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Hi there, I just got some help from my wonderful, tech savvy husband, who showed me how to add some photos to my last post. I took some pictures of the mushrooms that we saw and a lovely white blossomed tree, and now those are added into my last blog. (One of the mushroom photos is not my photograph, I just borrowed it.)

My next post will have pictures of snails and pillbugs. So consider yourself forewarned. I may even have a before and after, cactus, pre-blossomed and beautifully blossomed with white flowers, to show you.

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Today, we saw a few, new (to us) kinds of mushrooms. Two mushrooms looked just like eggs sitting on the grass. Some of the mushrooms looked like paper parasols.  Very fragile! One mushroom looked like a slightly burned, misshapen marshmallow. ummmm! It made me hungry for  cooked marshmallows. I will try to get pictures of some of the things we saw. (Now I have the pictures, but I need to figure out how to insert them into this post.)   

Egg shaped mushroom  Parasol mushrooms (not my photo)  Burnt marshmallow mushroom

 

Today Chris noticed a hollowed out tree, that we haven’t noticed before. We also went down a different street and saw a tree full of white blossoms which were being harvested by honey bees and a couple of bumble bees. 

White blossom tree

White blossom tree

Chris attempted to catch no less than 6 lizards… and caught exactly… zero. Yea, Lizards! It was fun watching him peek around the sides of this big tree while the lizard kept moving around it, just out of his sight. We saw a cute little bird on a fence that looked like a finch with a bright yellow belly. It was very close to us and didn’t seem to be very scared of us. Chris said, “Avoid looking directly into it’s eyes.” …I looked… It flew away. I said, “Too late, I looked. It’s gone.” We were both disappointed. Over by the wash, where we saw the bluebird last week, we saw several hummingbirds which seemed to favor a certain tree and didn’t seem to mind the stink that was coming up out of the wash. I think that whatever was causing the smell, was also drawing insects that the hummingbirds like to eat.  The blooming cactus that we saw last week, now has some dead blooms and some new blooms and some bulges that look like they are going to be fruit. It is exciting to watch it change. I would just like to take a minute to thank our Creator for all of the wonderful and amazing things that he has made. Thank you, dear loving Father, for all that you have created and spoke into being. You have made great wonders that our eyes are blessed to look upon. The intricacies and interdependence of all created things, leave us in awe of your wisdom and your masterful weaving of life. Thanks be to our living God. 

PSALM 148 
  Praise the LORD!                    Praise the LORD from the heavens;           Praise Him in the heights!   Praise Him, all His angels;          Praise Him, all His hosts!   Praise Him, sun and moon;          Praise Him, all you stars of light!   Praise Him, you heavens of heavens,          And you waters above the heavens!              Let them praise the name of the LORD,          For He commanded and they were created.   He also established them forever and ever;          He made a decree which shall not pass away.              Praise the LORD from the earth,          You great sea creatures and all the depths;   Fire and hail, snow and clouds;          Stormy wind, fulfilling His word;  Mountains and all hills;          Fruitful trees and all cedars;   Beasts and all cattle;          Creeping things and flying fowl;   Kings of the earth and all peoples;          Princes and all judges of the earth;   Both young men and maidens;          Old men and children.              Let them praise the name of the LORD,          For His name alone is exalted;           His glory is above the earth and heaven.   And He has exalted the horn of His people,          The praise of all His saints—           Of the children of Israel,           A people near to Him.                     Praise the LORD!   

Summer so far…

I am not even sure that it is officially “summer” on the calendar, but it is definitely summer on the thermometer. It was 103 in downtown Covina today at 3pm. I am sure that it was hotter where we live because the mountains block the air or trap the heat or something. Don’t quote me on that. I am not a scientist. 🙂

My oldest daughter started going to summer school this week. The first day, it was just her and I. We went to McDonald’s before it was time to drop her off, so that we could share some breakfast and talk. That was very lovely to spend time with my delightful girl.

My oldest son had his ingrown toenail operated on on Monday afternoon. While that was not “nice” that he had an operation, it was good to get to spend some one-on-one time with him. He is a pleasure and a joy to be around. 

I love my kids. I am so happy when it’s summertime because I get to spend more leisure time with them. Now, with two kids in High School I am feeling our time together is slipping away so fast. I hope to get more opportunities to spend time with each child individually. 

Monday night, my younger daughter asked me to wake her up in the morning too, so that she can walk with me when we drop her sister off at school. So, Tuesday morning we three girls went to high school, one stayed to learn and two went for a walk. We held hands and put our arms around each other and did some arm exercises while we walked and realized that it was getting hot at 8am. It was too hot at 8:30am. By that time we made it back to the McDonald’s where the car was parked and we cooled off in the restaurant and had a nice chat.

Tuesday night, my youngest son asked if I could wake him up in the morning to join us on our walk. (He must have heard us talking about all the fun we had on our walk that morning.) So, four of us rode to high school on Wednesday and three of us walked, after finding a parking spot at McD’s. We had a pleasant walk. We played. We went a little slower for little brother. We almost caught a lizard or two. (We were going to let the lizard go after a bit, because that is my rule. Return critters to their homes.) We saw some interesting plants, including a cactus that looked like it was going to bloom or make fruit. We saw a blue bird and people walking dogs. 

We did another walk the next morning. The cactus that we saw the day before had two new white blossoms on it. We saw a lot more lizards and got scared by a couple of them. We saw a hummingbird, a snail, a slug, some sowbugs (rollie pollies), and the people with their dogs said Hi to us this time and let us pet the dogs. We examined some strange moss and some fragile looking mushrooms. We watched a squirrel climb a tree. 

Somehow the walks seemed less and less like exercise and more like a nature class and bonding experience. That’s quite alright with me. It was like it was meant to be like this; Families having time together, not spending all their time apart at school and work… Well, I will enjoy the luxury of summertime with my kids, as much as I can.

On Thursday, the local bus company was having a “Dump the Pump” day. Anyone with a coupon could ride any of this particular bus line’s buses all day long if they wanted to. The kids and I decided to give the bus ride a shot. We waited for summer school to get out and we had lunch and plotted our trip. We walked a few blocks from home to the bus stop. That was hot work. We had about ten minutes till the bus showed up, so youngest son and I walked back across the street to buy some soda. He was so nervous that we wouldn’t make it back to the bus stop in time that it looked like he was doing the potty dance. We (the younger kids and I) jumped up and down when we saw the bus coming and chanted… “We’re gonna ride the bu-uus! We’re gonna ride the bu-uuss!” But alas, that bus turned the corner. Which gave us time to drink some more of our sodas. Another bus came soon, and it WAS our bus! We did jump up and down again, singing our song… in case you were wondering. We didn’t even get to finish our sodas and had to throw out the remainder in order to get on the bus. 

It was a fun ride to the little mall. The air conditioner was pumping. The driver was being nice to us. We had the whole bus to ourselves. We were on an adventure… and I didn’t have to drive us there. We got out of the bus and realized that we had to walk a ways in the heat to get to the stores. We chose the closest one. We had our Walkie Talkies with us (I told you it was an adventure) so the boys went to the toy section (computer games section) and the girls and I went to the clearance clothes racks. We decided we would turn on our Walkie Talkies at 4:30 to find each other so we could get back to the bus on time. While I was in the checkout stand, the kids went and bought two soft pretzels and we scarfed them down before we got to the bus stop. It was almost as good as a day at the fair. I am so glad that my kids are easy to entertain. 

On Friday, the kids stayed with their grandparents while I drove out to meet Jason for lunch. We had a nice Italian style lunch and good conversation. I love dating my husband. And he gets excited to be dating me! That is so cool!  Jason took the rest of the day off and we ended up taking the kids swimming at their cousin’s house. Except, Michael can’t swim because his toe is still healing… but he was happy to stay inside and play video games. All in all, summer so far, has been very good but also very hot.  

That’s all for now. I hope that whoever reads this is having a good summer with family and friends and adventures of the best kinds. God be with you!

Debbie

CatechumensFather Patrick, Feel free to correct me where needed.

On Pentecost Sunday our friends, Mark and Barb got blessed and prayed over to become catecumens at St. Peter the Apostle, Antiochian Orthodox Church. Mark’s two sons and his daughter-in-law came to witness and experience this day with all of us.  There was no official announcement of what was about to happen. We had been going through the Matins service of bible readings, hymns and prayer… I am still unfamiliar with the services, so I did not know that Matins was over, or if it was(?)… then Father Patrick, with Jackson carrying a candle (the long one that the alter boys carry) headed straight down the center of the room. At first I did not know what was going on. (It seems like the Orthodox Church is kind of like a box of Cracker Jacks… there is a surprise in every service. Well, for me there is, because Orthodoxy is so new to me.) Then I saw Father Patrick smile at Mark and Barb, who were behind me, and motion for them to go to the doors.  They stood in front of the doors, facing in toward the altar. Their faces were full of joy. Big smiles and excited eyes flashing up at Father Patrick in eager anticipation. He marked them with the sign of the cross, prayed over them and then before I knew it… it was done. I wonder what they were thinking…  Maybe they will blog about it.  I am happy for them. They looked peaceful afterward. 

When Father Patrick was talking about Pentecost in his homily,  he compared it to the headwaters of the Sacramento River. He used to live by the headwaters. There is a bubbling spring where water comes up out of the ground at this park in Mt. Shasta. (view pictures of Sacramento River and headwaters, here on wikipedia) It is not a lot of water but it makes a lot of noise. As the water moves on down toward the sea, it gaines more water from streams and rivers and lakes. As the water gets deeper and wider, it gets quieter.  [edited to say…I don’t think this analogy came up in his Sunday homily, I think Fr. Patrick talked about this on Saturday night at Vespers… sorry for the confusion]

Pentecost began when the Holy Spirit came upon the Apostles. It began rather noisily, with much talking and signs. Talking in many different languages. Talking that drew people to come near the house where they heard it emanating from. Talking that was at first considered drunken babble… but then was recognized as many languages pouring out in worship to God. Babble that drew men toward God and toward unity, as opposed to the “babble” that was a sign of separation from God and disunity between people, which is what happened at the Tower of Babel. From that day of Pentecost the stream of the Holy Spirit working through God’s people began to grow deeper and wider, and if the analogy of the Sacramento River holds true, it should be quieter and stronger too. 

I pray that as Mark and Barb pursue their walk with God in the Orthodox church that they will notice that deepening, strengthening and quieting of their faith and of the Holy Spirit working in them.   

Ahhhh!  I feel like I can breathe easier! The “school year” is over. Now we have to get through six weeks of summer school. Three weeks for our 14 year old and three weeks for our 16 year old. I woke up at 6:05am this morning and got our 14 year old up. The rest of the kids got to sleep in. I bet that was nice. I won’t be jealous because I am glad that I got a chance to be alone with my  eldest daughter. She is such a sweet and bubbly girl (most of the time). This morning with her was fun. She is excited about going into HIGH SCHOOL. I guess summer school is a good “foot in the door” experience for her to get acquainted with the campus and some of the students and teachers. I feel glad that her big brother will be there to watch over her when school really starts up in September.  He says that he has a few friends that have promised to watch out for her too. What a neat brother he is!  I love to see our kids interacting. They really are friends with each other. I hope that they can maintain their friendships with each other as they grow up.  I know that it is not necessary, but it seems good. 

Summer is a wonderful time for us. It is time to relax together, to work on projects together and to interact with less outside stressors like, homework, performances and report cards. 

Even if we don’t get to go camping or do a lot of beach trips and stuff because of the price of gas, I will enjoy this summer with my kids and Jason. It is a lovely time of rest from school. Ahhhh, Summer Vacation! I just wish I had a hammock.

Icons – A window on the wall.  A view to an unseen reality. I love that explanation. I don’t know where I heard it. I am afraid to try to explain too much about icons, for fear of getting it all wrong and leading people astray. I don’t really have a full understanding of what the Icons of the Saints fully represent. But, it is like a portrait of a hero. Not a picture of an idol. It is not to be worshipped, it is to lead us to worship of God, the image of God in the Saint that is portrayed. I would much rather have my kids plaster their rooms with the heroes of The Faith than with images of pop stars, movie stars or sports “heroes”.  

Recently we went to an open house at our kids elementary school. I was shocked and dismayed to see that our daughter’s collage was full of pictures of one of the Jonas Brothers. He is a young kid that has a band with his siblings and a show on Disney channel or Nickelodeon. I didn’t realize that she had been so branded by the hype of those shows. Well, I must admit that I went through all those childhood crushes on teen and pre-teen stars. But wouldn’t it be nice if her admiration was spent on real heroes? Wouldn’t it be lovely if her (everyone’s) mind was full of stories of people who have lived and died for Christ Jesus? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the qualities we looked up to were not fame, good-looks and charisma but the very qualities of our Savior?

Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-Control.

Humble, Servant, Obedient, Holy, Good, The Way, The Truth, The Life…

What would you add to the list?

I hope we can raise our kids to adore Christ. To WORSHIP God; fully, courageously, unashamedly, joyously, disarmingly, contagiously, and other good words like that 🙂  I think that we have found the Church that will help us to do that, God helping us. May His name be glorified in all the earth! 

When we decided to “try out” the Orthodox church near us, I thought it would be a few visits. Then somehow my husband got the idea that we had discussed a plan (we probably did) and started telling a few people that we were going to try it out for a year and then make a decision. I felt rushed and maybe a little like, “eh, when did we decide all that?” But, then again, my brain is not the best at remembering, so maybe we did talk about it. Not that I regret it at all, I am just saying that I felt a little rushed. 

Now, our friends Mark and Barb are coming to the Orthodox church too and it looks like they are ready to dive right in, while I am still feeling cautious. That’s me, Miss Cautious. Do you know what happens to cautious people? They usually watch their feet when they are about to jump… which throws them off balance. Or they stutter step and trip over their own feet. I know that there has to be some value in my desire to wait and search this new church out, but I feel kinda foolish or like a coward.

(This quote is from a comment that I left in my husbands blog.) It is hard to put into words, what I am feeling. I have been raised Christian all of my life but found that I struggled with some of the teachings. I think that my desires, for a long time, have been for worship that is reverent and holy, like it was in the Old Testament and like you see it described in Revelation. People falling down, prostrating themselves before a HOLY GOD. People praying together in unity, not for themselves alone. I like the way the Orthodox Church worships and prays. Also, I feel that the teaching of Salvation makes more sense to me in the Orthodox church than it did in other Christian churches, because I could never make that verse about “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” fit in with “say this prayer and believe, and you are saved.” I have felt like we should be doing something to show that we are saved or to cooperate with our salvation. But that attitude would be dubbed “works based salvation” where I come from and that was frowned upon.

I think that the guarded feeling is from fear. I am afraid of being “led astray”, I am afraid of the unknown elements, and I am afraid that I will give my heart to this Church, these good people and that I will later find out that there is this THING or THINGS that we cannot accept about Orthodoxy and we will have to tear ourselves away. I do not want to feel that pain again.
So far, everything seems right. But, I feel like I have to give it more time or something. I am not one that likes to dive right into the deep end. I wade in at least halfway before I get all wet. I wish I could feel safe enough to dive right in.

So, I guess that sums up my answer to the question, “What’s the holdup?”