August 6, 2007

Yay for Us...

2 years ago today, I wore the most beautiful dress and married the most wonderful man.

The other day, we were discussing how people say "I can't believe it's been 'x' many years." We can believe it's been two. It's felt like two. I think that when you have major events happen or life-changing experiences, the time that it takes to process those moments and to recover from them can be slow and tiring. I'm not saying that these last two years have been nothing but hard work, but it has been quite a bit of hard work. We've gone through weddings, unemployment, job scares, family trouble, great spiritual growth, deepened friendships with each other and close friends....It's been a lot. So, naturally, we feel like it's been about two years worth of life.

I'm so glad I had him to go through that life with. May God grant us many more years!

July 18, 2007

The Official Countdown...

I am now less than one month from my last day of work here in Southern California. Which means that I am now one month from moving day. Oh man. I am not ready emotionally or physically for that day to come. Who knew that six years ago as I was preparing to make the drive from San Antonio to "liberal" California that I would be beginning, up to this point, the best six years of my life. I have met and encountered truly amazing individuals. We have worked hard, studied hard, played hard...truly lived. These people fight daily against the overwhelming push of our generation to be care free, unattached, and individualistic. They feel that instead, the life of a Christian should encompass many things worthy of care and attention, a life lived in community, where the body helps the weaker members along. Many times, my husband and I have felt that we are the weaker members that I Corinthians talks about. I look at my friends and family and feel that they are so talented and gifted and strong. I know that I have lived in a blessing to be able to live even 6 years with them. My heart breaks to think about leaving, and I'm not sure what our life will even look like without having exercise partners, discussion partners, girls group, late night smokes, great wine and cheap wine, camping trips...I guess as I'm listing it out, I realize that a lot of people have these elements in their lives. I'm not too surprised that I'm having a hard time figuring out what makes my situation unique. We've tried for years to figure out what makes the Torrey Honors Institute so different than any other great books program and we never did get a satisfactory answer. That program brought us together and taught us about life in a community, so if we can't find an answer about it, I guess we're not really able to find an answer about us.

I'm not trying to say that our friendship is so unique and so unknowable that no one could really understand our situation or experience. That's what songs like "Unwritten" by Natasha Bedingfield like to tell you. That poison is a bunch of rubbish. Of course you're understandable! Of course people have experienced the exact same thing you're going through! People have been 25 years old moving away from close family and friends for centuries. I don't think it was ever easy. I'm just saying that we have something very special and very different than any of us have experienced thus far in our lives...and I think we're all afraid that life will take us in different directions to the point that we'll lose what we have here. And when people say "absence makes the heart grow fonder" or "some separation is good to strengthen the relationship" that's when I feel like they don't understand the place that our friends have held in our lives, in our maturity towards Christ and a love towards each other, and in our growth as academics. There is a real and definite danger in leaving this place. We may never find it again...and I know that God may have wonderful places for all of us, but that doesn't negate the tragedy of losing what we have all had.

These next few weeks will be flooded with visits to Chicago, camping trips, work events, packing, planning, hiding our heads in the sand that we're leaving...the busier I get the less I have to realize that in 30 days we'll be driving away from our home.

May 15, 2007


I haven't posted much here about our journey to Orthodoxy, but it was intense, stressful, painful, joyful, and peaceful. Some of that journey is explained very well on Father Michael's post here. Please keep in mind that he is an Orthodox priest, so we do have certain assumptions that can sound harsh, and a little threatening, to non-Orthodox ears. But I can vouch for his character and his love for all Christians, both Orthodox and not. I just thought that he described some of our thoughts very well, especially between paragraphs 8 and 15, and it saves me some time having to write it out when he has done so well. It's a little long, but I encourage reading it.

I'm not sure if I agree completely with his tone of "evangelical conspiracy" but that's mainly because I know very passionate and Godly Protestants. I also know many people who have been burned by professing Christians because they have held so tightly to their beliefs that they forgot to look for the Truth. I thank God that I have been blessed to avoid those circumstances (though family and friends have expressed great concern for us, they have not anathematized us). I'm not naive enough to deny that there are certain professing evangelicals who might consider Orthodoxy a threat to the evangelical world they created, and so do their best to slander them in order to maintain control. But again, thankfully, I have not had to deal with them in my journey. Enjoy the read!

May 14, 2007

New Recipe I'm Trying Tonight... (Updated comments in red)

I'm trying a new recipe tonight, that I thought I would share because it sounds so yummy. It's a copy of CPK's California Club Pizza. I'll let you know tomorrow how it goes, and what I would change:

1 Pre-made pizza crust
Applewood smoked bacon, chopped (I used regular bacon and chopped into small 1-2 in. pieces)
Chicken tenders, chopped
Mozzarella slices (I shredded mozzarella)
2 roma tomatoes (I just used one)
1/4 head of lettuce, chopped
Mayonnaise (amount is up to you)
1-2 Avocados

Pre-heat the oven for 350 (I turned it to 450 degrees per the instructions on the pizza bag) degrees. Mix the chopped lettuce and the mayonnaise together in medium size bowl. Refrigerate for later.

On the pre-made pizza crust, cover with mozzarella slices (I used the shredded mozzarella), bacon, and chicken. Cook in oven until pizza crust is brown and chicken is no longer pink. (I cooked the chicken in a skillet in some oil until they were a little brown, drained a bit of the oil, and added the bacon. I cooked the bacon and chicken together so the flavors could mix. Then dumped them onto a thick paper towel to drain off the extra bacon oil. I then topped the shredded cheese with the bacon and chicken mixture. I cooked them for 10 minutes. This was perfect timing. The cheese had melted and the crust was browned, but obviously cooking times will vary based on the oven).

Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes, while slicing the tomatoes and avocados. Top the pizza with the tomatoes, lettuce, and avocados.

Enjoy! (This turned out to be wonderfully delicious. Even without any sauce, the flavors of the cheese and meat, together with the light vegetables were wonderful. And the husband agreed, too. Success!)

May 10, 2007

For those who haven't heard...


April 23, 2007

For 24 Hours...

This is me not talking about the fact that we will be deciding our future tomorrow. See, if I were talking about it, my husband would need another 24 hours to have some space that wasn't filled with graduate school discussions. But seeing as how I'm not talking about it, I guess we'll have to (get to?) sit down tomorrow and decide our future. Question: How does one go about deciding their future? This kind of reminds me of planning a wedding, because everyone we talk to knows exactly what we should do but won't give us the money to do it. :-)

I just don't feel old enough to have the kind of wisdom to know what's best for us...what's best for him. I wish it were an easy decision, but it's not. It's difficult for me to go against what everyone is telling me to do, and it's not even my freakin' program! I can't imagine what he's feeling.

I sure am glad I'm not talking about it and am giving him the space he needs.

O Lord, You who steadied the hand of Peter as he began to
sink on the stormy sea, if you are with us, no one is against us.
Grant to us the shield of faith and the mighty armor of the Holy Spirit
to protect us and guide us to do Your will. The future I put into Your hands,
O Lord, and we follow You to a life in Christ. Amen

April 20, 2007

Because Not Enough Has Been Said About It...

On Wednesday, April 18th, the Supreme Court reversed the decision of 3 lower courts that the Partial Birth Abortion ban signed by President Bush was unconstitutional. This means that a decision that was made years ago will finally be put into affect. Praise be to God!

Although if you were to ask the opponents to the reversal, they would say that our country has just denied 30 years of progress and that those of us who are against partially delivering a baby for the purpose of killing it, are against the mother's health. What I found very interesting is that the PBA ban does have a clause stating that if the mother's life is in danger, they can still perform the abortion. What the opponents don't like is that it's not general enough. They want the ban to state that abortions can be done if the mother's health is at risk. They would prefer it to be open so that they could define health a lot of ways...emotional, physical, mental. However, with this ban, they don't have that freedom. It's only allowed to save the mother's life.

I know I wish that they would just ban all abortions, but I feel like this is a great day in the history of America. I'm sure it won't be enforced easily or for too long before being sent back to into the court system for another 2 years, but if we can save the life of a few babies (and save the life of their mothers...why would we want to put that guilt upon their heads?) than the work of so many fighters for justice will have been worth it.

Lord have mercy...on America and her children of all ages.

(Also, if you know of anyone in the Southern California area facing a crisis pregnancy, here's a wonderful place for them to visit:
Whittier Pregnancy Care Clinic

April 5, 2007

Some scattered thoughts on the season of lent...

I've never felt more aware of Christ's passion than this week, completing my first true lent in the Orthodox church. (I've celebrated lent before, but not with the history and tradition and community along with it). Last Sunday I realized that I am really tired. Besides having to eat foods that I don't like very much, the spiritual warfare has been intense, and I'm just so very tired. Last week I felt like I was walking through mud. I realized that if I was this tired after fasting from 40 days and experiencing spiritual attacks because of my decisions, I can't imagine how tired our Lord must have been after 33 years of feeling and experiencing much worse. And to know that nothing He experienced thus far would match what Holy Week would be for Him. That's why I feel like I'm so much more aware of Christ's passion. I'm tired and beaten...He most definitely was (and much worse than I am). And He continued to fight His battle, no matter how tough it became...even to the point of death.

The interesting thing I realized was that even though this is a tough week and we're still fasting, part of me has already finished. I feel like we're in the home stretch, because I'm baking the foods that we'll be eating at our Pascha feast and I'm planning what will be in our Pashca basket. I don't have to die at the end of this week...I get to celebrate the resurrection of Christ. So in many ways, I'm aware of Christ's passion, but in so many ways in my very typical human way, I have to keep reminding myself that though Lent is technically over, we've been preparing ourselves for this week and the party is not here yet. I guess that reveals how I would love to live my life. In Eternity without having to go through the really hard stuff. (Oh how weak and lazy I am). But I need the reminder that we are not in Eternity yet, and we still have work and death to go through (if not a physical death, at least a daily dying to the wild passions in my life). I know this sounds so morbid, but seeing as how this is Holy Thursday, it seems appropriate that my thoughts would turn to death and completing the fight. I can't celebrate Easter without going through the Passion.

Lord Have Mercy.

March 22, 2007

"The Lorica"

I arise today through a mighty strength,
the invocation of the Trinity,
through belief in the Threeness,
through confession of the Oneness of the Creator of creation.

I arise today through the strength of Christ with His Baptism,
through the strength of His Crucifixion with His Burial,
through the strength of His Resurrection with His Ascension,
through the strength of His descent for the Judgment of Doom.

I arise today through the strength of the love of Cherubim in obedience of Angels,
in the service of the Archangels,
in hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
in prayers of Patriarchs,
in predictions of Prophets,
in preachings of Apostles,
in faiths of Confessors,
in innocence of Holy Virgins,
in deeds of righteous men.

I arise today, through the strength of Heaven;
light of Sun, brilliance of Moon, splendor of Fire,
speed of Lightning, swiftness of Wind, depth of Sea,
stability of Earth, firmness of Rock.

I arise today, through God's strength to pilot me:
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's host to secure me: against snares of devils,
against temptations of vices,
against inclinations of nature,
against everyone who shall wish me ill,
afar and near, alone and in a crowd.

I summon today all these powers between me (and these evils):
against every cruel and merciless power
that may oppose my body and my soul,
against incantations of false prophets,
against black laws of heathenry,
against false laws of heretics, against craft of idolatry,
against spells of witches, smiths and wizards,
against every knowledge that endangers man's body and soul.
Christ to protect me today against poisoning,
against burning, against drowning, against wounding,
so that there may come abundance in reward.

Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ in breadth,
Christ in length,
Christ in height,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

I arise today through a mighty strength,
the invocation of the Trinity,
through belief in the Threeness,
through confession of the Oneness of the Creator of creation.
Salvation is of the Lord.
Salvation is of the Lord.
Salvation is of Christ.
May Thy Salvation, O Lord, be ever with us. Amen.

March 5, 2007

A Short Story (A First Draft)

One evening, as a simple and guileless (albeit a bit apathetic) girl sat contemplating her life (an activity she did very rarely because it always depressed her even though there was very little to be depressed about), she was visited by a spirit. This spirit saw that the evening's activity had gotten very tiresome and depressing for such a simple girl. She didn't often like to think of things that were serious. In order to try to comfort the girl a bit, she offered the girl one wish...any wish. The girl thought about it for a while, contemplating some of the frustrations in her life and the lack of clarity on how and when and if to handle them,and finally decided that her one wish was to feel only the pain that was efficacious. You see, she was tired of having her senses fool her on so many occasions. She could never tell if she was really feeling sick or if it was just her mind. She had a hard time distingushing between muscle pain or serious pain. She never knew if it was time to see the doctor or if she should just put some ice on it. And above all, there were plenty of times where people thought they were fine, but they weren't, and their bodies failed to tell them. The girl thought that if she only felt the pain that was truly there, then she would truly know the condition of her body and how to act.

The spirit hesitatingly granted this wish.

The poor girl had never known so much pain. She never realized how much pain the body goes through every second. She never knew how much her body was working to keep her alive...until now. Now she felt every pull and strain of the muscles and tendons. And that was just her physical body! She never realized how much she had grieved her soul by the thoughts and activities (and lack therof) that she allowed herself to take part in. She just assumed that if it didn't hurt, then there wasn't a problem. How backwards her thoughts had been all along! She thought that her body was just tricking her and picking and choosing what to feel and not to feel. Now she realized that she had fallen for the philosophy she had been trying to combat. She didn't really believe that there was pain she wasn't feeling. What she actually wanted was to feel nothing except every now and then a reminder to get something checked up. What she discovered was that the pain and the pressure that she put her whole body (body and soul) through every day was absolutely incredible, and through the grace of God (mixed with her apathetic nature) she was only allowed to experience a little of the pain at a time. She realized that she did get her wish...she was now experiencing the pain that was truly there, and she now really did know the condition of her body. And it was not a pleasant was an excruciating time of penitence and release.

40 days later, the spirit visited her again and asked if she wanted the wish taken back. The girl was at a loss, because now that she had felt the pain that was truly there, she did indeed know the areas on which to work. However, the daily pain she found herself in was something she wanted to lessen. But how can you lessen the pain and still have the determination to be healed?