Slice of Life: Day 11

Slice of Life: Day 11


Reflections on The Sunday of Orthodoxy

March is a busy time of year at our house, partly because it’s spring sports season, and partly because it’s Lent.  Lent is the 40 day season of preparation that precedes Easter (or Pascha, which is the Hebrew word for Passover). For Orthodox Christians, Lent is one of the most important seasons of the church year.  During Lent, the Orthodox faithful attend church frequently, fast, pray, and serve in their communities to prepare for Pascha, the day of our Lord’s Resurrection.

The Sunday of Orthodoxy is the first Sunday of Lent. It is a joyful time of tradition when the fast lightens and the people celebrate the restoration of the icons back into the Church.

Here is little bit of Church history:  In the 7th century, a controversy occurred in which the Iconoclasts, also called “icon-smashers” became suspicious of any art depicting God or humans.  These iconoclasts demanded that all icons be destroyed because they saw them as idolatrous.  A council met to determine what should be done about this controversy and it was decided by the 7th Ecumenical Council of 787 AD, that “having icons in churches and homes” was appropriate and considered “open books to remind us of God.”  Iconography became a way for people to “see the faith of Christ unfold before them.”  Orthodox people think of their icons the way a relative would think of a photo of a departed loved one, with love and reverence.

In our churches, the faithful come together on the Sunday of Orthodoxy bringing their icons and their religious imagery.  During the service, parishioners hold their icons all during the service, children stand at the front of the church with their favorite images of the saints of old, and all the parishioners process around the church with a large cross and pictures of Christ.

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Our most recent Sunday of Orthodoxy was just as vibrant a day as any I can remember.  In the choir we held our icons, our priest preached on the glory of the saints, and all held crosses or images for a procession.  That evening, we went to Holy Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral for a pan-Orthodox vespers service.  It was golden and grand, seeing our priests from all the different Orthodox churches in the metro area sharing in prayer and celebration.

The highlight of the evening… as we walked into the cathedral …was glancing up to see a gigantic Byzantine style tiled mosaic of Christ, looking down over us.  It was heavenly.




We Got the Grad!

We Got the Grad!

There’s a lot of hype associated with getting that perfect graduation picture.   You know, that intense feeling that you need a perfect memory of you with your first born child wearing  his college regalia right after the ceremony.   Throw in some traditions like, “your grandfather had his picture taken from this very spot” or “all graduates take their pictures by the this campus feature” and you have the perfect storm.

It was the morning after my son’s graduation.   All smiles, we approached the quintessential grad photo location on Florida State’s palm studded campus:  Westcott Fountain.   Dozens of happy parents and students were waiting for their “moment” to take a picture with their grad in front of the historic fountain.  Both my husband and I had our pictures taken here some 30 years before.   Of course we would wait forty five minutes in the heat for our perfect picture moment.  This was “what you did!”


There was plenty of joking and playing around while we waited.  It was a glorious day; that North Florida heat was beating down on the bald and the young.

peake & chase

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regina & peake

getting a photo

I nervously tinkered with my aged camera, checking out my lenses in the sun, working my filters.

Finally, we were up.  I told the folks behind us, ” We may be a minute. There are quite a few of us.”  The group behind us looked at their watches, “No problem.  We’ll give you a couple of minutes.”

Yikes!  A couple of minutes to get four grandparents, five kids, an uncle and a best friend into a picture, all looking the right direction, all in focus, all smiling.  This is going to be fun.

grad in the sun

riley w grad

wait i dropped it

First, we got the graduate.  That was easy, a few lens changes and the lighting was fine.  Then more joined.  Finally, we got the whole bunch and had the best friend take the family group shot.  Whew!  What a relief!

We can use these for our Christmas picture…what a great looking family…so proud of our graduate…isn’t she a neat mom with her camera set up… you go girl…now we can get out of the heat…isn’t that lady together! These thoughts and more went through my mind.

By now, we had been moved off to the side for the next group’s time in the sun.

“Momma Naz,” I heard Chase say.  “I think I got some good pictures.”

“Thank you for taking ’em!” was my reply.

“I didn’t happen to hear a shutter click though.  You must have a really quiet camera,” he added.

“What?” my hyped-mamma, camera ears heard the words you never want to hear.

“There was no click? What do you mean you didn’t hear the shutter?”  I ran over, grabbed the camera and scrolled to the most recent shot.  There were no family pictures.  No pictures with grandparents.  No picture with my Uncle who had driven up from Port Richey.  No Christmas card shot!  My heart sunk.  Chase had taken the cell pictures first and, after the delay,  the camera had automatically shut off!


Ugggg! What are we going to do now?   I had to think fast.

The older family members were melting.  Tempers were flaring.

“Well get ’em off the cell phone,” said the graduate.

The grandparents and the favorite uncle left.

Tears were starting to come.

“NO!!”  I suddenly felt like Clark Griswold in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation!  We would get that damn picture.

harder than we thought


I took a side angle of our group in front of the camera hoping no one would get too upset with us.  I prepped Chase on how to turn on a camera.

Round two was shot, with mostly smiles but a few growls.  I ran to the camera.  Better to check just in case.    The horror!  Every frame was blurry!!


“Let’s get out of here!” was the agitated command from the rear.   The graduate gave an evil eye.

“NO!”  Clark Griswold snapped again.  We will do this!   I prepped Chase on how NOT to turn the camera to manual focus.  “Keep it on AutoFocus,” I barked.

Round three. Half grunts, twisted lips and mangled brows, but we got it in focus.  Strangely, I felt vindicated, like someone had done me some wrong and now we were even.  Maybe it was my sun-baked brain telling me that taking pictures is my only important role in the world.

The truth is, no one did me wrong and I’m not a great photographer.   I just got too hyped up about getting some stupid graduation photos.  And, of course, Murphy’s Law kicked in to remind me that my priorities were all wrong.

Of course, there are more important things!  We got the grad!  Whether I captured a decent picture or not, he’s still a grad. He finished it and I am so proud of him!

family with grad

peake mom &

I Want My Wife to be a Successful Person

I Want My Wife to be a Successful Person

It was one of those magical days that come between Christmas and New Years.  The 3rd day of Christmas to be exact.  The family was all together,  the gifting and cooking and church going was complete and kids and parents alike were in holiday happiness.  A short trip was scheduled over to the cabin where fireside chats, woodland walks, and evening games would  ensue with neighbors.

On our family road trips, sometimes an older teen, to the interest of those present, will open up like a March blooming camellia and start talking. This is notable because traveling teens have ear buds in and screens going.  True interaction will come after a coffee stop or a gas station break.  The officious teen will lead a robust discussion in the tight space of a vehicle traveling at 65 mph.  “Is Wal-Mart better than Target?”  “Does Global Warming really come from cow farts?” and “Has Homeschooling scarred  me for life?” are a few of our most recent, vital topics.   Most everyone in the large SUV will participate in these conversations, although at times they can get overly intense.  On this occasion, it was my 21 year old who was speculating on the future.

“And, do you want your wife to stay at home with the kids?” asked a younger son to the older.

“Well, she doesn’t have to.   I want her to be a successful person.  But, if staying home is what she wants to do, I’ll support it. ”

The bomb had dropped.  It dropped on me like a rotten peach in a gusty Georgia thunderstorm.  It was the word successful that flattened me.

The others continued on with the conversation, but my mind drifted inward.  Looking out at the barren trees and slick highway, I contemplated the comment: “I want my wife to be a successful person.”  Well there is certainly nothing wrong with that.  I want his wife to be successful too.  I want everyone to be successful.  But, somehow this comment mirrored back.

What is success?  And, do I need to be doing something outside the home to be successful?

Can a modern woman, who spends 20 + years raising and homeschooling children rather than pursuing a career outside the home be considered successful?  Is raising children a worthy career?

These questions welled up inside me.

“I’m going to get my resume done this year,” I thought.

I didn’t say anything for awhile and the conversation moved onto another topic, like “Was Fidel Castro a fascist or a communist?”

“This conversation isn’t about me,” I wagered silently and was able to keep my mouth shut.  My boys will figure out how to run their own families.


I would like to tell you that I figured it all out that day and that all is well with my psyche. I could also sit here with my laptop and my cup of tea and tell you that there is a Bible verse somewhere that tells me I’m doing the right thing.   But, that is not the point of this post.  The point is that I still struggle with my identity and my role in this world.  I wrangle with being  important or successful.  I grapple with being a quality role model for my daughter.  And, the truth is, I’ll probably continue this tussle until I get on the other side of this child-rearing season.  After all, there are lovely women in my family who manage to effectively juggle both career and motherhood.  I will have to see them and hear their praises.  The point is, I have to get “cool” with what I am doing and not worry about what others think or do.  I’ve got to see my glass as full.  I was supposed to do that in my 20’s!  But, alas, here we are three decades later, still chipping away.   Maybe, 2017 will be different.  This is the hope we have at the beginning of something new:  that we can change and grow and do things better!  It is the hope we have in Jesus: That He will prepare us in His good timing!

Happy New Year to each of you!  May it be blessed with peace and joy and new beginnings!


Mission Life:  Squeezing Your Sponge!

Mission Life: Squeezing Your Sponge!

I have a lot to say about mission life!  So, I’m going to write several posts about this over the next few weeks.

Basically, what I want to say about mission life are these things:  1. It’s busy, 2. it’s hard, 3. it’s good for the soul,  4. everyone should try it sometime.

prayer candles


preparing for baptism

Jesus on the cross



What is mission life anyway?  Mission life is small and the amount of responsibilities taken on by those who are there is large.  Mission churches typically have 25 families or less.  Our church has about 15 families. In a mission, you are trying to achieve everything a full parish does, trying to have the complete life of the church.  But, you have less families working at it.  So, as the adage goes, “It’s all hands on deck.”  This makes church life BUSY!  On any typical Sunday, I’m greeting people at the door, making sure there are bowls for coffee hour, plugging  in the coffee after the creed, adjusting the thermometer because we’re all sweating and possibly singing in the choir.   A teenager chants, serves behind the altar and helps on the building committee.  Little kids pass out bulletins and make the lemonade for coffee hour.   There’s no staff, employees or janitor.  So, we are all cleaning, cooking, and serving.

By its very nature, mission life is hard.  There aren’t already established programs.  There may not be people in your age group or station in life.  The church probably doesn’t have a cry room.  The priest may visit monthly or live out of town.  You know everyone really, really well.  Probably too well. It’s too easy to say something that is really stupid. You have to show up without makeup sometimes. Kids get too comfortable with the surroundings and don’t always act appropriately.  If you don’t show up,  perhaps there will be no choir or no coffee.

But, and this refers to # 3 above, it’s good for you.   Mission work is work that really matters.  We are bringing the ancient faith to a place where there was none before.  We are making an impact here for Christ.  People are coming to the faith.  Those of us working in the mission are being saved by grace.  Our salvation is literally being worked out here in the midst of this endeavor.  Why is this?  Because we are struggling here.  We are struggling with ourselves and with each other.  When we continue to show up here every week and assume these roles, we are growing!  When our kids have to take on roles they wouldn’t really choose, they are growing as men and women of God.  When we learn to repent for saying stupid things for the 5th time, we are learning to remain silent.

If God gives you the chance, you should participate in getting a church off the ground.  Why?  Because you have to squeeze your sponge and let the others drink!  How would the church grow if not for that?  At some point, you have to figure you aren’t going to be here forever and you might as well give back.  Mission life isn’t easy, but it’s good. Squeezing our sponges, giving back what we’ve been given, is the Mission life.

Dedicating the space for Christ and His church

Orthodox Mission Life

Breathing on the Tugaloo!

Breathing on the Tugaloo!


Breathe!  Deep breath… in.  Deep cleanse…out.  When school has wrapped up for the year and baseball season is over and the last end-of-the-season party has finished and the final honors night has been attended, breathing is something you can do again. It’s not like you couldn’t breathe before, its just that you had to do shallow breathing! Shallow breathing may oxygenate your body and keep you going, but its the deep breathing that enables you to rest and enjoy life again.

My husband fishes so that he can do his deep breathing. There is something about being out on a little boat in a big river that helps him recover from the daily grind. My boys have been hooked by this pastime too.

fishing on the Tugaloo

fishing on the Tugaloo

This group doesn’t have to catch a fish to get that ship-shape, deep-breath feeling.  Just being out there on the river is good enough.

Jazzy loves it too!

Jazzy loves it too!

This dog loves a good into-the-wind jaunt on the boat.  Tongue hanging out, slightly panting, all excited about what may happen out there on the water… she reminds me that I need to be taking some deep breaths right now.  This is the season for deep breaths!!

A crappy from the crappy bush!

A crappy from the crappy bush!

With all the inhalation, I’m setting my sinker on the idea that I can actually post to this blog once a week.  One could say that I’ve been giving this blog too much breathing space.  Thanks for not giving up on me during my lull these past months.  With the fresh air and a little fish and grits for breakfast,  I’ll be blogging like mad this summer.

See you soon,




ABC’s for the Orthodox Christian Child

ABC’s for the Orthodox Christian Child


Around mid October, we finished up the modern time period and then started our new year with Ambleside Online Year 2.  We have modified the program somewhat to fit our needs and fit the books we have on hand.  Copy work is an important part of a Charlotte Mason approach to education and has always been an important part of the curriculum for our school.  My kids have learned basic, but very important skills from this process including how to stay inside the margin, how to double space, how to print neatly, how to space letters, how to properly apply capitalization and punctuation, etc.

This year, I created a list, based upon the alphabet, of important Bible verses and prayers: ABC’s for the Orthodox Christian Child  Each week, we try to do at least 2 or three entries of copy work from this collection.   Here is how  I have set it up:  1. I printed  a copy of the ABC’s for the Orthodox Christian Child.  2. Then, I placed the list inside the pocket of a paper 3-clasp folder.

copy work

3. Then, I pre-loaded enough paper in the clasps so that he can get through 26 verses and prayers, with a few extra for mistakes.   4. We have an alphabet stamp set, so my little dude stamps the first letter, then writes out the Bible verse or prayer double spacing in pencil.

copy work 2

He has come a long way since the beginning of the year.  But, we still need to work on margins and spelling and capitalization.  The letter O begins St. Ephraim’s Prayer, which is rather long, so I told him he could take 2 or 3 days to do it neatly.  Sometimes my little man is in the mood for copy work and sometimes he isn’t.  I get that.  Sometimes I feel like doing laundry, and some times I don’t.  When he is in one of those anti-writing moods, we just set the timer for 5 minutes.  I tell him to work as hard as he can for five minutes. Then, when the timer is up he can just stop for the day and pick up right there tomorrow.  I have been known to do the same thing with laundry.   Usually, he is surprised by how much work he has gotten done in five minutes… a good lesson in just hunkering down.

Hopefully, as we continue this project , I will show you our progress and what we plan to do with these completed pages.