The Joy Of The Children and Getting Ready for Vera To Return Home

17 12 2007

I just went through our church directory and counted that we have about 33 children at St. Elizabeth the New Martyr Orthodox Christian Church.  The Orthodox faith believes in keeping the children in the service.  What a joy to see children as young as 3 making the sign of the Cross and singing: “Lord have mercy”.   Yesterday, my friend Mary sat on the front row.  She attracted several children.  What a delight to see them worshiping with Mary.  One of these children was about 7 and he was able to repeat the Nicene Creed, almost from memory.  These children are so attuned to participating in the Divine Liturgy.  If a younger child gets restless–parents are welcome to take them out of the service for a bit. One of my greatest joys is seeing whole families partake of the Holy Eucharist together. 

In our parish, we have a tradition where the children take the offering.  It is so sweet to see them gather up front. One by one they kiss the cross . Then they begin to take the offering up.  I always look forward to this.  I taught Sunday School for several months last spring and was amazed at the knowledge these young children have about their faith. 

One of the key reasons why Jim and I converted to the Orthodox faith was because we had participated for over 30 years in churches that were constantly changing.  The Orthodox Church never changes.  They have been using the same service written by St. John Chrysostom for hundreds of years.  In the course of our service ,our priest prays for so many needs of the world. We then as a parish sing out: “Lord have mercy”.  There are other little songs we sing in reference to his ,but the mercy theme is the most predominant.  We pray for our president, for people who are sick , for all who are traveling , for the earth to be full of plenteous food. We also pray for those who are held captive and persecuted for their faith.

I especially love the Grand Entrance where our priest and all of the alter men and boys walk down the aisles of the church with the Holy Eucharist.  We can reach out an touch our priest’s robe.  Then when he reaches the front of the church–he has a list of very special needs that he prays for. 

Near the end of our service–we walk up front to receive the Holy Eucharist.  We cross our arms–placing our hands on our shoulders.  We step one by one up to our priest where he gives us this sacrament personally.  After I return to my sit–I  enjoy seeing others partake of the Holy Eucharist.  We sing the beatitudes.  We also sing Christ’s words from the Gospel of John , Chapter 13:35: “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” I love this quote from St. Elizabeth the New Martyr: “If you do not love the brother whom you see, how will you be able to love God whom you do not see?”  I have written a little post about St. Elizabeth that is listed under “Orthodox Saints”.  She went from a life of royalty –to a life of complete self sacrifice for others. 

We are all excited that Vera will be moving back home this Friday.  On recent Sundays,  we have been carting a car load of her possessions home. Hopefully, she will be able to get the last of her stuff in her car.  One of her adult students is bringing a car load of things also.  Maria  went through her home looking for extra furniture for Vera.  In our enthusiasm to clean our house out last spring and summer –we let go of almost everything upstairs.  So Maria loaded her pickup truck with a desk, a bookcase, a table, a clothes rack and a beautiful mirror.  Her neighbors helped her load the truck.  I helped her cart all of this furniture upstairs this morning.  It really exhausted me.  However, I’m glad that we have at least this good start for Vera.

The sun was shining today.  How wonderful after days of drenching rain.  I was able to get our dogs on a good walk.  Our walks have become fewer since Jim started his new work schedule around Thanksgiving time.  They were so excited to get out in the rich sun light this afternoon.  Then we curled up for a nice nap.  There is something very comforting to me about having my little dogs curl up with me.  To some folks that would be gross.  However, to me it is one of life’s little delights.  At night–Rudy, our twelve pounds of trouble, always sleeps under the covers.  I don’t know how she breathes ,but she always manages to wake up –full of vitality and ready to start her little trouble making antics.  Ticky likes to sleep close to my pillow.  Sometimes,  Sam, the cat, joins us.  What a comical team we all are.

So thank the Lord for the joy of the children and the joy of His wondrous creation.  Most especially–we are thankful that Vera is coming home!

God bless each of you!

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Meet Our Family

7 11 2007

    I’ve been writing for awhile but have not introduced you to our family.  I’d like to do that today.  I’ve told you already that Jim and I have been married for 33 years.  Jim is five years older than I am.  We met in a small Bible college in Alabama .  Jim is from Iowa and came south to be in the Air Force.  After he left the Air Force, he went to Bible college.  We married in l974 and had our four children right away.

    Ben is our first child and only son.  He is 32 years old now.  Since he was two years old he has been taking things apart and putting them back again.  Today , he can fix almost anything.  He is self employed and can’t keep up with all the phone calls he gets for work.  He has helped his mom and dad countless times around this old house.  Ben is newly married to Linda.  They have been next door neighbors for many years.  Around the time that Jim got sick, Ben started being interested in his neighbor, Linda.  She was a widow for 12 years.  They were married in October 2006.  We are so thankful for Linda.  I always enjoy her company.  She works with kindergarten children as a teacher’s aid.

     Sandy is our oldest daughter.  She told me when she was five that she was going to grow up and have an important job.  Sandy married after just one year of college but managed to work herself through college with a degree in business.  She got a job with a CPA firm and started as a book keeper.  That was painful for her because she had a college degree.  Her boss gradually kept promoting her and encouraged  Sandy to sit for the CPA exam.  She studied so hard for the exam but didn’t make it the first time.  Finally, she passed.  After several years of being a CPA with this company she was offered partnership.  Rob and Sandy waited seven years to have children.  Their two little charges  are now five and three.  Little John and Alex.  What blessings they are.  Even though Sandy works, she can take off for field trips and special events with her children.  Rob has worked in the heating and air conditioning field most of their married life.  He has his company van  as their second car.  John and Alex love to ride in their daddy’s van.

     Maria has a degree in social work and her master’s degree in gerontology.  She married Kirk in 2003.  Kirk is an independent truck driver.  Maria is presently working as a post master relief person and is qualified to relieve post masters in about five small towns surrounding her home.  Maria has helped us countless times with her self less care.  Most recently , she scouted out all kinds of pretty things for my home.  I spent about seven weeks painting the main floor of our home.  She found me all kinds of nice things using my color scheme of purple, green and yellow. 

    Vera is our youngest.  She  has an undergraduate degree in creative writing and her master’s degree in ESL.  She has taught in a major university and is now currently teaching at a private ESL school in Murfreesboro, Tn.  Vera ,through sorrow in her personal life, sought out the Orthodox Christian faith and we joined her in her journey. 

So here is a snapshot of our family.  In 2001 I wrote a booklet on our family and all the adventures we had while they were growing up.  Soon, I will be posting chapters of that booklet .  Be on the look out for these new postings.