The Story Of Vera And Her Family, Chapter 21

27 06 2008

In early September of l992, Bill arrived at our home.  Your dad and Phillip had gone to the Nashville airport to pick Bill up.  He was  from London, England.  Bill wasn’t exactly a policeman–but he had  a job related to police work.  He was in his mid thirties and divorced.  He had been to America to visit Phillip and Teresa once before.   He was an  easy going sort of guy who brought some much needed laughter to our family.  After experiencing a summer of double tragedy–the brightness of Bill’s personality was a God send.

Bill had only been to America one time.  He didn’t have much experience with American stores.  Thus, he loved to visit our mall and to go grocery shopping with me.  He gave me the money to buy all of our food during his two week stay.  Bill liked helping me pick out the groceries.  He also loved frozen yogurt and ice cream.  We rarely ate a meal without some time of frozen dessert.  Phillip didn’t abandan me with the hosting.  He came over every day to visit with Bill. 

Sandy had her 16th birthday while Bill was staying with us.  She was determined to pass her driver’s permit road test the first time–and she did.  It wasn’t long until Sandy got a job at Arby’s.  She enjoyed working at Arby’s a great deal.  She worked the drive thru most of the time.  This gave Sandy some much needed spending money.  There is a verse in the book of Proverbs that says that laughter and a merry heart are good for the soul.  Our family was laughing once again.  We were healing from so many wounds. 

The after shocks of the summer stayed with me for many years.  I could laugh and enjoy my family.  However, I could no longer express my feelings with journaling.  I had kept a journal since Ben and Sandy started Kindergarten.  I was frozen inside.  I just couldn’t put pen to paper.  My bounderies for living were shrinking, too.  I wasn’t comfortable leaving our town.  I felt safe going to the grocery store, the mall, the schools, the pharmacy and our doctor.  However, I wouldn’t leave the city limits.  It was a type of agoraphobia.  I couldn’t shake it.  Our family had spent years dealing with psychologists.  I had no interest in starting up anymore visits to the mental health center.  I suffered deeply. 

Although your dad and I were no longer hostile with each other–there was still a gap that just couldn’t be filled.  Jim had made some attempts to be in church for several years.  Now, he joined me in staying home each Sunday.  We couldn’t reach each other. We never prayed together.  We met each other where we could and sometimes had a great deal of fun.  Mostly, we were miles apart in our thinking about everything in life.

You, Vera, had a very successful year as an eighth grader.  You were chosen to take high school Algebra in the eighth grade.  You started talking about your dreams of becoming a veterinarian. We all loved animals.  The antics of Lucy and Sugar, our dogs, kept us rolling.  I still enjoyed walking them both for long, long walks.  It was great therapy.  You, in particular, took more interest in science and math because of your dream of becoming a veterinarian.Meanwhile, another dream was birthing that would be for the well being of our family.

In April of l993–there was finally hope that Jim would be able to get a better paying job.  For eleven years–your dad had worked in a little print shop.  He never got any raises.  We had no health insurance.  The only way we made it financially through your accident was the fact that the newspaper that you delivered  newspapers for—had accidentl health insurance for their newspaper carriers.  It was a twenty four hour accidental policy.  And it paid for about 90 percent of your medical treatment.  Therefore, we were so excited when one of our neighbors told your Dad that there was an opening at his factory. At last, we would have family medical insurance.

Jim applied for the job and passed the first interview.  He then had to take some math and English tests.  He passed those, too.  The next step was a medical exam.  Then a few days later, he land the job. Sandy also started a new job as the assistant circulation secretary at our local newspaper.  She got this job through her high school business co-op program.

You, Vera, had another accident the day your Dad and Sandy started their new jobs.  You got bit by a chow at one of the homes you were collecting money for the newspaper.  It was a deep wound and I had to take you to the emergency room.  The chow was ordered to be confined to the inside of the owner’s home for two weeks.  I had to dress your leg three times a day and you had to take powerful antibiotics.   Nevertheless, we were a happy family.  Life was taking a brighter turn for us.  Most of all, Ben never got in trouble with us or the anyone else the rest of his life.  Writing this in the year 2001–I can honestly say that is the truth. 



Intimacy or Marketing–What Do You Want In Your Church?

27 06 2008

This morning I read an article in the June 13th edition of The Wall Street Journal entitled: Inspired By Starbucks by Alexandra Alter.  The content of the article talked about how the pastors of Mega churches are now using satellites, DVDs, and franchise marketing to promote their churches all over the world. 

The idea came from the marketing stategies of Starbucks.   Evidently Starbucks  opens four new franchises a day.  The mega churches feel like they should have a similar plan.  The marketing strategies of the mega churches are working.  People are attracted to the more modern approach to going to church.  They seem to like the coffee house atmosphere of worship. 

I am aghast to such an approach.  I don’t go to church to have fun.  I go to church to worship God.  In the Holy Orthodox Church–we worship God through our Divine Liturgy. Our priest chants the  prayers and we follow with our “Lord have mercy” or our “Grant this o Lord.”  We affirm our faith by reciting the Nicene Creed. We say the Lord’s Prayer.  We make sure our hearts are clean by saying pre- communion prayers.  Lastly, we take the Holy Eucharist –which is the true body and blood of Christ.  This is our medicine for daily living.  In closing our service–we sing songs of thanksgiving for having partaken of the Holy Eucharist and the Priest closes by giving veneration to the saints who have gone on before us.

My point is that the Holy Orthodox faith is full of intimacy.  Nothing could be more intimate than having one’s priest spoon the Holy Eucharist into one’s mouth.  And when we finish our service– we line up again to kiss the cross which our priest is holding.  We also kiss the priest’s hand.  We have two very direct face to face encounters with a our priest.  And if one attends the Holy Matins service prior to the Divine Liturgy–then one gets another encounter with a priest by lining up to kiss the Holy Gospels and the pries’ts hand.  That make three wonderful face to face encounters with a priest.

It is a tradition in the Holy Orthodox Faith to enjoy eating a small meal with each other before going to our homes.  We have coffee, juices, tea and snacks or sometimes a full meal.  It is a wonderful time to get to know each other better.  I know I used to feel so empty just walking out of church in my protestant days.  In the Holy Orthodox Faith- one does not have to leave the church feeling alone.  This intimacy of sharing a meal has bonded our hearts further with our fellow parishioners and our priest. It is a beautiful tradition.

These mega churches that are marketing their faith rely on dvds, literature, or satellites.  The new franchises are full of people who have no flesh and blood priest or pastor.  So what do they do when a crisis hits?  Do they listen to a dvd on how to deal with death ,  a financial loss or marital stress?  Or does a slick brochure sooth the wounds?   What about weddings, funerals or baptisms?  How can they be truly special?  I know when Jim was near death almost three years agao–we wouldn’t have made it without the intimacy of the Orthodox faith.  A priest came up to the hospital twice to pray with us.  On the last visit–the priest annointed Jim with Holy Oil.  Likewise, when I found out I has breast cancer–I couldn’t have made it without the support of our priest.  We had quite a few talks prior to my surgery.  I also had two confessions because I didn’t want to face surgery with any dark clouds in my heart.  And finally, when I had my surgery during Christmas week of 2007- – my very special Fr. Peter from Ft. Campbell came and prayed with me.  My own priest from Murfreesboro was not able to come 100 miles because he had a house full of company.  Fr. Peter not only prayed for me –but on the final leg of my journey– when I was just about to be put under anesthesia–he came and talked to me once again.  He stayed with my family and talked with them.  It was such an intimate time for all of us. 

In the Holy Orhtodox Faith–we have confession with our priests.  Our priest get to know the strengths and weaknesses of each parishoner.  Our weddings are second to none.  They are very ornate and detailed and last a long time.  Then the receptions are usually full of whatever tradition a particular parish follows.  I know the Greeks enjoy having a great deal of dancing at their weddings.  Our baptisms are long and detailed with great celebrations afterwards. And for converts who are chrismated –the service is very special and intimate.  We have sponsors.  The sponsors provide our candles, icons and baptismal crosses.  The sponsors make a commitment to be a part of the lives of the newly chrismated.  This is another beautiful example of intimacy.

Thus,  I choose the more intimate path for my faith.  I want to first and foremost worship our Lord.  I have a Trinitarian faith.  That is why we make the sign of the cross.  That is why we pray The Trisagion Prayers. 

The Trisagion Prayers are a set of ancient prayers that begin each service of the Daily Cycle. They are also commonly used to begin one’s private prayers. ( (the + means to make the sign of the cross)

+Glory to Thee, our God, Glory to Thee.

O Heavenly King, Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, Who art everywhere present and fillest all things, the Treasury of good things and Giver of life: Come, and abide in us, and cleanse us from every stain, and save our souls, O Good One.

+Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal: have mercy on us. (3 times)

+Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

All-Holy Trinity, have mercy on us. Lord, cleanse us from our sins. Master, pardon our iniquities. Holy God, visit and heal our infirmities for Thy name’s sake.

Lord, have mercy. (3 times)

+Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages.

Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

For Thine is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory, of the +Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.

So what do you choose?  I personally want a deep intimate faith with my Lord.  I also want to know my priest in a personal way.  I want to participate in each step of the Divine Liturgy of our faith.  I don’t want a dvd or a booklet in place of a priest.  I don’t want to be bribed to attend a service by being offered tickets to the movies or a a free cup of coffee.  That is my personal choice.  What is yours?

God bless each  of you!

The Cancer Ward And A New Goal!

18 06 2008

The cancer ward is getting easier to visit.  I remember my first visit in December of 2007.  I was in partial denial that I really had cancer.  That was the initial visit where one meets the oncologist.  He explained to me more about breast cancer and told me he would see me a couple of weeks after surgery.

Those first two visits after surgery were confusing.  They had never received the report about whether my cancer was estrogen or progesterone fed.  I had to wait all morning to see the oncologist for one of those inital appointments.  Finally, the information was obtained.  I was put on a treatment plan of oral  chemotherapy.  I was to come back in a month and get my first blood work.  That was in March.  Everything was great and my next appointment was booked for June. 

Those early months in the cancer ward haunted me.  I just couldn’t take the environment.  However, this past Friday–I thought nothing of it.  I just walked right into the cancer ward–signed my name and sat down.  I was delighted to see one of my buddies from our cancer support group.  We just laughed and talked until she was called in first.

Finally I was called.  I call it the “cattle call”.  Three of us are called at a time.  We each stand on the scale and then  sit down in a little cubicle of three chairs.  After the nurse writes down our weight–she then begins to take our temperature and our blood pressure.  One by one –we are released to the lab to get blood work.  I was freaked out those first few times of being part of the “cattle call.”  This time I was relaxed.  My weight is not what I would like it to be.  However, I have stayed about the same weight for three years.  A little light bulb went on in my head….

I’m a fairly active person.  I walk each morning at 5:30 a.m. I’m always up and down the basement stairs doing laundry.  I take care of two active little grandsons two days a week.  So what is the problem with my weight?  I’m still eating too much.  I have told others that I must have a slow metabalism.  The truth is that I take too many second servings.  I’m generally not a person who eats inbetween meals. However, I eat like a horse at my meals.  So the little light bulb went on in my brain that if I would just eat three modest meals a day and stay as active as I am–I’m eventually going to lose weight.

Now that information is not new to me.  I know the scientific facts.  But scientific facts don’t always mix with denial.  So my goal is to lose 10 pounds by September the 19th.  That is when I visit the cancer ward again and the next cattle call will come.  I’m on my third day.  I ‘m feeling a little sorry for myself.  But somehow I think I will make it this time.  After losing 10 pounds–I’ll set another goal.

The cancer doctor gave me goods news that so far my blood work is fine.  I’m no longer afraid of the cancer ward.  I now have many friends who are cancer patients.  Finally, I’m going to get this weight off.  I wrote in my daily log–Eat less–move more!

God bless each of you!

The Story Of Vera And Her Family, Chapter 20

18 06 2008

In my heart–I knew I must forsake all thoughts of ruining my marriage.  Jim did what he thought he needed to do at the time.  Although I still don’t think it was the best solution for dealing with Ben’s anger problems–I had seen good come out of bad situations in our family so often–that I finally just took a deep breath and went on with life.  I didn’t speak bitter things to Jim.  We had to work together to get our family healed.  And that healing begain with our first visit to Henderson, Kentucky to see Ben.

It was Memorial Day weekend.  Phillip wanted to visit with Ben, too.  Thus, he drove us in his 1978 Oldsmobile.  Phillip had his own set of problems to deal with as he was separated from his wife and family.  He went from being a traveling minister who made good money– to living in a small apartment and adjusting to life as a factory worker.  At any rate–it was a beautiful weekend and we were excited to be able to spend some time with Ben.

I baked chocolate chip cookies that Memorial day morning.  I packed up a nice box of them for Ben.  Once again, Sandy and Maria were in charge of the household.  It was up to them to take care of you, Vera.  Once we arrived in Hendersonville at the group home–we were allowed to take Ben out for several hours.  We took Ben to a park on the Ohio River.  After we enjoyed that park for awhile–we found another park right in the city.  There were Memorial Day festivities taking place.  There were venders cooking up all kinds of meat.  I remember that Ben, Dad and Phillip enjoyed huge pork chop sandwiches.  Ben told us about his job working in a hospital.  All the boys were cleaning smoke filled walls at the local hospital.  The hospital was going to become a smoke free environment.  Ben was working 40 hours a week and earning money.  Although he would have preferred not to have been ordered out of his home–he was making the best of the situation.  He liked the air conditioning in the group home.  At the time, our home only had one large unit for the downstairs.  Ben always burned up in the summertime with no air conditioning in the upstairs of our home.  He also enjoyed having a large variety of food.  Our family was very limited on what we could spend on groceries.  So already God was working in the midst of a double tragedy.  All of our attitudes of antagonism were healing.

It was time for some follow up treatment for you, Vera.  Driving to Indiana was out of the question. We decided to do our follow up work through Trover Clinic based in Madisonville, Kentucky.  They had a clinic in our town.  Doctors would come from Madisonville to treat patients.  We were able to see an Orthopedic doctor and a Neurosurgeon.  You were at Trover Clinic every two weeks.  It was grueling getting you in and out of the car.  Dealing with that wheel chair was tough.  Often we had to wait a long time to see a doctor.  Likewise, soon you wanted to make trips to WalMart and the mall.  The wheelchair business always exhausted us both.  I gained a great deal of empathy for the handicapped.  I knew eventually you would walk again.  However, there are so many people who don’t have that hope.  I knew in my heart that I would always feel more compassion for those who had no hope of ever walking again. 

Finally in August we drove to the main hospital in Madisonville to get your casts removed.  The doctor cut them off and told you to walk.  He didn’t prescribe any physical therapy.  You screamed in anguish when you tried to take your first steps.  For several days you were in terrible pain. You literally had to learn to walk again.  It took a good two weeks for you to walk without being in  pain.

Also in August, we went back to court to ask If Ben could come home.  The judge was pleased with everyone’s progress.  The hostility was gone in our marriage.  The judge told Ben that he could come back home.  The catch was that Ben had to meet with a social worker each week.  I didn’t like that part of the judge’s order. I wanted our family to be completely free from the court system. 

Again, life just marched on. We all fell in place and just did the best we could to continue to heal as a family.  By the end of August- you were back in school and delivering your own paper route.  Phillip still came each afternoon and helped to roll the newspapers.  Ben got a job at a grocery store after school.  Sandy was back to running with her cross country team in high school.  She was also looking forward to getting her driver’s permit.  She would be 16 in September. 

Phillip continued to spend a great deal of time with us on the weekends.  We still made our huge pots of soup and the card games continued.  His wife was enrolled as a student at Austin Peay State University.  She had one year left to finish her undergraduate degree.  Phillip’s boys were also in high school.  His oldest was a senior.  Phillip went through terrible bouts of depression because of the separation of his family.  They were not open to visiting with Phillip.  The boys wanted nothing to do with their dad.  Neither did they want anything to do with any of you children.  It was sad that his boys would not even speak to Ben and Sandy at the high school. 

Phillip did have one little bit of joy.  A little black kitten was given to him.  He named the kitten Blackie.  We all enjoyed visiting with Blackie at Phillip’s apartment.  Then after Labor Day weekend, Phillip informed us that his friend, Bill, was coming for a visit from England.  He didn’t think Bill would be happy at his apartment.  He asked me if Bill could stay at our home for the two week visit.  I was not enthusiastic.  It was the beginning a new adventure. 

The Story of Vera And Her Family, Chapter 19

9 06 2008

Along with being taken off of your morphine–you were expected to start some fairly heavy duty physical therapy.  You were put on a tilting board to help you get used to sitting up again.  Even with your brace, you still couldn’t sit up.  That was a horrible experience .  You turned white and experienced nausea.  The physical therapist demanded a great deal from you.  Not only did the therapist want you to sit up–you were also pushed to stand up.  It was grueling work.  Alas, about the 7th day you were able to stand long enough to maneuver yourself into the wheelchair. I remember the process well.  Yo would scoot to the edge of your bed and stand.  Then you would very gingerly take a seat in the wheelchair.

I coped by buying newspapers, magazines and junk food with the cash that people sent to me at the hospital.  Every diversion was a God send.  The company was another pleasant diversion.  A couple of your teachers drove to the hospital to see you.  A wonderful neighbor brought Dad, Sandy and Maria up for a visit.  Another neighbor brought the whole gang up again.  This time my brother, Phillip, came with the family. The next to the last day we were at Welborn– your pastor made the trip to see you again.  I put you in your wheelchair and we rolled you down stairs.  Then your pastor and I rolled you around the grounds of the hospital.  My former pastor also made the trip to the hospital and gave us $200.00 in cash.  He was always a very compassionate man towards our family. 

The neighbor who origially brought up a car load of our family– decided that he wanted to make the trip once again to see us home.  Our family car was not in good shape.  He had a comfortable van.  It was a very pleasant ride home.  When we arrived home –we found that another neighbor had built a ramp on our front porch . I remember a whole host of neighbors arriving just about the point we got home.  They all welcomed us back.  I will always be thankful for such kind neighbors.

While we were gone, Sandy and Maria worked so hard to keep the homefront going smoothly.  Sandy took charge of all the laundry.  Maria delivered all three newspaper routes.  Phillip did come over each afternoon to help roll the newspapers.  He had a factory job that enabled him to be at our home by mid afternoon each day.  Sandy also kept the house clean.  By the time we got home –our refrigerator was full of meals prepared by kind friends.

Ben had been with his friends the entire time we were gone.  Jim felt like he could not cope with Ben in our home while you were recovering from your accident. While I was in Indiana–Jim went to the courthouse and signed papers to have Ben placed in a group home.  This meant a court hearing.  The court hearing was on our wedding anniversay.  I was filled with bitterness that Jim would do something like this behind my back.  During the court hearing–we argued in front of the judge.  That settled it for the judge.  He immediatly ordered Ben to be in the custody of the state.  Ben would be driven to a group home in Henderson, Kentucky that very afternoon. We had to meet with a social worker and sign papers.  I was in a rage that I had nothing to say about my son being taken from my home.  I felt like I hated Jim.  I wanted nothing to do with my husband.  Thoughts of divorce permeated my mind.  It was a double tragedy happening to our family. How could life be so bitter for us.  Hadn’t we suffered enough through the years without having to have the state in our lives? 

I placed all of my energies in taking care of you.  My hostilily ran it’s course and finally I was able too see some good in Ben being away for awhile.  Many people came to visit us that summer.  I had to get up early and make sure you were bathed and clean before the visitors started coming.  We turned the living room into your hospital room.  We had a hospital bed and all the paraphernalia that goes along with a person recovering from a serious accident.  I remember it was extremely hot that summer.  We only had one air conditioner and it wasn’t able to put out enough air to make you comfortable. 

We fell into a routine.  After I bathed you each morning –I put on your back brace.  Then I helped you get to a comfortable chair.  You loved country music.  You would sit and watch country music videos.  Or you would listen to some of your many country music compact disks.  If you tired of that –you would watch old reruns of The Walton’s or Little House On The Prarie. After lunch you were exhausted.  I would help you get to your portable potty.  Then I would take your back brace off and you would take a long nap.

Soon the newspaper bundles would arrive.  Phillip always showed up to help fold the newspapers.  By this time Jim was home from work.  Thus, Maria and I would deliver all of the routes.  When I arrived home from delivering the newspapers –you were ready to sit up again.  I put your brace on you and you were able to sit up until about 7:00 p.m. each evening.  Then I took your brace off and helped put your pajamas on.  Sometimes we would watch a movie together.  Those were the soft moments of the day.  During one of those evenings the director of the group home called and told me how well Ben was doing.  He believed that Ben would work through the difficult time of his life and that someday Ben would be an outstanding person.  I drank in his words of encouragement.  I missed Ben so much.  He was my little boy wrapped up in a man’s body.  The director said that we could start making visits on the weekends to see Ben.  How would we accomplish that with a car that was not really safe for long distance driving?  We had a great deal of problem solving to do.  At least I had some quiet moments in the evening to forget my troubles.  There was still a long road ahead of us.

Saying Goodbye to Fr. Isaiah and Kh. Beth And A New Mission Starts

7 06 2008

Jim and I have had close ties to the Orthodox group that meets at Ft. Campbell, Ky.  In fact, we left St. Elizabeth in Murfreesboro, Tennessee for six months to worship with the community at Ft. Campbell.  However, we missed the active parish life of St. Elizabeth and went back there to worship with our daughter, Vera, who was still living in Murfreesboro. 

During our six months at Ft. Campbell–Fr. Peter and Fr. Isaiah talked about the need to get an Orhtodox Church off post.  Fr. Peter had the director of missions for the Orthodox Church of America come talk with us.  Nothing concrete seemed to ever come out of that meeting.  But last October, Fr. Stephen Freeman ,who is the dean of the South from the Orthodox Church of America  came and talked with the community.( Unfortunately, we were not at that meeting. ) The vision became stronger and there seemed to be more hope of establishing an Orthodox Church in our area. 

In  February of 2008 an official bank account was opened at Fr. Stephen Freeman’s parish so that we could make contributions toward the starting of a mission.  I, more so than Jim, longed to be a part of the groundwork of getting the mission launched.  We talked with our priest in Murfreesboro about it.  He advised us to stay put for awhile.  He told us that he  knew Fr. Stephen very well and that he  would keep us informed about what was happening.  I went along with Fr. John’s plan for awhile.  Eventually, I just became very intense in my desire to be a part of the new mission.

My restless spirit just wouldn’t accept not being a part of the new mission.  So about a month ago –we approached our priest again.  He was relunctant to let us go.  His reasoning was that he didn’t want us to be hurt if the mission was slow in coming.  Very furvently, I pleaded with JIm to consider moving our bodies and our money.  Jim just wasn’t ready.  Fr. John would not give his blessing unless Jim was on board.

Finally, Jim began to see how silly it looks for us to be driving 100 miles and giving our money to St. Elizabeth when the community right in our backyard– so desparately needs our bodies and our money.  So he asked Fr. John to release us.  At that point, Fr. John was happy to let us go.  St. Elizabeth even sent a check to help with the new mission.

Fr. Isaiah and Fr. Peter are first and foremost military chaplains.  Fr. Isaiah received orders after Christmas to be deployed to Korea for three years.  Fr. Peter was sent to Iraq in March for a short deployment.  He will be back soon.  However, he will be leaving Ft. Campbell in August for good.  He has been at Ft. Campbell for ten years.  Thankfully, they both have had a vision for the future of the Orthodox Church in our area.  They have spent hours researching and praying for that vision to come true for us.

Although we didn’t stay a part of the community–Fr. Peter and Fr. Isaiah have been good to us.  Fr. Peter came to the hospital and prayed for me when I had my breast  cancer surgery.  Fr. Isaiah and his wife Beth came that evening to check on me.  Beth cooked some wonderful food for my homecoming from the hospital. Many times Beth and some of my other girlfriends have gone out for lunch or coffee.  So the bonds of love and friendship were never broken.

Last week ater the Divine Liturgy, Jim got up and announced that we were back to stay.  The community had some gifts for Fr. Isaiah and Kh. Beth.  The community bought Fr. Isaiah a brand new set of vestments.  The color of the  vestments are a bright red trimmed in gold.  Fr. Isaiah just couldn’t believe the community would do something like that for him.  Kh. Beth got a lovely  necklace and some ear rings.  We had a wonderful coffee hour talking about plans for the new mission.

Last night, Fr. Isaiah and Kh. Beth, Nancy, Susie, Jim, Vera and I went to the  monthly Amish meal in Croften, Ky.  It was highly unusual for an Orthodox priest to attend such an event.  Fr. Isaiah is required to wear his clerical clothes in public.  I wondered what everyone was thinking.  Nevertheless, we had a wonderful dinner.  Everyone came back to our home for some more fellowship.  We took pictures with our new digital camera.   It was an occasion to remember.

Tomorrow, Fr. Isaiah will wear his new vestments.  We are all excited to see him in them.  We are looking forward to one last coffee hour with Fr. Isaiah  and Beth.  I’m sure we will talk again about getting a place off base.  By the end of the summer, we hope to have a space we can rent just on Sundays.  We are not ready for the expense of maintaining a building.  Fr. Stephen Freeman is supposed to come again sometime this summer and help us refine our ideas.

Our area  is filled with Southern Baptist, United Methodist and Church of God folks. Not to negat their good works–but we want people to know about the Christian Orthodox Faith.  We want people to have that choice.  It will take a great deal of sweat equity to make this mission happen.  We will water our efforts with prayer and with our money.  Someday, the word Christian Orthodox will be familiar to all who live in our area. 

Fr. Isaiah and Kh. Beth will spend about a month traveling and visiting with their families.  They will leave for Korea in July.  May God grant them many years.  And someday–we hope they will return to visit our mission.  I can just see Fr. Isaiah wearing his red and gold vestments and performing the Divine Liturgy in our little mission.

May God bless each of you!

An Era Gone By

5 06 2008

Since Memorial Day weekend, our neighbors to the left of us have been busily packing to move to their new home.  The “For Sale” sign has been up since Labor Day weekend.  I had been hopeful that we would have them as neighbors for a while longer.  Alas, they worked fast and hard to get all of their possessions packed last night.  Jim woke up and saw they were still packing at 1:00 in the morning.

We have been neighbors for 23 years.  We were not the kind of neighbors who invited each over for meals.  Nevertheless, there was a comfort knowing that we were available to help each other.  For many years, I’ve walked with Mrs. L each summer.  Last summer, I broke  the news to her that we would be moving.  She laughed and told me that they were wanting to move, too.  It looked like we would be the first to leave.  Our house sold almost immediately.  However,  because of various circumstances we canceled the sale of our home. 

The L’s took their time putting their home up for sale.  The had their old wooden garage demolished.  My grandsons had a wonderful time watching that event.  Then they were absolutely in a trance when a large truck came to pick up all of the debris.  Mr L.  bought one of those ultility sheds that looks like a little home.  He had a whole new concrete pad poured.  Again, my grandsons enjoyed watching the Mennonites bring that in and place in on the new concrete pad.

Mr. L is a banker.  He has gotten steady promotions and now is one of the top executives at the bank.  Mrs. L has taught school all of these years.  They have two children.  The oldest went all the way through school with our daughter, Vera.  Mrs. L was on the school board for 8 years.  Both of them have served on many community boards.  They are such busy people that they used to honk for their children to come out of the house for the next appointment. 

Most recently, we have all been involved with the neighborhood network for the older parts of our town.  Mr. L  is currently the treasurer and Mrs.L is the secretary.  They have worked hard for 18 months getting all of the legal ramifications completed for our neighborhood network.  Mrs. L told me that she will still keep coming to the meetings.  Knowing her community minded service attitude–I’m sure that she will continue to support our neighborhood.

We have had fun watching Mr. L take off for his long biking treks.  He will bike up to 50 miles at a time.  For a 57 year old–he is in fantastic shape.  Mrs. L and I take our walks but we are not in fantastic shape.  We have had fun through the years discussing the lives of our children and our female problems.  The summer was the only time I really got to peak into her life.

My grandsons are crazy about Mrs. L.  They love to greet her when she arrives home from her school teaching job.  She shows them real warmth and asks them about their little lives.  John and Alex are really going to miss the L’s. 

We realize now with my being a breast cancer patient–that we just need to stay put in our neighborhood.  We will work toward improving our part of the neighborhood network.  It is time to elect new officers.  I was afraid to volunteer.  I just don’t feel like I’m talented enough for leadership.  However, I was asked to be the President.  At our next meeting–I will be on a slate of nominees to be voted upon. Since we don’t have a real strong showing at our meetings–I probably will be elected president.

It will be extremely hard to fight for the good of our neighborhood without the daily interaction of the L’s. I have been a little blue today remembering all of the years we have been neighbors.  The new neighbors move in tomorrow.  I’m sure they are nice people.  However, nothing can take the place of such strong and faithful neighbors as the L’s.  May God grant them many years of happiness in their new home.

God bless each of You!