Friday, January 22, 2021

2021 Goals- reading every day- the Bible & other books

My mother has read through the Bible (a chapter or more every night before bed) multiple times. I have always admired her for that. But I never took my admiration and turned it into action. My knowledge of the Bible was limited to the readings in the Roman and Byzantine Catholic Churches- daily, feast days, and Sundays. I always get perfect scores on Bible knowledge quizzes. But that is not enough. For whatever reason, after watching a YouTube end-of-the-year video from minimalist and Christian Ashlynne Eaton where she recommended the Read Scripture app, I pulled the trigger. I haven't missed a reading since December 14th. I'm just about finished with Leviticus. I'm using my Saint Joseph Edition of the New American Bible- I plan to fill in the gaps of the Read Scripture app with  Fr Mike's Bible in a Year podcast when Catholic books are left out; I'll have to double my readings sometime! 

I'm attempting to average reading a book every week (in addition to the Bible) in 2021. We shall see. So far in 2021, I have read Agatha Christie's Death Comes at the End- ancient Egypt with no detective but 100% Christie! I recommend it
The 2nd book was short, sweet, and an old favorite. Finishing it again, I realized that I am like Helene in that I have never gotten to England even though I have planned to visit since I was 11. 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff is a collection of letters to an English book shop. Just read it. And the newish film is good, too.
My third book of the year is Emma by Jane Austen. My university-going daughters were shocked to learn that the only Austen I have read is, of course, P & P. All my life, I was the bookworm. This doesn't mean that I read a great quantity of books; it means that I re-read favorites again and again. I am going for variety with my one-book-a-week adventure. I need to pick up the pace with Emma. The language is very rich and not necessarily easy to read late at night after a busy day!
Since January 4th, I've been using Wendy Speake's The 40-Day Sugar Fast every day after my Bible reading to help me re-set my taste buds. Because I am already sugar free (I eat 90% lowcarb/keto), I am fasting from sugar substitutes and alcohol. She is a gentle woman of God; reading her thoughts is a nice way to start the day! This fast ends Feb 13th- The Great Fast before Pascha (Lent) starts for new calendar Byzantine Catholics Monday, February 15th. So, I plan to take a break for one day and then use it again, adding fasting from meat for all days of the Great Fast (for health reasons, I do not usually go full vegan for fasting times... talk to your spiritual father and possibly your doctor about what is best for you). 
My word of the year is SPRING. Who knows what this means, but I have been trying to 'spring' out of bed at 5:45 so that I can get my Bible reading, etc done in the quiet of the early morning. Of course, once I turn a light on in the kitchen (must have coffee), the kitty cries from the garage. But it has been a great experience. Those who know me in real life are probably amazed. I'm getting old- going to hit the big 5-0 this summer. It is time to wake up early enough to see the sun rise. Even if I live another 50 years, I shouldn't take this beautiful world for granted. 
fyi- if you click on the book links and then make an amazon purchase, I might make a teeny bit of money. hasn't worked so far- but maybe...? 

Monday, January 11, 2021

may we have the courage to say "Death, where is your sting?" in 2021

Life is shadow and light. Last night, my father's older brother Foster died suddenly. Thank you for praying for Uncle Foster's soul and for the consolation of his family, especially my cousin S. This past year has been soul-crushing in many ways. Please pray for Rick H and the consolation of his wife. We are also mourning the losses of faithful priests, Father Frank and Father Mel. and there are others as well. Lord, have mercy!

You who with wisdom profound mercifully orders all things, and gives unto all that which is useful, give rest, O Lord, to the soul of your servant who has fallen asleep, for he has placed his trust in You, our Maker and Fashioner and our God (Troparion for funeral).

With the saints give rest, O Christ, to the soul of Your servant where sickness and sorrow are no more, neither sighing, but life everlasting (Kontakion for funeral).

Where is the pleasure in life which is unmixed with sorrow? Where the glory which on earth has stood firm and unchanged? All things are weaker than shadow, all more illusive than dreams; comes one fell stroke, and Death in turn, prevails over all these vanities. Wherefore in the Light, O Christ, of Your countenance, the sweetness of Your beauty, to him (her) whom You have chosen grant repose, for You are the Friend of Mankind. (St. John of Damascus)

Friday, January 1, 2021

remembering 2020 & praying for a peaceful, healthy, happy 2021

January- enjoying the West coast during Christmas break 

February- the older girls were back at university- the little kids were busy with homeschooling, Trail Life, AHG, Basketball, choir, cotillion, and of course church activities

March- in the middle of the month, the world changed... we were grateful to have a small patio for our backyard during the long stay at home order. We were also grateful to continue to have the Divine Liturgy as a family, but were dismayed at the strict regulations. The children and I went frequently to an outdoor stations of the cross during Great Lent 

April- Easter Divine Liturgy was at home; the older girls' university went on-line and the dorms were closed. Thank God for the hospitality of friends and family who opened their doors to them! 

May- regulations in California became stricter. We had daily walks in our townhouse complex as all the parks and beaches were closed. The older girls' university continued to be on-line and we worked on getting them home from the Midwest

June- Priest-husband began the transfer of his ministry as he accepted a call to work in spiritual care/chaplaincy in a hospital out of state. We were preparing to leave California after almost 20 years in the middle of a pandemic- so we made repairs and painted our townhouse to sell it

July - we visited his hospital (just the patio) during his last day of ministry there- I do not think we will ever truly process the difficulty of leaving this life - little to no closure, no hugs, no parties- we tried to offer it up for those who were suffering from the illness. There were the small things- chalk drawing with great friends on the sidewalk, a few times eating out outside with friends, going to a friend's farm to see the animals, a few final Divine Liturgies celebrated outside of the church before the government made regulations strict again. I might be melancholy- but I know we were and are very blessed

August - we packed the Honda and a 16 foot moving van to make our way to the buckle of the Bible belt. We enjoyed the ubiquitous Western burger on the road, and when we arrived at our new city we had to try hot chicken (delicious)- Our oldest daughter had her BA graduation with social distancing measures in place. Sometimes it feels like the twilight zone 

September - the kids and I made a quick visit to the big girls' university (oldest started Masters); we are exploring the wonderful parks of our new stomping grounds 

October- we bought a house! & we were able to have some family visit 

November- The Nativity Fast began, and we enjoyed the chilly weather and the changing leaves of our new state

December - wishing you all a blessed Nativity season & a peaceful, healthy, happy new year!