Momma Fail

Pascha, 2011

Pascha, 2011

Let’s talk for a minute about a desperate place every Orthodox mother has been in.

You see, in our church, kids do NOT leave for the service. They do not have a separate kids’ sermon or kids’ school. They stay with us, in the church, for the entire 2, sometimes more, hours. We do this for a reason– kids can worship in their own way, even if that way sounds deafening half the time. And how else are they going to learn to love church if they aren’t with their parents in the service, ready to copy the adults around them? We all learn by copying, so the premise is that they should grow up imitating the adults in their life, not their peers in some separate room. They shouldn’t feel inferior, they should feel like they are part of the Body of Christ at all times.

But it gets a little loud and crazy. And every church I’ve been to has been especially considerate of this. One time, I took Gregory out because he was whooping and hollering (his version of singing). One of the deacons followed me out and said, “Oh, dear, I hope you didn’t leave because you thought he was being loud! We love it when we can hear the young ones. God’s Kingdom is especially for them. It brings tears to my eyes when I can hear them. Please bring him back in!”

Another time, we had a wild kid in the back, kicking and flailing. I don’t think he was participating at all, but the mother sure was trying to. He was getting so loud, he was drowning out the Priest’s homily! Everybody was staring at each other, awkwardly, wondering what they should do, if anything. I’ll never forget it, but the Priest’s wife, a wonderful mom of two, marched straight to the back. Everyone held their breath, wondering if she was going to ask the mom to leave. Instead, she picked up the kid and talked to him softly, calming him down. She figured that instead of complaining, she would pitch in and help so that the mom could participate in the service.

But I’ll tell you one person who minds the kids and their disruptions. It’s usually the one person who’s the least tolerant. It’s always the kids’ mom.

I’ve been that mom a lot lately. Mortified, hearing every squawk as though it’s on a megaphone, looking around to make sure no one’s staring. Gregory is going through a super defiant stage, where he purposefully walks straight up to the line and camps out. If we say no laying down and flopping on the floor, he will lay almost completely down on his elbows and stare at us, showing that he can technically follow the letter of the law without the spirit of it. Sometimes, if he’s feeling especially naughty, he’ll attack his brother at some random moment, causing them both to scream. Once, he tried to BODYSLAM his brother in church, missed, and fell flat on his bum (it looked like it hurt!). It was hard to feel too sorry for him, since he hurt himself trying to hurt someone else.

A few months ago, it was particularly bad. I took Gregory out for the bazillionth time that day, and tried talking to him. He wasn’t listening, that much was clear.

Something inside me snapped. I reached a desperate place.

“Gregory,” I said. “When you act like that, you make Momma sad. You make Dadda sad. You even make JESUS sad.”

His eyes popped wide. I had his full attention now.

“Jesus?” he said quietly.

I felt sooo terrible. My church behind me was preaching Jesus’ unconditional love and acceptance of the people He loves, and I was out here telling my son that Jesus was disappointed in Him. That might be an appropriate conversation for later, granted, because being respectful is a good skill to have. But all a two year old is going to hear is, “Jesus doesn’t like me.”

I tried to move on, but he told Jesse later, “Jesus is SAAAAD.” Jesse shot me this look that said, what the heck did you tell our son?

Total Mom Fail.

He brought it up for several weeks in a row. When somebody would ask him about church, he would say, “Jesus SAD.” It made me feel like a terrible person every single time.

A few weeks went by, and he stopped mentioning it. When he found out we’d be going to church in the morning, he would say, excitedly, “See Jesus? Kiss the cross? Cah-moon-un?” No mention of Sad Jesus. Whew.

This last Sunday, when I brought him out for the bazillionth time once again, I tried to have the talk again,  taking a different approach.

“Gregory,” I said. “We come to church to pray to Jesus because He loves us. When you act like that, Momma can’t pray. Dadda can’t pray.” Then I finished with, “When we go back in, I want you to apologize to Dadda and Momma.”

“Yeah,” he said, “And JESUS.”

Ugh, there it was again. I ignored what he said and brought him back in. He acted eager, like he couldn’t wait.

And then I got a front row seat to my son’s tender little heart that I love so much. He marched straight over to Jesse and said, “Dadda, I sorry. You pray.” And then, without being prompted, he walked out to the center of the church, straight under the large icon of Jesus on the ceiling. I could just barely hear him as he looked straight up and said softly, “Jesus, I so sorry.”

Tears came to my eyes. For that moment, I got to see my son how God sees him. A tender soul, open, willing to apologize and be loved anyways. For me, church that day was a huge lesson. It’s so easy to go before Jesus and tell him what we need or want. We want him to fix everything. But we ignore the one thing that begins the path to fixing everything. Repentance.

It was so simple for Gregory to march in, look Jesus right in the eye and repent. I thank God for letting me see that, because he taught his mother so much about child-like humility.

Pascha 2

 

Thoughts on Adoption, Unconditional Love, Part 1

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Want a crash course in adopting? I could sum it up in one phrase: Unconditional Love is terrifying. So terrifying, that it causes confusion and agony for a traumatized child. We learned really early on that the more we repeated how unconditional our love was for C, the more we emphasized that there was NOTHING she could do to earn it or take it away, the more the situation got worse.

For a foster child who has made their way through life by being their OWN parent, manipulation is a second language. They don’t even know they are manipulating, after a certain point. They don’t even understand that they are twisting love into leverage.

Unconditional love becomes translated as the ultimate manipulation, made even more terrifying because they’ve never experienced it and don’t know how to handle it. When normal children encounter something new, they respond according to their personality, but they use it as a learning experience and change as a result. Traumatized kids take something new and scary like unconditional love and try to fit it into a box that they already have within their experience. And, since manipulation and trauma are 90% of their experience thus far, Love becomes the most uncomfortable and unsettling thing out there.

So, we adapted. Learned how to communicate with C differently. Instead of saying, “It doesn’t matter, we’ll love you regardless”, we eased off and said things like “If you do this and this thing, we will be closer”, or, “If you do this, we will love each other more.”

Holy batman, right? As a parent, try imagining for ONE SECOND that you would ever tell your kid, “I will love you more if you do these three things.” It’s inconceivable to me. Makes me want to vomit. But the minute we started operating this way with C, things would get relatively better.

This particular aspect of our dealings with C has taught me so much about our relationship with God. It’s well-known to me that the main critique of Catholicism and Orthodoxy is that we are “works-based” and trying to earn our Salvation, messing with the concept of the gospel. I work at a Christian school where kids say things on a routine basis about how “Catholics aren’t even Christians because they don’t believe in Faith or the Bible”.

Please, hang with me. TRY to think of it along the lines of our relationship with C. When we set out “works” for her to accomplish, it didn’t change the end result any. We still loved her unconditionally. The things we outlined for her weren’t about whether or not we loved her. They were about drawing us closer together as a family, mercilessly tearing down all the sin and manipulation that was keeping us apart.

I can’t speak for the Catholic church, but since I have been a part of the Orthodox church for 7 years next month, I can safely say that I have NEVER heard of good works in relation to “where we go when we die”. All the structure in the church, all the good works we strive for, are only made to bring us closer to God. It’s no secret. You could, perhaps, mishear a homily in an Orthodox church because of preconceived notions, but I promise that if those weren’t in the way, you’d hear the message loud and clear– the Orthodox church does NOT believe that we can earn our salvation. The Orthodox church wholeheartedly believes that good works have a unique and irreplaceable role in bringing us closer to Christ.

Take a few for example:

Going to church several times a week: I’ve seen many a protestant raise their eyebrows on this one. Sundays are all that’s mentioned in the bible, right? I can’t even begin to describe how much healthier my soul feels when I go to church even TWICE a week. It’s like going from eating all McDonalds to organic home-made dinners. It doesn’t mean that I’m trying to earn my salvation, reminiscent of Awanas where the Blue Jewels on the crown were for church attendance.

Forgiveness: I was always terrified by that verse in the Bible about how if you don’t forgive, Christ won’t forgive you. But it makes so much sense. Resentment is like hard water deposit on our heart– we get crusty, and pretty soon the pipes are clogged. We cannot feel or accept Christ’s forgiveness if we are not forgiving others!

Confession: This is a super controversial one for Protestants, because only Christ can forgive sins. However, if you listen to the specific word-for-word prayers that the priests use at the end of confession, it’s similar to what the officiant says during a wedding: “By the power vested in me by the state of ___, you are now man and wife”. Only God makes a marriage valid. And only God’s forgiveness makes a confession valid. But the Church knows that saying things out loud to someone else actually makes a difference and actually has the power to heal and draw us back into communion with Christ! How many times do we say in our own head, “Wow, I shouldn’t have done that, I’ll do better next time” and we never do?

The message I was given regarding works in the Protestant world was, “we do good works out of our love for Christ”. But which comes first? I honestly believe that good works come before love.  We DO things to grow closer to God, and as a result, we feel closer and love him more. DOING things help us love a person better.

The difference? Our good works do not help GOD love us any better. He already loved us so much while we were yet sinners that He sent Christ to die for us. But they do help us, because we are not God, and cannot love Him the way He loves us.

Long and short: when we asked C to do “works” for us, it wasn’t to change whether or not we loved her. We asked her to do them because it was the only thing that would heal our relationship and draw us closer. Likewise, the more we labored over her, the more work we put into our relationship with her, the more we loved her.

I think that God works the same way with us.

Beautiful

Don’t believe it, if you want. I, for one, have seen enough within my time in the church that I do.

An excerpt from this book:

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THE PRIEST WHO DID NOT WANT TO SERVE THE DIVINE LITURGY

There was once a priest who did not want to serve the liturgy because it was a cold winter day.
The temperature was 10 degrees below zero and the priest knew that the only person who was likely to come to the service was the chanter. The priest had no idea about the Church’s teaching on the presence of the Triumphant Church and how the Divine Liturgy benefits the living and the departed. With difficulty he forced himself to go to church. On the way to church he kept wishing that the chanter would not come so that he would not have to serve and go home. However, the chanter did come.

The priest did the Prothesis (or Proskomedia, the service of preparing the holy gifts) in a hurry and began the Divine Liturgy. Shortly after, some bishops, priests, monks and nuns and some lay people arrived. Most of them sat in the choir section and began to chant so beautifully that the priest forgot about how cold and lonely he was earlier. His whole body was warm and his whole being was all a flame…. When he did the small entrance he noticed that the church was full of people – most of them familiar – he did not pay much attention and just continued with the Divine Liturgy.

When the time came for the Sanctification of the Holy Gifts he saw three bishops, brightly clothed and radiant entering the Holy Altar. They knelt with him and prayed. The priest then stood up very carefully with fear, took the censer and in a loud voice said, ‘Especially our All Holy, Immaculate, Most Blessed and glorious Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary…’. The soul of the priest was amazed and filled with divine joy. Peace and heavenly stillness, hesychia, dominated his inner self. When the time came for the elevation and dividing of the Host (Lamb) the whole church filled with the sweetest melodies. The whole multitude of people who were present along with the monks, priests and bishops chanted not only once but many times, ‘One is Holy, One is Lord: Jesus Christ, to the glory of God the Father. Amen’. Next they chanted the Holy Communion hymn, ‘Taste and see that the Lord is good, Alleluia.’

The priest was wondering what to do. Should he partake of the Holy Communion first or step aside for the three bishops who were present? Just as he was thinking this, one of the bishops nodded to him indicating that he should receive Holy Communion and then to Unify and Place the remaining of the portions of the Lamb into the Chalice along with the portions in memory of the Holy Theotokos and the Saints. Having completed this the priest then opened the Beautiful Gate … and saw no one in the Church… he turned and looked back into the holy altar, he looked to the right, looked to the left, the bishops had disappeared, he stood there speechless, amazed. He slowly opened his mouth and chanted the next petition, ‘With the fear of God and faith and love, draw near …,’ and the chanter slowly drew near to take Holy Communion. The priest was still amazed, still wondering! The whole Triumphant Church was present. All those present in the church were persons familiar to him, they were persons that had departed from this life and he would from time to time commemorate their names during each liturgy: ‘that’s why they were present, that’s why they all seemed so familiar’, he thought. As for the bishops in the altar they were the Three Hierarchs: Saint John Chrysostom, Saint Basil the Great and Saint Gregory the Theologian.

So many years of study at university, so much research and so many sleepless nights he spent studying and these efforts were not able to give him not even one drop of the sweetness and divine knowledge that this one Divine Liturgy gave him.

Fr.Stephanos Anagnostopoulos, Experiences During the Divine Liturgy p451-453

July LA Trip

This past weekend, we travelled down to see TONS of friends in the LA/Orange County area. We have a huge community of friends down there, left over from both college and our early Orthodox days at St. Barnabas.

Our first stop was a July 4th celebration at Mitch and Trenna’s (our godparents) wonderful house in Yorba Linda. They had invited the entire godfamily AND their kids and grandkids. It was a sight to behold– over 20 kids, running crazy, along with around 40 adults. We haven’t been down to see any of them since I was preggo with Anthony, so we had a lot of catching up to do! It was heavenly.

July LA Trip 1

Because Trenna has 5 grandkids, she has a wonderful yard for playing. G got busy right away (after being in the car for 5 hours straight, it must’ve felt awesome to run around and jump in water!). There were kiddie pools, a slip n slide, yummy snacks, a playhouse, and an activity water table!

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Gregory and Jo-jo remembered each other from Elise's wedding last year, so they picked up right where they left off

Gregory and Jo-jo remembered each other from Elise’s wedding last year, so they picked up right where they left off

We lost sight of G for a short while (which was okay, because the whole yard was fenced), and when we noticed him again, he had jumped into a kiddie pool, clothes and shoes and all! He was in seventh heaven.

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July LA Trip 21

I took this picture of Jesse and 2 of our godbrothers, Elmo and Tim

Trenna also had a “grandkids” room, complete with a crib, a twin bed, and a full bed. After the party was over, we were able to put the kids to sleep and then talk to Mitch and Trenna for hours over a cup of coffee. Again, SO HEAVENLY!
The next day, Trenna made us omelettes using fresh veggies from her garden. Then, her son and daughter in law, Alex and Emily, came over with their two kids, Olivia (Gregory’s age) and Mia (2 months old). Gregory and “Livy” quickly got to playing house. Funny enough, Gregory was way more into it than she was!
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When it was time to go, they gave each other the cutest hugs.July LA Trip 12
After Anthony had a LONG nap in the crib, we packed the kids in the car and headed to the Shelbys for a type of “college reunion”. With the exception of the Unruhs and Jason who weren’t present, these people were our BEST friends throughout college. Jesse even lived with most of them in a house, at one point. It’s so special to be able to go back and watch all of our offspring play together!
The whole group, later that evening

The whole group, later that evening

Gregory and Annalyse were partners in crime the entire day. They actually had a planned attack to corner the cat at one point! They shared and played so well that Gregory has been asking to play with her ever since.

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We spent Friday night at the Shelbys in their 2nd bedroom. Saturday morning, we made a breakfast scramble of all the leftover grilled veggies and steak. Then, we headed out to their apartment complex’s pool!

Late Saturday afternoon, we packed the kids in the car and headed to Corona to spend the night at Jesse’s brother’s girlfriend’s house. It was in a newer development in Corona, so it was HUGE and practically brand new. AND we had it all to ourselves since the family had other plans that night.

Also, there was a gorgeous pool with a hilltop view of the valley. Jesse and David swam with the boys while I headed down for some alone time at the giant mall (ANTHROPOLOGIE!!!). But I did manage to take some pictures when I got back.

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July LA Trip 8

He kept yelling, “Momma! I got smoochies! Dadda gave me smoochies!”

July LA Trip 7

We’ve discovered that Anthony pretty much hates the water, so he sat with me on the deck and chewed on his boat.

July LA Trip 6

Sunday morning, we went to St. Andrew’s church in Riverside. Normally, we would go to St. Barnabas, our home church where we were chrismated 6 years ago. They were holding a Parish Life Conference, however, so most of St. Barnabas (including our godfamily) decided to go to their sister church, St. Andrews. They just had their church building finished last year, and it is GORGEOUS. Probably the biggest Orthodox church I’ve ever been to! Fr. Josiah modeled it after a church he visited in the Holy Land.
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Temple-and-Congregation
I didn’t realize just how many people were packed inside until it came time for communion. There were over EIGHTY children in line (all the kids go first so that they can make it to Sunday School)! They just kept coming and coming and coming.
Just a few of the kids, in the choir

Just a few of the kids, in the choir

When it was the adults’ turn for communion, the children joined the choir and sang all by themselves for a good 20 minutes. It was so cute, and it brought tears to my eyes. It truly felt like we were in heaven, worshipping with the angels.
After church was over, our godfamily decided to skip coffee hour (it was a zoo, given the hundreds of people) and go down the street to eat at a pizza/pita place. This was primarily Robin’s idea, mostly because there was a fountain for Jojo and Gregory to splash in. And SPLASH they did! We ate and talked in peace for hours, and they were happily entertained!
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This is not our entire godfamily (there are THIRTY-TWO of us, turns out!), but we had quite a turnout. You can see that Gregory was not excited about leaving his beloved fountain.
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Once we were done eating, we grabbed some Starbucks, changed the boys into dry clothes, and drove 6 hours straight home from Riverside! The boys slept the entire way, stopping only once in Oxnard for In n Out.
Overall, it was an AMAZING trip. We did the entire thing for under $150, and it will definitely be remembered as one of the highlights from this summer! We can’t wait to do it again!

Glorious Pascha!

FINALLY, we made it to Pascha! I can’t tell you how much I’ve missed eating meat. I don’t think the vegetarian or vegan lifestyle is in the cards for me, folks 🙂

Our celebration began at 11:30pm, Saturday night. That’s right– half an hour before midnight! The beginning of the service is always my favorite, because the church is so dark and solemn. The funeral hymns over the “tomb” are absolutely gorgeous.

This icon was just completed a month ago

This icon was just completed a month ago

Then, we all light our candles and walk three times around the church, singing this song:

Pascha 1

This is what Saint Sophia Church in LA (where Tom Hanks goes) looks like at this stage in the service...AMAZING!

This is what Saint Sophia Church in LA (where Tom Hanks goes) looks like at this stage in the service…UH-MAYZING!

When we come back in, it’s bright, the tomb is gone, and everyone sings at the top of their lungs for the next two hours! That’s right– we don’t get DONE with the service until around 2am!

Our church here in CA does things a little bit differently than our churches in TX and SoCal. Instead of having the big Paschal Feast in the wee hours of the morning, they plan the feast and party for after Agape Vespers the following afternoon.

This worked out well for us, since our 2 year old and 1 year old wouldn’t have done well with staying up past 3am…I’m pretty sure I would’ve spent the entire Pascha outside in the car with a howling kid/s. Instead, Jesse and I got to enjoy it by ourselves, actually getting to focus on everything going on.

We woke up around 10am this Sunday morning, ate a small breakfast (don’t want to ruin the feast!), then gave Gregory his Pascha basket.

His basket was full of chocolate and Thomas trains!

His basket was full of chocolate and Thomas trains! The shirt was a complete coincidence, but it works!

Then, we packed into the car around noon. The boys slept the entire way there, so at least they got a small afternoon nap.

Agape Vespers is an absolutely beautiful service, and it’s only 40 minutes long, so it’s perfect for visitors. We had around 30 new  faces there!

Family Pic 2013

Family Pic 2013

Right after the service, there was an Easter Egg hunt for the kids. Gregory was slower than the rest of the kids, but they started taking eggs out of their own baskets and hiding them super close to Gregory so that he could find them. I was really touched by that 🙂

Gregory's stash

Gregory’s stash

After the hunt, it was time to feast!!! SOO MUCH FOOD. I cannot stress this enough. We ate until we were beyond stuffed, then went back for more. There was beer and wine for everyone, along with coffee and smoothie punch.

And there was a separate dessert table. ‘Nuff said.

Pascha 2013 8

We almost felt bad for not bringing anything….until we saw how much food there already was! I think that even with all the visitors, we only got through 60% of it all!

AJ is a fan of stuffing large amounts of food into his mouth (he sorta skipped the babyfood stage). He doesn't choke-- too often!

AJ is a fan of stuffing large amounts of food into his mouth (he sorta skipped the babyfood stage). He doesn’t choke– too often!

Gregory was so stuffed, he had to sleep it off!

Gregory was so stuffed, he had to sleep it off!

It was a wonderful Pascha! Best holiday of the year!

 

Hold It

SHUT THE FRONT DOOR.

I definitely posted that list of recipes too soon. We tried this Spicy Vegetarian Enchilada Soup tonight, and it is my FAVORITE thus far. SO SO SO good. Of course, only Gregory and I had cheese on ours, and we crumbled up tortilla chips for the top.

Do yourself a favor, and ditch whatever you were planning on making for dinner tomorrow night. Eat this instead. You can thank me (and Pinterest!) later.

 

tortilla soup

Lenten Recipes Update

This has been the first Lent that Jesse and I have made pretty much everything from scratch. We don’t do Morningstar junk (just do a google search for how bad that stuff is for you! plus it’s expensive!), we don’t go for fake soy cheese, etc.

Mostly, this is due to budget restraints. We are also very convicted about making sure the boys’ food isn’t processed.

Anyways, we’ve tried around 10 new recipes thus far (Week 3 of Lent). Some of them have been okay, and some of them have been BLAND. I don’t know what it is about beans, but they soak up spices like nothing else, and NOT in a good way.

But we have run across a few winners, so I thought I’d add links to them. The Moroccan Couscous, in particular, I’d eat even if we weren’t fasting!

Black Bean Burrito Bowls— I can’t even get over how tasty quinoa is!

Black Bean Burrito Bowls

 

Chickpea/Avocado Sandwiches— these are sooooo delicious! I also use the extra mix as baby food for Anthony.

Chickpea avocado

 

Vegan Stew— Actually kind of expensive to make, so I’d half the recipe. It gave us lunch leftovers for a week! SOOO filling!

vegan stew

 

Moroccan Couscous— We used raisins too….so good. Don’t skip the mint leaves! Moroccan Couscous

 

 

 

Gorgeous

My favorite song out of any Orthodox song I’ve ever heard is one that is ONLY sung during Lent, and ONLY at Pre-Sanctified Liturgies throughout the week.

My greatest sadness and regret last year was that because I was feeling so rotten and worn down from being 34-40 weeks pregnant, we didn’t make it to any Pre-sanctified Liturgies, and, as a result, didn’t get to hear this song.

The song is based on Psalm 141 and called, “Let My Prayer Arise”. If you have 30-60 seconds to listen to it, I guarantee you will be blown away. I’ve FINALLY FOUND a live version of it, sung as a trio of three talented female voices. It was recorded last April at an Orthodox parish in Houston.

Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.
Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips. Incline not my heart to any evil thing, to practice wicked works with men that work iniquity: and let me not eat of their dainties (Psalm 141).

Lent for Some

I wish I had a deep post full of deep thoughts to kick off Lent. I figure that if I wait for one, however, I’ll never write. That seems to be the current way of things around here.

Tomorrow is the first day of Lent for Orthodox Christians. Our Easter Sunday (based on the Byzantine calendar) is a few weeks off from Western Easter, so, don’t fear, we still get our 40+ days of fasting in 😉

Speaking of fasting, I am super excited about Lent this year. After 3 SOLID years of being pregnant or nursing full time (sigh, yes!), I was finally given a “blessing” by our priest to fast! Since I am still nursing Anthony 5-6x/day, I won’t abstain from dairy, eggs and fish, but it’s something! At this point, we will soon transition Anthony to cow’s milk (depending on how he handles it) since his 1st birthday is only 3 weeks away. Since he won’t take a bottle, we’ll keep trying different sippy cups (he uses a regular cup but it takes so.ridiculously.long for him to drink an ounce or two of water). So, if my milk supply does drop a little, Anthony will be fine–have you seen pictures of that hulky kid?

The last Lenten fast that I did was in 2009, so, needless to say, I’m pretty gung-ho and kinda nervous. I have dozens of yummy sounding recipes on my Vegan Pinterest board. We’ve only tried some of them before, so let the experimenting begin!

I’ve also made a commitment to actually fulfill a few of my New Year’s Resolutions (oh yeah, those?), so I’m going to be working out every day, in some shape or form, along with drinking protein/green smoothies for breakfast. Our entire refrigerator is PACKED with vegetables– kale, spinach, zucchini, peppers, bell peppers, cucumbers, snow peas, celery…..the list goes on and on. I also did Pilates AND weights today, which basically means that I gave up being able to feel my butt muscles for about a week.

Here’s to a productive and profitable Lenten season!

The First Martyrs

Rachel weeping icon

“A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because her children are no more.”

I have a giant blogroll that I keep up with– 60+ blogs, in all.

Most of them have written something about the Connecticut shooting. Most have expressed their shock, horror and dismay.

None have even tried to approach the “why”. I think that it’s because most people are still reeling. The “why” is as far from reach as the sun is from the earth. And good thing. Too much closer, and the “why” would burn us up.

Today, in our homily, our priest addressed this tragedy head on, which I was glad for.

I was even happier to realize that his words provided comfort and made some sense of all the chaos I was feeling as a result of this tragedy. So, I’ve decided to write a few of his words down here for you, in case you can use them.

It is no accident, he said, that this event occurred during the Nativity Season. Christmas was when Christ became incarnate, the perfect picture of innocence and child-like perfection.

Ever since, Satan has hated perfect innocence and the power the tiny Christ child held in his hands.

And, ever since, Satan has declared war on the innocent. He started with Herod’s massacre of the innocents in Bethlehem. They were the first martyrs, the first witnesses to Christ’s incarnation. All of those babies…slain so that all humanity could live.

Satan’s war on the innocent continues. As a nation, we are shocked and in mourning over the children who died this Friday. It is an unthinkably wicked thing to imagine, that someone could murder such innocents.

And yet.

Every.single.day. 115,000 children are slaughtered. 115,000 children are aborted when they are most helpless, growing within their mothers who should have died to defend them.

That is 42 MILLION CHILDREN. EVERY YEAR.

In fact, in America alone, 4 out of 10 pregnancies end in abortion.

Wrap your mind around that. If you have read my blog for any length of time, or even gotten me talking about abortion for even a few moments, you know that there is nothing that gets me angrier.

What gets me angriest is that our culture calls abortion good, because it enables our freedoms. That without abortion, women won’t have rights.

Our priest brought this up today. He said, “At least the ancients knew that child sacrifice was evil. They just believed, deep down, that it was the only way to appease the gods and survive.”

We sacrifice children to abortion every day. We sacrifice them in the name of a career, poverty, plastic surgery, social anxiety, or even health.

The ancients sacrificed children in order to please the gods. Our culture sacrifices them in order to please ourselves and our own idols.

Our society calls it good. Our Christian community sees other priorities and expends their energy elsewhere. We feel helpless and turn our attention to issues that we actually feel like we can solve. Many Christians say that abortion is just one of many issues, and that we need to keep a level head about it all. My boss at St. Peter’s, a wonderful Orthodox Christian man, was one such person who told me this.

The fact that so many Christians can vote for Obama, a man who is not only outspokenly for abortion, but also reinstated partial birth abortion, baffles me. Should any issues surrounding our economy take precedent over policies that enable the murders of millions of children???

Then there is the fact that many Christians do not believe abortion is wrong. Take the presiding bishop over the Episcopal Church in American, Katharine Jefferts Schori, who went so far as to call abortion a BLESSING. She is the main reason that I will never set foot in any Episcopal church, ever again.

Or, take the fact that between 2000 and 2009 in Canada, there were 491 failed abortions, and they chose to kill the children anyways! After they had already been born!

Where is the public outcry? The media?

I know it may seem like a raindrop in the bucket, but we CAN make a difference, if we only take a moment to address the gravity of the situation. Abortion can no longer be on the back burner.

It is for this reason that I make sure to have serious discussions about abortion whenever possible with my students. They are the ones who will be voting about this issue in the future. THEY are the ones who are, statistically, the most likely to get pregnant and be faced with the choice.

I know, for a fact, that there was a girl at my Flexing Poplars school who made a different choice, based on a conversation we had in English class. At 15 years old, she got pregnant during an orgy, and decided to not only keep the baby, but also dropped out of High School to raise it.

And you know what? She went from being an at-risk youth to being a fantastic mother.

I will always remember when she told me that it was our discussion in English class that changed her mind. She had never realized that the “clumps of tissue” everyone talks about actually have heartbeats, only 10 days after a mom even realizes she’s pregnant.

Due to this experience, I will always believe that changing someone’s mind about abortion can mean the difference between life and death on a very literal level.

You may not be able to go back in time and wrestle a gun away from a shooter, or lock just a few more doors in an elementary school.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t still save a life.