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!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Saints and Miracles

I know a man from America who lives here in the UK with his wife and children.  He claims to be Christian -- I don't know; only God knows.  Something he said once really struck me, though.  He said

miracles don't happen anymore and there are no new saints  

All that stopped after the "New Testament times" (what he meant was the actual time period of the biblical happenings written in the New Testament -- at least, that's what I think he meant, because we are IN New Testament times now).  His argument was that while God is Almighty, Awesome, Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Omnipresent... and all the other things we can say about God that are only the tiniest tips of the iceberg... He no longer reveals Himself or works through miracles.

WHAT?  And what's more, this man is actually here in this country (he was in Scotland, but now lives in England -- he apparently "had a word from God" which first sent him to Scotland and then said, no, wait a minute, there is no hope for Scotland, now move to England -- the whole of which is odd for a man who believes that God no longer works miracles) to evangelize!  He calls himself a missionary.  Well, there's a story as long as your arm in that one, but that's not what I want to focus on.

No saints and miracles?  And yet, our God is the Creator of everything that is seen and unseen?  How is this possible?

It's not.

My husband's and my journey to Orthodoxy began about four years ago.  We were Chrismated and received into the Holy Orthodox Church last November.  My own journey towards Orthodoxy began much longer ago.  And all along the way I found this:  miracles happen every day in the Orthodox church, and saints are made regularly.  Over time, I became more and more comfortable with this (it does take some time to delete erroneous Protestant teachings and upbringing).  Now I am at the point where I find tremendous joy because of the HOPE I find through God's many and precious miracles and healings, and the ENCOURAGEMENT I find from the saints. My new best friends!

Saint Paisios (image found on Google images)

Today, increased knowledge and trust in logic has, unfortunately, shaken our faith to its foundations and filled our souls with question marks and doubts.  This is why don't have miracles anymore, because a miracle cannot be explained logically, it can only be experienced.  But faith in God will bring down divine power and overturn all human expectations.  It will perform miracles, resurrect the dead, and astonish science.  From the outside, all things pertaining to the spiritual life seem upside down.  Indeed, the mysteries of God will be impossible to know and will appear strange and contrary to nature as long as we don't overturn our secular mindset and see everything with spiritual eyes.  Those who believe that they can come to know God's mysteries through mere scientific theory, without a spiritual life, resemble a fool who thinks he can look through a telescope and see Paradise.
~ St Paisios of the Holy Mountain

Christ said that He came so that we might have life and have it more abundantly.  YES!  That is what happens when your eyes and heart open up, and you enter the realm of saints and miracles, even a little bit.  Life becomes so much richer and fuller and more promising.  And it has nothing to do with external circumstances, income, possessions, job titles, achievements, or anything like that.  The "world" -- that is, the material nonsense of the world -- becomes cheap and tawdry in comparison. Your thoughts and focus shift.  And saints and miracles become part of your everyday existence. Yes, I would say that is abundant life.

While I admit that the man I spoke of earlier irritates me, I feel sorry for him.  I think he knows there is a big gaping hole in his theology, but he can't fix it himself.  Pride gets in the way.  And so, he and his family are living no differently than the family who doesn't know God.  

Saint Paisios was just recently canonized.  My husband and I have a wee story about his influence on our lives.  That's for another time.

Holy Saint Paisios, pray unto God for us!

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Meanderings and Musings :: Science and Faith


Bulgarian Bones Could Be John the Baptist's, Scientist Say

is interesting from a secular perspective, and so sad from an Orthodox one.  Now, I like John Sanidopoulos' blog, and I read it regularly, and he is a treasure trove of Christian historical information.  As well, he reports in an unbiased manner, which is what he is doing in this article.  So, this is NOT a comment on him or his blog, but rather on the poor, sad state of affairs with the "scientists" involved.

Repeatedly, the "carbon-dating expert" from England (that figures) who is / was working on this project is bold to proclaim that

he is an atheist who doesn't believe in "any kind of religion or God or anything like that."

Is that not just the saddest statement you've ever read?  I mean, what, exactly, do people like this think the point of life is, I wonder?  And bottom line:  Is it not incredibly arrogant to think that you've got it all together and don't "need" God?  I am always gobsmacked when I read things like this -- which, sad to say, is almost a daily occurrence.  The idea that people today actually believe they are somehow more intelligent, more advanced, more progressive than people "then" (whenever in history that might be) is so completely laughable.  All one has to do is read or look at the news for FIVE MINUTES to know that (a) we need God desperately, and (b) we haven't advanced in the least -- in fact, we've probably gone backward.

I am not trying to be on a high horse here.  I genuinely feel sorry for these folks.  Lord have mercy.

As for whether these bones are truly relics of St John the Baptist and Forerunner, well, why not? Christians used to take great care of the relics of their saints -- and still do in some places -- so it should not come as a surprise that people have carefully guarded the relics of saints down through the years.

And I have to say, I think Mr Sanidopoulos might just have been a little tongue-in-cheek when he wrote this:

There is reasonably good historical evidence that John the Baptist, whom Christians believe baptized his cousin Jesus, did exist, said Paul Middleton, a senior lecturer in Biblical studies at the University of Chester.

Well, thank you so much Mr Paul Middleton.  Whatever would we have done without your stamp of approval?  I'm sorry, but I have to laugh.

Christians are so often accused of being somber and dreary.  But honestly, it seems to me that no one takes himself more seriously than someone who claims to be an atheist.  Now who needs to lighten up?

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Calendars, Canons, and Colds

I made a calendar of sorts, for counting off the days of Great Lent.  I got the idea for it from THIS BLOG.  We were in Inverness last weekend, so I was able to go to the arts and crafts store and buy a nice, big piece of pale pink art paper to use.

The calendar is stuck to one of our hall closet doors with sticky tack (no mess and easy to remove!). It goes from Clean Monday all the way to Pascha.  I painted a trail of flowers which change from blue to white the closer we get to Pascha.  

Stickers are always fun!  I used quite a few to embellish my poster.  And I used Sharpie markers as well as just plain ol' Crayola markers to write in some of the highlights.

The little pairs of lambs you see going up the path represent my Husband and me!

Sundays are highlighted with glitter glue (I had to get some of that in there!).

And what a celebration we will have when we reach the top!

Meanwhile... it is Day Two.  We kept a fairly good Clean Monday, I think.  And, since we are so FAR, FAR away from an Orthodox Church, we do a lot of Readers' Services at home in our prayer corner.  We did Great Compline and the Monday portion of the Canon of St Andrew of Crete. Whew! That alone was an ascetic feat!

And... I developed one doozy of a head cold overnight.  So now, on Day Two, I'm feeling rather BLECH.  Lord have mercy!  Oh well, it is only the beginning.  

How has everyone's Lent started off?

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Monday, February 23, 2015

Great Lent Begins :: Clean Monday

Photo credit:  For the Life of the World (found on Facebook)

And so it's Clean Monday.  I need Lent.  It is so easy to get caught up in this world and then spin out of control. Let the purifying begin...

Strip thyself of worldly cares, for the season is one of wrestling.  ~St John Chrysostom

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Thursday, February 19, 2015

People of the Cross

Franklin Graham had an interesting post on Facebook yesterday.  He was speaking about the "summit" to be held at the White House (about time) regarding the extreme militarists running rampant around the world.  Mr Graham made a very good point:  Apparently Mr Obama is unwilling to use the term "Christian", which is why these 21 men were recently martyred in Libya.  He refers to them as "Egyptians".  Is he completely missing the point -- the fact that it is CHRISTIANS who are being persecuted?  Or is Obama just a Muslim sympathizer, or even a Muslim himself?  Mr Graham was "perplexed" at the terminology used by President Obama.  As am I.

As an American, I am deeply ashamed of the circus that the White House has been ever since 2008. Lord have mercy.  

And people, we must wake up.  This is the worst persecution of Christians in the history of the world. Voice of the Martyrs and Open Doors will have statistics for you.

I am a Person of the Cross.  I stand in solidarity with my persecuted and martyred brothers and sisters.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Two Thoughts

As the week moves forward and Great Lent draws nearer, I've been thinking a lot about the Faith and how to live it better... that is, how to truly be immersed.  And, I find it's hard work.

My first thought comes on the heels of listening to a podcast on Ancient Faith Radio entitled Go Forth, and in which Bishop JOSEPH of the Antiochian Archdiocese in America is speaking about evangelism and living the Faith.  Something he said near the end really struck me:  He says it is crucial that, if we have the choice, we live in a place where there are other people around us who are also seeking the Kingdom of God.  And, that if we are not in such a place, that we try to create that environment as much as possible.

Well, I live in the Northern Highlands of Scotland.  I can assure you, this is NOT a place where people are, as a rule, busy about seeking the Kingdom of God.  In fact, before we moved to our current home, we lived in a very tiny little spec of a village which seemed to pride itself on its particular identity, whatever that was to those people.  And, at one time, in a previous blog many years ago, I commented on the fact that I thought the little "Christmas light switch-on" party that the village had was kind of a sad little affair, mainly because it was so NON-Christian.  Without going into gory details (I assure you, they were extremely gory), the villagers came down on me like a house afire and made bold the point that they were NOT interested in Christianity and I could just butt out.  It escalated to the most extreme and ridiculous proportions, as these little non-events do in a place of that size, and eventually facilitated our move to someplace more sane.  My point now, however, is that my personal experience in the UK is that it is VERY hostile towards Christianity (this would include even some of my husband's own family) and folks are NOT interested in the Kingdom of God.

Now, back when we lived in this other place, I was overcome with angst and anxiety caused by these people.  Things are different now, and I'm not intimidated nor do I worry if my Christian faith "offends" them.  I am NOT politically correct.  So, what do we do here in this bleak place to create the environment Bishop JOSEPH was speaking about?  THAT is the question.

My second thought is this:  I read a little comment on a Pinterest photo the other day.  It was a picture of an icon.  And the pinner had said:  You know you're Greek when there are icons in every room of the house.  SIGH.  This makes me sad.  The comment should have said:  You know you're Orthodox when there are icons in every room of the house.  Orthodoxy cannot allow itself to become wrapped up in ethnicity.  No one wants to deny another's cultural roots, but in the House of God, there are no cultural differences.  We are all the same family.  And, this young woman may have unwittingly turned off a potential catechumen or convert by that rather flip comment.  We cannot afford to assign all this cultural baggage to the faith.  If you're Greek, by all means, retain your Greekness.  I am American living in Scotland, and I have not become even the slightest bit Scottish.  If you're Russian, or Romanian, or Georgian, or whatever... you are not expected to deny your cultural roots.  BUT... we cannot keep the Orthodox Church -- the most amazing gift from God that there is for us who are seeking the Kingdom of God -- as a private, ethnic, social club.  Lord have mercy!

And, how are Lent preparations going for the rest of you???

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Monday, February 16, 2015

Great Lent :: One Week Away

Image source:  antiochian.org

We are in the 3rd week of Triodion.  Great Lent is only one week away.  My dear husband and I do NOT feel prepared.  But we are trying.  I have been reading other Orthodox women's blogs, reading archdiocese websites, articles, etc.  We have been in touch with our priest and people in our community.

Here's the main problem:  We live in such a remote area, we are not able to fully participate in the life of the Church, and it is a great sorrow to us.  Our priest, and the main Church, is in Edinburgh.  That's about 5 hours away from us.  He comes up here about once a month.  Sometimes a little more. Sometimes even less.  The community of faithful, which is VERY small, have to try to keep things going.  And this is where the "little church at home" is extremely important.

Here are a few of our preparations (and PLEASE, leave comments if you can add to our list!):

  • Have a special calendar of readings, reader's services, activities, etc., for Lent (working on this)
  • Menu planning and food shopping (during Lent, no meat, fish, eggs, dairy, wine, or oil)
  • Planning ahead for Pascha decorations and crafts, and Easter eggs
  • Trying to figure out a way to get to Edinburgh for the weekend of Pascha, at least for the Friday through Monday
  • Choose special books for reading during Lent (so far, Fr Thomas Hopko's Lenten Spring, and The Way of Asceticism [which will be a group read with the community])
We will be doing Vespers and other reader's services at home, including the Canon of St Andrew of Crete.  

We're also talking about what other things we'll be leaving off during Lent... computer time, Facebook, secular entertainment (we engage in VERY little of that anyway), etc.  

Last night, while I was grumbling (Lord, have mercy) about Lent and how strenuous it seemed to me (I was particularly tired, too), my husband said, "You can't get to Pascha without going through the journey of Great Lent."  Well said.

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Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day

Wishing everyone a very Happy Valentine's Day! Wouldn't you just be wild to sit on the moon with the one you love?

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Friday, February 13, 2015

Fifty Shades Of Grey - Ancient Faith Commentaries - Ancient Faith Radio

Fifty Shades Of Grey - Ancient Faith Commentaries - Ancient Faith Radio

What are we coming to?  Lord have mercy.  Like Fr John Parker, I have NOT read the book, nor will I see the movie.  Aside from being disgusted by it, I am saddened and angered.  And yes, it DOES matter. What will you do?  I pray for all the young women and teenagers who will see this movie and think it is okay... normal... whatever term they will use to try to make this movie and book "okay", acceptable, something we should tolerate.  No, tolerance is NOT good in many cases.  This is NOT acceptable.  This is NOT okay.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Changes and Time Trials

Well good grief!  I went to post my last post on this blog, and I discovered my background and a few other things had completely disappeared.  Turns out the designer snagged them all back and is now charging for her work.  I can understand that.  It IS her work, after all.

So, I went to the place where I got my header, and I found my fabulous new background.  I really, really like it!  All's well that ends well.

Meanwhile, I'm busy trying to figure out a BETTER WAY to manage my time so that I can get all my housekeeping and homemaking done, AS WELL AS get my designing, stitching, blogging, and website management done.  Plus, we can't for the McLambies, who need daily care.  And, dinner has to be on the table for when my husband comes home.  He has long days, 12 hours out of the house, complete with a train commute now, so he needs a decent dinner when he gets home.

And, LENT IS COMING!  Fast.  Does anyone out there have any tips or ideas for (a) managing time when all your work is at home, and (b) managing Lent?  We hope to have a meaningful, life-changing Lent.  It takes a lot of work and preparation.  And then... there's the fast.  Until you've really been in the swing of it for awhile, I think the meal preparation is a challenge.

TIPS ARE APPRECIATED!!  And I'm not even talking the monetary type!

Here's a little cat humor for you (snagged from Pinterest again).  I love this because every time my husband puts on his reading glasses, it makes me think of this funny picture!

Blessings to you,

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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Little Things

This place has the most amazing winter sunsets.  I'm from the Gulf Coast of Florida, so it's really hard to impress me with a sunset, having seen the most fantastic ones all my life.  But I have discovered some pretty amazing ones here.  

We used to live farther north in the Highlands, and while we had a pretty open view of the north and east, we did not see the west very well because of the hills and mountains.  Now, we live on a peninsula, and the hills and mountains are away off in the distance.  Which means we get some amazing open skies.  I just feel better with the wide open sky.  Before, I felt like the mountains and all their rocks were bearing down on me and suffocating me.  I like it much better here.

I took these photos a couple of days ago, right out the front door.  Of course, photos do not do justice to God's incredible painted skies.  And I have a rinky-dink camera, so I can't compete with all the zillions of photographers out there with their fabulous cameras.  But still.  And better still, I saw the sunset and all the constant changes, in person!

Meanwhile, Lent is coming fast!  We are in the 2nd week of Triodion, having just passed The Sunday of the Prodigal Son.  Next week is Cheesefare.  And then...(significant music)...Clean Week and Lent will have begun.  It starts on Monday, February 23rd.  We are preparing.  We will never be truly prepared.  It is always different.  And always changes us, if we let it.

I am looking forward to the Canon of St Andrew of Crete.  I think it is beautiful.

Anyone else out there getting ready for Great Lent?  

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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

St Nina

My husband and I were Chrismated and received into the Holy Orthodox Church on November 22, 2014.  More on this later!  My dear godmother, who is from Georgia (the country, not the state) gave me a beautiful icon of St Nina, the Enlightener of Georgia.  I have been learning about this saint since then.  The hagiography is beautiful, as is the iconography, and the land of Georgia itself.  Here is a wonderful little video of the Kontakion of St Nino (Nina) sung by the Georgian Harmony Choir. You can find lots of other information about St Nina on YouTube or just Google her.  Enjoy!

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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Trying to Remember...

"Remember that the Lord is in every Christian.  When your neighbor comes to you, always have great respect for him, because the Lord is in him, and often expresses His will through him.

"It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure."  (Phil. 2:13)

"Therefore, do not grudge anything to your brother, but do unto him as unto the Lord; especially as you do not know in whom the Lord will come and visit you; be impartial to all, be kind to all, sincere and hospitable.

Remember that sometimes God speaks even through unbelievers, or disposes their hearts towards us, as it happened in Egypt when the Lord gave Joseph favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison.  (Gen. 39:21)"  ~ St John of Kronstadt

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Monday, February 2, 2015

Candlemas, or, The Presentation of the Lord

In case you don't know who Sister Vassa is, here is her latest video talking about Symeon's Canticle, which is appropriate for today's feast:  The Presentation of the Lord.  Enjoy!

It's also Groundhog Day, by the way!  I will be watching to see what Punxsutawney Phil has to say. Have a great day and a great week, everyone.

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