Welcome to Lamb Cottage. It's a real place, and this is where I live with my dear husband. We even have lambs. This is a personal blog, especially concerning life as an American expat in Scotland, life as an over-50, life with lambs, and life as an Orthodox Christian. You're most welcome to come and visit awhile. I hope we can be friends!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Halfway There, Springtime...and a Small Rant

We are halfway through Great Lent.  We are keeping the fast, but more than that, learning a LOT, including the fact that the food aspect is only one part of the fast.

I am stitching away on my Christ Pantocrator, a saint, and a tiny Easter Egg freebie.  (This will be available as a PDF download on my blog:  Fearn Abbey Needleworks.

Spring is arriving!  The daffodils are really starting to bloom, and we've had a few lovely, warmish days with glorious sunshine.

I recently heard an American Orthodox priest say that being a Christian means living an "intentional life for the Kingdom of God".  I believe that.  Which is why I'm feeling a bit worn out.  I'm so tired of the constant bombardment by all forms of media, all telling us that bad is good and black is white and there is no such thing as sin, evil, demons, or hell.  To which I respond:

The very appalling state of Western culture (I am only familiar with American and British culture, so that it what I'm basing my opinion on) is proof positive of the unholy deception that is taking place on all levels of society--popular culture, media, government, the church, and the insanity that is the public or state educational system.  And that deception comes straight from the pit of hell.  In our home, we do not have a television, nor do we listen to popular radio stations, nor do we consume popular magazines or newspapers.  And still, I feel the constant bombardment, like a never-ending jackhammer, pounding on our hearts and heads, trying to convince us that wallowing in the pigpen and imbibing filth is good, normal, and totally fine.  

And the most amazing thing of all, to me, is that the so-called secular society, or whatever it likes to think of itself as, actually believe that Christians should keep mum, remain out of the public square, and have no brains or opinions.  As if we should sit by and let the government make pronouncements of morality.  It is laughable.  It is insane.  When I first moved here, I went through a LOT of emotional and mental abuse dished out by the inhabitants of the first village we lived in...all because I am a Christian who has an opinion and did NOT feel the need to keep it to myself.  Meanwhile, it was totally fine for the Wiccans and pagans and heathens and whatever all else to prance about the streets and proclaim their wonderfulness and liberality.  In the beginning, I was intimidated.  

Now...not so much.  And I am no longer ashamed to say that I think popular Western culture is not only amoral and indifferent but immoral and militantly aggressive about it.  It may be with trepidation that I attempt to move forward and to proclaim the Gospel, the Truth, the love of Christ, and to denounce the immorality of society...but I agree with the priest:  We should not be silenced, and it is our duty to live out our faith, publicly.  Christ told us not to hide out lights under a basket.  I believe this also means to not let our faith be diluted by the absurd philosophies of the "post-modern" world.  

Fellow Christians:  speak out and don't be ashamed!

Live the redeemed life, and share it with others.  It's getting harder and harder in this world. Christianity is now the most persecuted religion in the world.  Stand fast!

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Friday, March 21, 2014

New Recipes, Flowers (in Spite of the Weather), and Other Miscellaneous Things

I've added some recipes to my recipe page (see right sidebar).  The above photo shows Day Three Pie. You will have to check out the recipe page to see how that works!  At first, it was a bit of a challenge to decide upon wholesome, simple, nutritious fasting meals.  We're not vegan, so I wasn't very adept at it.  But we're in the third week, and I think I'm getting the hang of it.  And yes, I am spending less time in the kitchen, less time at the grocery store, less money on food, and keeping it simple.  Neither of us sees the need to stick with just "beans and rice" when we can have a little variety for almost no effort, using herbs and spices we already have, and just working with fruits, vegetables, and legumes.  Of course...we have about 4 weeks to go!

Below is a photo of the little altar we have in the corner of our dining room.  My dear Dad made the little wooden screen for me back when I lived in Florida.  He also carved the little marble cross lying in front of the votive candle.  Behind the screen, on the little table, we keep a set of twig lights.  This simple little unobtrusive altar is the focus for our mealtime prayers.

So, they tell me yesterday was the first day of Spring.  Well, last night we had sleet and snow and icy rain.  Sigh...  But in our bay window, while all that was going on, my finicky little gardenia decided to finally bloom and poof out its sweet scent!  There is another blossom coming, as well.

I FINALLY finished the little Lamb Cottage sign for next to our front door.  It is painted on a slate tile which we found somewhere a few years ago in one of our exploring rambles.  It's just done with simple acrylic craft paint, and then it has two coats of polyurethane to protect it from the weather.

It appears someone (my dear husband) has been playing in the votive candle sand!  I love that he drew this Orthodox cross in the bowl.  Never forget God!

Once again, I am endeavoring to be more consistent with my blog.  I think I still remain a bit shell-shocked from "outcry" over the first blog I had a few years ago.  But...here you have TWO posts, TWO days in a row...so there is hope!

By the way, I have also added some links to my Orthodox Links page on the sidebar.  I'll keep working on that.  

And now...off to cancel all the reservations we made for an Anniversary trip in June.  It would appear we will be having some church-related trips to make instead!

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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Third Week of Great Lent...

But who's counting?  No seriously...the time has been flying by.  And this past weekend we had the most amazing blessing:  Fr Christopher and his son, from the Antiochian Archdiocese of the British Isles and Ireland came up and spent three nights with us!  Words are insufficient to share all the many blessings we received.  I will have to write about it all a little at a time.  But on Saturday night, Fr Christopher did a Vespers service.  You can see our prayer corner below, with lots of other things added for the service:

And during the day on Saturday, we all went out to the lambs' field, and Father did a blessing of our sheep and their field!  Our pet lambs are so special to me, I'm thrilled they have been blessed.  Rosebud and Shermy were a bit nervous and stayed afar off, but they were very attentive!  That's Snowball and Doodle below:

On Sunday, Fr Christopher served a Divine Liturgy...right in our dining room!  It was so wonderful.  It was the first liturgy of the Orthodox Mission of St Duthac and St Columba.  There is a LOT to tell about that!

Many, many other things took place over the weekend, including a house blessing, and wonderful talks long into the night.  I will share more as time passes...

Meanwhile...we are still striving to keep the Great Fast, not just where food is concerned, but also in other aspects, like almsgiving, prayer, more Scripture reading and spiritual reading, trying to talk less and choose words wisely (I'm struggling with this one), and so on.  I have more recipes I will be adding to my recipe page, too.  And several books to add to my reading list.  

I hope this is a peaceful and profitable time of year for you all.  Just today the weather has turned quite cold...and here it is the first day of Spring!  We have seen the primroses and daffodils beginning to bloom, and the snowdrops are about gone by.  The trees are budding, and some are flowering (I'm afraid I still only mostly know Florida plant life and not so much of this Scottish flora). 

And...the baby lambs are coming!  They are in the fields around us.  So cute!  I can hardly stand it. We are not getting any new lambs this year.  I am hoping for another pair next year.  Snowball and Doodle will have to be our babies still.  Snowball does not have a problem with this.  Doodle is a bit more independent.  But in my eyes, all of my sheep are babies still!

Happy Spring everyone!

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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Clean Monday

Oh my goodness!  No photos or anything today.  I'm just trying to catch my breath!  Great Lent has started.  Yesterday was Forgiveness Sunday, also known as Cheesefare Sunday, and we said goodbye to dairy and eggs.  We're pretty much vegan for the next 7 weeks.

Today was Clean Monday.  The monastics and the truly devout, and the clergy, will have fasted completely today...and possibly for the first three days of this week.  We ate very simple Lenten fare.

I hope to list some goals and thoughts and progress (or lack thereof) as we progress through Great Lent.  My first thought is this:  both my husband and I strive to focus NOT on the fasting aspect, other than to do it, but on the "not quitting" aspect...running the race...bending our wills to God's.

We have SO much to learn.  And we thank God for this Holy Orthodox Church, and the fullness of the faith, and all the guidance it gives to us poor, struggling pilgrims.

Glory to God!

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