Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Passive Aggression is Aggression

I am so confused!

We had a weed and a daisy growing in a crack in the cement in front of our home. We were amazed at the tenacity of the plants to grow in such a difficult place. I was going to blog about it...

The plants represented endurance, temptations vs virtues, things we value, things that are invasive... Beauty and the Beast depending on what you nurture. And, believe it or not, if you don't weed regularly, meaning, if you aren't careful of protecting your soul, anything will grow.

Just days from blooming (I was hoping to take a picture of it for the post,) someone came and pulled both the weed and the daisy, and left them there on the concrete to whither away.

These plants were in front of our property. They were our business to tend to.

I am disappointed in my neighbor's lack of respect for my property.  

So it looks like my new post will be about personal space, jumping to conclusions and it might even lead to the evils of passive aggression and lost opportunities.

I'll let you choose. Which would you rather read about?

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

All of Orthodoxy Celebrates

New on the OCN website!

United Yet Not of This World

We are called to live holy lives, in the world but not worldly.  This Lenten season has been a strong reminder.   There were several times we have had to decline invitations or rearrange our schedules to allow the lenten activities to make a mark in our lives.   Extra services, changes in eating habits, and opportunities to show charity by sharing our cash, time, and talents have been our focus.
I am not accustomed to living on the Old Calendar and this year, with a very late Easter, this sense of separateness really struck home.  It almost seemed as if the world went on without us, and we were left behind.  We were picking up seasonal leftovers off the grocery shelves.  Ads that used to feature bunnies and pastels are now covered with Mother’s Day sales and summer grilling promotions.
Which explains why I was so thrilled to see a friend’s Facebook post showing a local grocery ad wishing everyone a “Happy Orthodox Easter!”   We haven’t been forgotten!
All of Orthodoxy is celebrating this weekend!  It’s not just the Greeks, the Russians, the Africans, nor the Romanians…  Everyone throughout the world who is a member of the body of Christ in the Holy Orthodox faith will be celebrating that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead!... for full article click here...

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Replace, Repair, Restore

I have a new post on OCN, The Cobbler’s Repairs and Lent.   It's about repairing a great pair of boots.  And it's about Lent. Actually, it's about restoration.   Here's a snippet:

"I received a pair of gray and black patent leather cowboy boots for my fortieth birthday. They were a gift from my mother-in-law. She thought cowboy boots would serve as a reminder of what American grit can accomplish and that I once lived in Colorado. I loved wearing them—that is until the heel broke. For the past few months they waited, slouched over with a detached heel, near the door to my garage waiting to catch a ride to the cobbler to be repaired."

"We need more cobblers and fewer retailers. We need more seamstresses and fewer catalogs. We need more repairing and less replacing. I imagine fewer people are experiencing Lent with prayer, fasting and almsgiving because they don’t know what it means to repair anything. Everything broken is replaced with new. We’ve lost the art of restoration, and this spills into our spiritual life."

"... if we aren’t used to repairing what is broken, if we just replace things when they are no longer a use for us, how will we make that association when we are spiritually broken? Most of us, when we are spiritually broken, just live with it. We forgive ourselves. We cry out 'No regrets!' or 'God must have had a plan.' But we are not repaired.  We are not restored."

Click here to read the full article.

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Third Sunday of Lent

Here we are!   Third week down and we are half way there.   How is it going?

Thursday, March 31, 2016

My Big Fat Greek Life Too

I have to say I went in with hesitation.  Perfectly content to have waited until the movie was available on Netflix or DVD, we succumbed to see My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 in the theater as part of our Spring Break celebration.  And I have to say, even before the movie was over I couldn’t wait to come home and write about it.  I LOVED IT!

Sure there were some raunchy themes and one-liners peppered throughout the movie.  My Greek was just good enough to get all of them.  This I regret.  But there were moments when I honestly laughed out loud and even moments I had to hold back the tears. 

As a first-generation Greek-American, I found the movie was honest.  It showed life for what it really was: confusing, unsure, constantly changing and never to be "fixed."  

I love being Greek.  We were a little like the Portokalis family.  We ate roasted lamb for Easter every year and seafood most people only saw in an aquarium.  Like Dancing Zorbas, my parents owned Athena Foods, a Greek grocery store where their friends would gather after a hard day’s work to shoot the breeze and catch up on the news from Greece.  

We all worked at Athena Foods and took turns carrying the responsibilities of our family.  We were always in your face and not quite aware that there were things you didn’t tell strangers because like Thea Voula, people weren’t strangers to us.  Everyone was always welcome.

There came a time though where I learned that this was called dysfunction and that people shouldn’t be that close.  I regret learning this.  Families are close, messy, loud and in your face.  I love that MBFGW 1 and 2 were not afraid to show the honesty and even the dysfunction of being Greek outside of Greece.

I hope you go to see this movie.  Leave your expectations at home and just enjoy the gift of honesty and family Nia offers you.  

What is your Cross?

Yes, we've closed two weeks and are heading towards our Third Sunday of Lent.  I love how the Church, in Her wisdom has brought the Cross to our attention.  What a great reminder of why we are doing this.

Lent isn't a simple discipline or a diet.  It is for salvation!  

Look at the Gospel of Luke 9:22-26: 

And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.”
Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.  For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.  What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?    Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

Lent is a time to look at what truly matters and to make daily life decisions that will draw us closer to Him.  Are we looking to gain the world?  There is no salvation in gaining the world!  

Are we ashamed of God, enough to be embarrassed to ask for a vegan meal at a catered event or when we go out to eat?  I am not saying we should announce to the world that we are fasting.  It's just that if there is an option, we should take it.  

And what about the struggles hunger brings.  I think of those Snickers commercials where they talk about "hanger," when hunger induces anger.  The tagline is “You are not you when you are hungry."  But you know what?  We are more ourselves because hunger reveals our passions.  It brings them to the forefront so we can deal with them in a healthy way.   

 And in some ways, this is how our Cross is revealed to us.  Is your cross Gluttony?  Jealousy? Fear? Pride?  When we remove ourselves from our comfort zone we see our faults more easily.  We even see our strengths we didn’t know we had.

I encourage you to take time to see what your Cross is as we approach Sunday so that you can know your weaknesses and your strengths.  Then you will have a more honest understanding of what we need to repent of.  

Hymns for Sunday: 

Resurrectional Apolytikion in the Third Tone
Let the Heavens rejoice; let earthly things be glad; for the Lord hath wrought might with His arm, He hath trampled upon death by death. The first-born of the dead hath He become. From the belly of Hades hath He delivered us, and hath granted great mercy to the world.

Apolytikion of Sun. of the Holy Cross in the First Tone
Lord, save Your people and bless Your inheritance, granting our rulers to prevail over adversaries, and protecting Your commonwealth by Your Cross.

Seasonal Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
To you, Theotokos, invincible Defender, having been delivered from peril, I, your city, dedicate the victory festival as a thank offering. In your irresistible might, keep me safe from all trials, that I may call out to you: "Hail, unwedded bride!"

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

A Parent's Guide to the Lenten Services

I recently posted an article on myocn.net.  It was written to help parent attend as many of the Lenten services as possible. 

Parenting Guide for Lenten Services

Lent is a three-legged stool of Prayer, Fasting and Alms Giving. If you try to balance on only one leg, you are sure to fall. It is very common for people to make this mistake when it comes to fasting during Lent.  We often get distracted by the foods we are or aren’t allowed to eat, and forget about the extra prayer services and opportunities for charity.

Take a moment to look at your church calendar. Does the service schedule seem impossible for you and your family?  The standard service schedule for Lent includes Compline on Mondays, Pre-sanctified Liturgy on Wednesdays, Akathist Fridays, Vespers on Saturdays and Liturgy on Sundays.

The article focuses on the following:

  • Know your limitations
  • Reward system
  • Pick a weekday that works with your family schedule
  • Prioritize the services.
  • Take turns
  • Hire a sitter
  • Bring a sleeping bag (but don’t set up camp)
  • Watch online services
I would love to know what you think about the article. 

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Sunday of Orthodoxy

Apolytikion (Tone Two)

O Christ our God, begging forgiveness of our sins, we venerate your pure image O Good One. Of Your own will You condescended to ascend upon the Cross in the flesh and delivered those you created from the bondage of the enemy. Wherefore, thankfully we cry out: When You came to save the world You filled all things with joy, O our Savior. Listen »

Kontakion (Plagal Fourth Tone)

The undepictable Word of the Father became depictable when He took flesh of you, O Theotokos; and when He had restored the defiled image to its ancient state, He suffused it with divine beauty. As for us, confessing our salvation, we record it in deed and word.
- See more at: http://lent.goarch.org/#sthash.peWJjy8l.dpuf

Saturday, March 19, 2016

And Then There Were Six

We have closed a week of lent and here are a few thoughts running through my brain: 

It's not all about the food

It's so easy to get caught up in the fasting part of Lent.  When we focus only on food, we become very self-centered.  It's all about us and what we physically put into our body.  Yet, there are three legs to support this spiritual season we have entered and they are Prayer, Fasting, and Charity or more specifically, Giving Alms.  

What are Alms?   In an article on Compelling Truth, "...almsgiving was the act of filling a material need for someone less fortunate, usually by giving money."  When we give alms, we focus on what we physically give to other bodies.   We focus outside of ourselves. 

I want to work harder on looking outside of myself and offering to others. 

We need the proper supplies

Were you prepared for the vegan menu or were you caught off guard too?  I was not prepared and found myself in a drive-thru too many times.  So I reassessed my pantry and made sure I had the following: fresh veggies (spinach, zucchini, mushrooms, onions, potatoes), chickpeas for hummus, flour and yeast for bread, tomato sauce, dried beans, frozen pierogies, rice milk, and pasta.  

I also had to be sure to fit a church service or two into my schedule.  On Wednesday, I lost track of time and missed the presanctified service.  I need to do a better job this coming week especially since Annunciation is Friday, and we have Liturgy.

We are different

As a first generation American, I often feel a little left out of things.  Now that My Big Fat Greek Wedding II is out, you have a good idea what this means.  Being Orthodox, and temporarily on the "Old Calendar" those feelings have returned.  We have just started our fast and there are wooden bunnies and Easter flags decorating my neighbors' yards (which seem too soon to me.)  By next week, all the Peeps, jelly beans, hams and egg dyes will be gone and the grocery shelves will shift to Mother's Day and graduations, leaving us in the dust.  

Temporarily being on the Old Calendar with such a late Easter/Pascha is interesting.  It reminds me that we are different from the world; separate and not part of it.  Sometimes I get distracted by trying to keep up with the world.  A late Easter can cure that. 

And yes, there is the added benefit of cheap candy...   

We won't be here forever. 

It's always good to "live like you were dying."  Why do we focus on the temporal things and not the eternal ones, like our souls?  I like how the Orthodox Church starts Lent off remembering the dead with three liturgies we call Saturday of the Souls.  It serves as a proper inspiration to stay the course.  

What we do during Lent is in preparation for our possible time in Paradise.  

May we all have the strength and courage to complete the Lenten Season with grace. 

Saturday, February 20, 2016

TRIODION- the beginning of the preparations.


We are entering into our moveable calendar.  It's a time when we ease into the Holy Fast. Monday begins a fast free week, then a regular fasting week, then no meat, then we fast! Why does it seem to be happening all of the sudden?! 

It's time to start cleaning out the refrigerator.

Here's one of my favorites!