Sunday, May 29, 2011

Great Day

Today was the best Sunday ever for us as a family attending St. Nicholas. The kids really are (already) adjusting. After last Sunday, where Rome was obviously not feeling well and I felt he would never adjust, today was a beautiful blessing.

I stayed inside for almost the entirety of the Divine Liturgy, stepping out only once. Tristan & Kassi did so well, and even Anatoly stayed with me inside for the most part. Toly was anxious to kiss the cross at the end (Kassi had told him about it) so he waited through the entire liturgy. Karl took charge of Rome and worked wonders with him, He was fussy at first but Karl kept bringing him back. Eventually he got through to Rome and convinced him to come in quietly and listen. Rome fell asleep over Karl's shoulder to the sound of the liturgy. I am so grateful for Karl's patience.

I covered my hair and Kassi's today. We received a few comments about this, and I answered them honestly. I do not know how I will ultimately feel about covering by the time my Catechism is done.  Right now I have read several bits on the subject, and have to say I feel covering is in order. It truly only pertains to me and my family, and I do not mean to make others feel like they should follow suit. As it is I am the only one who covers other than some Russian families. I look forward to learning more from our parish scholar, reader, etc. about why most women do not cover in our church. And, perhaps, I will feel comfortable joining them.

Do you cover your hair at your church? Why or why not?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I am not alone!

When I sat down with Father Stephan the other day and told him how I felt about the Church, he said that my reaction to my first visit was not unheard of, although it wasn't hugely common.  One person he knew of with a nearly identical story was Bishop Kallistos Ware. Of course there must be many like us, it is just that not many are published. Father Stephan remembered reading Bishop Kallistos' account somewhere. I found an account today, through the splendor of the internet. Below I have quoted it:

Bishop Kallistos: I first came to know the Orthodox Church when I was seventeen years old, just before I was due to go to university. My first contact with Orthodoxy was, in fact, not through reading books and not through meeting, face to face, living Orthodox Christians; my first contact came through attending a church service. That, I think, is the best way to be introduced to the Orthodox Church. We shouldn’t see Orthodoxy just as a set of ideas or teachings. We need to see Orthodoxy as a worshiping community—a community of prayer. I first got to know the Orthodox Church one Saturday evening. By chance or by Divine Providence, I went into the Russian church in London (that particular church has long since been pulled down). The vigil service was in progress. From that moment I felt, “This is where I belong,” even though I couldn’t, of course, understand the service because it was all in Slavonic. I knew enough to realize that this must be an Orthodox church, and what impressed me was the feeling at that service of invisible worshippers. …I had a sense of the participation of the heavenly community in our earthly worship. I felt that we were being taken up into an action much larger than ourselves. I felt a unity between heaven and earth, and when I talk to people who are thinking about becoming Orthodox, I speak of that. They should experience Orthodoxy in this way—a worshiping community in which there is no division between earth and heaven.

It was just amazing to read, what with The Orthodox Way being my first book on the subject.  It is just as I felt- and still do feel. You can read more about our journey on the About Us page here. I have written down some of my 'first visit' impressions on the About St. Nicholas page.

One of these days I want to write about Father Stephan, who I can't even claim I know, but who I feel very endeared to in every possible way.

Praying with your Feet

Like Matushka Anna, I spent last Sunday praying with my feet. Carrying my littlest ones, (sometimes in arm, sometimes by the unwilling wrist) back and forth so that they would not be disruptive. I admit that a good 85% of my energy was spent in frustration. I want to work on that.

I saw something while I was so occupied that is worth an entry. Our parish's Reader, whose name is Luben, has a small child. She is tiny and sweet, maybe 1 year old. Last Sunday he came out with her several times to hold her and snuggle her and while he did, even though he was standing on a gravel path, he continued his part of the liturgy. I watched him through the windows for the most part, amazed at him holding this fussy baby on his hip while he sang, made the sign of the cross, bent to touch the ground, and continued like so for a long time. It was amazing. 

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Mind, the Heart and the Way of Salvation by Archimandrite Meletios Webber

Father Stephan sent us this article in .pdf form. If you are interested I would gladly email it to anyone. I can't cut and paste it easily because of the format. I love this article. I feel as though Father Stephan saw right into me and chose this one just for me. He mentioned this article not 20 minutes into our first sit-down. It is probably not possible to do the article justice without providing the whole thing, but here are some memorable quotes that speak loudly to me.

"Insofar as fragmentation is what is wrong with the human person, the reverse—
unification—is the path we are offered which leads to God’s healing and salvation.
Salvation is thus understood as being something therapeutic, not some form of legal
loop-hole, nor even a reward for a good life."

"Trying to count from one to ten without having an intervening thought
(including those inevitable ones like “Gosh, I’m able to count without having a
thought”) is extremely difficult."

"The mind is the great defense system needed to
process all the information which we receive. However, in so doing, the mind is
very self-centered, judgmental and fearful of attack. It expects and assumes the
worst from the world, from other people, and ultimately from God.
It is as if the mind had the task of writing one’s life history, and the title of this
history were always “Yes, but what about me?”

I know I have a lifelong journey ahead of me in Orthodoxy. But these simple insights are a perfect beginning: to see my internal struggles for what they are, remove the 'permissions' I have in place for them,  and then look beyond them to reality.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A Trying Day

Today I feel like I will never spend Divine Liturgy in the church.

It is really hard to bring 4 kids. Especially since we have no idea what we are doing and want to experience & learn. Spending the whole time in the kitchen hall doesn't help. Will my younger kids ever be reasonable?

Karl and I agreed to switch off Sundays caring for Rome (our 2 year old). This was my Sunday. Maybe next week will feel differently.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Keepin' it Real Award

Michelle at Our Little Monkeys gave me this award. We're new friends, but I already feel we are kindred spirits. My life seems so easy compared to many others, but it is challenging in its own way. 

My husband and I have just come to Orthodoxy and if you keep reading you'll be following our journey from the beginning. I am so thrilled, overwhelmed, and full of hope. 

Thanks Michelle! I hope it's okay that I not pass it on yet because I just don't know a lot of people in this community. That will surely change. 

You can learn more about my family by reading any of the blogs on the right under "All Things O'Melay". 

Ages of Grace

Check out my published content!
In yet another perfectly obvious 'this is God's will" moment, today was the release of an Orthodox Christian, Charlotte Mason inspired homeschool curriculum called Ages of Grace. It is almost as if it was created just for me and my kids. We'll be using the first installment, Age of Triumph, starting in August. I will start collecting books right now.

Of course we're not waiting until fall to teach the kids about the Church. They are already learning along with us. Paidea Classics has a lot of free resource material for kids.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Calendar

I would like to get a calendar to know the days of the liturgical year and fasting guidelines for each day. I wonder if they are all the same? Maybe they sell them at St. Nicholas.

2011 Orthodox Icon Wall Calendar with Angels 2011 Orthodox Lectionary Wall Calendar Knkalendar2011 (wing) Orthodox calendar for 2011. all year - with God's help / KnKalendar2011(Krylov) Pravoslavnyy kalendar na 2011 god.Ves god - s Bozhey pomoshchyu Orthodox Calendar for 2011 "God help" / Kalendar pravoslavnyy na 2011 god "Bog v pomoshch" 2011 Orthodox Daily Calendar Planner

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Saint Tabitha

Today I learned that my namesake is a Saint. Saint Tabitha, from the book of Acts, that is where my name came from.

"...St. Tabitha was a virtuous and kindly woman who belonged to the Christian community in Joppa. She was known for her good deeds and almsgiving. Having become grievously ill, she suddenly died. At that time, the Apostle Peter was preaching at Lydda, not far from Joppa. Messengers were sent to him with an urgent request for help. When the Apostle arrived at Joppa, Tabitha was already dead. On bended knee, St. Peter made a fervent prayer to the Lord. Then he went to the bed and called out, “Tabitha, get up!” She arose, completely healed (Acts 9:36).

St. Tabitha is considered the patron saint of tailors and seamstresses, since she was known for sewing coats and other garments (Acts 9:39)."

I have always known that story, but I didn't automatically think about her for a saint name. I think it is natural for Tabitha to be my name. I also find it completely delightful that she was a seamstress and is considered a patron for seamstresses and tailors.


 One of the little obstacles to our conversion was my not knowing how I was Baptised. When we spoke with Father Stephan the other day, this was a main topic, because he cannot re-Baptise me knowingly any more than he can Chrismate me knowing I'm not Baptised.

That day we spoke, I knew only that I had been Baptised by full immersion in a huge revival type church in Arkansas. I did not remember the form of the Baptism, just the giant Baptismal fountain.  Since then I have spoken with my father, and now I know that I was not Baptised in the name of the Trinity. The church was not a Trinitarian church but a Jesus' Name congregation.

So I am not Baptised. This means that it is likely I will be Baptised with the 3 younger children on the day we are Chrismated. Karl and Tristan were Baptised properly, so they will skip that part. As my friend Phoebe put it, I had better find a good way to style my hair for the Baptism, because I am going to be married afterwards! Actually, in all seriousness, I can't think of anything better than getting married in a white robe with wet hair.
Wedding at Cana

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

At the Corner of East and Now

At the Corner of East and Now: A Modern Life in Ancient Christian OrthodoxyI read this one a couple of weeks ago. I found it pretty entertaining. The writing is good enough to capture my interest and keep me reading, but it is certainly light reading. The author describes her story as a priest's wife in an Antiochian Orthodox church, often wandering about in time to tell other tidbits. Interwoven with this 'getting to know me' tale is an interesting historical account of the church. The flow of the book reminds me of another book I have read that has nothing to do with the church: Not Even Wrong: A Father's Journey into the Lost History of Autism. At the Corner of East and Now is a rainy day, lazy book that has both a feel good aftertaste and a little bit of lightbringing.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Yesterday's Homily

Yesterday was the Sunday of The Paralytic. We listened to the reading of the story, and then Father Stephan spoke about it.

He paraphrased a part of The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis, and focused on the only question Jesus asked the paralytic: "Do you want to be healed?" Sitting and listening, in front of the questioning icons, that was the question I needed to answer. And the answer is yes. The entire day was littered with personal meaning-  one of the readings was the story of Tabitha.

Tabitha was a good person, but she had died like we all do eventually. When she was raised from the dead she went on being a good person, a second chance. I like that.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

At last!

Today my husband and I met with Father Stephan and told some of our story. Many things were said, then Father Stephan decided we would officially become catechumens on Pentecost. Our friends who first brought us to St. Nicholas will sponsor us. What a beautiful day for such a beginning. I could write a long account of the meeting but I feel like I am bouncing off the walls.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Simple Guides: religion: The Orthodox Church

Simple Guides The Orthodox ChurchI read this book yesterday while I was sick in bed. I was very grateful for the travel guide language. Perhaps it was my fevered state, but I suspect the author is a great writer, and her challenge more than anything was to be so concise. If so, she rose to it with success. This book is accessible to all, even the flu-ridden.

I learned a lot! Remember that I was raised in a 'Washed in the Blood" Baptist church where nothing mattered but John 3:16. For instance, I did not know how the Church began, how the Holy Spirit descended up on the Apostles (Pentecost). In that vein, this book explained really clearly to me why the Eastern Orthodox Church has no leader.

I also learned about early Christian persecution, the Seven Ecumenical Councils, Constantine and Helen. Baptist upbringing, at least in rural Missouri, is not long on historical learning. Of course it is no one's fault but my own that I did not educate myself, but it was discouraged at the time.

Also handy in this book are the Easter/ feast charts. A great book for answering little questions too trivial to be in books like The Orthodox Way, it also contains a lot of spiritual understanding. For just under $9, I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Illness as an Opportunity

I have been very sick, on and off, for a week. It's really hard on everyone when any one of us is ill, but no more so I think than when it is me. You would not believe the state of the house right now.

But I have had so much time to read! I have read three books and countless internet articles about Orthodoxy. I hope to also find time to write a little review for each book.

So many things come to mind that I would like to write down here, but I feel a little timid. God is not something I have ever felt I should talk about in public. Yet with my recent searching I have discovered a dearth of Orthodox  conversion journaling and I feel like I should share.

Monday, May 9, 2011


I created this blog today because I find myself overwhelmed with things to say and few to say them to. Also, I have been reading so much that my head is swimming with ideas and I need a place to set them down.
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