Monthly Archives: March 2013

The Lenten Spring

One of the things that has drawn me to Orthodoxy is the celebration of seasons. While we are somewhat forced to embrace seasonal weather, I think more often than not the concept of seasons gets lost in a culture that has Target stores stocked full of bikinis in January.

We just wrapped up our first week of Lent in the Orthodox Church which is perhaps mind boggling for all of you in the Western Church now entering into the last week of your Lenten season. An explanation of why our Easter (Pascha) is later, can be found here.

I have had St. Valentine’s and St. Patrick’s Day decorations for quite some time now, but my Gerber Daisy spring wreath was adopted some years ago by a nesting bird and subsequently infested with bird mites. I was so busy having babies and feeding them these past few years that I really didn’t decorate much so it has never been replaced.

I’ve been following Morgan’s blog for several years now (we have a few IRL friends between us) and never really thought I would have need for one of her felt flower or wreath tutorials because knitting and sewing are more my thing. When one decides to become Orthodox and all the Spring wreaths are pastels, bunnies and such, however, something custom is needed. So I finally put those tutorials to good use. My inspiration originally came from some purple felt flowers I was helping my sister make for a practice wedding bouquet:

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Way fancier than the paper plate and curling ribbon job I had 10 years ago. Pinterest has definitely taken things up a notch.

During our first week of Lent the vestments and banners in the church were purple and black so I decided to make a wreath with those colors that we could use for Lent this year and in the Lenten seasons of years to come. I made a mini bunting (with plans to make a larger version for our mantel) for the wreath by embroidering a golden cross on some felt and printing out the Resurrection Icon on iron-on t-shirt transfer paper and applying it to some felt.

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I really love it! The relaxing, repetitive work of the wrapping and the flower-making was exactly what I needed during our first intense week of Lent.

We kicked off week two of Lent today with the Annunciation.

The Feast of the Annunciation of Our Most Holy Lady, the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary is celebrated on March 25 each year. The Feast commemorates the announcement by the Archangel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Son of God, would become incarnate and enter into this world through her womb (Source: goarch.org)

A friend of mine from church clued me in ahead of time that traditionally children place white lilies, a symbol of purity and virginity, in front of the icon of the Theotokos at the Divine Liturgy service. So, I bought some Easter lilies yesterday and found some plastic vases (so Father doesn’t accidentally kick or trip over and break one). The kids really loved having a special roll in the service and were so excited about their lilies. E kept singing one of the hymns we sing about the Theotokos too. H has recently started saying, “Tokos” and pointing at her icons and he was saying it and pointing at the flowers too.

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After services a few of us got together at one of our favorite parks to exchange flowers for making a “Garden of the Theotokos” that one of my friends got from a blog she saw, I think. In Medieval times, “Mary Gardens” were very popular. These enclosed gardens were filled with flowers, herbs and trees and were inviting places of beauty which encouraged contemplation and prayer.

Before the rise of Christendom, many flowers were associated with pagan deities — Diana, Juno, Venus, etc. — but when the “Age of Faith” ascended and superceded the pagan, these flowers were “christened” and re-dedicated to Christian themes. So many flowers were named for Jesus, Mary, the angels, holy places, etc. (Source: fisheaters.com)

My friend was able to find a list of flowers and herbs with their Medieval Christian names here. Of course the kids enjoyed the park day too.

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The boys fell asleep on our way home from the park so J and I finished things out by planting our Garden of the Theotokos while they napped.

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Filed under Craftopia, Faith, Family, Kiddos

Like peas and carrots

When I hear our parishioners say that our church is mostly kids, I have to chuckle a little to myself. I suppose by small, mostly-immigrant Orthodox parish standards this is true, but our former experience at something of an Evangelical mega-church where you had to be there by a certain time or the nursery got too full and then you were basically kicked out makes this seem much smaller by comparison.

Often our family and the priest’s family are the only ones with kids at a service. Our priest has 10 kids, the youngest is my daughter’s age. One afternoon when I went to their house for confession, J played strawberry shortcake dolls with her and that broke the ice on an otherwise un-blossoming friendship.

At a Great Vespers service, the youngest daughter was wanting so badly to be up in the altar with her brothers. Father said, “Sweetie, here, these are the friends God has sent you. Sit with them. Your new friend here is going to have the baptismal name of Photini. Do you know another Photini?” (One of the older daughters happens to be a Photini as well.)

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After that they were the becoming more sure friends with Hope, as she was first introduced to us non-Greeks, calling out, “Photini! Photini! Let me show you this place upstairs,” and J following behind eagerly.

A few weeks ago we started trying to do Sunday School with J for the first time here at this parish. J immediately picked a seat by Hope and stood in line with her too.

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Last night at the meal after Great Compline, I found them under a table in the church hall with red punch mustaches giggling about who knows what.

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I know that in some respects the move back to Bakersfield and this church transition has been a little hard on her. She still talks about some of her very best friends from Thousand Oaks and a special friend here in town that we don’t get to see quite as often as we’d like. So, the beginnings of this friendship are a happy sight for this Mama.

And don’t think for a second that we or the boys are left out. Sweet girlfriends for me that go on crazy road trips with 9 (almost 10) kids in tow:
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And lots of little playmates for my boys (and J too, when she’s not bossing them all around):

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After only one meeting E had already decided that Oliver, pictured with E just above, was his best friend of the bunch. When I questioned him about it, he just said, “Yep, Oliver’s my best friend and Avory is my best cousin.”

One afternoon when a play date had ended, E climbed on top of the table, pants-less as usual and kept looking out saying, “Oliver! Oliver! I want my Oliver back! I want my friends back!”

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It’s just so incredibly sweet to be welcomed into this church like family.

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Filed under Faith, Family, Kiddos

The Grafted Vine

I’ve neglected this space because my focus has been on my other blog space. My latest post over there impacts this space and so I think you should take a read:

The End of The Grafted Vine

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