Sunday, October 31, 2004

Change of Plans

You know what they say about the best-laid plans of mice and men......
well, it`s happened today :-)
At last, another Orthodox Christian has moved to our town, and she very kindly offered to give me a lift to Liturgy tomorrow. I was so pleased at this kindness, only to have a very disturbed night last night with D4 who had a dreadful stomach ache and consequent explosions of a frequent and noxious nature at the lower end of the digestive tract....nuff said.
D4 has since developed a temperature, and I phoned my kind acquaintance and explained that I didn`t think we would be able to take up her kind offer of a lift for Liturgy, only for her to tell me that her car is playing up and she is having real problems changing gear.
So sadly neither of us will get to Church tomorrow.
Oh well.............we tried.
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Saturday, October 30, 2004

DVD Dilemma

Here in the UK, new dvd films regularly cost 15 - 18 UK pounds, so with an exchange rate of 1.7 dollars to the pound, I bet we are paying a lot more for our dvd films than our friends across the pond........

As we have a multi-region dvd player, there is no reason why we can`t source dvd from around the world. The problem is, that`s where the fun begins !
A lot of sites are not that much cheaper than here, by the time you factor in postage costs. The ones that are a lot cheaper make me worry about whether they are bootlegs or not. I am not interested in buying copies, fakes or bootlegs.

Can any of you let me know if you find good, reliable online suppliers of dvd films which are genuine ? Please !..........
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Friday, October 29, 2004

Head Coverings

I know this is a potentially contentious issue :-)

When I was at my mother`s yesterday, she gave my daughters a bag full of scarves, which she thought they would like for dressing-up. Of course, the little ones were absolutely thrilled, and peacocked around in them for hours !

There was, however, one little scarf which was delicate autumnal colours and which really appealed to me, and the thought flashed through my mind that this would be ideal for wearing during my prayer time...........

In our parish, no-one wears headcoverings, and I have absolutely no idea why the thought occurred to me . It did, and very strongly.
So today, I wore the scarf, and it did make me more thoughtful and reverent; it made me feel more focused and more humble.
I don`t know whether this is a good thing or a stumbling-block of possible pride, until I speak to my priest.
I am drawn to wear it to Liturgy on Sunday, but I do not want to cause offense or upset to any of my fellow-worshippers.
What do you all think ?
Feedback appreciated !

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Thursday, October 28, 2004

Conflict of Interest

I was unable to post anything yesterday to a conflict of interest over the computer....DH wanted to surf EBay, I wanted to Blog.
As he had been away and unable to access the WWW since late on Sunday night, I gave in gracefully , went to bed and read some more about St Rachel of Borodino :-)

We were hoping to go visit my mother-in-law today, but this wretched bug has left me with a vile, painful, hacking cough that just goes on and on. I don`t really want to be generous and pass it on to her, so we will have to re-schedule.

I hope the rest of you remain well !

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Wednesday, October 27, 2004

The weather has been lovely today, really warm and sunny. The forecast for tomorrow is vile....60mph gales and heavy rain. Definitely autumn !
There has been a pair of blue tits flying round the garden - I`m not sure what they would be called in the US, but they are tiny little birds, very pretty, blue, yellow and black in colour. As soon as my Robin comes back to the garden, I will know that winter is on its way.

I don`t know about the rest of you, but I find it so hard to get up at 07.00 when it is still pitch-black outside. It seems utterly unnatural to have to get up when even the birds are sensibly still asleep till just before sun-rise.
I think my body clock is primed for rise at dawn, sleep at dusk, and it sticks to it resolutely, regardless of what convention, timetable or the clock might dictate.

Sometimes I yearn for a simpler life, more in tune with the cycles of nature. Unfortunately, such times went hand in hand with disease, ill-health, poverty and hardship, with death as an everpresent reality, not a distant spectre to be feared as it is now.
As I trace my family history, I uncover many deaths of young adults and small children, which would have been easily prevented with access to modern health care. Even my grandmother vividly remembered the smallpox outbreaks in Wales, and the long queues of people waiting to be vaccinated in the 1940s.

Everyone knew families who had been recently touched by death. Most people had seen at least one dead person whilst they were still young themselves.
The first dead person I saw was my father, in a chapel of rest the night before his funeral. I was 25. He was 58.
He looked peaceful. It wasn`t scary.

The second was my grandmother, who died suddenly, and I saw her at home before she was taken to the hospital for a post-mortem.
She looked scared and shocked.
To this day I wonder if it was due to the pain of the second heart attack which killed her, or whether it was something she saw, or just fear of death. It wasn`t scary as such, but I felt distressed for her.

What I fear is a sudden death, with no time to make my confession, to receive the Holy Mysteries, to be anointed and to say goodbye to my loved ones.

I don`t fear growing old or ugly or fat.
I *do* fear not having time to repent.

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Tuesday, October 26, 2004

The Soul After Death

I have just started reading Fr Seraphim Rose`s "The Soul After Death".
Fr John McCuen is quite right about it being challenging - not in the style in which it is written, but the content is amazing.
I have read the introduction and the first chapter, and I need "time out" to assimilate the enormity of what I have read. Although I just want to read on and on until I have finished, I am resisting the urge as it will not profit me to do so :-)

The "time out" consists of reading the life of the Eldress St Rachel of Borodino, Russia, who died in 1928. This is a wonderful book, titled "Consoler of Suffering Hearts" by Archpriest Sergei Lebedev and published by St Xenia Skete.

I am finding that reading the lives of Righteous ones shames me into being more attentive to my spiritual life, and I find such books very inspirational.
I am rapidly brought back down to earth by the antics of my two young ones, who cause mayhem in short order and remind me of my podvig in oh, so many ways and times every day !!!

This week is half-term holiday, and today has gone fairly well so far.
Blood spilt, 0
Accidents, 0
Episode of tears, 1
Tantrums, 1
Interruptions to Morning Prayers, 3
Expressions of delight at use of incense during Morning prayer , 3
Times Scooby Doo dvds watched , 3 (I know !)
Times Prince of Egypt dvd watched ,1 (this is both educational and Biblical so it doesn`t count as entertainment !)
Loads of washing processed, 2.

Nearly time for Prayers and bed, so I will wish you all goodnight :-)

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Monday, October 25, 2004

The 1000 Mark

I am amazed to have now had 1005 visits to my blog :-)
I am temporarily bereft of sensible and coherent speech, so I will marvel quietly in a corner until the brain cell(s) functions normally again :-)

The flu is mercifully pretty much over, my temperature is almost back to normal, but my head feels as if it is full of cement. I will draw a discreet veil over the horrifying amount of tissue paper I have needed for my nose. Suffice it to say that I could audition for Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer and be in with a sporting chance......
I just wish the miserable muscle aches and pains would go, along with the exhaustion.
I could sleep for a week !

Hope none of my readers succumbs to the dreaded bug, with special commiserations to Matt and his family who have already been struck down. Matt, how are you all, especially your parents ? Did your sister catch it too ?
I wouldn`t wish it on my worst enemy, that`s for sure......
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Saturday, October 23, 2004

Crawling out of the Pit

I`mmmmm baaaaack !

Feeling slightly more human today :-)
I am always grumpy when I am unwell. And I mean grumpy, as in "not nice to know, run away and hide if you see me coming" grumpy.
DH and I had an intense, spirited verbal dialogue last night, AKA as a row. This is a very rare thing for us, as neither of us likes confrontation or raised voices. It was something relatively small that got magnified out of all sense of proportion, but it took me a long time to calm down.

There can be few things worse than resolutely lying on your own side of the bed, being fairly sure you were in the right, but also knowing that both of you are really unhappy and that it only takes one person to apologise and defuse the situation......
I apologised first, DH apologised, we sorted out the disagreement and ended the squabble.

But still the after-effects linger on in my heart and soul. I feel lonely, sad, angry at myself for giving in to my temper, aware of the pain I caused my DH, and I so much wish it hadn`t happened.
It may have been trivial, but how easily a small thing can magnify, expand and cause chaos in your life............
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Feeling a bit better but still under the weather.

I had dreadful problems accessing Blogger last was taking several minutes for the page to load, and it would not let me access my page to add this post.

It is now 02.29am and it has finally let me on, now that I am wide awake after a nosebleed :-0.

Now that I am here, I am completely unable to think of anything profitable to write about, of course.........
I hope normal service will be resumed soon !
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Friday, October 22, 2004

The Lurgy

Hi folks,
I am sincerely hoping that I am not going down with the flu....I have a headache, I ache all over, feel sick, have stomach pain, am sneezing and blowing my nose.
Feel grotty, so I am going to bed very soon.
Feeling very sorry for myself :-(
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Thursday, October 21, 2004

Rain, rain, go away........

The rain has returned ......... :-)

Many people comment on how "green" Britain is.
This is very true, but it is only because we have a phenomenal amount of rain, all year round.
We have rain when it is hot, rain when it is cold.
We do occasionally get spells of good weather (ie 4 or 5 consecutive days without rain), but it is wise not to bank on good weather.

D4 is rapidly learning this, and today , when she saw it was raining, she mumbled to herself "raining pouring" and went in search of her coat, hat, scarf , gloves and Tweenies character umbrella ready for our trip to my parents` for lunch.
Because of the rain, we caught the bus, and yes the umbrella stayed firmly up even whilst on the bus................

Be prepared is defintely her motto !

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Wednesday, October 20, 2004

More Books

I have just finished reading Fr Seraphim Rose, His Life and Works.
It was an inspirational book in many ways, and I have now ordered his book "The Soul after Death" for my next read.
I have also taken out a subscription to the periodical he founded, "The Orthodox Word", so I will have *plenty* of spiritual reading to keep me occupied :-)

I am managing rather better at keeping my Bible reading up to date with the help of "The Bible and the Holy Fathers" book and this absolutely wonderful website
which can be set to Old or New Calendar dates, which provides the readings and troparia/Kontakia of the day, as well as the daily hymns to the Theotokos. If you want to follow the daily practice of reading the Psalms, they even provide the Psalms for each of the Hours......

I don`t know about the rest of you, but I often find it a real challenge just to manage to pray the morning and evening prayers every day, let alone the Hours. Some days I wonder how I can always find time to do "worldly " things, yet find it so hard to make time for the important spiritual things......

The nice thing about Orthodoxy is that you never get chance to become too complacent. There is no chance of resting on your laurels, thinking that because you go to Vigil and Liturgy, and read morning and evening prayers and read your Bible, that you have somehow "done enough".
There is always **so** much more you can be doing in terms of prayer and holiness.
And of course, we have the Saints as examples to strive towards in our daily lives too.

Several years ago, a rock group called Catatonia was very popular, and one of their songs contained the immortal line "Every day, when I wake up, I thank the Lord I`m Welsh".

Well, I thank God every day for the privilege and blessing of being Orthodox :-)
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Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Dragon-Breath Weather

This morning, something really special happened.
I was taking D3 to school and we were on our 20 minute walk with D4 in her pushchair, just chattering about D3`s class mates and her school in general. Nothing new there, you might think, and you would be right.

But - today was the first autumnal wonderful combination of cold, dew, and moist air .........Each time we breathed out hard, it looked like we were exhaling clouds of steam :-)
My kids have **always** loved this weather, and called it "dragon-breath weather".
So, we simply had to zoom along producing clouds of "dragon`s breath" and shrieking with laughter as we did so.

It was a moment of absolute, unadulterated pure joy which I wish I could bottle and preserve next to my heart forever, (especially in those moments when my dear daughters are being plain awkward), to remind me of how wonderful the innocence and fun of children can be.

We had such pleasure and rejoicing in the glory of God`s creation, that when I came home, the only possible response was to prostrate myself before the icon corner and glorify God .........
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Monday, October 18, 2004

Abby Birthday :-)

We have had such a fun day :-)))))

Abby loved all her birthday presents, and has had some lovely new winter clothes.
To McDonald`s for brunch (this is a real treat for the girls!), then home for a buffet Party. I spent nearly two hours cooking and it was worth every moment..........mercifully quite a lot of it was shop-bought too !
We had sausages on sticks, sausage rolls, vol-au-vents with tuna and sweetcorn, Coronation chicken and egg mayonnaise fillings, sandwiches, meringue nests, hummus, mushrooms in breadcrumbs, spicy chicken pizza, mini-muffins, fondant cakes, pretzels, and THE CAKE - an enormous jam and cream sponge with Scooby-Doo and Shaggy as a picture.
I think we will be eating cake for the next week.........

Many Years, Abigail ! Mnogaya leta!
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Sunday, October 17, 2004

The cake !
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Abby age 3 and Helen age 6
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B-Day Approaches

As D4`s birthday rapidly approaches, I am taking advantage of her afternoon nap to wrap up her presents whilst she is asleep :-)
So, adios amigos, till tomorrow, when I am sure that photos will be posted :-)))))
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Saturday, October 16, 2004

Toddler Tears

The tears have been mine and D4`s, in equal measure today !
She was happy all morning, even exemplarily well-behaved at her dental check-up...then we went to Woolworths to look at the sale. Still well-behaved.
When we came out of the shop, she asked to go to the coffee-shop :-)
Being as it is her birthday weekend (she will be three on Sunday), we said ok. She chose her ice-cream (raspberry) and a scone, and was happy for about five minutes, until she suddenly started screaming, shouting and lashing out for no apparent reason.
DH reacted as normal, by being mega-embarrassed.

I just told him to sit and drink his coffee, and I marched out, with this screaming Moppet under my arm and told her in no uncertain terms that behaviour like that was totally unacceptable. By this stage she was sobbing for daddy, so I took her back in where she continued to sob quietly until we left.
By the time this denouement took place, I realised to my horror that the two ladies sitting at a table facing away from us were two of the nursery teachers from D3`s school, and therefore the teachers from the class that this screaming little Moppet will be going to next year.
Oh how I wished for the earth to open and swallow me up... :-(((((((

It is just so frustrating to have to face behaviour that ranges from delightful to practically demonic in the space of a few seconds.
It doesn`t help that DH and I have quite different parenting styles, mainly because I am a hard-bitten Mama to another three, and Moppet D4 is his one and only little one. He loves her and cannot bear to see her cry.
I also love her and cannot bear to see her behaviour deteriorating and am fearful of her becoming an obnoxious spoiled little brat.
Bit of an impasse here, folks..........
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Friday, October 15, 2004

More Castles

Daughter 3 went on a school trip to visit more castles today.
Stop number 1 was the glorious and enormous mediaeval Caerphilly castle, complete with a leaning tower , and swans swimming in the moat. It is one of the largest castles in Europe, covering 30 acres.

Stop number 2 was the equally wonderful Castell Coch, ("the Red Castle") , a Victorian folly built in the 1870s by the third Marquess of Bute on the site of a 13th century castle. He used this castle occasionally as a hunting lodge, and it was designed by the hugely talented William Burgess.

D3 went equipped with a disposable camera to take her own photos, but hasn`t finished the film yet. When it is developed, I will publish a few of her pictures :-)
These castles are approx 45 minutes drive away from our home. We are so lucky to live with so much history on our door step !

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Thursday, October 14, 2004

This is a tame example of the lavish fairytale interior decoration inside Castell Coch.....
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The entrance to Castell Coch.
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Caerphilly Castle - The famous leaning tower is on the right side.....
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I think it was inevitable that after yesterday`s revelation, that today should see some degree of despondency.

If I make such a poor showing of being a Christian, and my attempts are so feeble, is it worth bothering ?
Should I just throw in the towel and live my life like everyone else does ?

Ironically, when I most feel like this, I find deep in my heart the knowledge and certainty that I cannot turn my back on God, my Faith and the Orthodox Way of Life.
Now I have found the Pearl of Great Price, the Fount of Immortality, the True Faith, how can I turn away from it ? What is left to me if I turn away ?

Just dust and ashes, a meaningless existence where hedonism is the only path that makes sense when there is no certainty of an afterlife, of God, His Grace and His Mercy.
I have lived like that once.
I cannot do so again, it would destroy me.

Thanks be to God for His loving mercy and kindness to me, a sinner.
The only thing needful is for me to pick myself up each and every time I fall, to repent and try again to do better. Over and over again till my dying breath, trusting in God.
Easy to say, hard to do, but there simply is no other option....

Father Seraphim, pray for us all that God may grant us constancy and steadfastness to do His Will.
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Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Fr Seraphim Rose

I am avidly reading the Life of Fr Seraphim Rose.
What a truly incredible man !

I had no idea he was so pivotal in bringing the Life of the glorious St Herman of Alaska back to public and ecclesiastical attention in modern times..... I have an icon of St Herman on my desk as I type.
Fr Seraphim was involved with two of the saints I revere, St Herman and St John of San Francisco, and I didn`t know........

On the other hand, this book is profoundly disturbing.
I do not even know whether I dare call myself Christian any more, after reading about Fr Seraphim`s conversion to Christ and subsequent life.
He was so single-minded, so whole-hearted in his love for Christ and his determination to lead a truly Christian existence that I feel utterly ashamed of my own halting, pitiful and inadequate attempts to lead a Christian life .
If I met Christ in the flesh today, would I willingly give up my material pleasures to follow him ?
I like to think that I would, but am I *sure*, in my heart of hearts ?

I know my podvig is to be a wife and mother, but do I treat it as a podvig, as a means of grace, a labour of love and sacrifice, as a chance always to put others first and myself last ?
If I truly loved my family, I would not put my own wants, needs and desires first and foremost. It seems that the way I live my life just goes to show that I love myself more than I do anyone else.
I love my husband and children enough to risk my life for them if they were in danger, so why do I not daily and willingly "lay down my life" for them ?

Some days I treat my family as though they are an inconvenience, a hindrance to my life, not as a truly great blessing and the means by which I can work out my salvation with fear and trembling.

I am ashamed.
May God have mercy upon me and allow me time for repentance and for me to at least make a *start* of beginning to do good........

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Tuesday, October 12, 2004

The Love of Books

Some new books arrived today :-)
The largest is an 1142 page biography of the life and works of Fr Seraphim Rose.
Now, I would be the first to admit that I know very little about him, let alone his connection to St John of Shanghai and San imagine my delight when I found several wonderful black and white photos of my dear St John in the book !
I am so far up to page 179, and I am enjoying it immensely.

The other items were "The St Nicholas Secret", the current issue of the Handmaiden, an illustrated children`s Life of St Nicholas and the Conciliar Press booklet about Confession by Jim Forrest, all of which I have devoured today.

Housework :2 jobs
Devotional reading :4 books

What does worry me is how much is appropriate for me to spend on buying Orthodox devotional reading. Today`s books cost £48.84p.
Most books I buy, I read repeatedly, and those I no longer want, I pass on to the local library so other people may be exposed to Orthodoxy. My eldest daughter is a catechumen so she reads them too.

The problem is that many Orthodox books are not cheap.....the book about Fr Seraphim was 22.99 pounds sterling. To me, that is great value for money.....but for my DH, that is an enormous amount of money to spend on a book :-)
I don`t even think I can justify how much I spend by claiming there is an increase in godliness and virtue in my life, more`s the pity........
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Monday, October 11, 2004

The Blustery Day

It was really blustery today, but we decided the children needed a good walk, so we went to the beach.
It took about half an hour to walk there, with the wind picking up as we got nearer.
It was cold enough for DH and I to be in need of a reviving cappucino at the local cafe, and of course the two little ones wanted cold drinks :-)

We did venture onto the beach, but it was like being in a surreal sci-fi movie........we were literally being blown along the beach at speed, and and the sand was being swirled up in rivers along the beach. I wish I had taken the camera with me, as I have never seen anything like it .
It was cold enough for us to be ready to go back after 5 minutes, to screams of disapproval from D3 who would have stayed there all day given half a chance. Unfortunately the rivers of dust were just at D4`s eye level, and we didn`t want to risk her getting sand blown in her eyes.
So D3 protested loudly all the way home...........It was a really good drying day for the washing in my garden though :-)
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Sunday, October 10, 2004

Passport to goodness knows where.....

D1 needed to renew her passport in view of her upcoming trip to the USA in December to see her boyfriend. Because her appearance has changed substantially since her first passport was issued aged 13, she needed to have new photographs, and for one of them , along with her application form, to be countersigned by an adult of goodstanding outside the family who has known her for more than two years. That bit was easy; she just asked her best friend`s father, who has known us all for 10 years.

I also needed to have my passport amended from my previous married name to my new married name. Ok, I know it has been quite a few years, but I hadn`t been abroad since my second marriage and didn`t see much point in shelling out £42.00 just for the sake of it :-)
So dear Allan came to the rescue and signed my form and photo too.

Armed with my debit card, I trundled up to the post office to get the forms checked and given priority treatment. That cost another £6.00 each.
The poor cashier seemed a little bemused, and read every single word on the form with great care. And I mean great care. I think that this was possibly the first set of passport applications which she has processed.
I was just so glad the post office was quiet and there was no queue behind me, or I had visions of a lynch mob forming...........

When it came to checking my documents, she looked even more puzzled. I pointed out that I had enclosed my birth certificate, my first marriage certificate and my divorce papers, and my second marriage certificate, which showed the name I want my new passport to be issued in.
The supervisor had to be called. Why had I enclosed both marriage certificates and my divorce papers ? I explained that this was as per the passport office official guide to filling in the forms, in my particular situation.
"You have to show what happened to your first marriage in order for them to issue a passport in a new married name" I explained.
Blank looks.

I tried again : "You have to show that your first husband either died - when you would send their death certificate- or you got divorced, when you send them your decree absolute. Otherwise, you could be committing bigamy and fraud."
Faces lit up. It was agreed that I was right to include all my documents in that case.
I heaved a sigh of relief.
But then they couldn`t find what box to tick on the form to show I had enclosed my decree absolute. The supervisor was called again. Then the enormous Post Office Rule Book was consulted. It was established that the correct box for a decree absolute was ...............divd. Aaagh, Clear as mud.

At last, I was given a receipt for my applications, and the bill..........£99.00 sterling.
Only three more children to provide new passports for............I wonder if the kids would accept passports in lieu of Christmas presents ..... :-))))))))))
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Saturday, October 09, 2004

Window Clutter

I talk so much about the view from my beloved garden window that I thought this might raise a smile........

The sunrise was truly glorious this morning, and I thought about taking a photo of it to post here.
Then I looked at the clutter on the window sill (window shelf) and thought maybe not :-)

On the window sill as I type, there are:-
  • Husband`s green lava lamp with orange blobs
  • One pen tidy full to overflowing with pens (only two of which work) and worn-down unusable pencils.
  • Several money-off vouchers for our local supermarket (so I don`t forget where they are !)
  • One photo of D4 aged 11 months
  • One photo of D3 aged 3years and 4 months, holding D4 aged 15 hours.
  • A framed poem called "The Art of Marriage" given to us on our Crowning Day
  • A pair of lovely spiral pewter candlesticks given to me by a friend at a very low point in my life to cheer me up
  • A bottle of all-natural headlice combing solution (!)

From the sublime to the ridiculous in only four feet of space.................a bit like life, really :-)

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Friday, October 08, 2004

Windows !

Not the Micro$oft Win~doze, but real windows :-)
We have had two of our windows replaced with double-glazed units this morning.
They cost an arm and a leg, but are really, really nice. The fitters asked my DH and I to inspect them, which we did. One window was fine, but DH found a flaw in the glass of the upper pane in the second one.
There was a flurry of phone calls between the manufacturer and us, and the result is that they have made a new sealed glass unit today which will be fitted in a few days. I was hoping to have had it all wrapped up today, but never mind. As DH says, "worse things happen at sea !"

Thank you all for your kind messages about the death of Auntie Gladys. She was a lovely lady, full of love, fun, humour and wise advice. She will be sadly missed...............
Memory Eternal !!

We have been told that our beloved Archbishop Gregorios of Thyateira and Great Britain will be visiting our parish in a few months. I wasn`t able to go the last time he was here for the Akathist in the Dormition Fast, so it will be wonderful to see him again and receive his blessing.

There isn`t much else to say news is good news :-)
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Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Sad News

I had some very sad news last night.
My Great-aunt Gladys died peacefully at the age of 93. She was a wonderful, redoubtable old lady, who cared for her disabled daughter until the day before her death.
Of your charity, please pray for the repose of Gladys, and for her grieving daughter Ray, and for our family.
This will be our third family funeral in eight weeks.........
Lord, have mercy.
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Kitchen Heaven......

At last, my cooker`s main oven has been mended and I have an oven that no longer cremates food :-)
I have celebrated by cooking Pizza, and D1 is busy making her favourite Coca Cola cakes.
Our repertoire of cookable food is expanding now that we can bake things again !
Despite the truly awful rain today, it has been a good day, with nice baking smells wafting through the house............................. domestic bliss :-)

D3 started folkdancing classes at school today. Much as I love my daughter, she has the grace and elegance of a fairy elephant, and I did wonder whether she would enjoy it. She most certainly did enjoy it, and can`t wait for next week. Perhaps she will become less of a tomboy now....though I doubt it !
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Tuesday, October 05, 2004


I was thinking about Confession today, mainly because I was looking at an orthodox book catalogue and I saw a title which I don`t have on my bookshelves.

I always know when I desperately need to go to Confession.
It is usually when I least want to go, when everything and everyone is getting me down, life seems tough and I am feeling low. This is when I realise I am in dire need of spiritual medicine.
There is nothing like a thorough examination of my life and my conscience prior to Confession to make me realise just how much God has blessed me, and how very much I have to be thankful for. It always raises me out of the doldrums.

When I go to Confession, after the prayers are said, my priest stands me in front of the Icon of Christ and tells me to confess my sins without fear to Christ, who already knows them and is just waiting for me to acknowledge my sins and ask for forgiveness.
It is surprisingly hard to meet the eyes of the Christ the Judge depicted in the icon with the sorry tale of my failings and misdeeds on my sinful lips. The feeling of shame can be almost unbearable sometimes.......

Father offers me advice and consolation regarding what I have confessed, and his loving gentleness always makes me tearful.

How can I describe the incredible feeling of my priest placing his epitrachelion on my head, making the sign of the Cross and assuring me of God`s forgiveness, both in this world and the next ? It is the most blessed and liberating feeling, to know that I have faced my many sins, confronted them, acknowledged them in front of a witness and asked for forgiveness.
To know that that forgivness has been granted, and my burdens lifted , is such a great blessing and a truly humbling experience.

The most amazing thing of all is that after my confession is ended, Father looks me in the eye, smiles and gives me the threefold kiss.
No matter what I have had to confess, however awful it has been, his unconditional love for me as his daughter in Christ shines out.

This is the priest who knows more about me than possibly any person alive, who knows my faults, my failings, my sins, my worries, my fears......who hears about the very worst of me, yet who loves me and cares deeply for the welfare and salvation of my soul, and can still look me in the eye, smile and care for me.

It makes me realise just how far *I* have to go to be able to truly love others, warts and failings and all.

What virtue is there in loving people who are easy to love ? Almost everyone does that.
It is much harder to show love for the unpleasant folk who may sometimes cross our path.
Now that is a real test of our ability to love all of our neighbours as ourselves........
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Monday, October 04, 2004

Castle in the Rain

Today, we went to visit a castle.
This was prompted mainly by the fact that DD3 is studying castles in her history lessons, and living in the land of castles, it is easy to find them :-)
We actually have at least 4 castles within 12 minutes drive of our home, so we went to the biggest and possibly best preserved of them.

Coity Castle was built firstly in timber in 1126 and then in stone in 1180.
It was left uninhabited when the owner, the heiress Barbara Gamage, married Sir Philip Sydney, Earl of Leicester in 1584 and moved to his home in Kent, leaving the castle to is still very spectacular even now, as I hope the photos will reveal.
It was, of course, raining when we went :-)
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Sunday, October 03, 2004

The Castle Moat, which I expected to be full considering all the rain we have had in the last week............
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The main entrance into the castle.
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An archway inside Coity Castle.
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DD3 and 4 with me inside the castle.
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D4 standing by the castle well
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Husband with daughters 3 and 4 in Coity Castle.
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New Image

Don`t panic, I have not done anything dreadful to the blog ! :-0

I did, however, go to the hairdresser today. My hair is past shoulder length, but was in dire need of a trim. Added to that, I needed to renew my passport and didn`t want to get photos done of my hair looking a mess....hence the trip to the hairdresser and afterwards to the photobooth.
I was only going to have a trim, but decided to have quite a lot cut off, and it is now a short bob.

Now, DH really loves my hair long. I was in some trepidation walking up the garden path in case he really hated it.............however, he quite liked it. So did DD1, 2 and 3.

D4 did not.
She climbed on my lap, ran both hands through my hair, lifted it up, looked appalled and shouted at me "That naughty, Mummy ! Not Mummy"
I obviously look very different to her eyes, yet still recognisable as Mummy.
Several hours later, she has adapted happily to the new image Mummy, much to my relief.
It amazes me how quickly we can adapt to people changing appearances and accept the new look as normal :-)

I can vaguely think of something theological here, but it is not well enough thought out for me to be able to communicate it clearly yet, so I will sleep on it tonight.
If anyone of you can see what I am trying to say, please tell me ! :-))))))
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Saturday, October 02, 2004

An Ordinary Day

A quiet day on the family front :-)
We went shopping, to the greengrocer`s and to the supermarket , and returned with the car full of food.
DH continues to strip old wallpaper from one of the bedrooms.
I pottered around, did housework and looked after D4.
Oh, D3 got full marks in her spelling test today, so honour is restored................she is happy.

Other than that, it has been a very quiet day.
The undoubted highlight is today being the N.S. Feast of the Protection of the Theotokos, who is our family`s unoffical patron, and the Icon of the Protecting Veil of the Theotokos has an honoured place in our icon corner wherever we live.
Through the prayers of the Theotokos, have mercy on us and save us, O Lord !!!

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Friday, October 01, 2004

Birthday Shopping

DH and I went shopping today for D4`s birthday presents. We hadn`t intended to, but there was a huge half-price toy sale on at Woolworth`s.
Her birthday is on Oct17th and she will be three.

We have now got her a large toy kitchen, which was reduced to approx £20, a zip up sqare case filled with pens, pencils and chalks, and a wooden frame filled with wooden blocks which you can spin round to show pictures , words, letters and numbers. This is something which she has played with in the waiting room at each hospital appointment she has been to, which is three so far this year, and with another appt scheduled before Christmas. She always loves playing with it, so I am hoping she will like to have it at home too.

I do wonder how much of what we buy for others is just wish fulfillment from our own childhood........personally, I am looking forward to her being old enough for a train set.
My brother is seven years older than me, and would never let me play with his Scalextrix set nor his train set for fear of me damaging it in my exuberance.......perhaps at 40 I am old enough now to have one of my very own :-))))))
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