Tuesday, January 31
Monday, January 30
In direct defiance of the 60 degree weather we have been having, I made chicken stock today. Everything simmered on the stove from lunchtime to bathtime. I strained it and popped it in the fridge for Thursday's lunch. I think that we'll have chicken noodle soup and buttermilk drop biscuits topped with butter and strawberry jam. It will be a rainy day... and a bit more like how the winter should be!
Sunday, January 29
Friday, January 27
Here is what our children's wardrobes will consist of this spring:
Thursday, January 26
Tired of my chores this morning, I decided to set up one of the walls in the playroom. I put up some wall cards I bought when I was expecting Sugar Plum. Next came favorite Christmas gifts: Button's little piano, a stack of bean bags handmade by my sister, a rolling pony, and our rocker board (so much fun for adults and children alike!). Then we played and played. Now it's back to the dishes!
Wednesday, January 25
Tuesday, January 24
Parenting, Dec 1991 - Jan 1992
In Edgar Allen Poe’s classic horror tale, "The Tell-Tale Heart", a murderer dismembers his victim and hides the pieces under the floorboards. When the police call to investigate, he prides himself on his cleverness—but gradually becomes unhinged, at last screaming out the location of the corpse. He was undone by the sound of his victim’s heartbeat, drumming in his ears.
Why, after so many years of legalization, does the abortion debate continue in America? Why haven’t we accepted it as matter-of-factly as we do any other surgical procedure? I believe that it has something to do with a tell-tale heart. Deep inside we know: someone dies in every abortion, a tiny growing child with hands and eyes and a face and a beating heart. Four thousand times a day that beating heart is stopped—but in our conscience it seems to go on.
I didn’t always feel this way. I was an abortion advocate in college, and before the Roe v. Wade decision my car sported a bumper sticker that read "Don’t Labor Under a Misconception—Legalize Abortion." But that was when I thought that abortion merely discarded a "glob of tissue". I didn’t know that that tissue was shaped remarkably like a baby, and that it was alive. I didn’t know that the crude process of abortion sucks the child out, piece by piece, through a narrow tube and into a bloody bag.
But once I learned, my stand against violence had to include abortion as well. I simply could do no other. For the tell-tale hearts are our own as well; we cannot deny the beat of compassion that wells from within, that urges us that something is terribly wrong in our land.
The abortion business makes at least $500 million dollars a year in this country, performing over a million and a half abortions. Only a tiny fraction of these are done for reasons of health, rape or incest. Half of all abortion customers were using no form of birth control; nearly half are coming back for a second (or third or fourth…) abortion.
Are these women callous, contemptuous of the lives they have begun? Yet who would choose abortion if she had any other choice? The procedure itself is ugly and degrading, a mechanical vacuuming of the womb’s interior; she must pay for this privilege several hundred dollars in cash, and knows, at some level, that its only purpose is to destroy her child. In the process she runs risks from puncture and infection to colostomy, paralysis, or death; abortion is an unnatural invasion to reverse a healthy process, so even legal abortion will always have its risks. Then there is the psychological trauma, sometimes delayed for years, which accounts for the number of grief-stricken post-abortion women flooding into the pro-life movement.
It seems clear that no woman would have an abortion if her alternatives did not appear even more forbidding. Like an animal caught in a trap, trying to gnaw off its own leg, the aborting woman can see no other escape except this route of violence and despair.
In defending the path of abortion, Supreme Court Justice Blackmun wrote, "Millions of women…have ordered their lives around [access to abortion], and…this right has become vital to the full participation of women in…American life." We recoil to think that something so hideous could have become necessary to our lives. How can it be that we must sacrifice our children to succeed? Is such a sacrifice laid on men? Is any other oppressed or marginalized group required to have surgery in order to participate in American life?
Abortion may not have helped women, but it has helped those who would be inconvenienced by her pregnancy and her child. It is easier for a sexually irresponsible man to pay for a woman’s abortion than to marry her, or to pay child support for eighteen years. It is not out of concern for women’s welfare and dignity that Playboy so enthusiastically supports abortion on demand.
The relentless demands of careerism also have little patience with parenting. It is easier for an employee to abort her child, than for management to worry about providing maternity leave, health insurance, child care, and time off for Mom to go to the school play. She is expected to conform to the male model of worker—never pregnant, with a wife at home to take care of the kids. It’s easier on everyone if the woman has an abortion—easier on everyone, that is, except her and her child. No wonder our hearts are uneasy. Abortion is cruel to children, and it is not much kinder to the women on whom it feeds.
For these reasons, many pro-lifers have turned their time, not toward politics, but to practical aid in the abortion dilemma. There are approximately 3000 pregnancy care centers in America, where a woman can receive many kinds of help ranging from housing, medical care, legal aid, food and clothing, to job and budget planning for the years ahead. All these services are offered free, donated by volunteers who are for the most part women just like her—mothers who care about other mothers in need. No matter how one feels about abortion laws, we can all consider lending our aid to these woman-helping agencies by volunteering time, or laundering donated baby clothes, or opening a guest room to a woman whose family has rejected her. Sometimes all a woman needs is the knowledge that someone cares, that they will stand by her as she tackles a challenging and courageous path.
I have faced this path myself—not as vast a crisis as some women must endure, but still daunting to me. My husband had just lost his job when we found I was pregnant; we knew we would have to move cross-country, but had no idea where. We already had two children under five. Gary and I walked around the block in the late afternoon, choked and fearful. I thought about the tiny, trusting heart already growing beneath my own. Our lives felt out of control; what could we offer this child?
But we did find a job, and we did move, and Stephen was born in our new home, a joyous day among midwife and friends. Nine years later he’s the portrait of boyhood, bold and busy, full of plans and projects. But for all his Ninja-Turtle posturing, Stephen has a tender streak that betrays him when he spots a stuffed animal or sees a sentimental show. Of all the hearts that love me, his is the one that loves me with the most unfettered, blind devotion; to him, Mom is perfection on earth.
I think of all the thousands of women today whose children will be pulled out of them bit by bit, children who are as much like them as any mother and child can be. At some point, that tiny, new heart will beat its last. Who can say whether that would have been the heart that, in all her lifetime, would have loved her best?
Stephen comes in, flushed and grimy from running in the afternoon sun. He interrupts me as I sit at my desk, impulsively flinging his arms around me in a baby-bear hug. My head rests against his slender chest. I can hear in there his tender heart, beating faster now than the wings of a bird.
Monday, January 23
Sunday, January 22
The young people had put things in apple-pie order as far as they had gone. A fire was laid in the big stone fireplace, all ready for touching off, and gave a homelike, cleared-up look to the whole place as if it were getting ready for some event. On each side of the chimney stood a simple set of bookshelves filled with well-worn volumes that ha a look of being beloved and in daily intimate association with the family. On the top of the shelves Carol had placed some bits of bric-a-brac, and in the center of each a tall vase. Beside them were a few photographs in simple frames, a strong faced man with eyes that reminded one of Shirley and a brow like George's; a delicate-featured, refined woman with sweet, sensitive mouth and eye's like Carol's; a lovely little child with a cloud of fair curls.
The old couch was at one side of the fireplace, as a convenient angle to watch the firelight, and yet not hiding the bookshelves. On the other side, with its back toward the first landing of the rude staircase, stood an old upright piano with a pile of shabby music on the top and a book of songs open on the rack. On the floor in the space between was spread a worn and faded ingrain rug, its original colors and pattern long since blended into neutral grays and browns, which strangely harmonized with the rustic surroundings. A few comfortable but shabby chairs were scattered about in a homelike way, and a few pictures in plain frames were hung on the clean new partitions. Under one stood a small oak desk and a few writing materials. A little further on a plain library table held a few magazines and papers and a cherished book or two."
Grace Livingston Hill
Flipsyde is a group that has toured with Fort Minor, The Black Eyed Peas, Snoop Dogg and on the Anger Management Tour. Two of their songs have been the theme songs for the 2006 Winter Olympics and the 2008 Summer Olympics. It is good to see young and very talented artists standing up for the unborn.
Saturday, January 21
GREEN BAY, Wisconsin, January 12, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A pro-life organization has a novel strategy to reach out to a woman who is thinking of aborting her baby. The plan consists in handing out a ‘night at the movies’ that includes free popcorn, candy, and yes, a free DVD. The strategy has already saved the lives of 445 babies, says the group.
Bella HERO, a non-profit organization, views it as their mission to provide for free what they call the “powerful life-changing” film Bella to any pregnancy care centre that wants it. The program, launched in 2008 by Jason Jones, the producer of the awarding winning film Bella, has as its goal to give the pro-life movie to any woman with an unplanned pregnancy so as to help her in making what the pro-life organization calls “the most important decision in her life.”
The film Bella, released in 2007, is a story about how reaching out in a loving way to someone in a difficult situation can give them hope.
“What the movie does is touch the women where we can’t,” said Tracy Reynolds, program director of Bella HERO in an interview today with LifeSiteNews. “It really shows her what her opportunity would be either to be a ‘mom’ or to ‘choose adoption’ and give that child a home.”
Reynolds compared the film to a “mega ultrasound” which allows a troubled pregnant mother to really see the possibilities in choosing life.Over 700 pregnancy centres across the USA, Canada, and Australia are now using the Bella film strategy to change hearts and save lives.
Counselors receive training how to use the film with pregnant women who are undecided about the fate of their baby and even considering abortion. Some centres have found that the “movie night in a bag” concept, which includes the “DVD, popcorn, candy, and other creative items,” is practically impossible for someone to turn down.
Heartwarming success stories leave no doubt that the strategy is effective.
Abortion minded 16-year-old Anna (name changed) received counseling over the phone from one centre. She was sent a packet which included Bella. Soon afterwards, Anna called the centre back saying, “Bella is the best movie I have ever seen! It helped me decide to keep my baby.”
Another woman, Tina, and her boyfriend came into one centre and discovered that she was pregnant. Not only was Tina in college at that time, but she was also far away from home. She did not think that she was ready or able to bring a child into the world. The abortion-bound couple was given a copy of Bella.
The couple surprisingly returned to the centre for an ultrasound. The staff were delighted to learn that they had decided to keep their baby and parent the child themselves. The father wanted to name his child ‘Bella’ if she was a girl. The couple’s choice did not swerve when the ultrasound revealed twin daughters. They are now the proud parents of Bella and Millie.
Cindy (name changed) visited a pregnancy centre very “confused and scared.” The 25 year-old woman was already the mother of a young son. She did not want to abort, but felt she had no choice since she “felt she loved her boyfriend too much to interrupt his college plans”. She went home with the film Bella, but not before agreeing to return for an ultrasound.
A few days later, Cindy returned to the centre crying. The staff heard that she had not slept for the last few days. The counsellor learned that Cindy had watched Bella and not only decided to keep her baby, but had broken off her relationship with her boyfriend and turned her life over to God. Just like the star in the film, Cindy chose adoption for her baby.
Peggy Hartshorn, President of Heartbeat International, a pro-life organization that works to make “abortion unwanted today and unthinkable for future generations,” endorsed the Bella HERO initiative, saying that many women who feel “pressured to abort an untimely pregnancy need someone to say that it is okay to have a baby.” She believes that the film is a lesson in “compassion, self-sacrifice and the unconditional love of family” and that it will give pregnant woman a “positive message.”
Cindy Collins, Director of a Crisis Pregnancy Center in Louisiana encourages pregnancy centres to put the film to use. “It has been received with enthusiasm at my center, and we already have 5 mothers who chose life after watching the movie,” she said.
Reynolds is convinced that all an abortion-minded woman needs to know so that they will cherish the life within them that there is that “there is hope, that they are not alone, and that somebody is out there who will help them”.
Many staff at pregnancy centres believe that the film captures the heart of their ministry. They look forward to more babies being saved as the story of Bella continues to reach troubled pregnant women with a powerful message of hope.
Friday, January 20
Every day at 9:30, we start brewing coffee for the men. Lessons are wrapping up, laundry is whirring in the machine, dishes are washed, and we are ready for a little break. The children help insert the coffee, add the water, dip the spoon into the sugar (twice!), and pour in the cream (or usually, milk). Once each cup is made, I tip it into travel mugs while the children put on their boots and coats. They happily deliver the warm mugs to the guys, who stop work for just a few minutes to rest. We go into our cozy house and settle down with some books, blankets, and mugs of tea, listening for the sound that work has begun again. I love this routine and the smell of coffee brewing. What will we do when the work is over?
Wednesday, January 18
Father John put window film into the master bathroom window tonight. We have had it in all but one of the bathrooms that we have lived in and really like it! We still have to paint the window frame and I have to iron the shade and trim the ties, but I love airy it looks!
Monday, January 16
This past Saturday, we had the pleasure of joining the local Greek Orthodox Church for their annual blessing of the Atlantic Ocean. They decided to hold the service on the pier this year (last year's was on the beach), which was really quite perfect for getting to see the kids jumping into the freezing water to retrieve the cross. Our little ones had a wonderful time and especially loved seeing the two doves they released fly over the water!
Sunday, January 15
But I love snow," Irene insisted. She coaxed her mother into bed, covered her with two quilts, and added a blanket for her feet. Then she fixed her some tea with lemon and honey and put more wood in the stove.
With great care, Irene took the splendid gown down from the dummy and packed it in a big box with plenty of tissue paper.
Dress warmly, pudding," her mother called in a weak voice, "and don't forget to button up. It's cold out there, and windy."
Saturday, January 14
Friday, January 13
Father John needed a home office in our new house. The perfect room for a study is right off the foyer, but it had no door. After trying to do without for a few weeks, it became clear that a barrier was needed to keep noise to a minimum and little people out of mischief. Though we still need to add a handle, the door is helping Papa get some work accomplished during the day!
Thursday, January 12
Wednesday, January 11
Tuesday, January 10
Monday, January 9
The Church is literally the Body of Christ. This means that corporately, not individually, we are Christ Himself still incarnate in the world doing His work. If a person desires with their whole heart one can unite to Christ and become a member of His Body. Ideally, this is motivated by a simple desire to know God and to be where He is. Out of this love for God comes the desire to follow his commands and to worship Him. However, this happens in a context which is not our own.
Orthodoxy maintains the ancient Jewish belief that God is manifest in the temple. We believe that the same glorious presence of God, the Shekinah Glory, that dwelt on the Ark of the Covenant now resides on each altar in every Orthodoxy Temple. “God is with us, understand all ye nations.” Isaiah 8:10, as the hymn from Great Compline says. If we truly understood what this means -- that the God “who is a consuming fire” is literally present in the Church -- we would strive to worship before Him frequently.
Church attendance is not merely about obligation, guilt, or nostalgia. It is about being where the beloved is and worshipping Him simply because we love Him. It is about being the Body of Christ in oneness. By going to Church we learn to lay aside ego, we learn to love, we learn to live, and we learn how to be truly human. Christ Himself told us to make God the absolute center of our lives and to make all else secondary. Eternal life begins at the altar where we remain in His Presence without distractions, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Matt 6:21.
Sunday, January 8
Deep in the dark roots of Brambly Hedge tiny lights appeared as lamps were lit in the windows. More little lights could be seen leaving the Store Stump, moving hastily along the hedgerow, and disappearing into holes hidden in the twisty roots. The mice had smelled snow in the air, and were all hurrying home to a nice hot supper by the fire.
Mr Apple, warden of Store Stump, was the last to leave for home. By the time he reached Crabapple Cottage, the first flakes were beginning to fall.
"Is that you dear?" called Mrs. Apple as he left himself in through the front door. Delicious smells wafted down from the kitchen. Mrs. Apple had spent the afternoon baking pies, cakes, and pudding for the cold days to come. She drew two armchairs up to the fire, and brought in their supper on a tray."
Saturday, January 7
What happens when technology and big money work together for God's Glory? Just watch this great presentation of Moscow Exhibition Rebirth of Orthodoxy!
I think that it is especially important to view the images of the persecution that the Orthodox Church of Russia endured during Communism that are towards the middle of this video. I don't think that we can comprehend how horrific that time was for Christianity without seeing footage like that.
Friday, January 6
Thursday, January 5
The Baptism of Jesus (The Children's Bible Reader, Pages 178 - 179)
Schedule your house blessing
Decorate glass bottles with tight fitting lids to bring Holy Water home in
Wear white to Liturgy. If you don't have an entire white outfit (we don't!), don a white sweater, shirt, or even a hair bow!
Serve a special meal... perhaps a dinner like the one you had for Christmas?
Sing the Troparion of the Feast for the prayer before meals.
Display the Theophany Icon on your feastday shelf or table. If you don't have one, print a coloring page and color it in!