A Mission Trip, Our New Mission Church And Shadrack And Kibbles are Stars

16 07 2008

We drove Vera to the Nashville International Airport this morning for her flight to the Orthodox Christian Mission Center in Jacksonville, Florida.  She is training this evening and tomorrow for her overseas trip to Romania.  Friday morning , her team will be flying to Romania.  They will be spending three weeks working with older youth in camps.  Vera has been working hard for several months raising support for this trip.  She has put a great deal of her salary as a part time teacher towards her trip. Her parish, St. Elizabeth the New Martyr Orthodox Christian Church of Murfreesboro, Tennessee gave her about half of her support.  We have all sacrificed to make this mission trip a reality.  Vera is no stranger to missionary work.  After her sophmore year in college –she spent 8 weeks in Ukraine.  Then after she graduated from college she taught school in Ukraine for 10 months.  Vera married a a young man from Ukraine. The marriage became a bitter pill and her sorrow led her to learn about the Orthodox faith.  We were so impressed with the way her life changed during her search about the Orthodox faith–that we took the journey with her.  We were all chrismated in 2006 at St. Elizabeth Orthodox Church.  We will hold a prayer vigil for Vera and her team and for all the Romanian young people at the youth camps.  May God’s protection and peace be with each of them.

Several posts ago, I wrote about a new mission starting in Clarksville, Tennessee.  We have gone back and forth these past two years between the Orthodox Community at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky and St. Elizabeth in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.  In May we made our final decision to be a part of the new mission.  We have been praying for Western Kentucky and the Clarksville area ever since our journey to the Orthodox Faith began three years ago.  Jim took St. Herman of Alaska as his saint. ( You can read about St. Herman in my archives listed under the Orthodox faith. ) Many years ago while we were students at a Bible college–Jim desired to do mission work.  He is now 61 years old and that prayer is finally realized.

Fr. Peter  must have been working hard on the mission while he was in Iraq because when he came back to our community at Ft. Campbell, he had some very organized plans.  He already had a barebones budget ready.  There was already a community center in mind for the mission.  We had an official business business meeting.  Then someone told him about a chapel that might be available.  He checked into that and we had another business meeting.  This week the church that owns the chapel voted to let us rent their chapel.  So we will have a place to worship that is already a little church.  We are so excited.  The name of our mission church will be called: The Protection Of The Virgin Mary Orthodox Mission. We will be under the Orthodox Church In America. As far as I know now–there are only 4 Orthodox Christians in our Western Kentucky  town.  Now as we share about our faith, we can direct them to a mission within 30 miles of our town.  This is a wonderful answer to prayer.  And I almost forgot to add that Fr. Peter, who is being transferred to Ft. Knox, Kentucky will have no military obligations on the weekend.  His family is not moving from the Clarksville area.  So he will drive home each weekend and be our priest until a full time priest is assigned to our mission.

In the past three years we have seen people from all walks of life become Orthodox.  We have seen people who have had no church background at all seek out the Orthodox faith.  Likewise, we have witnessed  older people from different Christian backgrounds– learning about the Orthodox faith.  At St. Elizabeth several older couples were chrismated.  Their ages averaged between 60 to one man who was about 83.  Through newspaper ads–people found the Orthodox faith in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.  Now we are looking for the same kind of response in Western Kentucky and the greater Clarksville, Tennessee area. 

Jim is learning how to work behind the altar with Fr. Peter.  He has finished two Sundays so far. Fr. Peter gave him a three page single spaced list of instructions.  I had never realized how much responsibility goes into helping a priest.  Last Sunday after church, we went to get a snack and just enjoyed talking for a couple of hours.  We laughed as we remembered what a hard time Jim had with me when I was Lutheran.  We had a period in our marriage when we went our separate ways with our faith.  Jim went to a Baptist church and I went to the Lutheran church.  Jim did not like liturgical services at all.  He would give me lectures occasionally that I needed to be by his side.  I learned much about liturgical worship during my years as a Lutheran.  Now we are a team.  I never dreamed I’d see the day my husband would be working behind the altar to assist a priest.  God has been so faithful to draw us together these past three years to worship as a married couple in the same faith. So thanks be to God for our little mission church!

And now a little side note to a recent blog about Shadrack and Kibbles.  Shadrack, the dog, was found after being gone for 10 days.  Kibbles, her friend, was very sad.  Tomorrow they both become stars as the newspaper will be taking pictures of the two dog friends and will write a nice article about them.  I’m looking forward to reading that article! What a happy ending to what could have been a very sad story.

God bless each of you!





St Nicholas Day, Hair Coloring Night And I’ve Been A Little Down

6 12 2007

This is the wonderful day of celebration of my patron saint.  I chose St. Nicholas, because he is the patron saint of children ,as well as many other categories of life.  I had a very lonely childhood.  There was a void in my heart that lasted well into my forties.  I like to describe it as a soul hunger.  I just craved for someone to fill that deep void in my heart.  Having a husband and four children didn’t even fill that void.  I was a person of faith, but I couldn’t seem to get my faith to even  heal this void.  Then in my late forties—thankfully, that soul hunger passed.  Sure I get down at times.  However, I don’t feel the need for any one person or any type of activity to fill that void.  So that is why I chose St. Nicholas.  Each Sunday, as I walk up to receive the Eucharist–my priest calls me Nichole.  Orthodox Christians are always called by their baptismal name while partaking of the Holy Eucharist.

Now to a very earthy subject–hair coloring.  I’m sitting here with goop all over my head.  I’ve been using a light auburn or a light golden brown for years.  When I first started greying, I had it professionaly colored for about a year.  Then Jim told me I better learn to do it myself.  So I’ve been coloring my hair for nine years now.  I just recently had my long hair cut to prepare myself for cancer surgery.  So it seemed strange tonight coloring much shorter hair.  I’m having a hard time adapting to this short hair.  It is thick and frizzy.  I didn’t notice the frizziness so much when it was long , because I used hot rollers to keep it curly.  How vain I’ve been worrying my hair.  I’ve had to confess that vanity quite a few times this week.  I’m still hoping I won’t have to have radiation or chemotherapy.  Short and frizzy will be a blessing–if I can keep my hair.

I’m the one who decided I wanted a few weeks before I even talked to a surgeon.  I’m not sure that was a wise decision.  I’ve been nesting like a woman does when she is getting ready to have a baby.  I just keep thinking of things that I need to get done.  I’m never satisfied that I have worked hard enough in a given day.  Yet I don’t loaf.  I never watch television.  And movies are reserved for the evenings when Jim doesn’t have to work the next day. 

As the days go by–the darkness of the late fall evenings make me a bit afraid.  I have never liked how dark it gets so early in the evening.  I’m thinking to hard about how my life is about to change.  I try not to write scripts.  Nevertheless, they run through my head.  I’m not afraid and yet I am.  I do know that my faith will see me through.  What a wonderful family I have to support me.  As I sit here in the semi dark, with the christmas lights of my tree reflecting the only light in this room–I know I’m not alone.  So many have told me that my name is on their church’s prayer list.  I’m grateful for that. 

In the morning, I will naturally fall into my routine of daily life.  I won’t think much about cancer or hospitals or chemotherapy–until the evening.  I have to remind myself that I’m not unique.  And, I’d rather have cancer of my body–than cancer of my soul.  I’m trying my best to be gentle, kind and loving to all persons I come in contact with each day.  I’m especially aware of how important it is to be kind and loving to my family.  For you see, family usually always get the brunt of unkindness.  Yes, I will continue to seek the Lord, to pray for the fruit of the spirit to reflect in my life– no matter what my circumstances are.

It’s time to get this goop rinsed out of my hair.  Then I look forward to catching up on my blogs. Jim has been home for two days.  I try to let him have priority with the computer when he is home.  He is sound alseep now.  It is finally my turn. 

God bless each of you.





St. George The Great Martyr

30 11 2007

ST. GEORGE THE GREAT MARTYR

St George was born about 280 A.D. of noble birth. He joined the Emperial guard of the emperor, Diocletian, as a teenager. He even served along side of Constantine, who was also in the emperial guard. St. George was stationed in Libyia, North Africa. There was a town close by where a huge dragon tormented and devoured the people. This town was surrounded by thick walls but the dragon’s breath would even kill people. Each day two animals were thrown to the dragon. Then when the animals were gone, they drew lots whose child would be offered. The lot fell to the king’s daughter. She was dressed in royal robes of white to meet the dragon. St. George heard about what was going to happen, so he rescued her from the dragon and tied the dragon up. He told the people that if they would turn to Christ, he would kill the dragon. They agreed, so the dragon was slain.

Now Diocletian hated Christians. He felt he was annointed by the pagan gods to wipe out Christianity. He made a proclamation that all the churches would be closed and the scriptures destroyed. All those in rank as officers that were Christians would be demoted. Moreover, all other people would become slaves. St. George had a stand off with Diocletian where he ripped up the proclamation. He was put in prison. A beautiful young woman was placed in his cell to tempt him. Before the night was over , she asked St. George to baptize her. Next, Diocletian had St. George tied to a wheel with spokes and razors. This did not kill St. George. A tube of water was filled with lime to encase St. George. He survived. They gave him poison. However, St. George made the sign of the cross and didn’t die. Diocletian had St. George’s hands tied behind his back and then made him drink poison. Nevertheless, St. George used his head to make the sign of the cross and survived. Lastly, George was beheaded. St. George is described as a steadfast, triumphant, victorious warrior. He is the patron saint of soldiers and captives.





Comic Relief, Cranberry Orange Bread and Metropolitan Peter of Krutitsa and The Bear

29 11 2007

I tend to take myself way to seriously.  In the midst of learning more about breast cancer, I really need my pets, my grandchildren and some light hearted reading.  Five year old John still won’t eat turkey.  He had so many turkey papers he colored in kindergarten, that he just can’t bring himself to eat turkey. Believe me , he knows what turkey lunch meat is and refuses that, also.  Yet, he dearly loves ham and chicken nuggets.  We don’t want to spoil if for him.  We continue to have our grandsons on the afternoons of the days that Jim doesn’t work.  I go pick them up and we spend time coloring or working on a computer program that teaches them skills.  They like to hide under our desk and pretend that we don’t see them.  I kick them gently while telling Jim:  “I hope we can find John and Alex before their mother comes home.”  They are just laughing and giggling –really believing that we can’t find them. 

Rudy, Tickie, Sammie and Katie keep me hopping, also.  Rudy is just so much trouble.  She instigates trouble all of the time. She and Tickie back Sammy, the cat, up in a corner and bark relentlessly.  On the other hand, the three of them will snuggle together for naps.  Sammy even groomed Rudy yesterday afternoon.  Basically, whatever mischief Rudy gets into–Tickie follows.  They’ve been kind of off kilter since Jim’s work schedule changed.  I was used to getting them out for an early morning walk.  We are all trying  to adjust–even the animals.  They have really acted out more , since our lives have changed.

Poor Katie, the cat, stays on the fridge.  She is terrified of the dogs.  I found her in l997 after a family just abandened her.  She has always been a fearful cat.  She would live in one room only when my other dogs were alive.  Katie seemed to sense when they could no longer torment her–so she gradually increased her living area.  Today, the poor thing spends most of her time on our fridge.  She is 13 now and seems to be going down hill fast. 

I like the light reading of The Mitford Series by Jan Karon.  I read them all many years ago but started re-reading them this fall.  Father Tim seems to solve every heartache and sorrow in Mitford.  Real life could not be this good ever–but it is fun to read.  I also love the  Anne of Green Gable books by L.M. Montgomery.  Anne is forever getting into trouble but grows up to be a wonderful teacher and eventually marries her childhood friend, who becomes a doctor.  None of these books are for deep thinking but sometimes we all need to be a lighter hearted. 

I’m feeling the need to fill my freezer with good things to eat, before I go to have my surgery.  This morning I made four loaves of cranberry-orange bread.  I never turn on the oven to make just one loaf of bread.  This is our Nativity fast–so we can’t use milk or eggs.  Ordinarily, I use bananas in place of eggs.  This time ,I tried a product called Energ. Actually, the g goes under the word.  I found it in the organic section of Kroger.  I just took my bread out of the oven–and it seems to have done a good job.  This is how I made my bread:   I took one can of frozen orange juice, melted and blended it in the blender with 1 lb of cranberries.  Dilute the orange juice to make 6 cups of liguid.  Place this in an extra large mixing bowl.  Add 1/2 cup of the egg substitute with 1/2 cup of warm water.  Add to the mixture.  Add 4 tablespoons of baking powder, 4 teaspoons of vanilla, 4 cups of raw sugar, 1 cup of olive oil and 12 cups of flour.  I use only unbleached white flour and whole wheat flour.  Mix everything together and pour into four greased pans.  Bake on 300 degrees until done.  I always start with a lower temperature and increase if I need to.  My bread turned out wonderful. 

Again, I have a mini saint story.  Actually, Peter of Krutitsa isn’t a  saint, but his story is very interesting.  The time frame for this story is somewhere between l920 and 1930.  Christians were being persecuted terribly in Russia.  Metropolitan Peter was taken prisoner on a train.  The guards treated him awful.  Eventually, they threw him off the moving train.  He fell  into a deep pit of snow and down into an abyss.  Finally, he ended up in a dark forest.  It was terribly cold.  He knew that he would freeze to death.  While saying what he thought were his final prayers–a huge bear came his way.  Instead of attacking the Metropolitan, this bear let Peter know that he was to snuggle with him.  Gladly, Metropolitan Peter curled up in the bear’s embrace all night.  When he woke up, the bear was gone.  Later a rooster led him to a human dwelling, where he was able to take shelter.

God Bless Each of You!





ST. IGNATIUS OF ANTIOCH

15 11 2007

                              ST. IGNATIUS OF ANTIOCH

Church tradition teaches that the little child that Jesus held when he talked to His disciples about becoming as a child in order to enter the kingdom of Heaven was St. Ignatius. Not much is known about St.Ignatius until he became the Bishop of Antioch. We do know that he was a disciple of St. Peter and St. John, the Evangelist. In l07 A.D. , Trajan the emperor of Rome was conquering his enemies and annexing their land. He arrived in Antioch and was furious to hear of all of the Christians. Fearing that many Christians would lose their lives, St.Ignatius offered himself to be killed in their stead. Trajan thought that St. Ignatius was full of evil spirits to not bow down to his gods. St. Ignatius stood firm in his faith. He was sentenced to travel to Rome and die by the hands of lions in the great Coliseum. St. Ignatius wanted to die and be with the Lord. He begged the Christians not to try to rescue him by human means nor by the means of prayer. It was a six month journey and he was tired and feeble upon arriving in Rome. He was given one more chance to deny his faith but refused to do so. Two lions devoured all but his bones. Later, the three men who traveled with him took his bones to a home near the Coliseum that was frequented by the Christians. During the night, these Christians prayed. St. Ignatius appeared to them. Initially, his relics went to Antioch. Later they were brought back to Rome and were laid in the same spot where they were venerated the night after his death..





ST. NICHOLAS THE WONDERWORKER

13 11 2007

ST. NICHOLAS THE WONDERWORKER

St. Nicholas was born into a very wealthy family in Asia minor around 300 AD. His uncle was a bishop and recognized and nurtured godliness in Nicholas. His parents died and left him all of his wealth. St. Nicholas gave it all away to the poor and needy. He wanted to become an ascetic in the desert but the Lord made it plain to him that he was to serve his people.

He was eventually made the Archbishop of Myra. He traveled along with 318 other bishops to Constantinople to the first great church council. This council was to straighten out the heresy that Bishop Arius was spreading . This heresy was that Christ was a created being. Arius spoke on and on about his beliefs. Finally, ST. Nicholas struck him in the face. He was placed in jail and was stripped of being a bishop. However, Christ and the Virgin Mary appeared to him his first night in jail. Christ gave him the Gospels and the Virgin Mary gave him his episcopal stole. The other bishops had a vision of what happened and thus ST. Nicholas was able to be a bishop once again.

Another famous story is how he rescued three sisters from a life of degradation. He heard of their plight of losing their wealth. He threw a bag of gold through the window to rescue the first sister. Likewise, he did the same thing for the second sister. Finally, the father was curious to know where this gold was coming from. He sealed the window. The last sister washed her one change of clothes and hung them by the fireplace. When St. Nicholas couldn’t throw his gold through the window, he climbed up on the roof and threw the gold down the chimney. It landed in a stocking. This true story spun the folklore of Santa Claus in the West.

St. Nicholas was a wonderful theologian, administrator and shepherd of his people. He is the patron saint of sailors, children, and many others. He was buried in Asia Minor but in 1057 AD, the Pope of Rome had a vision that the relics of St. Nicolas belonged in Bari, Italy. St. Nicholas had predicted this before he died.





St. Herman of Alaska

5 11 2007

ST. HERMAN OF ALASKA

St. Herman, in 1794, traveled with nine other Orthodox Christian missionaries from Russia to do missionary work among the Aleut Indians. After his fellow missionaries died, he alone went to Spruce Island. For the rest of his life, he was dedicated to helping these Indians. He taught them how to garden, preserve food and treated them when they were ill. He chose to live a very ascetic life but was very generous to the Indians. He dug himself a little hut in the ground and covered it with sod. He had a flat board for a bed and used rocks covered with animal skins for pillows. Proclaiming the Gospel to the Aleut Indians was his primary concern..

The animals also loved St. Herman. He could get close to the bears and feed them. He was strong and could carry a heavy load on his shoulders. Twice he saved the people from near tragedy. The first danger was a fire that threatened to wipe out the village. St. Herman dug a ditch that was three feet wide. Then he turned the moss all the way to the bottom of the hill. This prevented the village burning down. Then one day there was a huge tidal wave. St. Herman placed an icon of the Virgin Mary in the sand on the shore and prayed. The waves calmed as they neared the icon. Lastly, St. Herman championed for the human rights of the Aleuts over and against the mean fur traders and gold miners who were ruining Alaska’s natural resources. Last of all, the night St. Herman died, the Aleut people saw a pillar of light flowing up into the sky. They knew that St. Herman had gone to heaven. St. Herman truly brought the Holy Orthodox Faith to North America.