives around the country. 

     Vera took on the job of posting friends through email all night long about Jim’s condition.  I had fallen out of Sandy’s SUV and rolled hard on to her carport.  The pain in one of my hips was awful but I knew I had to make it to Vanderbilt.  So off we went as fast as we could.  I was full of adrenalin not fear.  I couldn’t give into fear.  I knew I had to be strong for my family.  When we got to the trauma floor, my brother Brad and his wife Susan were waiting for us.  The doctor called us back.  He gave me a blow by blow account of what had happened to Jim.  Jim’s aorta had split right up near his jugular vein.  He told me  Jim had a 40% chance of dying.  We were allowed to visit Jim for a few minutes.  However, he was talking out of his head.  Sandy and Ben were crying.  I made the sign of the cross over Jim and we all left.  Thus, we started the long all night vigil of waiting to hear how Jim was doing.  My hip hurt terribly.  My sister -in-law came me some medicine.  It didn’t even touch the pain.  Everyone else walked all around but I couldn’t move.  Off and on during the night, a nurse would call to tell me Jim was still alive.  In my heart, I knew he would live.  Finally, around 10:00 a.m. Sunday morning, they called to tell us that Jim had survived and would be in intensive care for many days. 

     We went in to see him.  It was a pitiful sight.  He was hooked up to so many machines.  Our children just cried.  I just prayed over him.  We decided that there was nothing we could do .for Jim that day so we came back home.  I needed the sleep to get ready to take care of business matters  for Jim.  Thank goodness he had almost three weeks of vacation that he had never used.  I had to go by his work and get the papers started for his disability pay and then take them to our family doctor to fill out.  We made a quick stop in the country to see Maria and headed back to Vanderbilt.  Brad and Sandy offered to let me stay in their beautiful home on the outskirts of Nashville.  That began about ten more days at Vanderbilt. 

     Brad and Sandy have a home with about 5 acres of woods surrounding them.  When I looked out my bedroom windows, I could see nothing but the beautiful woods.  Each morning Brad would have coffee made and an assortment of cereals to choose from.  Brad would take me on the back roads to and from Vanderbilt each day.  We  had a chance to catch up on our news with each other.  Each evening Brad and Susan cooked me a lovely meal.  I would usually go straight to bed.  I read my Bible and had my prayers and fell right to sleep.  I felt so incredibly comforted with the peace of God.

     From 7:00 a.m. to about 5:0o p.m. , I stayed with Jim.  He really didn’t wake up until Tuesday.  The children took turns visiting with them.  Jim made no sense in anything he said.  It took another 24 hours before he seemed to understand what had happened to him.  Moreover, that was the day that Fr Gordon Walker came to visit with him.  By Thursday, Jim was able to be moved to the regular cardiac floor.  His body was so swollen, especially his hands.  He started physical therapy which went extremely slow.  Again, on Friday Fr. Gordon came back to see us.  This time , he annointed Jim  with oil. 

     I occupied myself with prayers, Bible reading and finishing a series of books I had started back in September.  My hip still hurt me terribly.  When Sandy and her girlfriend came back to visit us, it was really hard just walking around Vanderbilt with them.  Vera finally got a chance to visit  her daddy.  She had worked so hard maintaining our household.  I was so thankful that she was still living at home.  Marie and Ben got a chance to come visit also. 

    Jim was able to pray and read the Bible with me the last few days we were at Vanderbilt.  We had our prayer times after he ate his breakfast and before I left in the evening.  He was fully alert and told everyone that he now had some time to study Orthodoxy .  Everything about his mind was clear and sharp.  The doctor later told me that he thought if Jim lived he would  have the mental capacity of a child.  What a miracle!  Oh, I forgot to tell you that Jim had 14 units of blood during his surgery.

     It was a beautiful fall morning when Brad came to drive us home. We had learned a great deal about nutrition at Vanderbilt so when we stopped at McDonalds , we all ordered grilled chicken.  We ate our lunch on our front porch, rejoicing at all the miracles that God had done for our family.  We had a long road ahead of us but we were excited that we could continue our journey toward becoming  catechumens.  Vera was packed and ready to move to Murfreesboro the very Saturday after we got home.  She could hardly wait to visit St. Elizabeth the New Martyr Orthodox Christian Church.  We knew we would be home bound for awhile.  Tomorrow I will tell you about  Vera’s experiences at St Elizabeth and how we eventually found our way there, also.


My journey to the Orthodox faith, part 2

30 10 2007

     There are many details to fill in today.  I shared last time about visiting an Orthodox church over Labor day weekend of 2005.  Vera, our searching daughter, was living at home but driving 60 miles to teach ESL at a university in Western , Ky.  We were watching some programs on the Orthodox internet television around the end of August.  She told me how much she would like to change jobs.  Vera was tired of teaching ESL. In the midst of our discussion, the phone rang.  It was a friend of my brother.  She had never met me or Vera.  However, my brother told her about Vera’s training in ESL.  She asked Vera if she would like to come to Murfreesboro, Tn., for a job interview.  Immediately, Vera perked up.  Her interest was renewed.  She had heard that there was an Orthodox mission in Murfreesboro, so she was extremely excited.

     That brings us back to our visit to the Orthodox Church in Franklin, Tn.  Fr. Steven talked to us during coffee hour.  He gave Faith a copy of The Orthodox Study Bible and told her that the mission church was part of this big church in Franklin.  I had mentioned that Jim cried after the service.  He got a chance to meet Fr. Gordon Walker , who was a key character from the book, Becoming Orthodox, A  Journey to the Ancient Christian Faith, by Peter E. Gillquist.  Gordon Walker had founded a church in Franklin.  Later, he was ordained a priest and his church became St. Ignatius Orthodox Church..  He was semi -retired but still participated in the services. Jim wept on his shoulder.  It was a touching moment.  For you see, Jim had always opposed any kind of liturgical service.  I had gone to a liturgical church for nearly four years and left Jim at the Baptist church.  He tried  to persaude me how wrong I was the entire four years.  So this was a gigantic step for my husband. 

      Vera was busy making an Orthodox notebook full of prayers she downloaded from the internet.  We would often use some of those prayers to start or end our day.  The three of us knew we could never turn back to the Evangelical world.  We went with Vera to her job interview .  Art read many of the articles in the back of the The Orthodox Study Bible, while we were waiting.  Our discussions were full and rich on the ride home. 

     We continued visiting St. Ignatius through the end of September.  We literally focused all of our extra time on the study of Orthodoxy.  Then on Saturday , October the 8th, our lives took a different turn.  It seemed like a normal day.  I had spent a great part of it with my older daughter and my grandsons.  Jim was home alone all morning. Everyone ate lunch at our home.  Then Vera and Jim went shopping at second hand stores.  I took a nap.  We had waffles for supper.  Our son came over wanting to talk with us about something on his mind.  After he left, we prayed one particular evening prayer for the first time: “O Christ, our God, who at all times and in every hour in heaven and on earth are worshiped and glorified; who are longsuffering, merciful and compassionate; who love the just and show mercy upon sinners; who call all to salvation through the promise of the good things to come; O Lord , in this hour receive our supplications and direct our lives according to Your commandments. Sanctify our souls, purify our bodies, correct our thoughts, cleanse our minds; deliver us from all tribulation, evil, and distress. Surround us with Your holy angels, so that guided and guarded by them, we may attain to the unity of the Faith and to the full knowledge of Your unapproachable glory.  For You are blessed unto ages of ages, Amen.”

     We also read Psalm 51.  I cleared the table and got ready for bed.  Jim was working on the computer.  Suddenly, he yelled out very loud. Vera ran to check on him.  He had collapsed.  He seemed not to know who we were.  We called 911.  At the hospital, the Doctor whispered to me: “His aorta has split.  He probably won’t live.  We will get him on a helicopter to Vanderbilt Medical Center.  They will do all they can for him.”  The next post I will pull together Jim’s  story along with the continuing of our journey.

My journey into the Orthodox Faith, part I

29 10 2007

     I am a graduate of a very conservative Bible college.  I met my husband there and we were married after my graduation.  My husband graduated a year later.  Our journey was often frustrating .  We tried many churches and some house group churches through the years. One thing became clear to us both after 30 some years of searching.  Every group, every denomination claimed to have the whole truth about Christianity and the Bible.  Now there are some 30,000 denominations.  There can’t be that many interpretations.  So that is a short background.

     Four years ago, I entered the university to gain a degree in piano.  My youngest daughter who had been teaching in Ukraine as a missionary met a young man she decided to bring over to the USA  with the intent of marrying him.  He arrived around Thanksgiving time of my first semester.  Immediately, they set out on a cross country trip , which we strongly argued with her about.  She later married this young man.  It turned out to be a sorrowful experience.  She moved back home with us.  After months of struggling with her own faith , she remembered having learned a little bit about the Orthodox faith.  She went to Ukraine with the purpose of teaching English and hopefully winning the Orthodox to Christianity.  ( This is sad, because the Orthodox  Church is the most ancient and pure form of Christianity.)  In her search , she began studing and reading.  She became asking us to read certain books and listen to certain internet programs.  We had gone through so much agony with our daughter and her broken marriage.  My year of studying professional music was disrupted constantly with her struggles.  When we saw that she was gaining purpose and joy in her life once again, we began to listen to some of the programs with her.  It was the summer of 2005.  We listened to a podcast called , Our life in Christ.  We learned that the idea of Sola Scriptura  was an idea of the reformation.  The early church used oral tradition as much as anything to portray Christianity.  Basically, our church history studies at the Bible college began with the Reformation.  Nothing much was ever said about the years prior to the Reformation.  I had heard of one church father, St. Augustine.  However, I knew nothing about the early church fathers.  I began listening to these podcasts during the days while I was working through my day.  I just couldn’t get enough information.  My husband was using any free time he had to study also.  We took long walks discussing these new ideas and comparing our Evangelical journey with what we were learning.  Finally, labor day of 2005 we visited an Orthodox church 100 miles from our home.  (There are no Orthodox churches in our town or our part of the state) We knew we had come home.  My husband broke down and cried for joy. 

    That was the beginning but to become Orthodox requires much more than just walking down an aisle and joining a church.  It would be many months before we even became catechumens.  In the days to come, I will give more details about those months and give some links to the podcasts we listened to.  Join me in my journey

My very first blog

29 10 2007

I have a strong desire to live simply.  In my search for information about the simple life, I’ve come across some very interesting blogs.  I have been frustrated in not being able to repond on some of the blogs, so I decided to start blogging myself.

     I’m a middle aged homemaker who has been married for 33 years.  We have four grown children and two grandsons.  Besides simple living, I enjoy music.  I teach the piano part time.  I started learning the organ at age 49 and made much progress.  I even became a well used substitute for a couple of churches , when an organist was needed.  However, a couple of years ago my husband and I converted to the Christian Orthodox faith.  There are no musical intruments in the Orthodox  worship service, so I’ve given up the organ.  But I continue to work on my piano.  I teach the piano part time. 

     I also am an avid reader.  I don’t watch much television because reading is my first choice of leisure.   I take long walks with my two dogs each morning.  This is after I’ve had my time of going through the Orthodox prayers  and reading my Bible.  In the afternoon, I pick up my grandson from kindergarten and we enjoy a couple of hours together. 

     All in all, I hope to share my daily life but I’m not here to teach anyone anything.  If one can glean from my experience, great!  Tomorrow, I’ll begin to tell the story of how I came to embrace the Orthodox faith.