Tuesday, March 29, 2005

An Adventure with Little P and a Prayer Request

Adventure with Little P: Artoklassia and Wine (A Russian Tale). So, we spent last Friday evening in Yakima, WA with some friends. We went to Annunciation services at their church (Holy Cross Antiochian Orthodox Church) in the evening (it was a vesperal Liturgy). At the end of the service, there was an artoklassia (five loaves of bread as an offering) service (usually done on feast days or name days). In the Russian practice, when you receive your artoklassia at the end of the service, you dip it in a cup of wine. Well, this was all new to Little P (and a little new for mommy, since I have not spent much time outside of Greek churches). Little P, whose favorite line of the day currently is “My Can Do It” wanted to dip his own bread in the wine. Now, the deacon, who was holding the cup of wine, was fine with that. Until Little P decided to not just dip his bread, but dunk his bread. I rescued the wine-soaked bread from the cup (and set it on top of my own piece of bread and, thus, did not have to dip my bread in the wine). We proceeded to the back of the church to eat our wine soaked bread. Little P seemed to like it. But, in this whole process, I forgot to get my little cup of wine (hmmm, I kind of like these Russian wine practices). What an adventure!

Please pray for us… no, not for our homebuying (that seems to be going well), but for our fertility (our spritual father suggested that we ask people to pray for us). I went in to the doctor because my cycle seems to be getting all out of whack (sorry, guys, if this is too personal for you). We began to talk about the miscarriages that I have had and how long we have been trying to have a baby, etc. I walked out of that appointment with a referral for a reproductive endocrinologist (and they have discovered a cyst on my left ovary). Because I have lupus, she felt that I already had things going against me being able to conceive (normally, you have to wait at least one year from when you begin to “try” for a baby to get a referral… we have been trying for about 1 ½ years, but I did get pregnant last summer and lost that baby). Anyway, I have a blessing to at least go and hear what this other doctor has to say. We have also been praying to St. Nektarios and St. Anna (mother of the Theotokos) and anointing me with oil from both Saints. Through every hardship, there is some good… All of this has led me, though, to be very thankful for my Little P. I had a miscarriage right before I became pregnant with him. Then his pregnancy was fairly smooth (why his middle name is Nektarios). And now I have the privilege of being his mommy (well, I have been his mommy for almost three years now). And that is truly a blessing!

Thursday, March 24, 2005

And yet another weekend out of town and an Adventure with Little P...

We will be going to visit some friends in Yakima, WA tomorrow to Saturday morning. Then it's off to the monastery, again, for a baptism. That's three weekends in a row that I have gone out of town. I am looking forward to next weekend when I won't be going out of town.

I do want to share an Adventure with Little P: Little P the Theologian (not about our trip to the monastery last weekend, that will just have to wait)... last night we went to pan-Orthodox Pre-Sancitified Liturgy at St. George Antiochian Church. It was a very beautiful service (and Little P did very well through the service, I might add). It was another one of those evenings where Paul met us at church, so Little P was excited to see papa. Anyway, we drove separate cars and while I was driving home (with Little P in his carseat in the backseat, of course), Little P requested a "song", "beauty, mama, beauty". Here are the words to his current favorite church hymn:

Awed by the beauty, of thy virginity
and the exceeding radiance, of thy purity.
Gabriel called out unto thee, O Theotokos,
What worthy hymn of praise, can I offer unto thee?
And what shall I name thee?
I am in doubt and stand in awe.
Wherefore as commanded, I cry to thee,
Rejoice, O full of grace.
Whenever I sing this to him, he always ends by saying, "mama, want grace, please" and I reply, "ask God for grace." Last night, he said his "want grace" line and I said my usual reply. Then he astounded me with his 2 year old almost 3 year old theology... Little P told me that the baby has grace (which baby, I do not know). And I said why does the baby have grace? And he replied, because of the water. And then he started talking about baptism, mama, baptism. Uhm, ok, where did this come from? We went to a baptism about a month ago (and we are going to one this Saturday, although I don't know if he knows that we are going to a baptism). But to make the connection between water and grace?!?!?! I think he's been secretly reading his papa's books late at night:)
Ok, I better sign off. Have a beautiful weekend!

Monday, March 21, 2005

Loving Our Families

Last weekend (March 11-12), our women's group at church went to the Oregon Coast for a retreat. It was wonderful! So, here are some things we discussed (I didn't compile this list, it is the list that Presv. emailed out to us (she took notes)). The theme was "Loving our Families" and it was very appropriate for the day before Forgiveness Vesper's:) So, here goes (my comments are in blue)...

I've included a list that was the fruit of one of our discussions on "Loving our Families." It has to do primarily with controlling our anger/tongue with our family members. It sprang from James, Chapter 3, which I have included here...

"Look at the ships also; though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So the tongue is a little member and boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is an unrighteous world among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the cycle of nature, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by humankind, but no human being can tame the tongue--a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brethren, this ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening fresh water and brackish? Can a fig tree, my brethren, yield olives, or grapevine figs? No more can salt water yield fresh."

...So here is a list of things to help us in our struggle to be a more loving, Christ-like family member (it applies to our church family, too and to all people in our lives whether through work, etc. (I would add))

1. Prepare ahead of time for events so things go more smoothly and peacefully
2. Be vigilant/prepared about what may come your way each day
3. Remember the image of Christ in each person you deal with throughout the day
4. Be obedient to the Church's teachings/your spiritual Father and thereby receive God's grace
5. Go to confession regularly/seek forgiveness from those you have hurt/reconciliation from those who have hurt you
6. Seek healing from underlying hurts/"weeds" that may be rooted in your heart and need to be especially dealt with in your life
7. Do not let Satan "steal your memory" (this was something that Presv. brought up that her spiritual father told her... in that moment of anger, Satan is stealing our memories from us...we forget who we really are and we forget who that person is that we are angry with (our child, our spouse, our friend, our brother or sister in Christ... I thought this is a sobering thought on anger... do we really want Satan stealing our memories from us?) in the fleeting moment of anger/reaction time.
8. Remember how you've hurt people in the past and thereby refrain from future unkind words and actions
9. Give people the benefit of the doubt
10. Ask questions like "what do you mean by that?" or share if something people says hurts you instead of reacting or assuming ill-will.
11. Don't interpret things too personally or sensitively
12. Let your conscience work for you and be obedient to it. Let it work for you in abolishing your bad thoughts before they become words/actions
13. Remember who you are (a Christian) and whom you choose to serve (Christ) at all times.
14. Realize that you cannot change basic elements of other's personhood/personality
15. Accept people for who they are/don't clash over something you know to be a part of a person's makeup (i.e. Laidback, high strung, needs downtime, needs organization, etc.)
16. Remember you are on the same team with your family members
17. Practice humility and obedience (obedience leads us to grace)
18. Know yourself and your shortcomings/accuse yourself first, not others
19. Read James 3 (see above)
20. Practice the Jesus Prayer, out loud if necessary
21. Remember Satan wants us to forget all the aforementioned items.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Another weekend out of town...

Little P and I will be going to the monastery tomorrow (Friday) through Saturday with a friend and her almost 3 year old (that will be a definite adventure with Little P). Have a wonderful and blessed weekend!

Tuesday, March 15, 2005


I messed up on typing up a couple of the recipes on my blog (go here). Instead of 1 oz or 2 oz of cayenne pepper, use 1/2 tsp. or 1 tsp. if using powder. If you are using cayenne sauce, do the 1 or 2 oz. thing. Please forgive me if I am confusing any of you:) I will correct it on the recipes, too.

Adventures with Little P: First Day of Lent

Things that are difficult to do with an almost three year old during the first week of Lent:

1. Forgiveness Vesper’s: In our community we have Orthros, Liturgy, and then Forgiveness Vesper’s on Sunday morning. So, after having been at church for about 2 ½ hours, we began the vesper’s service. The little one’s were cranky because they had been in church for so long! Little P just wanted to know when he was going to get his “bread” and then his snack! And then, I think Pavlos (or Little P as I like to call him) was a bit overwhelmed with all the attention from people. People wanted to hug and/or kiss him. And he decided that he wanted to be held almost the whole time (thank goodness he was willing to be passed back and forth between mommy and papa). Little P is a smaller child, he weighs about 25 pounds, but I found out that my arm goes a little numb holding him in my left arm while trying to do half-prostrations and making the sign of the cross with my right arm. Finally, when we had “circled” through most of the people and we were in a stationary spot, he would let us put him down.

2. No TV: We have a TV, but we keep the antenna hidden in another room (for things such as the Super Bowl, presidential debates, the Olympics… you get the picture). So Little P watches videos. And I am pretty picky about the videos that I let him watch (and, I just noticed, that I have only bought him one video the rest were gifts from grandma and yiayia). We have mainly Baby Einstein movies. They are 30 minutes long (which is enough time for me to take my shower in the morning and get ready). We are trying to not watch any TV. I put all the movies away. He asked for them all day yesterday, but he didn’t become too upset that I would not let him watch a movie. I did keep out the video of Grandma’s Visit to Our Home and Thanksgiving and Christmas 2004 (we have a digital video camera and Paul will take lots of footage at family events, download it all on to the computer, cut scenes, add pictures and music, and make a 30 minute video of that particular event). I don’t mind if Little P watches these movies (at lest, I don’t mind as much as the others) because they are movies of people that he loves (grandma, yiayia, pappous, his cousins Pavel and Maria, etc.). But we made it through Kathera Devtera (Clean Monday) without a movie!

3. Great Compline and Canon of St. Andrew: Little P was ok at church. I think it was difficult for him because papa came directly from work and so Little P was very excited to see him which is beautiful, but can be a bit disruptive. In our community, we push all the chairs to the outside edge of the church so everyone has plenty of room for prostrations. I think he did alright considering there was all that open space. It gave him room to cense (he uses a 100 knot prayer rope as a censer). He sort of got into the prostrations, although he would decide to prostrate either right in front of me or right in front of Paul.

Not a bad first day of Lent. And we are supposed to be struggling (all the time) and so having an almost three year old brings struggle to a whole different level. I do remember, before little p, being able to concentrate on the services. Now I know why children are a means for our salvation:)

Friday, March 11, 2005

Tidbits or Bits of Tid:)

Last night I had a crazy dream. I was back in high school and Napolean Dynamite kept trying to ask me out. I never answered him. Then he tried to kiss me and I noticed that he had really chapped lips (if you've seen the movie, you know what I'm talking about) and I was grossed out. Then, in less than a second, I aged 15 years (to present age) and remembered that I am married and have a wonderful little boy. Napolean was heartbroken (and then my alarm clock went off).

U2 is not coming to Portland. Very disappointing. I actually received this news a while back, just now getting around to posting it. Back in my groupie days, I saw them twice in one year (once in Eugene, OR and again in Seattle, WA). They aren't going to Eugene and the Seattle show is sold out. Bummer.

This week we get to pick out the flooring, countertops, and cabinets for our new home. We are very excited. I spent all morning last Tuesday on the phone with all sorts of different people (the lender, our agent, the land trust, etc.). Buying a new home is a lot of work!

And, finally, I am going with our Myrrhbearer's group (women's group) from church to the Oregon coast for a retreat. It's just one night, but it should be a nice get-away. The theme is Loving our Families.

Oh... and here are the links to the 2 different entries of Lenten recipes (here and here) and on our church website. See you next week!

OH and most important, please forgive me if I have hurt, offended, or bored any of you with my blog (in honor of Forgiveness Sunday). God forgives!

UPDATE: I forgot to link you to the list of topics for our Basics in Orthodoxy class being offered at St. John the Baptist. This is to keep you updated on what the missions and evangelism team is currently involved in at the church (more info. on our committee go here, here, and here).

This is the blog entry with lots o' links. Fun fun fun!

UPDATE #2: Ok, it seems as if I hadn't "refreshed" the u2 concert schedule link and it was coming up with their old schedule (with no fall shows). So, I need to ask Bono for forgiveness because they are coming on Dec. 19 (which is a week after my birthday... coincidence?!?). Forgive me, Bono, I erred! And thanks to Karl who emailed me that they are coming to town (and my dh also emailed me because he received the Ticketmaster updates for shows in Portland). That about covers it... now I really need to get packing for this beach overnighter!

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

We interrupt this blog...

Here is a very nice article written about our beloved Metropolitan Anthony (May his memory be eternal). I admit, this article made me a little misty... after reading it, please scroll down for the newly added Lenten recipes:)

Dying Wish Honored
Greek Orthodox spiritual leader buried at monastery.
By Diana Marcum / The Fresno Bee
(Updated Thursday, March 3, 2005, 1:16 PM)
Metropolitan Anthony Gergiannakis' last wishes were fulfilled with his burial Wednesday afternoon at the Monastery of Theotokos. Bishop Anthimos Olympos, second from left and wearing the metropolitan's vestments, presides over the graveside service. Gergiannakis told the bishop he wanted his funeral to be a
celebration of life.

DUNLAP — The dying wish of a man who never let the word "no" stop him was honored Wednesday when Greek Orthodox leader Anthony Gergiannakis was buried at a secluded monastery in these Sierra Nevada foothills.
It took nothing short of a state Senate bill for Gergiannakis to lie, not in some official cemetery, but here, on top of a hill just beginning to bloom with wildflowers, behind the altar of a Byzantine cathedral he envisioned and made reality.
He was buried facing east where rain clouds fingered deep green mountains — his church believes that Christ will come in clouds from the east. He was covered with dirt from his native village on the island of Crete and pebbles from the Acropolis, mixed with the California earth of the monastery he loved.
It was the metropolitan's longtime wish to be buried at the monastery, but for years the church made no progress getting permission from the county or state. Under state law, burying a body outside of an official cemetery without special approval is a crime punishable by up to a year in jail.
But last fall when Gergiannakis, spiritual leader to thousands in the western United States, fell ill with an aggressive cancer, his confidants pledged that he would have his final wish.
He died on Christmas Day. About 40 days later, on Feb. 1, Gov. Schwarzenegger signed Senate Bill 28, allowing burial at the Monastery of Theotokos, the Life Giving Spring. It was a day of religious significance in the Greek Orthodox Church, which believes the dead stay close to the living for 40 days before making their way to paradise.
Wednesday, on what would have been his 70th birthday, Gergiannakis was laid in his final resting place. Senate bills usually take from 10 months to two years to process — Gergiannakis' was passed in less than 30 days.
Gergiannakis trained his friends and followers well in how to achieve things others think impossible.
"Every person who called me said, 'You have to understand how much of a force he's been. He got so much done. He served so many people,'" said Republican Senator Chuck Poochigian of Fresno, who rushed the bill through the Senate.
"It was obvious that none of them would accept anything short of getting it done. Just like he'd never accepted anything less."
When Father Jim Pappas of St. George Greek Orthodox Church in Fresno hears Gergiannakis' voice in his head — and that is often — he hears the trademark growl, "What are you waiting for?" — Gergiannakis' response to every good idea. "He was always pushing to the next dream," said Father Demetrios-Earl Cantos, chaplain of the monastery.
Gergiannakis was a risk-taker who played to win, whether it was building a monastery in the Sierra foothills or playing golf, backgammon and gin rummy. He loved to cook and feed friends and strangers at big, rollicking dinner parties.

Though he had risen to the heights of church hierarchy, conducting services in the gold crown of a king, he retained some village ways. He would yell "Stop the car" so he could pick dandelions at the side of the road, then cook them with olive oil and lemon.
He was known for his laughter, although he could also be stern, and for his open-mindedness. In a church steeped in Greek culture, Gergiannakis insisted that everyone — Greek or not— was welcome.
Among the more than 500 mourners at his burial were Greek Orthodox priests with blond hair, and priests with Asian features, a testament to Gergiannakis' welcoming philosophies.
Services wrapped in solemnity began with nuns in morning prayer, then a two-hour liturgy with nuns and priests and lay people praying together. Men and women stood on separate sides of a cathedral that was bathed in gold candlelight and ancient traditions. The women wore long skirts and covered their heads. Incense burned and overhead a sweeping brass chandelier slowly spun, symbolizing the movement of angels.
"If he were here, he would want all the people to know the movement means the unity and symphony of all that have gone before us, and all that are here worshipping," said Bishop Anthimos Olympos. The bishop and Gergiannakis were close friends for more than 50 years. When Gergiannakis came out of a coma before his death, he told the bishop, "Come close, give me your ear. Pethéno — I am dying." Then he gave a huge smile and said "I am at peace. I want my funeral to be an occasion of the celebration of life. I want there to be joy."
"He made me promise not to cry at his funeral," Bishop Olympos said. It was a promise that the bishop could not keep.
He shed tears many times as mourners gave graveside testament, always ending with words, in Greek or English, meaning "May his memory be eternal."
But one promise was kept. There was joy. There was joy during the lunch as parishioners feasted on salmon — because if it's Greek, it's fish, said a former islander, because it is a reminder of the saltiness of life, said a priest's's mother, and because Gergiannakis loved salmon, saideveryone said.
There was joy as friends and followers exchanged stories of Metropolitan Anthony's accomplishments and exploits.
And in the afternoon, when Gergiannakis' body was put in the grave, nuns played brass bells that echoed across valleys, rolling gray clouds let in stripes of pale sun, mourners gazed at green hills frosted with dandelions and wild mustard — and there was joy in a job well finished.
"He's buried where he wanted to be buried, after living the life he wanted to live, " said Dave Gray of Castro Valley. "And he lies there because people carried on his legacy of getting things done."

Monday, March 07, 2005

New Lenten Recipes

Alright, it's that time of year again and here are some lenten recipes that I have discovered since last November (when I last posted Lenten Recipes). May we not focus too much on food this lent and focus more on Christ's Resurrection! Maybe having good recipes to feed our families will help:) Oh, and forgive me if it seems like these are a lot of bean recipes. What better way to maintain protein than through beans. I will try to type up some non-bean lenten recipes in the next few days. Check back then.

OH, other news... the house is ours barring anything bizarre happening. The sign will come down today (I just spoke to our realtor). YEAH! We are very excited, happy, and relieved.

Red Beans and Rice Soup serves 4
2 Tbs. Vegetable Oil or Corn oil
1 Medium onion chopped
2 ribs celery chopped
1 medium green pepper
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 bay leaf
1 Tbs. cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
2 ounces cayenne pepper sauce or 1 tsp. powdered cayenne pepper
1 can (15 oz) red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes, drained
1 quart (32 oz) vegetable broth
1 ½ cups rice (not cooked… it will cook in the soup)

Heat oil in deep pot over medium. Add onion, celery, pepper, garlic, bay leaf, cumin, and salt and pepper to pot. Saute 5 minutes. Add Cayenne pepper, red beans, tomatoes, and broth. Bring to boil. Add rice, reduce heat, cover and simmer until rice is tender.

Three Bean Soup serves 4
1 Tbs. canola or vegetable oil
1 med. onion finely chopped
2 med. red skinned potatoes, washed and diced
2 carrots peeled and chopped
2 celery ribs chopped
1 bay leaf
1 ½ tsp. cumin
1 oz. cayenne pepper sauce or 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper powdered
1 can (15 oz) red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (15 oz) garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes in juice
1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
3 cans (14 oz each) vegetable broth
½ pound fresh green beans (cut into thirds)

Heat deep pot over medium heat. Add oil, onion, potatoes, carrots, celery, bay leaf, cumin, cayenne pepper. Cover pot and cook 5 minutes. Add beans (2 types), tomatoes, Worcestershire, and broth and bring to a boil. Add green beans and simmer until green beans are tender. Serve.

Black Bean Soup serves 4
1 Tbs. vegetable or canola oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic minced
1 bay leaf
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 ½ tsps cumin
salt to taste
2 cans black beans (15 oz) drained and rinsed
1 can (14 oz) vegetable broth
1 can (14 oz) crushed tomatoes
4 scallions, thinly sliced (optional)
Tortilla Chips (optional)

Heat oil in deep pot over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, jalapeno, bay leaf, coriander, cumin and salt. Add beans crushed tomatoes, and broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer. Serve in bowls topped with scallions (optional) with tortilla chips for dipping (optional)

Corn and Bell Pepper Soup serves 4
2 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 medium onion chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
1 tsp. cumin
1 cup salsa (your favorite kind… mild or extra spicy)
1 can (32 oz) stewed tomatoes
3 cups frozen corn kernels
2 cans (14 oz each) vegetable broth
Salt and pepper to taste
1 scallion thinly sliced (optional)
Fresh Cilantro (optional)

Heat oil in pot over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and peppers. Saute. Add cumin, salsa, tomatoes, corn, and broth. Bring to boil and simmer. Stir in cilantro (optional) and season with salt and pepper. Garnish with scallions (optional)

Bean Burritos serves 6
1 Tbs. oil
1 onion, chopped
1 package taco seasoning mix
1 can (15 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (15 oz) pinto beans, rinsed and drained
6 tortillas (flour or whole wheat)
Salsa (your favorite)

Heat oil over medium heat in a skillet. Saute onion. Add taco seasoning and both types of beans. Stir until well heated. Warm tortillas in oven. Fill tortillas with bean mixture. Garnish with salsa (or whatever you can think of)

Mixed bean chili serves 6
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 package taco seasoning mix
1 jar salsa
1 10 oz package of frozen corn
1 sweet potato, cubed

Put everything into the crock pot, set on low, and cook for 6-8 hours.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Just some links

Tomorrow is the big day, where we put down our earnest money on the house. I will allow myself to get excited tomorrow. For now, here are some websites that I like/refer to often:)

Taking Charge of Your Fertility: Probably the best book out there on NFP (or, actually, the Fertility Awareness Method). What I like most about it is that I can input everything onto my computer and it keeps track of my info. for me (rather than printing off charts, etc.). The high tech way to natural family planning:)

And, along the same lines as the above website, there is The Orthodox NFP site. Very interesting and infomative (they even have a Yahoo group you can join). I like the brochures and have passed them on to Orthodox and non-Orthodox alike (mostly for the reasons to not take birth control pills).

Here is a shameless promotion of an organization that my cousin is heavily involved in: Skaters for Skateparks

And, finally, the Portland Community Land Trust: This is how we are able to buy a new home:)

Here are the Lenten Recipes from our church website. Doesn't hurt to start preparing now for Lent!

Thanks for reading, hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Good News... posted with slight trepidation

We may have found a house! I am trying not to be too excited or happy about it, but it is a little difficult to contain myself:) We may have found a house. We are going this evening to discuss details with the realtor, etc. We may have found a house. I have to temper my happiness in order not to be disappointed in case things do not work out the way "we" would like them.

In other news... in our bedroom there is a spot, right above our bed (and under our marriage crowns) where the paint has peeled in an almost perfect circle. I think it is ugly and I don't like to look at it. Pavlos thinks it is the moon. So every time he comes into bed with us (usually only on a Saturday morning), he will stand on the bed, touch that spot, and cry out "moon, mommy, moon!" very excitedly. I am sincerely trying to visualize that ugly spot on the wall as the beautiful moon that my son is able to see. I will continue to let him teach me the beauty that is EVERYWHERE present.