Moab UT

Moab UT

Friday, December 31, 2010

A new year

‎"Out in this, God's beautiful world, there is everything waiting to heal lacerated nerves, to strengthen tired muscles, to please and content the soul that is torn to shreds with duty and care."

~Handbook of Nature Study, Anna Botsford Comstock

I never make New Years resolutions. I know myself too well.

However, I do plan to make more of a concerted effort in a couple areas of my life this year. I won't bore you with the list, but I'll share that one thing I do hope to do, is stop staring at this silly screen so much. Oh, I'm not interested in a debate about computers and the internet. I agree that both can be good...and bad. I'm just weighing in on the bad side of the argument at the beginning of this year.

Neither my soul, nor the souls of my children, are greatly benefited from the internet. And this I must seriously consider.

May your new year be blessed!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The feast continues!

Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

Oh dear, how could I have forgotten to post Nativity pictures!

Well, there are millions of pictures, but I'll spare you and just post a few.

I pray your week is lovely and that you are continuing the feast!

Head coverings

In the Orthodox church, it is a pious custom for women to cover their heads in church. If you follow this custom, here is a wonderful link for different ways to wear head coverings. They have even included step by step directions!

One of the reasons I like the styles shown on this page is that for women with little children, loosely fitted head coverings can be a challenge. The styles shown are this page are close to the head, tightly wrapped and away from the face. Very practical.

Image: "Girl with a pearl earring" by Jan Vermeer

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Guess who came to town?

We had a visit from Vladyka JONAH last Wednesday. He was in town for Nativity and decided to join us for Vespers.

It's always a joy to have him here.

Eis polla eti despota!

Christ is Born!

Glorify Him!

Lots of joy, here in the south. It's been a beautiful weekend. We have so much to be thankful for.

Blessed week to you as we continue the feast of the Nativity of our Lord!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Waiting quietly

It's time to sign off for now. We'll spend the next week and a half cooking, cleaning, making gifts, attending services and trying to keep a quiet spirit for the remainder of the fast.

May your days be filled with peace and joy as we await the feast of the birth of our Lord!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Joyous feast!

Joyous feast of St. Herman of Alaska!

O blessed Father Herman of Alaska,
North star of Christ's holy Church,
The light of your holy life and great deeds
Guides those who follow the Orthodox way.
Together we lift high the Holy Cross
You planted firmly in America.
Let all behold and glorify Jesus Christ,
Singing his holy Resurrection.

Saturday, December 11, 2010


‎"Sometimes it is hard to be resigned to God's will. We all had scarlet fever in our place on Plum Creek, and for a while it was hard to get along. But I'm thankful that all the children were spared to us. Mary's a great comfort to me, Brother Alden. She has never once repined." ~Ma Ingalls

I'm loving these books right now more than I ever have. The girls are enthralled as well.

Monday, December 6, 2010

New read

I am currently reading Remember Thy First Love by Archimandrite Zacharias, and it's a good one. As in, a really good one.

Here's where you can get it.

More on St. Nicholas

Me: "So, ladies, what do we know about St. Nicholas?"


Hope your day is beautiful, filled with the joy and wonders of this great saint!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Blessed Feast!

S' prazknikom! A blessed and joyous feast of St. Nicholas!

Want to read more about the real Santa Claus? Go here.

Thou wast revealed to thy flock as a rule of faith,
an image of humility and a teacher of abstinence,
because of thy lowliness, the heights were opened to thee,
because of thy poverty, riches were granted to thee.
O holy Hierarch, Father NIcholas,
intercede with Christ our God
That our souls be saved.

Vesperal troparion

Friday, December 3, 2010

Just because

A blessed weekend to you all!

More prayers please...

Please pray for my god daughter Svetlana. She fell and broke her ankle (quite badly) which will require a couple of surgeries to fix. She is with child and has six sweet one's at home to take care of.

She and baby are doing well. I know that they would appreciate all the prayers you can send their way.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Can I ask you to remember these people in your prayers? Their little baby Lucia is fighting Trisomy 18.

Also, there are two monasteries that could really use your prayers and your financial help:

The Nativity of our Lord Women's Monastery in Kemp, Texas.

And The Monastery of the Holy Archangel Michael in Canones, N.M.

The Nativity of our Lord has a need for people to make regular donations to help keep the monastery going until they are able to be self sufficient. St. Michael's has a more immediate need to make the monk's cells warm for the winter. I'm sure that they could use regular donations as well.

Just think, if 100 people sent each of these monasteries $10 a month, that would be $1000 a month for each monastery. What a blessing that would be and what a huge difference it could make in their ministries.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

S Prazdnikom!

A blessed and joyous feast of the Entrance of the Theotokos!

The all-pure Temple of the Savior,
The precious Bridal Chamber and Virgin,
The sacred treasure of the glory of God,
Is led today into the house of the Lord,
And with her she bringeth the grace of the divine Spirit.
Of her God's angels sing in praise:
"She is indeed the heavenly Tabernacle."

Kontakion, tone 4

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Just say...yes

Over the last several months a sweet russian "Baba" from our church kept asking me (through my husband who speaks russian) if she could come over and help with whatever I needed help doing. With the exception of a few meals, I've never had help in my home-except from my wonderful husband.

Nonetheless, I could never think of things I wanted this woman to do for me. Of course, the laundry has almost touched our 8' ceiling at times. And I won't publicly talk about the sorry state my kitchen has been in at times, o.k., most of the time. However, I could never imagine someone coming in and cleaning for me.


I remember years ago when I was finishing up my Bachelors degree, I was working about three jobs to make ends meet, plus taking classes. It was a Saturday morning and there was a baptism at my church. I was exhausted, frazzled and late getting out the door and, therefore, sped to church. I got a ticket on the way.

I arrived at the baptism on time, but really bummed. Money was really tight for me at that time and I was fretting about the fine. A few fellow parishioners and I started talking and I shared my bad luck from earlier that morning. After the conversation broke and I was on my way out the door, one friend took me aside and offered me a $100.00 bill to cover the cost of my ticket. I kindly refused his offer, even after his insisting that I take it several times. I excused myself and hurried out the door to go to my job. An older and wiser parishioner followed me out and bid me farewell with a few extra words. He told me it was not a wise decision for me to have declined the man's offer. He then, kindly but firmly told me that a blessing goes two ways: the person who receives and the person who gives. He never called me foolish for not taking the money, but rather said I should learn to pray before I speak. That I should learn to think of the other man before myself.

Now, we all know that that man's blessing was not contingent upon my taking the money. The love for his neighbor was indeed blessed, I believe. But I spent the rest of the day thinking about those parting words of my friend, realizing that I had never really thought about blessings in that way.


After hearing her countless pleas to come and help, Fr. Justin finally told her to just come over Tuesday at 9:00a.m. So, Tuesday morning she showed up to work. For the first few minutes I couldn't think of what to tell her to do.

I would think, "Oh, she can clean the bathroom, no, no, not the bathroom!" "She can clean the kitchen, no, no, not the kitchen!" So, after spending a moment or two mumbling about not having much for her to do (lol!), she just made that sweet little russian noise that Baba's make when they are trying to hush crying babies and shooed me away.

Well, I'll just say that it was a great joy having her here. Oh sure, my house had never been so clean. Seriously, Fr. walked up the stairs and took a deep breath and I'm sure wondered what that smell was (cleaning supplies). He's far too kind to make a comment. But I saw him take that deep breath. ;)

She buzzed around our house for about three hours. Cleaning this, cleaning that, talking russian to the girls, smiling.

Oh I'm so glad she came. Of course, I loved the clean house. But what I really loved was her presence. Her sweet spirit. The way she raised her glasses to get a closer look at something. Her exchange with Katya as she would try to communicate. The way she mumbled to herself. The way she scurried around peeking and cleaning and feeling useful.

She melted my heart when she made it to the girls room (I'm sure no explanation is needed here about the condition of their room) and she just said "Krasiva! Krasiva!" As she flickered her fingers through the sunlight to help me understand what she was talking about. It's true, the girl's room has beautiful natural light throughout the day. But it had been so long since I had noticed it. It seems like the only thing I can see when I walk in there is the mess. Sad, but true.

She showed up, unannounced, later in the week. She just came upstairs, smiling and mumbling and started fiddling around. She cleaned, folded a load of laundry. She spent an hour with Katya on her russian lessons, she went downstairs and cleaned the church. I followed her around for a minute trying to tell her that she didn't need to come and clean so much. That she could just sit and have a cup of tea. "Uh-huh, uh-huh, da, da, da...", She mumbled as she scooted past me.

There would have been a time when I would have seen this as an inconvenience-someone stopping by unannounced. But when she left on Thursday, her only words to me were "This is good." "Yes" I said, "This is good."

One soul just wanting other souls to be with, to help, to serve. What a blessing. What a joy. What a reminder.

Her help has been immeasurable. I cannot express how blessed I feel to have her help. But even if she never cleaned again, I would still love having her just come by for a cup of tea and to just be here. The girls love her and I simply adore watching Katya trying to get perfect english out of her. I giggle when I see this little russian woman lifting her glasses and squinting close up to Katya's mouth to see how the heck she's pronouncing a word.

I'm so glad I finally said yes. Well, I'm so glad my husband finally said yes for me. After fifteen years I think I've finally realized that a blessing does indeed go two ways. Now, praying before I speak. I'm still working on that one.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Good list to share

I borrowed this from Molly Sabourin's blog. What, you haven't read her blog? Then do, you'll be blessed!

55 Maxims for Christian Living
by Fr. Thomas Hopko

1. Be always with Christ.
2. Pray as you can, not as you want.
3. Have a keepable rule of prayer that you do by discipline.
4. Say the Lord’s Prayer several times a day.
5. Have a short prayer that you constantly repeat when your mind is not occupied with other things.
6. Make some prostrations when you pray.
7. Eat good foods in moderation.
8. Keep the Church’s fasting rules.
9. Spend some time in silence every day.
10. Do acts of mercy in secret.
11. Go to liturgical services regularly
12. Go to confession and communion regularly.
13. Do not engage intrusive thoughts and feelings. Cut them off at the start.
14. Reveal all your thoughts and feelings regularly to a trusted person.
15. Read the scriptures regularly.
16. Read good books a little at a time.
17. Cultivate communion with the saints.
18. Be an ordinary person.
19. Be polite with everyone.
20. Maintain cleanliness and order in your home.
21. Have a healthy, wholesome hobby.
22. Exercise regularly.
23. Live a day, and a part of a day, at a time.
24. Be totally honest, first of all, with yourself.
25. Be faithful in little things.
26. Do your work, and then forget it.
27. Do the most difficult and painful things first.
28. Face reality.
29. Be grateful in all things.
30. Be cheerful.
31. Be simple, hidden, quiet and small.
32. Never bring attention to yourself.
33. Listen when people talk to you.
34. Be awake and be attentive.
35. Think and talk about things no more than necessary.
36. When we speak, speak simply, clearly, firmly and directly.
37. Flee imagination, analysis, figuring things out.
38. Flee carnal, sexual things at their first appearance.
39. Don’t complain, mumble, murmur or whine.
40. Don’t compare yourself with anyone.
41. Don’t seek or expect praise or pity from anyone.
42. We don’t judge anyone for anything.
43. Don’t try to convince anyone of anything.
44. Don’t defend or justify yourself.
45. Be defined and bound by God alone.
46. Accept criticism gratefully but test it critically.
47. Give advice to others only when asked or obligated to do so.
48. Do nothing for anyone that they can and should do for themselves.
49. Have a daily schedule of activities, avoiding whim and caprice.
50. Be merciful with yourself and with others.
51. Have no expectations except to be fiercely tempted to your last breath.
52. Focus exclusively on God and light, not on sin and darkness.
53. Endure the trial of yourself and your own faults and sins peacefully, serenely, because you know that God’s mercy is greater than your wretchedness.
54. When we fall, get up immediately and start over.
55. Get help when you need it, without fear and without shame.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Fall back

Ooooh, I love that it gets dark early now. It's 7:00 and my girls are headed for bed!

Don't forget to set your clocks back tonight!

Image from here

Friday, November 5, 2010

The year is quickly coming to a close

Can you believe it's already November!

The girls PE classes are over for the year. They will start up again mid January.

The last day of swim lessons were on Thursday, so I took a few pictures. Of course, I couldn't get anyone to swim for me. They just wanted to smile at the camera...

I think the girls and I will get a punch card at the natatorium and keep swimming through the winter. It's such a beautiful place to be when it's cold and rainy outside. It's always warm and cozy and loud with excitement. The south wall is glass from floor to ceiling. I bet it's a great place to be when it's snowing.

Anyhow, here are a few pictures of my girls having fun on the last day of class.

Oh, and we've decided to sell the house down the street. Just kidding. I'll give you an update soon.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A beautiful day!

Look who woke me up early this morning. They came in completely illumined, bearing waffles, eggs and coffee. (Thank you my love!!)

They were so excited.

Katherine bought me a Pascha CD and Thea bought me a new icon of St. Valentina (I wonder what led her to this saint?). We spent the morning singing Paschal hymns and making plans for the day. All three girls made me beautiful artwork.

Oh these gifts bring me such joy. Not because I had asked for any of these things (even though I love them!), but because they chose them of their own free will.

To see a love for Christ and His church growing in the heart of my children is the greatest gift I could have received. Thank you Lord, I pray that it will always be so!

My birthdays get better and better every year. Not because of the little things they do for me, but because I grow in appreciation and love for them every, single, day. They are my little joys.

I'll leave you with a poem Katherine wrote for me in honor of this day:

Bird's nest, man's given stars,
Light Jesus' might.
To father's joy,
Mother's love.
To them that live above,
Look with one great eye,
To look at the sun.
Oh what fun, great Mom!
I can make a vow,
That I will love you
All the days of my life.

Katherine, age 8

Sunday, October 31, 2010

An evening with the saints

Tonight we had a party at the church for those who do not wish to participate in halloween. A group of us got together, ordered pizza made delicious treats and let our children dress up as saints or Biblical characters.

We've done this party for several years and I've been to All Saints parties at other parishes and they are so much fun.

I'm always so impressed with the costumes (always homemade) and the choice of saints chosen by the children. Katherine chose the Empress Theodora. Thea chose Elizabeth, the mother of St. John the Baptist and Zoe chose Rebekah, the wife of Isaac.

Zoe insisted on wearing a pink dress under her head covering. She claimed that Rebekah wore pink. Chances are she didn't, but who am I to argue.

All of the children looked just wonderful, but I must confess that I loved the little one's choice of St. Mary of Egypt. The hair just gives her away!

A blessed week to you all!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A glimpse of things to come

Here is the first room that is officially finished. Well, sort of. I've decided to change the color of the room.

Anyhow, the floor in this bedroom is done and it looks beautiful.

Thanks for all your hard work my love! Your margarita is waiting for you.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Even when he's tired...

Fr. came dragging in this evening ready for dinner. However, he was greeted by three, excited to see their Papa, little girls. Zoe immediately begged him to play the The Ladybug Game with her.

Before he could even think about anything, he sat down and played.

He's good that way.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The other two...

And so to balance things out, here are the other two nutty chicks at the soccer game. While I was trying to take pictures of Fr. and Katherine, Thea and Zoe were constantly yelling "Hey mommy, take my picture!!" "Mommy, hey mommy, take my picture!"

Good Papa

Today was Katya's last soccer game. For the final day, parents were invited to come and play with the children. Katherine was beside herself with joy at the thought of Fr. playing soccer with her in a game.

It was so fun to watch the kids with their parents. There was so much joy and love on the field. Lots of great laughter.

And guess what? Fr. Justin is a really good soccer player! I had no idea!

Oh how I loved watching those two play together today.

The young lady wearing a hat (with Katherine) is one of her coaches. She is as sweet and good natured as she looks. (And a great little coach too!)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Oh dear we're busy. A little too busy right now.

Every time I come to my blog spot to write something, I don't because of the time it will take to log in.

We are working like mad to get into our new/old house. This has been one long haul. Even as we round the corner to getting the house "livable" we are still running into things that should be later. Gosh, how many times have we heard/said "We should do this now, not later".

I'll just saying that the ceiling is about to come down out of our living room. Now, not later...

Oh, well.

My husband is doing an amazing job on the house. It will be nice when he's done.

On a different note, I've just switched over to using Charlotte Mason for our homeschool curriculum. We are doing a bare minimum plan right now. But I must say the timing for switching over was a huge blessing. I really love C.M.'s philosophy of teaching and it has saved my sanity during the last month. Because reading is a large part of this curriculum, it's been very relaxing, entertaining and interesting for me and the girls. The books are beautiful. Katherine does a fair amount of reading herself-which she loves. So, I'm thankful for this change.

We finished our adoption classes and now begin on the gigantic application process. We have so much information to collect. I figure if I do a few pages a day we'll eventually finish.

Our home remains at the top of our to do list. So, we press on. I'll be posting pictures in a few days. We've made some great progress. Please pray for us! We have much to do and Fr. is tired. He is a busy parish priest and now a full time general contractor. He is enjoying the work, but we would like to bring some of this work to a close.

Blessed week to you all!

Friday, October 8, 2010

From Zoe:

"Mommy! I'm having a sour look at you!"

Friday, October 1, 2010

Coming in for a landing

We're wrapping up our hard working week around here today. Everyone is tired and a little sore. Fr. and I have some new decisions to make with the house. Seems we have some structural issues in the attic that should be attended to. Remember those wood burning stoves I was telling you about. Well, it's probably going to be wood burning stove, as in one wood stove.

Oh well.


Much suffering going on around me now. Please say an extra prayer tonight for the sick and the suffering, if you are able.


On another note, have you read "An Extraordinary Peace St. Seraphim, Flame of Sarov" by Archimandrite Lazarus (Moore)?

I've just gotten in to it, but so far it's a beautiful read.

It's one of those books that I just realized I am underlining every word. This reminder I loved:

"Immerse your mind within yourself and have activity in your heart;" in so doing, "the peace of God overshadows it and it is in a peaceful state."

I, for one, could use more peaceful states.

A blessed and joyous weekend to you!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

House update

Progress! Our plan is working! This week Fr. has installed the floor in the girl's bedroom. He is very close to being finished.

Tomorrow we have a chimney sweep coming out to help Fr. order parts for our wood stoves. We are putting one in the front of the house and another in the back. Hopefully, this will help with the heating costs in the winter. We have pretty mild winters down this way, so we should be in good shape.

The structural engineer will be here tomorrow to offer advice on our living room ceiling. There is a very slight sag in the living area and we can't figure out why. So, he'll (hopefully) come out and tell us how to remedy the problem so we can mark that off our list. We are praying that it's an easy fix. If not, we'll have a slight sag in our living room ceiling when you come to visit.

Monday the priests start on the kitchen!! This is big news! I'll be painting away in the bedrooms, bathroom and study.

We're on a roll!

Here are pictures of my hard working husband and my hard working girls taking a break.

I can see the letters now!

Over the last year I have been working to teach Thea to read. I've taken a very gentle approach because she wasn't really interested. So, I sort of put the teaching part of reading on the back burner and figured we'd get around to it soon enough. Instead I just continued with reading to her, hoping she would catch the bug.

Sure enough, this year my little student has shown much more enthusiasm with her school work-reading included. However, when we would sit down to do phonics, she would constantly complain that the letters were so tiny. After a few weeks of hearing that I decided to have her eyes checked. I went ahead and took both Katherine and Thea and they both needed reading glasses!

Thea has gone from barely sounding out letters to actually reading in about three weeks! This has been an amazing boost for her. Now, without prompting she gets her phonics and reading books and away we go. I'm so thrilled for her.

Thea chose purple wire rim glasses because Papa has wire rim glasses and her friend Sophie has some too! Katherine chose tortoise shell glasses, which I was surprised about. But she liked them and if she will wear them that's all I care about.

They both look so different, so much older! *Sigh*

Saturday, September 25, 2010

May the work begin and end

"The time has come." I say as I stumble into Fr. Justin's office the other night. Me, looking bleary eyed from being on the computer. Him looking bleary eyed from doing real work. He looked at me wearily and held his tongue, but I knew what he was thinking. "Do we have to have this conversation now?" However, I married a good man. He fully comprehends the meaning of marriage and the crowns of martyrdom that were placed upon our heads at our wedding. And despite my neurotic ramblings as of late, he took the Fr. Justin deep sigh, and gave me the look to proceed. "It's been a year since we started working on our house down the street and this project must come to a close." Well, here is our conversation:

Me: "Well, you see, Soulemama..."
Fr. Justin: "Soul what?!"
Me: "Soulemama...oh, sorry honey." "Well, she's this lady that has a really cool blog, and anyway, she and her husband bought an old house LAST MONTH and they are moving in this weekend!"
Fr. J. "OK..."
Me: "I have a plan!"
Fr. J., getting the weary look on his face again, told me to carry on.

And so I proceeded to tell Fr. my plan about needing large blocks of time to get anything accomplished and that we just needed to bite the bullet and do it. He agreed.

So,starting Monday morning at 5:00a.m. Fr. Justin, myself and our three girls will rise, pray, eat and start working until 11:00a.m., Monday through Friday, until the house is finished. I'll work and homeschool at the same time and what can't be done there can be done after a bath and lunch.

We just found out today that a dear friend, who is a very accomplished G.C., and an amazing woodworker (he is now a priest), is going to come up and help us with the kitchen. When Fr. gave me this news this morning you would have thought we'd won the lottery. And to be quite honest with you, it feels like we have.

We'll take this week to finish up smaller projects throughout the house, then next Monday we (well, the priests) will tackle the kitchen. Meanwhile, I'll be painting and teaching. I am thrilled and so very ready to be in this house. Fall is my favorite time of the year and I can't wait to get in and start a fire (in the fireplace of course). :)

I am hesitant to set a goal. I know that goals are good, but we've set so many only to see them come and go. However, I'm going to step out on a limb and say that we hope to be in by November 1st, but for sure no later than December 1st. (Is that you, Fr. Justin, I hear laughing from your computer?!?)

I'll keep you posted.

A blessed and joyous week to you all!

Great blessings

There are two blogs that I have been following that you should visit. Both of these little ones, and their families, need your prayers. The parents of these blogs probably have no idea how much they are ministering to those of us who have the blessing of reading and sharing in their experience.

May the Lord have mercy on us all!

Go here and here.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

"The MOST poisonous caterpillar in the U.S.!"

Those are the words Katherine blurted out to me on the phone. You see I was at our local area thrift store taking advantage of a 50% off sale today, when I saw some books that I thought might be a good purchase and decided to call Fr. about them. As I was discussing the books, I hear someone moaning in the background. Finally, Fr. says "I have to go. Thea was just bitten by a poisonous caterpillar and she's in a lot of pain."

So, by the end of the conversation, I learned that they had already googled the furry fellow and found out that he was none other than a Southern Puss Caterpillar, and that he is poisonous.

Wouldn't you know it. I was just passing through the book isle on my way over to the ladies section. I hadn't intended on getting myself anything today, but at 50% off it's a bit of a crime not to at least take a peek. It was probably providential. My last words to Fr. as I went out the door were "Don't worry, I'm just getting a few dresses for Katherine to grow into!"

So, that took care of any overspending I might have done.

Anyhow, back to my baby. We went to the Dr., at his request, and had the sting looked at. I was actually rather surprised that he wanted to see her. He's a pretty hands off kind of Dr. and usually just suggests that we keep an eye on things. Nonetheless, off we went only to get a lecture about things to look for with stings and bites from poisonous insects: swelling around the lips, breathing problems, odd behavior...

So, that was that and Thea milked her injury for all that she could.

I took a picture of the little guy before we set him free. My photo was not good so I borrowed this one from Bugs in the news.

And that was the excitement for the day. Well, until we took the girls to Chuck E Cheese for Zoe's birthday.

Monday, September 13, 2010

"They just keep falling out!"

Says Thea.

"What happens if they all fall out at the same time!?"

Many years my girl!

This little one was given to us four years ago! It's been a blessing to have you in our lives! We love you Zoe Marie!