Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Meal Plan with Top 14 meals for Panagia's Fast, August 1-14.

Here we are at another fasting period.   Are you ready? 

Here is a list of our top fourteen favorite.

  1. Banana Bread

  1. Shrimp and Potato Soup

  1. Fifteen Bean Soup

  2. Pierogies

  3. Pasta Shells in Clam Sauce 
  4. Fish Plaki 
  5. Greek Fries

  6. Hummus
  7. Shrimp and Rice 

  8. Chocolate Cake 
  9. Tuna and Potatoes 

  10. Spanakopita 

  11. Baked Vegetables 
  12. Spinach and Rice 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

An Evening Prayer...


O Christ our God, You are worshiped at all times and in all places and are glorified both in heaven and on earth. You are patient, generous in mercy, rich in compassion, loving to the just and merciful to the sinner. You call all of us to repentance through the promise of blessings to come. O Lord, receive our supplications at this very hour. Direct our lives in the way of Your commandments. Sanctify our souls, purify our bodies, set our minds aright, cleanse our thoughts, deliver us from all affliction, wrath, danger and need. Surround us with Your holy angels, so that, guided and guarded by their ranks, we may reach unity of the faith and the knowledge of Your unutterable glory. You are blessed unto ages of ages. Amen.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

A Timely Bedtime Story: Holy New Martyr Elizabeth, Grand Duchess of Russia

I am very thankful!  Earlier this summer I bought my son various books on lives of saints.  Tonight I read him Holy New Martyr Elizabeth, Grand Duchess of Russia.   We were both tickled to find that her feast day was just two days ago, July 18.  I hadn't realized the timeliness of the book when I started reading it. 

What an amazing story of service and love. 

The weblog Mystagogy has a great post on this martyred saint, including pictures and links to news articles from the New York Times from the early 1900's.   
Orthodox England on the 'net also has her life's story.  I hope you read these two posts for yourself and the book to your children. 
My husband informs me that there is a church dedicated to her in Columbia, SC, just an hour away.  Sounds like a great summer field trip to me! I can't wait!
I was most impressed by her endurance.  She retreated from her status and worldly things when her husband was murdered and put all her resources and time into establishing a monastery, hospital and orphanage.  She worked tirelessly to serve her fellow man.  Unfortunately she was deeply connected to Russian politics, being the sister of the Tsar's wife (and the grand daughter of Queen Victoria)... the story of her martyrdom is startling. 

Prayer...It Isn't the Least...

This card features a picture of the stained glass of Assumption Cathedral in Denver, CO.  The colorless sketched glass allows natural light in without discoloring the gorgeous iconography.


What inspired this card?  I was tired of hearing people refer to prayer as the least they can do, as if prayer were a last resort.  "We can't be there so we will pray."  Prayer isn't the least.  It's the first and most important thing. 

There are time that we will need to do things for someone or even ourselves.  It is during those times we should first pray for God's will to be done.  We should pray for discernment, that we do the task correctly.  We should pray for strength do complete the task before us, to finish the job well.  And then we should do what needs to be done.

But there are also times when there is nothing we can do,  when it is out of our control.  We will know someone who has an addiction or is unforgiving; someone with an illness we can't cure. Then we pray for mercy, forgiveness, grace, intercession.

Below is one of my (most) favorite prayers...It is attributed to St. Philaret, of Moscow (1867) who is commemorated on November 19.

O Lord, grant me to greet the coming day in peace. Help me in all things to rely upon Your holy will. In every hour of the day reveal Your will to me. Bless my dealings with all who surround me. Teach me to treat all that comes to me throughout the day with peace of soul, and with the firm conviction that Your will governs all. In all my deeds and words guide my thoughts and feelings. In unforseen events let me not forget that all are sent by You. Teach me to act firmly and wisely, without embittering or embarrassing others. Give me strength to bear the fatigue of this coming day with all that it will bring. Direct my will, teach me to pray, pray You Yourself in me. Amen. -


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

I Believe, I Confess, I Look for...

We all have to stop a few times in our lives when we have to regroup and ask ourselves... "What in the world am I doing?"  It's the time we have to stop and look at the foundation we've established which sometimes needs repair.  Did we get too materialistic?  Are we too vain?  Have we redefined God to our own parameters? 
During every Liturgy, Orthodox Christians recite the Nicene Creed (325 AD) to remind us what we believe, confess and are waiting for.  When was the last time you recited the Nicene Creed while paying attention to every line?  There are times when we recite it during Liturgy that I kind of space out a bit before it's over.  It's so frustrating.  I've noticed that when I break it down in my head into an outline, I stay attentive. 


Ø  In one God

§  Father Almighty

·       Creator of heaven and earth and of all things visible and invisible

§  And in one Lord Jesus Christ

·         Son of God

¨      the only-begotten, begotten of the Father before all ages

¨      Light of Light

¨      true God of true God

¨      begotten, not created

¨      of one essence with the Father through Whom all things were made

·         came down from heaven (for us men and for our salvation)

·         and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary

·         and became man

·         crucified for us under Pontius Pilate

·         suffered

·         and was buried

·         And He rose on the third day, according to the Scriptures

·         He ascended into heaven

·         and is seated at the right hand of the Father

·         And He will come again with glory to judge the living and dead

·         His kingdom shall have no end

§  And in the Holy Spirit

·         the Lord

·         the Creator of life

·         Who proceeds from the Father

·         Who together with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified

·         Who spoke through the prophets

Ø  In one Church

§  holy

§  catholic

§  and apostolic

I confess

Ø  one baptism for the forgiveness of sins

I look

Ø  for the resurrection of the dead

Ø  and the life of the age to come



Saturday, July 13, 2013

A Message of Good Tidings

I think blessings are grace filled and later I will have to blog
about the widow on the bus in NYC who blessed me with
"all your heart desires"...  the four words that changed my life.

When I was ten years old our parish women's organization, the Hellenic Mother's Club, gifted each fourth grader with a Bible of their own.  I loved that it wasn't a kid's Bible.  I loved that the priest signed it.  I loved that it was my very own. 
Although I didn't read the Bible all the time, I did read it.   I found it to be very comforting and challenging.  I would read it as if Jesus were talking directly to me.   I was the one in danger of being a goat and not a sheep (Mtt 25:31-46.)  I was one of the workers who were few in a harvest that was plentiful. (Mtt 9:37.)  And I was the branch who feared pruning (John 15:2.)  Since then I've acquired several other publications and translations of the Bible and have filled their margins with notes and deep thoughts but my first Bible has always been dear to me.
Last night, I opened my fourth grade Bible and read the inscription again.

"May the reading of this
Holy Bible open the eyes
of your mind to always
perceive the message of
good tidings." 
Father Constantine N Mitsos

To be honest I didn't understand this message when I was ten nor last night, at first.  I actually was surprised he didn't write some thing like "...open your heart..." or "...guide your life..."  But because I knew Fr. Mitsos to be a wise and prayerful man, I thought about it a bit more.

What did he mean by "eyes of your mind"?

What did he mean by "always perceive"?

What did he mean by "message of good tidings"?

Maybe he didn't mean for this blessing to be analyzed so deeply.  :)

He was very good at asking us questions that really made us think things through.  He wanted us to take ownership of our beliefs.  I really appreciated that as a kid.  And since he opened our minds to inquire, this is what I came up with. 
 I think he was tying to prepare us for a complicated world- a world where things don't always make sense on the surface - a world where there aren't happy endings outside of the knowledge of Christ and His Saving Grace.  I think he wanted us to be careful not to misquote the Bible, to use it in a way that would hurt people or manipulate a situation with fear.  I think he wanted us to be able to control our thoughts and not let our imagination get the better of us, especially if/when we feel hopeless or we despair.  And I think he wanted us to know that our faith isn't only an emotional reality but one that our whole being (mind, body and soul) participates in. 

Thank you Fr. Mitsos for all that you have taught us and for your blessing so many years ago.  May you find rest among the saints where there is no pain, no sorrow nor suffering, but life everlasting.


Thursday, July 11, 2013

V's Cardbox

How many times have you paused in the evenings to watch the sunset, to see God's glory?
May your good works cause people to pause for a moment to give God glory.  
Cards are available at our store... www.vscardbox.com 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

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Tuesday, July 09, 2013

A Little Something About Me...

I’ve always wanted to be a photographer but the time never seemed right until my son was born.  Like any respectable new mom I was taking daily pictures of our son and before I knew it, a photographer had emerged.  Eventually I found myself taking pictures of scenic views when we went on walks through the parks and botanical gardens in Denver, Colorado, or on drives through the Rocky Mountains.  As Christmas approached we found a way to offer personalized gifts by making greeting cards with the pictures I took.  Everyone in my family received their own box of cards as a gift and that is how V’s Cardbox began. 

Today, V’s Cardbox offers greeting cards for “name days” and various sacramental occasions including baptisms, weddings, funerals and ordinations.  Printed on heavy cardstock in a local shop, our cards are 4.25” x 5.5” and include an envelope.  Most cards are blank inside so you can personalize them to your needs.  We also offer seasonal cards for Christmas and Pascha and are looking to grow our product line in the coming years. 


As a way to offer thanksgiving to God for His many blessings we also offer at least 10% to national Orthodox charities including IOCC, OCMC, OCN and more.  Each month we feature a different ministry to support.  


You can find our cards in over 30 church bookstores, including the St. Photios Shrine Gift Shop and Image and Likeness.  Our online store can be reached through our website: www.vscarbox.com and you can “like” us on facebook. 
I am happy to see how V's Cardbox just kind of came about, that it wasn't forced.  I've recently had the same experience with blogging.  But rest assured, family and friends aren't getting posts written in their honor this Christmas.  They should probably expect another box of cards.  (not really.)

Monday, July 08, 2013

V's Cardbox

Don't Let the Celebration of the Saints Get Lost in Lazy Summer Days

It's summer!  Can you feel it?  Are you on vacation? Are you on a schedule?  Do you even know what day it is?  It's easy to get off schedule and let the ease (chaos) of summer take over, especially if you have kids.  Finding a balance to get work done and kids entertained is a juggle.  Just knowing the day of the week is an accomplishment.

Well, get it together because summer is a great time to teach our kids about the church calendar.  During the month of July we celebrate some awesome saints and in the month of August we participate in a fourteen day fast and two of the twelve great feasts: Transfiguration and Assumption of the Virgin Mary. 

Here are a few links to find the daily celebrations and learn more about the lives of the saints. 

The Prologue from Ochrid

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America CALENDAR

MYSTAGOGY The Weblog of John Sanidopoulos 

I encourage you to keep up with the celebrations.  Teach your kids the saint of the day over breakfast.  Ask for the intercessions of the daily saint during evening prayers.  Attend weekday liturgies or treat your church staff to homemade treats like muffins or cookies in honor of the saints.  Don't let the celebration of the saints get lost in lazy summer days. 

Friday, July 05, 2013

Under the Cover... Can a Good Book Make a Better Reader?

Wish I were a reader.   I hear stories of how people get lost in books, reading hours at a time.  I envy them.   I see a book with a cool cover illustration or a schnazzy title and begin to read but then... Blah.  Blah. Blah. 

I want to be a reader but I rarely find an author with worth reading or a story worth entering.  I think my interests are too narrow. I might already know it all.  (not really)

I want to be a reader so I buy books with really impressive titles on very important things: parenting, spirituality, finances, cooking.  But I only read a few pages of each one because the information is overwhelming.  Some days I wonder how I made it through college...  Oh wait, I barely read then as well. I listened attentive during lectures, took detailed notes and graduated from a design school where homework was tangible and grades were based on mastering God-given talent.   Talent and ambition compensated for my lack of literature. 

I want to be a reader so I sign up for a library card every time I move to a new city. And this time I am determined for my son's sake.  I want him to be a reader so he can learn and think for himself.  I want him to learn that the world is bigger than his 4'10" frame and that there are ideas outside of his buzz clipped head.  

I take my son to the public library regularly to make him familiar with the location and interior hoping that he will be a reader. Although he has a bookshelf full of beautiful books, I let him pick out a book.  He only likes one series, Magic Tree House, and he's read them all.  I'm afraid he is going to be like me.

Today at the library I picked up a few non-fictions: Jump Start to Skinny and Bloggers Boot Camp.  And then, while searching the aisles I found three of the most useful books I could ever read!  Books that tell you what books to read... from actual "readers"!  



They all looked so promising.  I checked them out (literally) to see how it goes.  Who knows?   I don't want to be overly optimistic because, after all, I am a sucker for a well written and illustrated cover.  

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Thursday, July 04, 2013

When Time is Money Entertainment is Cheap!

So what do YOU do when you are bored and on summer vacation? 

We count loose change.

I thought it would be a good way to do a bit of math practice.  Stacking, multiplying, adding...

All of these stacks equal a dollar... etc. 

But instead, this is what happened...

Lego Man came and helped us transport coins from one side of the table to the other...

And as you can see, eight dollars worth of pennies is a hefty job.

So it wasn't a total waste of time, he did have to build a tool, adjust the truck to balance the coins better, establish a process.  There was some problem solving involved. 

And I learned one thing... My boy can't be distracted by money... even enough to trick him to use math...