Sunday, December 25, 2011

Blessed Feast of the Nativity!

Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

"And Mary treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart"
Luke 2:9

The Christ Child's Lullaby

My love, my pride, my treasure oh
My wonder new and pleasure oh
My son, my beauty, ever You
Who am I to bear You here?

 The cause of talk and tale am I
The cause of greatest fame am I
The cause of proudest care on high
To have for mine, the King of all.

And though You are the King of all
They sent You to the manger stall
Where at Your feet they all shall fall
And glorify my child, the King.

There shone a star above three kings
To guide them to the King of kings
They held You in their humble arms
And knelt before You until dawn.

They gave You myrrh and gave You gold
Frankincense and gifts untold
They traveled far these gifts to bring
And glorify their new born King.

And in the Gaelic:

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Death and Thanksgiving

"Jesus wept."  The shortest sentence in the Bible shows Jesus demonstrating some very human emotions as he wept before the tomb of His friend, Lazarus.  He wept because His friend was dead.  He wept because of the pain and grief felt by Lazarus' sisters and friends.  He wept because the wages of sin is death.

He wept, even though He knew that in just a moment, He would raise Lazarus from the dead, proclaiming His mighty power over death.

The death of friends and loved ones affects us all, even our Lord.  This morning, I awoke to the news that my friend Holly had passed away last night after a nearly two year battle with ALS.  There are so many things I could say about Holly, but mostly, when I think of her, I remember her kindness and her unbelievable ability to see the best in people.  Being the recovering pessimist that I am, this was always good to see.  She had a passion for sharing the Gospel with people, but she also had a passion for people.  She LOVED people.  She loved them with her words, with her deeds, with her beautiful singing voice.  She was an Optimist of the First Degree.

And this morning, she is wrapped in the arms of the Lord.  She is where she most wanted to be in this life: with God.  She has been made perfect.

I rejoice in this!

But I weep as well.  I weep because of sin.  I weep for her loved ones, her husband and young daughter who have to navigate the rest of this life without her.  I weep, even though  I KNOW that Holly is alive with Christ.  I know that I can ask for her prayers and that she prays even more perfectly now than she did in this life. I know that she has joined that Great Cloud of Witnesses.

I *hope* that I weep for the same reasons that Jesus wept.

I think that was never more human and yet more divine than when He wept before the tomb of Lazarus.  He felt such human emotions for divine reasons.  May it be like that for all of us!

Orthodox Christians all over the world sing the great Paschal proclamation year after year: "Christ is Risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs, bestowing Life."  The icon of the Resurrection depicts the shattered tombs of the departed under the feet of Jesus.  He stands upon them holding Adam and Eve firmly in His grasp, Satan bound and defeated in the darkness.

On this Thanksgiving holiday, I'm going to try and keep this image in my mind.  It would be easy to continue to weep at Holly's tomb, but I will try to remember this victorious icon and how this is now REALITY for my friend.

A blessed Thanksgiving to all and may Holly's memory be eternal!

Saturday, October 29, 2011


"As an Orthodox Christian, I do not want to come out as a proponent of Halloween since it is not an Orthodox feast I feel the need to defend. The reason I am trying to bring some awareness of the truth about Halloween is because as an Orthodox Christian I believe it is my duty to speak the truth and expose error in a spirit of love and concern, especially when other Orthodox are spreading these lies out of ignorance. Halloween is a part of our society and especially of our children's lives, and an answer from an Orthodox Christian perspective is needed. It does not help our Christian witness in the world to distort information to make our message sound better. In fact, it does just the opposite and I believe those capable of discovering the truth will be judged for disseminating lies which are unfounded. We have not been given a spirit of fear, but of power and truth to be above propagating errors. It is the proclamation of the truth which brings freedom and respect, and a pure heart which makes all things pure."
~John Sandinopoulos, Mystagogy, Halloween: Separating Fact From Fiction, emphasis mine

So... every single year, the Christian blogosphere comes alive again with blog posts about how Christians shouldn't participate in Halloween because it is "pagan" or because it "celebrates a culture of death".

I confess- this drives me crazy.

Personally, I'm wary of using the genetic fallacy to argue anything...

Normally, I pretty much keep quiet and go on my merry way.  Occasionally, I link to awesome articles on Halloween, written by Christians I admire and respect that address some of the issues that the community has with this totally secular, market-driven, non-holiday.

This year, I decided to educate myself a little more by asking some questions of my BFF- a former-Christian-turned-Pagan.  

The purpose of this interview is to share information.  I am not, in any way, promoting paganism.  Obviously, as an Orthodox Christian, I would take issue with that worldview and religious practice, but I still believe in the freedom of all to follow their conscience.  My purpose is pretty much summed up in the quote at the top of this blog.  Please, please read this post in the spirit of which I intend it.

Some of the links I provide below confirm what Anne says in this interview, so if you're in doubt, check out the links. 

And now, the interview:

Genevieve: Do pagans celebrate Halloween? 
Anne: No.  Pagans celebrate a number of Holidays, depending on what their tradition is.  I'm a Celtic Wiccan, and I celebrate Samhain (pronounced Sow-an).  Halloween is indeed a version of All Hallows Eve, which was a Christian holiday.  Children would go door to door begging for cakes in exchange for prayers.  Not very Pagan.

Okay, then what do pagans celebrate on this day?
For my tradition, this is the third Harvest Festival.  It is when our ancestors would have slaughtered animals to be prepared for the Winter.  It's also when we mark the change of Seasons.  We see life as a series of cycles.  Winter is the death cycle.  Not only is the earth resting, but in the olden days, it was likely that people would die, too.  It was cold and people needed to survive.  Today we still thank the Gods for the gifts of the harvest, acknowledge that the earth is going into it's rest or death phase and ask for the protection of the Gods through the Winter.

How old is this festival?
Samhain is mentioned in Irish literature from the 10th Century.  But it was a Druidic practice that is likely much much older.  Considering that most Pagan religions have holidays which are based quite a bit on the Earth and it's changes, I think it's likely that such festivals have gone on as long as people knew to be thankful, and scared.

What are some of the activities that you and other pagans will be engaging in on this day?
My family and I will be having a celebration. This is an example of something we might do:

(Genevieve's Note: If you click on the link, please be aware that the "Dark Mother" and "Dark Father" are symbols for actual darkness, not Satan or demons or anything of the sort.)

Do these rituals have anything to do with Satan or Satanism?
Absolutely not!  When Christians look at the world, they see the many gifts given by God, inherent in everything.  We see that too.  We just see the Powers that give it a bit differently.  We believe that everything that was given by the Gods has the mark of the divine upon it, and thus should be treated with respect.  We strive to bring ourselves into harmony with the earth in order to bring ourselves closer to Deity.

Are there any similarities between Samhain and the American cultural day called Halloween?
Not really.  The only reason they're connected is because they occur close together, and because the idea of the Witch is something that was taken by the Church many many years ago, and changed into something scary.  There are so many reasons for that, and they're all basically political.  That scary witch idea became associated with Halloween over time, and so people think that real Witches celebrate it.  We don't.  At least not as a religious holiday.

Where does "trick or treat" come from?  Is that pagan?
Nope.  Again, Christian.  Like I said earlier, Christian children would go door to door begging cakes in exchange for prayers.  Demonic, isn't it?

 As a pagan, are you troubled by some of the images that society has imposed on your religion?  The nasty green witch?  The bubbling cauldron?  Blood and guts everywhere?  This IS a pagan holiday afterall, even if what we think of as Halloween doesn't look much or anything like Samhain.  Do you feel that society has hijacked this day and turned it into something commercial and ridiculous?
Halloween doesn't bother me.  But I did see a Satan costume accessory pack which included a pentacle and that kind of annoyed me.  The pentacle is a symbol of peace often worn and used by Pagans, and has nothing to do with the devil.  The image of the witch has been hijacked over time, and that does bother me.  At the same time many witches love to sort of take it back.  Our sisters from the past were usually either not witches at all, but Christian women who were too knowledgeable for their own good, or they were women who tried to preserve the old traditions and knowledge, and were tortured and murdered for their beliefs.  There's a certain power in taking back those ideas.

Why do you think Christians fear Halloween so much?
I think most people don't know the History and/or don't understand it.  It's so much easier to fear than to learn.  

What would you like to say to any Christians reading this blog who might have an issue with their children participating in some Halloween activities because these activities as having pagan origins?
I would tell them that the origins of Halloween are Christian, not Pagan.  But that there's a bigger picture here.  Whether one is Pagan or Christian, surely you can see the handiwork of God in the changing seasons.  You can use any time to thank him for the gifts of the harvest, and want protection for the coming Winter.  There are a limited number of symbols in the world.  The symbol matters less than what it symbolizes.  So, participating in Halloween won't make your child Pagan anymore than visiting a Cathedral would make me a Christian

Thanks Anne!

Ultimately, I think it is up to each Christian family to determine what they are going to do on this day.  Personally, we will be celebrating my birthday and going trick-or-treating.  We don't decorate our homes with ghoulish decorations but we don't hand out Bible tracts either.  So I guess you would say we are middle of the road.  As you can see from Anne's interview, there isn't really anything done by your average kid on Halloween that is part of a pagan religious practice.

A few more thought-provoking blogs on Halloween:

Halloween- An Orthodox Approach

The Truth About Halloween 

Forgive me, a sinner.

The Crazy

So... if you've read this blog for any length of time, you'll probably have surmised that I'm crazy.  I suffer from clinical depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder.  There are days when I feel great and days when I don't really want to get out of bed.  Sometimes, stressful situations bring out the best in me.  Sometimes, even the smallest mistake can send me into a frenzy.

I spend most days feeling perfectly normal, as though I've conquered the illness.  I start thinking maybe the sadness and anxiety are behind me.  After all, I'm not checking the local news stations to see if I've hit anyone while driving without realizing it and driving away.  I'm not constantly looking up heart attack symptoms on the internet to see whether or not my chest pains are going to kill me.  I trust the memory I have of closing the garage door and I don't worry about whether or not I'm going to come home and find my house vandalized.

So, the crazy must be behind me, right?

I've found in recent months that I still obsess about something pretty much all the time.  Sometimes the obsessions can be positive.  For example, I recently started reading a series of books that are incredibly awesome and for a while, that was all I could think about.  For a few weeks, I read any spare moment I could to the neglect of housework and the abandonment of children to the cartoon.  I visited an art museum, saw 18th century art and thought about the clothes my characters were wearing.  I talked to friends.  I posted about it on Facebook.

And THAT, is a manifestation of obsessive-compulsive disorder.

I have my other worries- the ones that constantly plague me.  They never go away.  They are always with me- the thoughts sound out over and over and over again.  I want to lay them aside.  I want to pray them away.  I know its possible.

But to tell you the truth, I am weary of myself.  I'm tired of being crazy.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Book Review: The Queen and the Cats

I am so excited to review this beautiful new children's book, The Queen and the Cats: A Story of St. Helena, written by Calee Lee and illustrated by Turbo Qualls.

The Queen and the Cats tells a little known, but very true story of how St. Helena brought a piece of the True Cross to Cyprus.  At that time, all the churches and monasteries had been infested by snakes and people could not worship in those places.  St. Helena famously sent a boat full of cats back to Cyprus and the cats took care of the problem.

That's the adult version of the story.

This book, however, is told through the eyes of a little girl, watching all the excitement unfold. The story isn't watered down at all.  The illustrations are beautiful and vibrant.   Children's books so often flourish in one area or the other: either the story is watered down, but the book has great pictures, or its the other way around.  The Queen and the Cats is a wonderful blend of both.

In the back of the book, there is a small biography of St. Helena, along with the Troparion of her Feast day and a photograph of the True Cross which St. Helena left on Cyprus centuries ago.  I really appreciated this little addendum, especially as a homeschooling mom, because I can read this story, which almost seems so outrageous that its almost unreal, and the turn around and explain to my children that this is a TRUE story and that God worked a miracle through St. Helena's ingenuity and her love of the people of Cyprus.

Run, don't walk, to get this book off of Amazon or Barnes and Noble.  It is the first in what will hopefully be a long line of affordable Orthodox children's books published by Xist Publishing.  It is available for $4.99 on Kindle and $11.99 for a soft cover copy.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Who Is Jesus?

I was reminded about a poem written by Mother Teresa which has both convicted my heart and brought me much comfort:

Who Is Jesus to Me?

Jesus is the Word made Flesh.
Jesus is the Bread of Life.
Jesus is the Victim offered for our sins on the Cross.
Jesus is the Sacrifice offered at the Holy Mass
For the sins of the world and mine.
Jesus is the Word- to be spoken.
Jesus is the Truth- to be told.
Jesus is the Way- to be walked.
Jesus is the Light- to be lit.
Jesus is the Life- to be lived.
Jesus is the love- to be loved.
Jesus is the Joy- to be shared.
Jesus is the Sacrifice- to be offered.
Jesus is the Peace- to be given.
Jesus is the Bread of Life- to be eaten
Jesus is the Hungry- to be fed.
Jesus is the Thirsty- to be satiated.
Jesus is the Naked- to be clothed.
Jesus is the Homeless- to be taken in.
Jesus is the Sick- to be healed.
Jesus is the Lonely- to be loved.
Jesus is the Unwanted- to be wanted.
Jesus is the Leper- to wash his wounds.
Jesus is the Beggar- to give him a smile.
Jesus is the Drunkard- to listen to him.
Jesus is the Retarded- to protect him.
Jesus is the Little One- to embrace him.
Jesus is the Blind- to lead him.
Jesus is the Dumb- to speak for him.
Jesus is the Crippled- to walk with him.
Jesus is the Drug Addict- to befriend him.
Jesus is the Prostitute- to remove from danger and befriend.
Jesus is the Prisoner- to be visited.
Jesus is the Old- to be served.

To me-
Jesus is my God.
Jesus is my Spouse.
Jesus is my Life.
Jesus is my only Love.
Jesus is my All in All.
Jesus is my Everything.

Jesus, I love with my whole heart, with my whole being.  I have given  Him all, even my sins, and He has espoused me to Himself in tenderness and love.  Now and for life, I am the spouse of my Crucified spouse.


This poem personifies what it means to be a Christian.  We must see the face of Jesus in EVERYONE, even our worst enemy, even the person that society has written off.  And we must humble ourselves and serve those people.

Because He IS "the least of these..."

Friday, August 12, 2011

Υπεραγία Θεοτόκε σώσον ημάς!

O You Apostles from far off,
Being gathered together in the village of Gethsemane
Lay my body in burial
And You, my Son, and my God, 
Receive now my spirit from me.

You are the sweetness of Angels
The gladness of the afflicted ones
A protection of all Christians
O Virgin Mother of our Lord;
Grant now me help and save me
From eternal torments

I have you as Mediator
Before God who loves mankind;
May He not question my action
Before the hosts of the Angels
I ask of you, O Virgin,
Hasten now quickly to my aid.

You are a tower adorned with gold
A city surrounded by twelve walls
A shining throne touched by the sun
A royal seat for the King
O unexplainable wonder,
How do you nurse the Master?

What a blessed night of prayer!  I've tried to put my thoughts and feelings into words.  They are totally inadequate.

Υπεραγία Θεοτόκε σώσον ημάς!

Most Holy Theotokos, save us!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

What to Do with Outrage

I've spent a fair part of the day investigating the cult my friend seems to have joined.

Its bad... Its really really bad.

I am angry.  I am outraged by what these people teach, their antisemitism, and by the way some of them have used our Holy Icons to substantiate their perverted, heretical, shameful teachings.  I know I am using strong language here and I can't get into specifics with it.  Suffice it to say that I do not use those words lightly.

Rather than argue with anyone, I will turn inward and upward for strength and stability.  I will dive into the Holy Scriptures with gusto.  I will keep every appointment to pray that I possibly can.  I will fill my mind and heart with the sounds and teachings of the Holy Orthodox Church.  I will take an extra moment to gaze through our icons, reaching past them to the person whom they represent, begging their prayers... because, if I'm honest with myself, I hate these teachings and I am angry at those who promote it.  I do not love them.  And yet, I am reminded of St. Maximos the Confessor who said:
“Be as eager as you can to love every man, but if you cannot do this, at least do not  hate anyone [which] you cannot do unless you scorn the things of this world”  
I'm not sure I can love these people.  I'm not sure I want to.  Not even the cool Christian "Jesus loves everyone" kind of love... cuz believe it or not, I'm not sure I like the fact that Jesus loved Hitler and Stalin, who between them, killed more than 16,000,000 people in the 20th Century.  I don't understand that, but that doesn't mean it isn't true.  After all, He is God and He is, in many ways, beyond understanding.

And so, I will ask for God's mercy to fall upon me and upon us all, for we are so in need.

Monday, August 1, 2011

A Greater Weapon

Tonight I have witnessed what I believe to be the natural outworking of sola scriptura... I stumbled on the blog of a friend who has been lost to me for quite a while.  I'm not going into the story here... suffice it to say that I think she is the victim of one of the unintended consequences of using "the Bible alone" to prove her own beliefs.

If the Bible alone is sufficient to tell us everything God wants us to know about Him and how we are to worship Him, and there is no litmus test, no external Authority, nothing against which to weigh any teaching except the Bible itself, then honestly, how can we prove or disprove anything?  It ultimately comes down to my understand against yours or Luther's against the Pope's or St. Athanasios against the world.

How do I say to my friend, "You are being deceived.  Yes, I can show you from Scripture... and then you can show me your Scripture and then I'll show you mine and then you'll show me yours and then we'll agree to disagree just so we can stay friends but the fact of the matter is that only one or none of us is right!"

I know I said it above but I can't get into the story here except to say that someone I know has fallen prey to a cult of Christianity and if I were to try and talk with this person about it, the discussion would sound a lot like what I wrote above.

Thankfully, and most mercifully, I have a greater weapon against deception than my own words.

I can pray.

And I will pray.  Won't you join me?

Monday, July 11, 2011

I Am Amazed

I am amazed that I ate one slice of artisinal sourdough bread today and I am completely burpy and uncomfortable.  ONE PIECE OF BREAD!

Now, I could look on this as a bad thing, of course.. I ate the carbs in the form of grains and now I am paying the price... BAD ME!


I'm choosing the high road and forming the memory of just how bad I feel when I eat bread.

And yet... I am planning to make Grilled Sourdough Pizza on Wednesday... Hope that new memory forms before then...

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


This day has been... interesting.  It started out with so much promise.  I started writing about the little changes that could mean big things for health in our family.  We joined a CSA.  We'll be consuming at least half of our dairy and meat from organic, grass-fed sources.  I'm still giving up grains, but my kids and my husband will only be eating "properly prepared" grains.  I'm committing to building a fabulous backyard organic vegetable garden.  I'm giving up my fear of "fasting" (eating vegan- hey, eating that way for 17 years actually gave me fatty liver disease and pre-diabetes so I think the fear is just a little bit warranted...) and trusting the Church on this one.  I'm going to try not to eat grains or beans (and DEFINITELY NO SOY!) on Wednesdays and Fridays but I need to do it.  Its good for the soul.

And then, Casey Anthony was declared not guilty by some dim-wits in Florida... Oh yes, the wonderful, paradise of Florida where every perfect gift from above is given.  Unless that gift means justice for a murdered little girl.  But hey, I live in California where we freed OJ Simpson and Robert Blake AND convicted Scott Peterson on less physical and circumstantial evidence then they had on Casey, so I can't say we're any better.

So, that kind of sucked.

But you know what?  Hearing this verdict today made me want to spend MORE time with my children, to play games with them, to really listen to them, to read to them "just one more story" and sing just one more bedtime song.  No time spent with my children is EVER wasted.  They are the loves of my life.  And I want to spend the rest of my life letting them know that.  My greatest commitment is to my family.  Honoring them, loving them, caring for them- these are my callings.

And I welcome them.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Educating the WholeHearted Child Giveaway!!!

I've been waiting for months for the new edition of this book to come out.  We can't afford to pick it up yet, but I'm putting a few eggs into this basket over at Sally Clarkson's blog just to see if I can be blessed with a freebie. Check out this contest!!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Fathead: the Movie

This documentary is informative and humorous... Tom Noughton really challenges the conventional wisdom of the health and fitness Establishment.  Now, I'm not an advocate of fast food. At. All.  But I still like the underlying premise of this movie: we've been fed a load of bologna about what makes us fat.

Friday, June 17, 2011


I read a beautiful post today about one woman's journey with covering that began even before she was a Christian.  I really love it.  Enjoy!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Book Review: Everyday Paleo

I'm not sure when I was first introduced to the concept of Paleo eating... probably back when I was veggie and though there's no way I could ever eat a diet based on animal proteins and vegetables.  When I started eating meat again, I started researching a little bit here and there.  I stumbled on Sarah Fragoso's blog "Everyday Paleo".  Sarah seemed approachable to me.  She wasn't (and isn't) a paleo-proselytizer.  She takes a very "this is what works for my family, but you do what works for yours" approach and I really appreciated that.

Being a former member of the vegetarian police, I totally understand how easy it is to get on the soapbox and start shouting from the rooftops that YOUR position has all the science behind it... not to mention, the enzymes!

I started trying Sarah's recipes, one at a time.  Eventually, I found myself building my menus around her blog.  I decided it was time to pick up her new book, Everyday Paleo.  I've cooked out of it every day since.

What I LIKE:

1. The recipes are delicious!  They are made with whole ingredients and not too many.  The food is very flavorful and I never EVER feel guilty about putting her food in front of my husband and children.  Some favorites include:

  • Egg Cupcakes- I. HATE. EGGS.  I hate them.  A lot.  Have I mentioned that I hate eggs?  But I eat these and I LOVE THEM!!!  Okay??  I cannot stress enough what a huge deal getting me to eat eggs actually is.  This recipe gives eggs the foot in my door.
  • Albondigas Soup
  • Steak skewers
  • Paleo Tacos with Kids Love Cabbage Slaw
  • Bean-less Chili
  • Slow-cooker spice rubbed chicken
  • Paleo Pizza
2. So the recipes are amazing, but how much time do they take to prepare?  Almost NO TIME AT ALL!!  Seriously!  Sarah is a busy mom of three boys- she's not going to spend hours in the kitchen every night.  Her recipes can be made in a flash.  I can't think of one that takes more than 30 minutes from knife to table.

3. Sarah is a trainer with one of the top gyms in America- NorCal Strength and Conditioning so she knows her stuff.  The fitness section in the book is fantastic.  She includes beginner to advanced workouts, describes how to do each movement and includes a picture for each step.  You don't need any fancy equipment and all of the beginner exercises can be done at home.  The fitness section actually motivated me to exercise.  That's a huge feat!  The routines don't take very long to complete either, but they are very effective.

4. Her discussion on raising paleo kids is very helpful. She gives boxed lunch ideas as well as ways to get your kids to embrace this food.  What kid doesn't love meat?  For my family, its the veggies that are the most difficult.  But slowly but surely, my kids are eating them, and that is a miracle.

5. The 30 Day Meal Plan is helpful as well.  She gives breakfast, lunch and dinner plans along with SNACKS.  She also includes a shopping list.  Now, whether or not you'll actually need 4 dozen eggs for the first 5 days is debatable, but the meal plan isn't just for you as an individual- its for the whole family.  I've tweaked the meal plan and am not following it meal for meal... but its a great place to start.

6. There are some "transitional" paleo recipes in there for pancakes and cookies- those foods aren't really "paleo" but I think they are a good middle ground for people looking to have their cake and eat it too.  Sarah never encourages eating these foods on a regular basis, but I still like that she includes them for those of us still making the change.

What I DIDN'T Like:

1. I think the index could be better.  I don't like that I can't search for a recipe by name.  The index is basically divided up by ingredient and then page number.  So if you know what you're looking for, it takes less time to browse the section where you think the recipe might be then go through the index.

2. There are some typos and some repeated numbers in the index.  Its a first edition.  No biggie.

Finding Paleo has changed the way I look at preparing meals.  What's the meat, what will the veg be and what kind of dressing will I make for the salad.  It really is such a simple way to think about food.  I eat TONS more veg now than I did when I was a vegetarian.  I am so grateful to Sarah for her approachable attitude and the great information she's put together in Everyday Paleo.  

Do you need to be a Paleo eater in order to appreciate this book?  HECK NO!!  I think everyone would benefit from the information in this book, but even if eating paleo doesn't interest you, the recipes are great and take no time at all to prepare.  That fact alone is incentive enough to pick this book up yesterday!!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Goddess Chicken

Okay okay okay... its Chicken Diane.  I got this recipe from a friend, but we all LOVED it, so I thought I'd put it down here.  I've changed the name cuz I love it that much AND I added a few special touches of my own.

Goddess Chicken: AKA Chicken Diane

MMmom (from Ms. enPlace)

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 pound), pounded flat or cut into strips
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
2 T butter
2 T olive oil
2 t Dijon mustard
4 T onion, minced
2 T butter
2 T lemon juice
1 T Worcestershire sauce
¼ c chicken stock or broth
2 T chopped fresh chives or green onion
2 T Brandy
1 T cream
2 T minced fresh parsley (optional garnish)

Pound the chicken breasts or cut into strips to allow for faster cooking. Season chicken with salt and pepper.

Heat 2 T butter and 2 T olive oil in a heavy skillet. Add mustard and onion. Sauté over medium heat for a few minutes. Add chicken and cook until done, turning as needed. When chicken is cooked completely, remove to a plate and keep warm.

Add 2 T butter, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, chicken stock, and chives or green onion to pan drippings. Cook for a few minutes. Add brandy and cream.  Bring the sauce just to a boil for a couple of minutes. Drizzle sauce over chicken, sprinkle parsley on top (optional), and serve.

Original Recipe found here: 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Its Summer and I Want to Kill My TV

Its summer.  Well, not technically... but our last day of homeschool was this past Friday.  I'm still putting stuff away from the move, although, I am obsessed with the idea of getting it all done by this Friday.  I'm obsessed for one reason: my children have been parked in front of the TV or the computer for weeks now.  Not all day.  Not every day.  But way too much for my taste.

Before we moved, we had this great system- chores first, then a little time on the computer.  School lessons.  Playtime.  Lunch.  Afternoon chores.  Computer or TV while I made dinner or put the house back together before my husband came home.

But as we started packing the old house and unpacking the new one, those routines, of course, went out the window.  I've tried to keep the kids distracted and out of the way so I could be massively productive.

Have I been massively productive?

That would be no.

I haven't felt well- my daily afternoon headache seems to appear around noon.  I have energy in the morning but then late morning, early afternoon, I feel yucky and don't do anything but waste time.  When I get my second wind, its time to make dinner.


So I'm forcing myself to be massively productive today.  I don't care how I feel.  I don't care whether or not I have anything good to listen to.  I'm going to push through the physical annoyances and move quickly through my home putting away everything possible.

Cuz if I don't get this done by Friday, I'm going to kill my TV and throw away every computer game we own.

Maybe I should just do this anyway...

Thankfully, my kids do play outside a lot or in their new rooms, so their days aren't completely governed by the endless distraction.  I hate it and I'm ashamed to have allowed it.  I could justify it if I actually got anything done... but I haven't done well in that department.

So, I'm off.  I would appreciate any prayers offered on my behalf.  I sure need them because this headache is kind of a doozy and I can't find my Excederin Migraine... best medicine in the world!

I'm off!

No really, here I go!


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Persecution Complex

I see the word "persecution" thrown around quite a lot on Christian blogs these days.  People write something controversial- they are vilified all over the place on the internet- and then they cry persecution.  

I confess: This drives me more than a little bonkers.  Every day, I read stories of people who faced physical and psychological torture and death, who had body parts ripped off, who faced being torn to shreds by wild animals, who saw their children murdered in front of them- all so they would deny the Truth Faith and renounce Jesus Christ.  I thought I'd put up a few short stories of some great women who suffered and died because they were Christians and because they refused to back down.  Hopefully, learning about a bit about their stories will offer a little perspective to this new "persecuted" crop of Christians. 

St. Sophia and her daughters Faith, Hope, and Love : St. Sophia witnessed the brutal torture and murder of her daughters because she would not renounce her faith in Christ.  Her daughters endured this torture, but also refused to renounce their faith.

Sts. Perpetua and Felicity : Both these mothers were brought into the Roman arena to be dismembered by wild animals.  When that attempt failed, they were both impaled by the sword.

St. Paraskevi : She was imprisoned, tortured (including being boiled in oil) and STILL managed to forgive and even heal her captors.

St. Christina, the Great Martyr of Tyre : St. Christina had her breasts and tongue cut off before being impaled.

St. Maria Skobstova : She hid Jews during WWII in Paris.  St. Maria was finally arrested and sent to a concentration camp where she volunteered to take the place of a Jew in the gas chamber.

St. Julitta : Hid with her son from those who were arresting Christians.  After finally being arrested, she was tortured in front of her son.  Her son cried out for her but would not be persuaded to renounce Christ.  He was murdered in front of her and she was beheaded.

St. Katherine : Faced torture over an iron wheel before being executed.  Hers is one of the most extraordinary stories I've ever encountered and goes so beyond the one line I've recorded here.  

St. Markella : Secretly became a Christian and spent years nursing her sick father.  He recovered and somehow developed a sexual interest in his daughter.  Eventually, he tried to rape her.  She fled and became greatly injured while trying to escape him.  He caught up with her and dismembered her limb by limb.

For these people, facing persecution was a way of life.  They lived with the constant threat of imprisonment, torture and death hanging over their heads.  I've listed people here who were martyred for their faith, but there have been millions of others who have lived with no right to safely practice their faith, who lived in constant fear of being discovered.  I think about the Romanian Christians sent to Pitesti to undergo "re-education", which mean enduring months and years of psychological and physical torture all because they would not forsake their faith.  Let's not even mention the tens of millions of Christians who were killed under Communism!  Forget about what it was like for Christians to live under Muslim rule in Turkey for hundreds of years...  

Believe it or not, keeping a blog on the internet, participating on Facebook, interacting with people on message boards and comment threads- all of that is voluntary.  If we put ourselves out there by writing controversial stuff, Christian or not, we should expect disagreement- we should expect to be vilified.  That comes with the territory.  But if we write about that stuff, we also need to have a mighty thick skin and a little more perspective on what it actually means to be persecuted.  

We become stronger when we remember their lives and the stand they took for the Faith because we can see how small our lives and our problems are compared to what they faced.  We draw strength from them- if they could faith torture and death without renouncing Christ, certainly we can endure an internet smack-down.  

Gossip, snark boards, nasty emails, even baseless threats- can those really be called persecution?  Really?  I'm inclined to say "no."

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Movin' On Up

So, over this past weekend, we moved from our cute little one bedroom + den house to a three bedroom + bonus room house.  I've pretty much been MIA for a week now.

I have some thoughts but they are all in a jumble right now.  I have ADD, so the kind of change that moving house brings makes the adjustment more difficult.

Don't get me wrong- I LOVE the new house.  This is by far the nice place I've ever lived since getting married 11 years ago.  And I've moved 10 times within that time.  There is something so fundamentally awesome about having enough room to put your crap so that an uncluttered house might just be possible.  Some people might find putting their stuff away to be an invigorating exercise.  Sometimes I do... but more often then not, I feel overwhelmed and want to drive up to my Borders and have a latte.

I need to put down roots here, but the only way I can think of to do that is to go shopping... and I don't want to do that.  The house is lovely but the area isn't so great.  Whatever.  I don't really care too much about that as long as we're safe... and we are.

I know I've missed some important stuff over this past week... Tabitha, I'm thinking of you and praying for Karl and your whole family.  Mrs. B, congratulations!  MuseMama, so glad Children's is gonna be awesome... well, as awesome as it can be.

I promise to re-enter life soon.  Just need to finish spinning my cocoon first...

Thursday, June 2, 2011


Where can I get me one of these?

MuseMama, you tried to tell me... Can you please appear behind me whenever I go to do something stupid and sing in my ear?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Loving the Unbeliever: The Page

There's a "most popular girl in school" contest going at Circle of Moms.  Various Mommy-Faith bloggers entered their blogs for the Top 25 Faith blogs contest and readers have the chance to vote once every 24 hours for their favorite blogs.

This all would have remained a quiet little contest had one Christian blogger not pulled herself from the contest in order to protest the presence of pagan blogs.  Apparently she didn't have a problem with the Jewish, Muslim, and Roman Catholic presence in the contest- just the pagan.  And then, she blogged about it and named a few pagan blogs by name.  She didn't want to be in a contest alongside "those women".

And then, she blogged about it.  The reaction she received, at least from what I've seen, has not been positive.

This situation got me to thinking about a blog post I wrote a few months ago called "Loving the Unbeliever."  The gist of the post goes like this:

 All too often, we Christians are characterized by what we stand against.  We expect others to hold to our religious and moral standards and when they don't, we gossip about them or we boycott their businesses or introduce legislation to trample their rights.  THAT IS NOT CHRISTIANITY.  That is not Jesus Christ....
I know of people who are leaving the Faith, in part, because of the way American Christians are living out their lives in battle against those with whom they disagree.  They are known by what they stand against rather than what they are for.  Again, let me say, those people do not represent Jesus Christ any more then the 9/11 hijackers represent Islam.  May the world know that we are Christians by the love we show to one another, even those who appear to be our enemies.  Loving people does not mean we have to agree with everything they stand for.  But it does mean extending KINDNESS, assistance when needed, mercy, friendship, and a constant recognition of my own faults and not my neighbors'.  My sins are great enough!  

For what its worth, I think its great that different faiths are represented in this contest.  And I don't believe that my thinking this way means that I am in any way compromising the truth of Christianity.  People are free to disagree with me and I'm fine with that.

Do me a favor- take a second to read the page up above called "Loving the Unbeliever."  I think the message is important and since most of the words don't come from me, I feel pretty confident about sharing them.

Loving the Unbeliever 

ETA: The "Most Popular Girl" line above is in reference to that Brady Bunch episode where Jan and Marcia are competing for the title at their high school.  Its supposed to be tongue-in-cheek and not meant to mock the contest or anyone involved with it.  :-)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Thousand Mile Journey Begins With One Step...

I've been all over the planet when it comes to food.  I have a love-hate relationship with the stuff.  I really hate carbs but I really love fruit.  I see my relationship with food as a journey that started many years ago.  It began with one step...

One afternoon, when I was 13 years old, I saw this episode of Degrassi Jr. High:

Even though this episode is more about journalistic integrity then it is about animal rights, something struck a chord with me.  I wrote letters to PETA and ASPCA asking for information on cruelty to animals and received tons of information in return.  Although I didn't wear a lot of makeup at 13 years old, I determined never to wear anything tested on animals... a conviction I still hold to this day.

A few years later, I decided to embrace vegetarianism.  I could not imagine killing animals for food.  I used to picture it in my head... the slaughterhouses, the hatcheries... I even visited a turkey farm once and I still can't eat turkey to this day.  The idea of eating meat was disgusting to me.  Flesh, fat, blood... (I'd better stop writing all the nasty stuff now or I'll go back to my veggie ways!).

Being a vegetarian presented a number of challenges throughout the years.  I went to Bible school in England for six months when I was 19.  The school was actually situated on a farm, so the food mainly consisted of meat at least twice a day.  Obviously, I didn't partake of that so oftentimes I was left eating mashed potatoes topped with Taco Bell hot sauce when chili con carne was served or just French fries on Fish 'n Chips Fridays rolled around.  I survived on bread and cheese that I used to hang out my bedroom window because it was cold enough outside to keep the cheese from going bad.  How I managed to gain weight while at Capernwray I'll never know.  Hefty bowls of crumble and custard probably didn't help.

No one else in my family was vegetarian, so I got used to eating sides.  My Thanksgiving meal consisted of mashed potatoes, stuffing and creamed corn- my plate colored with yellow, white and brown.  The food was and is always delicious.  I'd constantly pick pepperoni off of pizzas or try to eat around meat when it was in something I couldn't avoid eating.  Heck, I married the son of a butcher!  Meat is a big thing in Mark's family. He put up with my inability to cook good meat for a long time.

A few years ago, I started making the shift from vegetarianism into raw veganism.  Raw vegans eat only uncooked fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.  People on this diet look healthy, lean and vibrant.  Whether or not they actually are healthy is another story for another time.  I tried to incorporate as much raw into my life as possible.  I bought all the appliances- a BlendTec, an Exaclibur dehydrator, a juicer... I concocted tons of delicious and some not-so-delicious raw foods and I lost weight.  Unfortunately, as many raw vegans find, this lifestyle is difficult to maintain because you are hungry all. the. time.  Even when you eat a ton, all you are eating is carbs and if you oxidize carbs like I do, you burn through them like a baby burns through breastmilk- incredibly fast.  I initially lost weight on this diet but ended up gaining it back when I started eating cooked again.

Enter veganism.  I read T. Colin Campbell's book The China Study and became totally convinced that eschewing dairy as well as meat and eggs from my diet was the way to go.  Casein causes liver cancer dontcha know... It seemed like the perfect middle ground between vegetarianism and raw veganism.  I started listening to tons of vegan propaganda.  I said things like "I don't eat animals or their bodily secretions."  I didn't impose my veganism on anyone, but I felt very judgmental toward those who continue to eat animals.  I bought the Earth Balance, Garlic Aioli and Grain-based "meats."  I tried meat substitutes like soy and seitan.  And I ate a lot of rice, pasta, bread and potatoes.

I joined Weight Watchers but their calorie-restricted, low fat approach proved to be a total failure for me.  I know it works for others and that is wonderful.  But it didn't work for me because calorie-restricted, low-fat diets don't work for some people.
I got fatter and fatter...

How is this possible?  I'm a vegan for crying out loud!  I am supposed to be one of the healthiest people on the planet and yet I'm ballooning up!  I don't drink soda and I don't eat animals or their secretions!  Why am I fat?  Why does my liver hurt?  Why am I pre-diabetic?  I have no energy and a headache almost everyday.

Blah blah blah blah blah...

I went to my doctor who diagnosed me with fatty liver disease and told me I needed to try and eat eggs at least and better yet, some meat.  She said "Check out Nourishing Traditions" (a book I already owned) and take cod liver oil.  You need to eat protein.  No, beans do not count because they are so high in carbs.  Nuts are good, but if you're trying to lose weight, eating lots of them won't help you.

I thought- okay, I can do a vegetarian version of NT, right?  I started soaking my grains and nuts.  I made sourdough bread.  I started eating yogurt (yuck!).  But I didn't lose weight.

Then I found Carrie Thienes, founder of Northwest Holistic Nutrition.  We worked together for several months and she helped me so much.  Basically, Carrie shot straight with me- I need to eat more protein and fat and way less carbs.  I'd carb-loaded my way to obesity.

"Would you consider eating meat?" she asked me.

Oh man!  This was what I was afraid of... but at this point, I was feeling so bad that I didn't care.  Carrie told me I needed to basically hit a low-carb, Atkins-like diet if I wanted to lose weight and start feeling better.  Instinctively, I knew she was right.

"Yes," I answered.

A few weeks later, I visited my brother's restaurant, the Lazy Dog Cafe, to eat my first meat in 17 years.  It was difficult, but I ate what I ordered and I haven't looked back.  Sure, there's been a large gross-out factor to overcome, but that's dissipating every day.

What happened to my vegetarian convictions, you ask?  Well. honestly, when I realized that my vegetarian diet was making me sick, I decided to put myself before the animals.  There are ways to be a responsible animal consumer- eating grassfed organic meat, drinking raw milk, buying pastured, free range eggs... Supporting small, local farms encourages the adoption of more sustainable farming practices.  When there is a greater demand for organic, grass-fed meats and raw milk, suppliers will have to change their ways to meet the demand.

There's a lot of bad information floating around out the health and environmental benefits of vegetarianism.  The results of The China Study have been called into question by folks who have analyzed the raw data and have come to significantly different conclusions than Dr. Campbell.  In fact, many prominent vegans and raw vegans have returned to meat or dairy consumption around the same time I did.

So where am I today?  Well, I'm about to take a new step in my "thousand mile journey."  I've discovered paleo...

Paleo?  What the heck is paleo?

Very simple, people who follow a paleo diet consume meat, veggies, fruits, and some healthy fats like coconut, nuts, avocado and olive oil.  They do not consume grains or legumes of any kind, processed food, sugar (natural or otherwise) or dairy (the exception being butter or ghee).  It seems restrictive, but I don't think so.  The basic idea is this: At every meal, eat protein, tons of veggies, and a little healthy fat.  If you're trying to lose weight, keep the fruit and nuts to a minimum.

This is a very low-carb diet, similar to Atkins except without the fake sugar and cheese-a-thons.  I'm excited to try it.  Between now and the Apostles' Fast (when I have to go vegan again, ggrrrrr....), I'm doing the paleo thing.  I will follow the Church's fasting rules on Wednesdays and Fridays though, but believe it or now, I can still be mostly paleo if I eat tons of veg any maybe throw a little legumes in there for filler.  We'll see how it goes.  I'm excited!  Everything paleo I've tried over the last week or so has been freaking delicious!  A few recipes have included:

  • Thai-Inspired Stir Fry with Spring Vegetables from the Simple Food for Spring e-book that I mention below
  • Carnitas from the same e-book paired my own concoctions for Mexican coleslaw and Salsa Fresca
  • Paleo-Tacos from Sarah Fragoso's blog Everyday Paleo .

So as you can see, I've been around the dietary world.  I'm sort of thinking I may have found my home. Wish me luck and please, please pray for me.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Simple Food

Nourishing Days: I love love love this website.  I haven't read much in terms of this gal's life (except that her family is grain free and lives on a homestead) but I've tried tons of recipes from her site and I've loved them all.  She's written two cookbooks: Simple Food {For Winter} and Simple Food {For Spring}.

The recipes ARE simple, delicious, and nourishing.  There's a nice mix of meat and meat-free dishes.  All the recipes are grain free.     If I'm not mistaken, the only dairy used in the recipes is cultured dairy.  The ingredients are seasonal, so they should be available at their peak freshness making the food extra delicious

I've based the next two weeks of dinners off the recipes in these cookbooks.  My family, including my very picky kids, have loved everything I've put in front of them.

Highlights from Simple Food for Winter include: Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup, Slow Cooker Dijon Chicken with Broccoli and Grain-Free Buttermilk Biscuits.  BISCUITS!!  Made without flour!

Simple Food for Spring includes such favorites as: the best RANCH DRESSING I've ever had.  Ever.  Ever.  Thai-Inspired Spring Vegetable Stir Fry, Braised White Beans Scented with Rosemary, and Grain-Free Scones.  SCONES!!  Made without flour!!

There's a really nice variety in these books.  We're fortunate to live in an area where a lot of the winter ingredients are available year round and we do get a cold night every now and then so we'll be using these cookbooks quite a lot.  They are reasonably priced as well at $10 for the ebook version.

So check it out, yo!  You won't be sorry!

PS- I signed up to be an affiliate so if you click on any of the links above and buy the books, I get a little something something.  I really believe in these cookbooks!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Carb Overload

I want. To die.

Well, not really.  But my insides feel like they are going to explode!  And its all because of carbs.  I've eaten more bread in the past 24 hours then I have in months and I'm feeling it.  YUCK YUCK YUCK!

Tomorrow, I begin the 4 Hour Body plan.  That, combined with South Beach, will hopefully get me down another 10 pounds in the next 5 or 6 weeks.  I'm psyched to get started, actually.  I've already lost 10 pounds on South Beach... and when I lose another 10, I get to pick up a special something-something for myself.

The main idea behind the 4 Hour Body is this: Give yourself the Minimum Effective Dose of what works and then commit to it completely.  Apparently, a lot of people are having great success with it.  There are over 1,000 five-star reviews on Amazon.  I know someone who is using it and has lost over 10 pounds.  And its pretty easy.  Here are the main points:

1. Eat one protein, one legume, and one vegetable at every meal.  The protein should be at least 30 grams or more of protein.

2. Keep meals simple and repetitive

3. White foods are verboten... the exception being cauliflower.  Mmmmm....  Oh and no fruit or dairy.  Booooo!

4. Try not to snack.  If you're hungry, eat more at meals.

5. Have one binge day a week.  He's not talking gluttony here... he's just recommending that one eats some of the forbidden foods one day per week.  For me, that will be Sunday.  Then I won't have to say no to all the coffee hour goodies!  Apparently this helps shake up your metabolism.

Really, the book explains it all.

There is nothing incompatible with 4HB and South Beach... except that you are allowed to snack and have dairy on South Beach.  The diet is called "Slow-Carb" but really, it basically sounds paleo to me.  And that's okay.

All my problems would be solved if I could just eat eggs.  I can't do it.  The only way I'm able to get them down is in cauliflower pizza.  Maybe I need to sneak out and buy a few heads...