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Friday, March 25, 2016

Good Friday Meditations from the Beginning of Lent

In some ways this is a travel diary told in pictures. However, we saw and heard things that very much were lessons found in Good Friday.

As I mentioned before, in January, we were invited to a friend's surprise 40th birthday party. Though we were flattered to be invited, it was in the Bay Area, which is a good 15 hour drive from here and airfare for 10 is not really feasible. So, I told Rich how nice it was that we were included, but that, of course, we wouldn't be able to go. He asked me why not, and suggested that just the two of us go. Then, immediately started looking up airfare. He found a decent ticket price, but I didn't know where we would stay, so asked another friend in the area if she could let us crash for a night, and said to hold off on pulling the trigger on the ticket until I heard back. By the time she got back to me with her yes, the fares had gone up significantly, so I was back to thinking this just wouldn't happen. Rich said that the price of airfare for us would cover driving down with the kids and getting hotels. So, we did it. In four days, there and back.

It was worth it just to see the look on our friend's face, because his wife (who is also our friend) had been planning for a month and didn't breathe a word to him. Also, as you will find out in a minute, we were a little late to the party, so we came in after he'd already been surprised and thought that part of the evening was over.

We had reservations at a little motor inn near Crater Lake for Friday evening, and after driving through Central Washington, stopping at the Monastery of Saint John the Forerunner in Goldendale for linner, we worked our way south through Central Oregon. By this time it was around 7:30 p.m. And raining. And dark. And our van stopped working about 20 miles north of Madras. Which is two hours north of where our motel was. Rich got the van over to the side and tried to call our insurance for roadside assistance. But, even though he had service and battery charged, his phone was not dialing out for some reason. So, we used my phone. Oh, and did I mention that the battery was almost dead and I hadn't charged it because we were so close to our destination that I didn't think it would matter? Now I plug the charger in as soon as I get in the car, no matter what. Anyway, he could still receive calls so we gave them his number if they needed to call back. I told them about where we were and that we thought our alternator had quit (so, I couldn't even charge the phone with the engine off) and she said she could send a tow truck. We said that we'd need transportation, because we had eight children with us. She said they couldn't cover that, but that the tow company might be able to do so. We knew we couldn't get towed without having a way to get the kids somewhere safe, because it was a busy, dark, highway with loads of trucks going by, and we weren't going to have them on the side of the road without some protection.

This is the spot where we were stuck, to the left of the photo around where the mound of dirt and truck are)

Rich was getting perturbed, but God provided for us that night. Rich has a business friend who lives somewhat in the area, and he called him to ask where to get our van towed. It turned out that the man who lived next door to him owned a mechanic shop and was honest and reliable. While we were waiting for the tow truck, Rich grabbed his phone (it could still receive calls and could text), a jacket, one of the kids' flashlights and another's headlamp (they use them for reading in the car) and walked about a quarter mile down the highway, because he was sure that he'd seen what looked like a tow truck just around the bend. Glory to Christ that he has such good eyesight! It was the truckers on the road who alerted the tow truck that he was coming; they didn't see him, but the truckers did and flashed their lights, stopped so Rich could cross and get to them.

Here is where the tow truck was

They were already there, finishing up changing a tire for someone else. After Rich explained our predicament, they had him get in their truck, and just as he did, the call for the tow came from our roadside assistance people. Instead of trying to figure out where we were, they could just go where Rich told them. They called another fellow with a truck, from the company, so we could transport everyone. While this was all going on, we were also trying to find a place to stay that night. Blessedly, there was a place we had stayed during a trip to a funeral last year, and they had the same two rooms open for us, remembered us, and were pleased to give us a place (and a breakfast the following morning). Also, the lady at the place near Crater Lake didn't charge us for our missed reservation, even though we gave her only a couple hours' notice, because it wasn't our fault. So, they towed us to the hotel, we grabbed the suitcases we'd need for that night (we packed a suitcase for each night for all of us, instead of separate suitcases for us, the boys, and the girls, which worked pretty well) and our toiletries and diaper bag, and they took our van to the mechanic's.

The mechanic wasn't even open on Saturdays, but Rich's friend called him, as well as his having the call from the towing company, and he already had a special job to do that day, but because he knew we were stuck and running late, he did our van at 7:00 that morning, and made sure to get it done right away. So, we left only an hour later than we had planned. Though we were still an hour and a half or two north of where we wanted to start.

We crossed into California and meandered around Mount Shasta, all of us dressed for the party that evening, because our plan to stop at our hotel first, unpack, change and then head over was gone now, with our delay. I painted my nails, base coat, two coats of polish and top coat, while we drove down the windy freeway between trucks and other mountain traffic.

Guests were supposed to arrive at the party about 45 minutes before the birthday boy was to be there, but we ended up coming about an hour after he'd already been surprised. At that point, we just wanted to wait long enough not to ruin the surprise.

I found it funny that we ended up arranging the couples Arab, Arab, German, German. That was not deliberate.

We were able to attend liturgy with them the following morning. They attend a beautiful Antiochian Orthodox church, with the service half in Arabic and half in English. It was a moving service and Rich and I so enjoyed worshiping with them, and being able to share in the beauty of the church, of the liturgy and music, and feast our eyes on the icons and iconostasis there. It was wonderful that Arabic was assumed when we came in, people spoke to us in Arabic and people thought I was Iraqi. Our children had a great time with a church full of kids that looked like them (and Nejat taught the boy behind us to bump fists), there was a beautiful community of Ethiopians there as well. You could pick out the different countries of origin and dialects, too. I wish I had gotten photos of the exterior of the church, but we forgot to have family pictures taken of us with our friends. But that was not the church that had been built there originally.

In the time immediately following the 9-11 attacks, some miscreant or miscreants had decided that since all these people spoke Arabic and there was Arabic on their sign, and the building had a dome on it, they must be Islamic terrorists, too. That the sign said that it was the Church of the Holy Apostles in English might have been a clue that they were Christians, at least, but I doubt there was much reading going on. Our friends said that there had been all sorts of fires and vandalism that night, and by the time the fire fighters had come, the building was completely destroyed. Only the things in these two cases displayed in the narthex of the church were left.

This case has a place of prominence. It was what was left on the altar after the fire: The crucifix, and the Gospel book, with the pages burned except for the text from Saint Matthew's Gospel,

"You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.

The people responsible for arson were never found. This church community, though, has taken that burned Gospel book as a sign and a lesson that they taught themselves, their children and all the people who came to their church. This is what Christ did when He was falsely arrested, falsely accused, falsely punished and crucified. This is what He did when He forgave those who killed Him. How can we do less?

So, like Christ, this church was resurrected. It is beautiful, it is welcoming, it is a place of forgiveness and mercy. And Christ is there. We were blessed to be there for just one day. Rich said that he wished we had a church like that here, both for the spiritual experience, and for the cultural experience for our family.

Here are some interior pictures of the sanctuary.

The iconostasis up front has Christ's life depicted, from the Annunciation to Pentecost.

At the base of the dome are icons of many Old Testament prophets holding scrolls of prophesy referring to Christ.

And at the top of the dome, like in all Orthodox churches, there was an icon of Christ, with angels around Him, looking down and guarding and guiding His people.

Have a blessed Good Friday, a holy Triduum, and a joyous Paschal feast!

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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Yarn Along: Vanquished!

The knitting on Entrechat is complete! This really was a pretty simple jacket to knit, I don't know what gave me so much trouble. I blame my health. Anyway, it's waiting for a bath and ends to be woven in and the button to be sewn and it will be ready to be given as a gift. I picked up my Marine Layer scarf and I'm making steady progress on it. With Holy Week and the vigil and feasting this weekend, I'm not sure that I will finish it by the end of the month, but I should make a dent in it.

I have to apologize to my knitters, waiting for Amira. Between my health and Holy Week preparations, I just haven't had a chance to get the edited version out to them. Therefore, the only design related information here is your weekly reminder to like Arabian Knits Designs on Facebook, if you haven't already. Thank you!

We have done precious little reading this past week. It has been a hard week here, with finals and sickness and other health concerns.

Also posting to Keep Calm and Craft On, and The Philosopher's Wife.

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Monday, March 21, 2016

Menu Plan: Palm Sunday and Holy Week

We are walking the way of sorrow with our Lord this week. It is arduous. On top of that, we all came down with a pretty nasty illness last week which has effectively put our normal life on hold. So, we are having pretty simple meals this week because it is full of church services and we are at a weaker point, physically. Technically, this Friday is the Feast of the Annunciation, but as that is Good Friday, we will be moving our observance to Bright Monday.

I am adding dairy back to my diet for our Paschal feast since it matters more to me than the other foods I can't eat. I'm praying that it does not cause more trouble. But since I've had a flare up in the middle of not eating any of these foods, I don't really know what to think. We're doing less in the way of eggs this year, because I would rather have dairy back than eggs and more of our traditional dishes have dairy in them than egg. Rich will be making our "Scotchicanese" eggs for him and the kids for breakfast on Fesah', and I will dye our red Pascha eggs. I'm modifying our Pascha bread to be made without eggs, so I can eat it with the family, and Rich will fry up some sausage for me without any egg. And since I will be breaking my fast after the vigil on Saturday night, I am going to have my first bit of dairy that night, too.

Since this is a week full of preparations for us, I'm trying to keep our meals as uncomplicated as possible. Yet again, it seems that our Lenten discipline has chosen us and not the other way around. It's been a challenging time of struggle and growth. I'm praying to see the fruit of that in our family. Normally, there is a strict fast from the end of the Maundy Thursday service through the Paschal Vigil, and Good Friday is a strict fast for everyone, even if they aren't doing the longer fast, but with how ill everyone has been, I'm not sure we can do it. Something that might help us, though, is that the vigil is earlier this year than it normally is. We usually start at 11:00 p.m. or midnight and we're starting at 8:00 p.m. Pray for our strengthening. It is usually a time of great prayer and spiritual growth.

May God grant you all a blessed and holy journey to the Paschal celebration.
What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Yarn Along: Nearly Finished Objects

The Marine Layer mitts are finished! I wanted to have daylight photos, but instead took some naps I sorely needed. The knitting was actually complete last week, but I just now got to the ends. And Entrechat is in time out. Again. I was at the garter hem for the bottom of the jacket, with only that and an attached i-cord edging to do (I'm doing that to tie the contrast color together through the whole thing), when I had a sinking suspicion that the pattern as written didn't make the design in the photo. Except it did. I just completely misread the instructions. Twice. Because, I had this feeling before, only three rows past that point, undid the knitting, re-read the instructions, and somehow still came to the wrong conclusion. I can only blame my sickness and pain induced exhaustion. So, I have tossed it in a corner while I sulk. I'll probably pick it up again in a day or so and undo the ruffled section, then get it right and do it all again.

That illness (my skin flare up, along with migraines, along with the lingering cold that is going around) has kept me from sending out my preview copy of Amira to my knitters. Therefore, the only design related information here is your weekly reminder to like Arabian Knits Designs on Facebook, if you haven't already. Thank you!

Amira and I are nearly finished with If You Love Me, Let Me Go. I'm trying to think of what we can read together, just the two of us, now. It's been a nice thing to share with her. As I was in pain, I took a long, hot, bath, and brought with me the cheerful book, A Christian Ending, to read about traditional Christian funereal and burial customs. Actually, I do find the book compelling. I have only one complaint about it, actually. I even have been reading segments of it to the kids, to discuss our thoughts on death and dying and our relationship to God. We started From I-Ville to You-Ville as a family, and Rich promptly took off with it to be his bedside reading. It is an allegorical story, and though it is definitely aimed at little children, everyone is enjoying it.

Also posting to Keep Calm and Craft On, and The Philosopher's Wife.

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Monday, March 14, 2016

Menu Plan: Fifth Sunday of Lent

We celebrated Amira's birthday and Saint Patrick's Day on Sunday. Rich made sure I had some peach sorbet, while everyone else had their ice cream, which was sweet. Unfortunately, most of our household fell prey to the cold that has been going around just after that. And this is finals week for Alexander. So, we all would appreciate your prayers. He got a 98% on his first test today, which was wonderful. He's really gotten into the swing of things with his courses and is enjoying them a lot.

There was supposed to be a moms' night out this week, but I am sick enough that when I saw it on the calendar, my heart sank because I just didn't want to go out of our house. So, I talked to Rich and while he wanted me to go get a break, he said if it made me feel worse, then I should stay home under blankets by the fire. I'll save my energy for a Shakespeare presentation and a dance this weekend (separate events).

Since Rich has a special devotion to Saint Joseph, I'm trying to think of something nice to do for him on that day - a treat that he could enjoy and commemorate him with on Saturday. If I'd thought of this earlier, I could have had a book of devotions or something like that for him. A few Father's Days ago, Rich asked if we could get him a statue of the Holy Family which showed Saint Joseph as a protective father, which really touched him, so I don't want to get him another (he has that on his shelves by his bed).

What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up.

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Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Yarn Along: Marching On

The front of Amira is almost finished! I wanted to be ahead of my knitters for the preview. This way, I will just have the back and finishing to do when they start. (There's still room for a knitter for the 29" and 49" sizes, if you want to join in - I should have the pattern to the knitters by this weekend, and already have a Facebook group set up for the knitters). Much progress has been made on my mitts for the matching set (including a scarf, which has seen no progress) I'm designing, a little has been done for the Celtic braided loop scarf, and I'm close to half way through the baby jacket from One-Skein Wonders for Babies (which, I may remind you, I'm in, as well). Speaking of reminders, here's your weekly reminder to like Arabian Knits Designs on Facebook, if you haven't already. Thank you!

Most of our reading is the same this week. Amira and I are still reading If You Love Me, Let Me Go, I'm reading How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare for my co-op Shakespeare class, The Ascetic Lives of Mothers, and a little in Fertility, Cycles and Nutrition. I did finish Everywhere Present, and cannot recommend it enough. Please read this book. It is short, a light read, but provokes deep thought. This, like Christ in His Saints, was a book I wanted to underline it its entirety. Here is a little sampling of some thoughts that struck me:

"Tragedy reminds us of God's apparent absence, but our cries of abandonment seem empty in light of the demands we make for God's absence at most other times and places. . .

A God who is exiled from the mundane is understandably difficult to find when the mundane turns into the tragic."

"Thus the sacraments of the Church are not symbols in the modern sense of something that stands for something else - something that is not really there. Rather, they are symbols in the classical sense: two things that are brought together in a single reality. The very word symbolos in Greek means 'to throw two things together.' Interestingly, the opposite of symbolos in Greek is diabolos, which means 'to divide.'"

"[W]e are told, 'Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.' This is not a notion that if you're pure in heart, someday you will die and see the Lord. Such a construction would completely misunderstand the verse.

The verse tells us that the primary organ of vision for human beings is not the eye, but the heart. Our eyes will only see what our hearts will allow."

Also posting to Keep Calm and Craft On, and The Philosopher's Wife.

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Monday, March 07, 2016

Menu Plan: Laetare Sunday (Fourth Sunday of Lent)

We have a few repeats this week and again, we are going to have to miss the Stations of the Cross at church. We may do a smaller version of it at home with the kids' little Stations booklets. Our produce co-op was this weekend, so we have quite a lot to work with this week, as well as several things leftover from our last boxes. There are only a few things that are really sturdy enough to keep over until next week, though, and a ton of lettuce and salad fixings, so we'll be using those up as much as possible this week and saving what we can for next week.

For Laetare, Milk Joy Sunday and the Mother's Day of the Church, Rich wanted to make sure I had something nice to eat, since I've been so limited. He made a special trip to get me some wild caught, American shrimp, but when we got home and had a kind of linner, I was basically full, and there was a steak in our freezer, so I ate that and saved the shrimp for tonight's dinner, when I can share it with the rest of the family, too.

We have Amira'a birthday this week, which starts off our birthday season in the family. We let the kids break or lessen the fast, as they wish, on their birthdays, as well as choosing the meal for the family, and celebrate on the Sunday following, which we will be doing this weekend. Sweet Amira asked that I make a Lenten cake so that I could have it with her and her friends. I'm so proud of the young woman she is growing into. I have to share a funny story about her, though. Our local Grocery Outlet has a picture coloring contest that is only for three - 11 year olds. She was insistent that we get the picture early this month and she worked on it assiduously so she could turn it in while she was still 11 and get her little treat (they let the kids get a candy bar/package up to a certain amount of money in exchange for the picture) and try to win it one more time before she can no longer enter.

What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up.

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Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Yarn Along: Malabrigo March!

I'm still working on Amira, and I have one other design I am swatching for to see if I can submit to a call. However, primarily this month, I'll be knitting on something made with Malabrigo. I have five projects chosen for this month, four are cast on already, one is still being swatched. I've made decent progress on three of the four, but one has an error that I need to fix, so it is in time out while I work on the more compliant projects. For this month, I am working on a matching set of mitts and a scarf of my own design, a Celtic braided loop scarf, a lovely little baby jacket from the same book I am in, and a great hat in double knitting that puts the globe on your head. If I have enough time (ha!), I'm going to finish knitting and writing the pattern for Nashi. Here's your weekly reminder to like Arabian Knits Designs on Facebook, if you haven't already. Thank you!

That's what's on my needles. As for what I'm reading, Amira and I have been doing more reading in If You Love Me, Let Me Go and I've been reading quite a lot in How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare for a survey of Shakespeare I'm teaching at our homeschool co-op. I really enjoy the book and his writing. He only covered a little of the history and person of Shakespeare, so I did a bit of that on my own, and I'm including a sonnet and analysis each week, as well. The kids in the class seem to be enjoying it, and I've found his method useful for memorizing and going a little deeper in each passage. In my Lenten reading, I've begun The Ascetic Lives of Mothers, which has been a treasure to me.

Also posting to Keep Calm and Craft On, and The Philosopher's Wife.

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