faith · family · Orthodoxy · parenting · pregnancy

Sanctity of Life Sunday 2015

Archpastoral Message of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon

To the Venerable Hierarchs, Reverend Clergy, Monastics, and Faithful of the Orthodox Church in America:

Dearly beloved,

Today (January 18), has been designated by the Orthodox Church in America as “Sanctity of Life Sunday,” a day on which we re-affirm our faithfulness to the eternal value of human life and re-commit ourselves to the defense of the lives of the unborn, the infirm, the terminally ill and the condemned.

Our proclamation of life is offered in the context of a world in dismay at the terrorist attacks that recently shook Paris, the latest in a series of seemingly endless tragedies throughout the world that unnecessarily claim many innocent lives.  Following this latest tragedy, Christians, Muslims, Jews and non-believers have engaged in discussion and debate about a range of issues, from human dignity to the responsibilities of political cartoonists, from freedom of expression to humanity’s capacity for tolerance.  Unfortunately, much of this debate is framed in an atmosphere of ideological violence, whether this be a “war on infidels” or “war on terrorism.”  In such divisive engagements, there are rarely any victors but only more victims.

As Orthodox Christians, who hold dear the revealed truth that the life of “all mankind” is
sacred, we might reflect, along with St. Nikolai of Zhicha, on the paschal victory of Christ over death and corruption:

“Christ’s victory is the only victory in which all humanity can rejoice, from the first-created to the last. Every other victory on earth has divided, and still divides, men from one another. When an earthly king gains the victory over an another earthly king, one of them rejoices and the other laments. When a man is victorious over his neighbor, there is singing under one roof and weeping under the other. There is no joyful victory on earth that is not poisoned by malice: the ordinary, earthly victor rejoices both in his laughter and in the tears of his conquered enemy. He does not even notice how evil cuts through joy.”

Our world is so full of these joyless and dark victories that we might despair of being able to put forward the hope and light of the Gospel message. We would do well to heed the words of St. Nikolai and keep our hearts and minds focused on our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ, in Whom alone can solace, hope and joy be found in any meaningful and lasting way.

Indeed, Christ did not say: “I offer one of many complimentary paths”;  He said: I am the Way. Christ did no say: “I hold to the correct philosophical principles;” He said: I am the Truth. Christ did not say: “I subscribe to the only viable political agenda;” He said: I am the Life.

It is only possible to attain to this Way, this Truth and this Life through Christ and through the light that He bestows to those who strive to allow even a small beam of that light to enter their hearts and illumine their path. As St. Nikolai writes: “Christ’s victory alone is like a sun that sheds bright rays on all that are beneath it. Christ’s victory alone fills all the souls of men with invincible joy. It alone is without malice or evil.”

Let us therefore make every effort to offer this “victory of light and life” to those who are surrounded by darkness and death. Let us be bold in our adding our Orthodox voices in support of the value of every human person, born or unborn; let us offer consolation to the mothers who have undergone abortions and offer our prayers to them and to all who have been affected by this tragedy; let us affirm our Orthodox understanding of the human person as created in the image and likeness of God and yet in need of healing in Christ.

Let us, together with St. Nikolai, proclaim the great victory of Christ:

“A mysterious victory, you will say? It is; but it is at the same time revealed to the whole human race, the living and the dead.

“A generous victory, you will say? It is, and more than generous. Is not a mother more than generous when she, not once or twice, saves her children from snakes but, in order to save them for all time, goes bravely into the snakes’ very nest and burns them out?

“A healing victory, you will say? It is, healing and saving forever and ever. This gentle victory saves men from every evil and makes them sinless and immortal. Immortality without sinlessness would mean only the extending of evil’s reign, and of that of malice and wickedness, but immortality with sinlessness gives birth to unconfined joy, and makes men the brethren of God’s resplendent angels.”

With love in the Lord,
Archbishop of Washington
Metropolitan of All America and Canada

family · · kids · parenting · pregnancy

The Reveal to Grandpa

Wow…this is precious!
faith · homeschooling · learning · motherhood · parenting · pregnancy · saints

Liturgical Life: August & September

August & September

August and September were full months indeed!  Baby Samuel was born on the 13th of August, and afterwards I observed my forty days of rest and healing.  Father Gregory came to the hospital to give a blessing after birth, and it was nice to have him there.  We had a small brunch at our house for Samuel’s eighth day naming, and Father Gregory came to our house for the first time.  We really enjoyed having him here and praying at our altar.  My churching took place at St. Arsenius hermitage.  As the end of the Church year approached I felt somewhat disconnected, until the Feast of the Dormition.  We did not do anything special as far as services.  The Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos was two days after Samuel was born.  It was a wonderful way to end my pregnancy.  Samuel’s name day was on the 20th of August, and we celebrated with a kiss and a blessing.  I was just not well enough to do anything more.

The beginning of the Church year, September 1, did not feel like a beginning to me.  I was still recovering, and the quiet of this house felt good and healing.  My brother Joshua’s name day falls on the same day.  We called him and said special prayers for him that night.  My husband is his Godfather.  I spent part of the day observing and praying before the Nativity of the Theotokos icon on September 8.  It meant more to me this year than in year’s past.  On September 14 we sang our Elevation of the Holy Cross song and studied the icon.  Sophia’s name day was on the 17th and we took her out to eat Asian food, her favorite.  We talked about St. Sophia, a favorite in our family.

What we are reading:
The story of Saint Sophia.

Special Prayers:
Prayers for the beginning of the Church year and the school year.

Special services:
Blessing after birth.
Eighth day naming.
40 day churching.

Special Projects:
We gave the plant shed a makeover.  We turned it into a little schoolroom for Addy and Caroline.  We bought an air-conditioner and new laptops for the online classes.
Beginning school year – September 9  

faith · family · · parenting · pregnancy

The Crying Baby Test

The Crying Baby Test
A good reminder for me as I go back to Church.  It was difficult to manage my seven and three year old at times.  I wonder what Church will be like adding Samuel to the mix?  My friend posted this article on Facebook and I thought it would be nice to share here.

Below are photos of my Churching. I told my husband afterwards, “Well honey, we did it.  We got another baby born into this world.”  Churching has helped me find closure to a difficult journey, and I am thankful.  What a blessing to be Orthodox!


cleaning · cooking · faith · family · friendship · homeschooling · · organizing · parenting · pregnancy

I’m Back…

Well this has been a very difficult recovery for me.  After an allergic reaction to a pain medication, a trip to the ER for what turned out to be post pregnancy hypertension, and a more painful recovery than ever I finally feel like posting something today.  Before today I could not even set at the computer, and I did not feel like doing anything.  Thankfully I have been able to hold my precious new baby boy, and nurse, and snuggle practically non stop.  That part is wonderful.

I hope to return to my homeschooling series this coming week.  I am also looking forward to getting our homeschool plans finalized and a few things organized.  I have high hopes for some cooking and general homemaking.  After being practically immobile for 21/2 months, surgery, and recovery complications my body is slow and a little weak, however I do not mind taking it easy.  It feels so good to be up and moving and really present.  My mom pointed out that instead of surviving my day I could now take things in and let things go out again…I could be at peace after a hard work.

Things can never go back to the way they were before Samuel was born.  My work, my schedule, my time, my priorities…they are all changing and adjusting and coming into a new normal.  I love it!  And I love making a place for Samuel.

As fall approaches and summer fades I can barely write this post without crying.  For all those who prayed for Good Strength…thank you.  A season has come and gone…it was hard, but I love the fall.  My struggle is now my joy…it is joy for my whole family.

faith · family · · parenting · pregnancy

Introducing…Samuel Andrew { 10 lbs and 22 1/2 inches }

Birthday: 8-13-2013

 Happy at the Hospital!

 Already out playing with baby brother!

 Dad and Father Gregory at the eighth day naming.

 Father Gregory and my children.

We are  happy to have Samuel home and healthy.  We are so in love with him..  A boy has brought a different kind of joy, and our hearts are so full.  Glory to God for all things!
faith · family · marriage · parenting · pregnancy

I can’t sleep…

Birth is a bloody ordeal….

Tonight as I lay wake unable to sleep…my mind is filled with images that I attach to certain memories of how I have given birth…not the natural way…but no less bloody…no less a gift.

Tomorrow my skin and tissue will be pierced and I will bleed and water will flow…and Samuel will be taken from me and take a breath of this air…and I will not get to hold him for very long…and the lights will go out…and the doctor will sew me up…and he will staple me with metal clamps…and bandage me…and the nurses will wash me…and I will wake and feel the wound…it’s not the natural way…but it is still a labor…and it hurts.

My mom was not left with a scar after I was born…but she bled.  Her blood poured from the place that makes her helpmeet…the place a young girl becomes a bride…that place that receives life…that just receives.  On the day I was born that place gave…it gave birth.

What does it mean for me and Samuel…to birth in such an unnatural way…from my belly…the child never passing through the door that closes all on its own after the gift is given…the belly cannot give birth…men have bellies…what do I call what I and Samuel will do tomorrow…we will do our best…which is not the best…we will do what we can…and we will finish…and we will meet each other on different terms…we will be patient with one another because being deprived of labor makes us a little like strangers…a little shy…the sterile quite of anesthetized pain has robbed us both of the trauma that cleanses…that bonds.

And when we both come to our senses…we will behold one another with sober eyes…and it will all be natural…and we will love…and he will take in the one thing that I can give…the breast…and I will feel for the first time the natural sensation of pain…and it will feel good…it will feel right.

And when the doctor comes to inspect the wound I will hurt…but not my heart…not anymore…not after five…not after five wounds…five scars…five amazing blessings…not after…not ever.