Christ is Risen!
Christ is Risen From the Dead, Trampling Down Death by Death, And upon Those in the Tombs, Bestowing Life!
The registration information has been officially posted at Antiochianvillage.org! My husband printed out all the information for me. The dates are April 23-26 and the days are full of great sessions and activities! It looks like it's going to be a fantastic year with Keynote Speaker Rev. Fr. Andrew Steven Damick as the evening keynote speaker. I'm reading one of his books now 🙂
In addition, there are many other speakers scheduled on various topics including The Making of an Orthodox Homeschool, Reading as a Work of Love & Repentance: Critical Reading Across the Classical Curriculum, Homeschooling High School, Charlotte Mason, and many others. There's even a session this year that is just for Dad's presented by someone who is very dear to me 🙂 Yes! My own dear husband!
I will be determining which sessions I'll be attending soon- it's usually a hard decision to make!
If you haven't ever been to the St. Emmelia Orthodox Homeschooling Conference, you may want to check out my post from last year -
or feel free to ask me questions in the comment section below OR drop by Facebook and join the group Saint Emmelia Homeschool Conference Association and ask the many other members that have been there through the years!
If you are an Orthodox homeschool family, this is a wonderful conference to go to and well worth the price to gather with like-minded parents and other Orthodox children for your own kids to hang out with! Let me know if you are planning on attending so I can keep a look out for you! See you in April!
So here we are in the midst of Holy Week and taking on the final week, week 7 of the Whole30 we vowed to keep all of Lent.
Review of Week 6: Last week we started testing dairy. Just one day - three portions of dairy consumed at three different times through the day with meals. No big surprise there...it didn't go well for me. It wasn't quite as BAD as I expected, but it wasn't good either. It definitely caused digestive issues. Dairy and didn't seem to cause any obvious signs in my older son or my husband but dairy did possibly cause some digestive issues with my younger son - but not to the degree it caused me.
Unfortunately, my digestive issues with dairy lasted long enough that on our Wheat/Gluten Test Day, I wasn't 100% sure if it was the gluten or just the dairy still in my system. I'll have to retry it to be sure, but I feel fairly confident that it was much more the dairy than the gluten for me. Gluten also didn't seem to cause any obvious signs in my husband or sons.... nevertheless, my husband and I have read enough about this culprit to know that excessive consumption can lead to problems- and - strangely enough- though he didn't notice any overt signs, he didn't gain but he also didn't lose any weight during this week that we tried dairy and wheat/gluten. Coincidence? I think not. We also noted feeling a bit sluggish the day of gluten. Again.... coincidence? We'll have to try it again another time, away from the dairy and compare results.
So What's Happening For Week 7? Yesterday was Legumes. This one we were hoping would not cause problems so that we could still rely on them for a good protein source next year during Lent when we typically fast from animal products. Besides the obvious 'gas' issues most people associate with legumes that I and my youngest certainly experienced, my husband got severe swelling in legs...something he hasn't experienced during all of the Whole30. 🙁 He loves peanut butter. I think almond butter has found a permanent residency in our home.
This Thursday we will test non-gluten grains (rice, corn, etc.).
Sunday (EARRRRLY on Sunday - our service starts very late Saturday night and into the wee small early hours of Sunday morning) will be the celebration of Pascha (referred to as Easter in the West). Traditionally, we make a Pascha Basket filled with ham, numerous cheeses, butter, Eggs, Horseradish, Salt, and of course, Pascha Bread - a large round loaf of bread made of white flour, eggs, milk and honey....hmmmm.... We will consume foods in the basket in the Church social hall with our church family admist many Orthodox greeting of "Christ is Risen!" Usually my husband makes a TON of Pascha bread. He's at least limiting it this year. We'll just have a small batch but it's a tradition that, at this point in our lives, just has to be had! I will also be buying less cheese. I only have one package of raw cheddar for the basket. There will also be chocolate, wine, and a few extra sweet goodies. It will definitely be a 'feast of feasts' after the fast but not to the degree it has been for us in past years.
Week 7 Menu:
Breakfast: Fried Eggs served over a bed of sweet potatoes and kale mixed with sausage and onions. Also, as this was Legume Testing day, we had an apple with peanut butter on the side.
Lunch: We went grocery shopping during lunch hours...I know, but it was the only way to make the rest of the day work...so lunch was RX bars and cucumbers and carrots with humus. The rest of the week will be leftovers as usual aside from Thursday (see below)
Dinner: Mexican (Taco Salad) - I wasn't sure it would be all that good without the chips, cheese and sour cream...but it was great! See recipe below!
Breakfast: Fried Eggs over sautéed kale mixed with green beans and onions
Dinner: Chicken Legs, Baked Sweet Potatoes, Broccoli
Breakfast: Tomato Spinach Frittata
Dinner: Crab Cakes over a bed of greens served with sliced tomatoes, berries
Breakfast: We'll be fasting this day as we have a liturgy service in the morning - but I will have rice balls with a side of mango prepared to eat after the service.
Lunch: When we get home we will have corn with whatever leftovers we have for this day.
Dinner: Gluten Free Pancakes with Sage Sausage and Cinnamon Apples
Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs, Sweet Potatoes or Kale
Saturday: Scrambled Eggs, Sweet Potatoes or Kale
Lunch: Leftover Ratatouille
Dinner - No dinner today.... we will be fasting for the service tonight so lunch will be eaten just a little later.
Sunday: We will be exhausted. We typically do not get home until at least 4 in the morning. I've tried for years to still have the traditional sit down Ham and Mashed Potatoes dinner but it just doesn't work. This year we may have to take our daughter back to school on this day too so breakfast, lunch and dinner will be a 'whatever you can gather from the fridge and Pascha Basket on your own kind of day"...except for the little guy... I'll get him his food too!
Paleo Taco Salad
This is a really simple dish that whips up in no time.
Directions: Simply fry the meat mixed with some onion and taco seasoning. Serve over a bed of the other ingredients. Top with Melissa Joulwan's Awesome Sauce (Found in Well Fed 2) or another Paleo Taco Style Sauce of your choice.
May you all have a blessed Holy Week!
The conference started on Thursday. Unfortunately we were running behind schedule and did not make it in time to attend the Akathist service- this one being a prayer service to the Mother of God as the nurturer of children. It is a beautiful service as we have attended them in the past.
We did make it for dinner and were happy to see familiar faces and see many new faces as well. After dinner was a nice group photo session and orientation activities including the phenomenal display of photography by Jocelyn Mathewes in the museum at Antiochian Village titled Women With Icons.
Friday brought us a beautiful Pre-sanctified Liturgy service followed by the first sessions! I attended one called "Maneuvering through the High School Years" given by Dianthe Livanos. Dianthe shared her wisdom and reminded us that life is NOT about a title, position or amount of money we make and that we must remember to place Loving God above everything and teach this to our children. I had a wonderful discussion with Dianthe after the session about refocusing my outlook on some recent challenges - we truly must set our sights on God as parents - in doing this our children will hopefully learn to do the same.
Another session was conducted by Susan Papademetris on setting goals and following through. Susan reminded us to set goals- have them in writing - something I use to do but haven't actually done this for several years. It's something I certainly intend to work on. I have writing goals but not written homeschool goals...something is wrong with that picture! We need to review these goals annually - some of us may be fine doing this monthly or weekly...others may need to do it daily. I think the overall goals - especially our goals involving our faith- should be reviewed quite frequently! Susan provided a wonderful handout that I still need to reread to get it all. It will definitely be put in my pile of planning materials for next year as I want to keep it all in mind as I plan and organize.
My session 3 was on Free Online Resources for Education and I'm looking forward to the list of sources Bob Weaver will be sending to those of us in the session! He did a fabulous job of presenting a list of places to look for information and the questions to ask yourself about your sources (Is it authoritative? Comprehensive? Reliable? Current?) and how to go about answering those questions.
The Keynote Speaker, Dr. Christopher Veniamin, spoke on The Orthodox Understanding of Salvation: "Theosis" in St. Silouan the Athonite and Elder Sophrony of Essex. Orthodox theology is personal and unique and Dr. Veniman thoroughly covered this topic and hit many important points including: We must pray or our enemies just as Christ did, If you don't feel bad for the sinner destined to experience the fire then you lack the spirit within you, and before we say, do , or even THINK anything - we need to refer our minds and hearts to Christ!
Saturday brought 2 more sessions and another talk by Dr. Veniamin on Salvation. My first session on Saturday was given by Monica Klepac on "Holding and Letting Go - Sanity and Sustainability in Homeschooling". Monica did a fabulous job at reminding us about setting goals and prioritizing those goals - always remembering which are the most important. She also reminded we moms to remember to put the oxygen mask on ourselves first! - just as in procedures for an airplane emergency- we need to get time for ourselves and take care of ourselves or we won't be able to care for our children - this is something I wished I would have learned years ago.
My second session on Saturday was given by Dr. Veniamin (with a rather humorous opening act by Andrew Kern I may add) on Repentance. This is an important topic as our society really does not seem to understand repentance nor does it offer real support to a soul which desires to repent and yet we are ALL in need of repentance. Dr. Veniamin talked about loving our enemies, laying aside our own will to learn the will of God (a really hard challenge!), and remembering that none of us can discern the will of God by ourselves - we need guidance from others that are further along the spiritual path - namely our spiritual fathers...
Of course, these are just the sessions that I went to. Each session has three choices of speakers and topics. Sometimes it's hard to pick which one to go to! I'm glad my husband is with me so he can go to some different ones and take notes for me. It gives us a lot to talk about in the days to follow.
And of course - there was the late night with other homechool moms. I was tired - plus my teenage son was close by - so I didn't really share that much but I still enjoyed the time with them that evening. We stayed up way to late but it was worth the time with these dear people who I so rarely get to see and get to know.
Thank you to all that had anything to do with setting up the conference and presenting to adults as well as a big thanks to all that took on the children's sessions keeping them safe and wonderfully occupied!
This past Monday marked the first day of Great Lent. Lent is a spiritual journey leading us to Pascha (Easter). At Pascha we celebrate Christ's resurrection not as a mere historical event but as something that not only happened, but something that continues to happen to us! In Christ's resurrection, He enables us to walk in the newness of life. All of us received the gift of new life and we each have the ability to accept the gift and live by it.
While there are 6 weeks and Holy Week to prepare us for Pascha there are also 5 weeks to prepare us for Lent - each dedicated to a fundamental aspect of repentance:
Lent actually begins during Vespers on Forgiveness Sunday, also known as Cheese-Fare Sunday. This is one of my favorite services of the season. It begins with a solemn Vespers service, but when the announcement of the evening Prokeimenon is made (usually symbolizing the end of one day and the beginning of another), it is also the beginning of Lent. At the end of this service, all of the faithful go up to the priest, one by one, and the priest and each person ask one another for mutual forgiveness, and continue around the church asking each person present for mutual forgiveness.
Each Lent I make goals for the Lenten Season. Last year, I didn't fare so well. Hopefully this year will be better. My personal goals involve reading - I had actually started the reading during the two weeks prior to Lent beginning so hopefully I will attain the goals! The books I am reading for Lent are as follows:
1. Help! I'm Bored In Church : Entering Fully Into The Divine Liturgy - I'm not sure that I would say I am bored in Church, but I do feel that the last year or so have taken its effect on me and that I am not as attentive as I should be. I'm hoping this book, written by an Orthodox Priest, will help refocus me. I'm not that far into it but am enjoying it thus far.
2. Forgive Our Fathers and Mothers: Finding Freedom from Hurt and Hate - I saw this book 'advertised' on a blog site and couldn't resist. It is said to help forgiveness with all relationships, not just parental figures. So far, I'd say it is well written.
3. One Thousand Gifts Devotional - I read One Thousand Gifts a couple of years ago for Lent and began my own gratitude journal. I have not yet reached 1000 but am working on it! This devotional covers 60 reflections including one on anxiety that really spoke to me!
4. Great Lent: Journey To Pascha - I have tried to read this one several times...for some reason I never seem to get through it- another reason I started early this year! I am already through the parts I've read before so it's looking good! 🙂
4. The Scent of Holiness: Lessons from a Woman's Monastery - Assuming I finish the first two on the list, this is the next in line for me. It's been on my Amazon wish list and I finally bought it. Apparently, the author, Constantina Palmer made frequent pilgrimages to a women's monastery in Greece and writes of the nuns' particular approach to their spiritual life. It sounds magnificent!
5. The Gospel of Luke: Good News for the Poor - I doubt that I will finish this bible commentary by Lawrence Farley during Lent but I haven't read one in a while and decided Lent was a good time to do so! I only read a few segments a day because I like to mull it over before going on.
Actually, I think resolutions are a good thing. It's goal planning. As long as the goals are REASONABLE... then writing them down to look at and remind yourself of what your goals are once in a while really will help you attain them. And I thought if I write them all here then I just might hold myself even more accountable - cause you might wonder how I'm doing with them...
There's a lot. Because I do a lot of things and feel I should have goals in all parts of my life...not just one or two. Plus I think if I have a lot of goals there's more chance of me attaining at least a few of them!! haha...
Okay.... that's 15.... that should keep me busy!!!
So what are YOUR New Year's Resolutions? I'd love to read them!
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With Christmas coming up in a few days, I've read up a bit on Russian Christmas Customs. Although we ourselves are an Orthodox family and my husband is Russian, we don't necessarily follow all these customs. However, I enjoy reading about them and occasionally take part of an old tradition when it sounds appealing and doable for our family.
Thirteen days after Western Christmas, on January 7th, the Russian Orthodox
Church celebrates its Christmas in accordance with the old Julian calendar (Saint Nicholas Day is celebrated on December 6th and several Orthodox families exchange gifts on this day). We have talked many years of doing part of our gift celebration on Russian Christmas but it just never happens. We do leave our tree up until the day after Russian Christmas though and I always wish my husband a Merry Christmas once again.
We, as most Orthodox in America, celebrate Christmas according to the western calendar on December 25th. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, Christmas is the third most important feast (Pascha, or Easter, and Pentecost are the most important).
The 12 days from Christmas Eve to Epiphany are called Christmastide (traditionally falling on January 6th, Epiphany marks the revelation of Jesus Christ as God - though of course that manifestation occurred in the womb - and is the day we celebrate the baptism of our Lord in the Jordan). These holy days have been called the 12 Days of Christmas and are usually celebrated by visiting friends and relatives.
The Holy Supper, apparently, is comparable to a Carpotho-Rusyn and Ukrainian meal and is served on Christmas Eve. A white table-cloth symbolizing Christ's swaddling clothes cover the table. A white candle symbolizing Christ as the Light of the World adorns the center of the table. There are traditional ethnic foods served including Kutya, a special porridge made of wheat and other grains served with honey and poppy seeds. The dish symbolizes hope and immortality while the honey represents happiness. Other dishes include: Sauerkraut Soup, Parsley Potatoes and Red Wine. There is no meat as this meal, though festive in nature, still takes place during the fast.
There is typically two services held in the Orthodox Church at Christmas. One is a vesper's service held on Christmas Eve while the Liturgy service is held on Christmas morning. The traditional Christmas Greeting"Christ Is Born!" can still be heard exclaimed by Orthodox Christians everywhere and can often be seen on Christmas cards. (It's always written in ours!) The traditional response is "Glorify Him!" We use this greeting in Church and in public throughout the Christmas holidays and for several weeks after it.
Children usually go Christmas Caroling on Christmas carrying an eight pointed star (also a Romanian tradition) and an icon in the center.
On the Sunday after the Nativity (Christmas) a Yolka (Christmas party) is held.
And there is the custom of Babouschka. Babouschka, according to old tales, was inhospitable and did not offer food or shelter to the Magi as they were traveling and searching for the Christ Child. Because of this inhospitable behavior, she still wanders the countryside in search of the Child Jesus. Along the way, as she has learned her lesson, she stops at homes of children and leaves them gifts.
Sources For More Information on Russian Customs:
The Treasured Traditions and Customs of the Orthodox Churches by Mary Paloumpis Hallick
My toddler, after reading a story about Thanksgiving, was asked, "What do we eat for Thanksgiving?". He responded, "Turkey, strawberries, perogies, squash and pumpkin". Okay, so he didn't exactly understand the whole concept of what the pilgrims ate but he got a lot! 🙂
Hopefully, we adults get a lot more out of the concept of Thanksgiving than my toddler. Hopefully we know it's not really about the food and learn a lesson that doesn't require Snoopy making popcorn and toast and Marcie telling Charlie Brown the true meaning of Thanksgiving.
But if you're not sure, or if you are and just want a moment to reflect, here is an Orthodox prayer for Thanksgiving given to us by St. Basil the Great:
We bless Thee, O most high God and Lord of mercy, Who art ever doing numberless great and inscrutable things for us––glorious and wonderful; Who grantest to us sleep for rest from our infirmities, and repose from the burdens of or much toiling flesh. We thank Thee that Thou hast not destroyed us with our sins, but hast loved us forever; and though we are sunk in despair, Thou hast raised us up to glorify thy power. Therefore, we implore Thine incomparable goodness: enlighten the eyes of our understanding and raise up our mind from the heavy sleep of indolence; open our mouth and fill it with Thy praise, that we may be able––without distraction––to sing and confess Thee, Who are God glorified in all and by all, the eternal Father, with Thine Only-begotten Son, and thine All-Holy and good and life-giving Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.
I pray that you are with family today or at least someone who is like family to you.
I pray that you have a roof over your head and a source of warmth.
I pray that you do have food that will sustain your health.
I pray that you have love.
I pray that you have the ability to rest when you are weary.
I pray that you have good health.
I pray that you have someone who can make you smile even when the world seems dark and cold.
I pray that you have Faith, strong and true.
I pray that God blesses you this day and each and every day of your life and that you have the eyes to behold it with gratitude.
I pray that you have peace.
Today I write of Mary, the greatest woman who ever lived. She is known to the Orthodox as the Theotokos. I hope, even if you are not Orthodox, you will read this to find out why we Orthodox Christians highly honor this blessed lady.
A vast majority of Protestants are under the impression Orthodox Christians worship Mary (Theotokos). This is simply not true. She is honored greatly. She is not worshipped. Worship is for God. And while I know I am one person that cannot sway the mind of someone who has committed to this thought the majority of their lives', I hope that I can at least put a thought into their mind...that perhaps this idea is inaccurate and perhaps he or she could do a little further research before deciding to stick to this conclusion. And maybe, just maybe, he or she will have a little better understanding of why we do honor Mary and why he or she should as well.
Theotokos is a Greek term meaning 'birthgiver of God'. This is the Virgin Mary. This is the woman who was the first to accept Christ into her life. This is the woman who played an immense role in man's redemtion by her consent to bear Christ. This is the woman that leads us to Christ. This is the woman the bible has shown us that we should honor. This is she who contained Christ, God who is uncontainable, within her womb.
The bible tells us that Mary was a virgin when the angel Gabriel appeared to her. The prophet, Isaiah, predicted this conception. It is written, "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel" (Isaiah 7:14).
We honor Mary because she is the mother of Jesus Chrsit. Mary was not just any random young girl. Mary had found favor with God. "Do not be afraid, Mary," said Gabriel, " for you have found favor with God"( Luke 1:30). Mary was chosen by God for an honor that will always be hers alone. And Mary accepted the task given to her. Mary had free will. Mary could have run and hid from the angel. Mary could have protested. But Mary was willing. She answered the angel, "Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word" (Luke 1:38). In this action, Mary was the first to accept Christ into her life.
In accepting Christ into her life, accepting her role of the incarnation, Mary played an immense part of man's redemtion:
"Christ saves men, who have fallen through their own fault into the power of the devil, by breaking that power. He became Man for this purpose; He lived and died and rose again that He might break the chains by which men were bound. It is not His death alone, but the entire Incarnation, of which His death was a necessary part, that freed men from their captivity to Satan." ~ Fr. John Romanides
The Holy Bible shows us that it is, indeed, fitting to honor Mary and that she is the mother of our Lord. The angel Gabriel honored Mary,"Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you, Blessed are you among women"Luke 1:28). Gabriel told Mary that God had found favor with her (Luke 1:30). Mary herself, in offering one of the most magnificent prayer of praise to God, "My sould magnifies the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; For behold, henceforth all generation shall call me blessed." Her favor was further established upon meeting with her cousin, Elizabeth, when the woman, upon seeing her, exclaimed, " Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord shuld come to me?" (Luke 1:42-43)
The icons of Mary you will find in Orthodox Christian churches and homes never depict an image of Mary alone. All icons of Mary are with her son, Jesus Christ. Mary is honored because of her son and the icons reflect that. The icons of Mary display the mother leading us closer to Him. She led us to him in her acceptance of her part in the incarnation and she lead people to follow him in her life (John 2:5) and she continues to lead us to Him in our life by her example. She is often seen pointing in his direction or gazing adoringly into his eyes while holding the child out to us to behold with our own.
Mary held our Lord and Savior in her womb for 9 months. God, who is uncontainable, was contained within her. For this and all of the above reasons given and so much more, Mary was the greatest woman who ever lived. Mary was his mother, giving birth to our Lord. He honored her and so should we.
Sources Used and Further Sources That May Interst You:
"He who is devout to the Mother of God will certainly never be lost." ~St. Ignatius of Anticoh