Welcome

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!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Beauty of a Praying Spouse


Yesterday was a long and difficult day for both my dear husband and for me. He got home very late from work; the sheep needed attending to; dinner needed cooked and eaten and cleaned up after; and then the bedtime routine of prayers, showers, etc., was waiting. We were both so tired. 

My dear husband took over the prayers while I got ready for bed. While I was preparing and heading for the shower, I could hear the soft monotone praying of my husband in our prayer corner. The sounds settled over the whole house like a reassuring, warm, soft blanket. It was also like something that had wings...hovering, and ascending. I went about my business, occasionally going past the open door of the room where our prayer corner is. I could see the candles glowing, the beautiful icons of Christ, the Theotokos, the saints...all listening and praying with him. It was even truly like incense, wafting all through the house, then upward.

I suddenly realized how married life really does make two people one. He was the only one standing in the prayer corner and praying, but it was both of us, as well. And I knew that when I do the same, in the day, while he is out at work, it is both of us and not just me.

Last night, in the midst of exhaustion, of trying to process bad news from a very dear friend, and of wrestling with the usual load of stresses and worries that I struggle to give over to God, something very, very beautiful was given to me when my dear husband was praying: PEACE.

Glory to God!

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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Spring Sunday

I don't usually post on Sundays. Today is a bit different, though. My dear husband has already taken care of the McLambies (see The Daily Doodle to find out about them), and we're just relaxing. The weather has been very changeable (in other words, typical for Scotland)...rain, wind, sun, cold. We keep thinking about walking down the road to see the baby lambs, but it's so warm and cozy inside!

This week promises lots of adventures:

First, we are going to Edinburgh for an overnight, and a chance to participate in a Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts (a special opportunity to receive communion in the middle of the week during Vespers -- since the Orthodox Church does not do Divine Liturgies during the week when it is Lent) and visit with our priest. Also, we are planning a little sightseeing on the way down and back, taking new routes and seeing what we can see. I will be interested to see the changes in the flowers and trees as we head farther south, not to mention the lambs!

Second, I am starting an online art workshop via the Yes and Amen Blog and Junelle Jacobsen. I don't even know how I stumbled across this blog, but when I discovered all the lambs and art and the Christian atmosphere, I thought I'd like to know more. My dear husband was supportive of my trying the workshop, and it begins this week. I used to do a LOT of art, way back when. It's time to get going again.

And finally, I might be having lunch or an outing with a new and dear friend, so I'm looking forward to that.

Life has brought a lot of sad news of late, surrounding my family and friends, and concerning losses, trials, and health issues. Our prayers are constantly with them all. At the same time, I'm hoping to be revived a bit myself this spring, with longer days, lots of lambs in the neighborhood, a little art, a little music, and a lot of faith.

In case I get a little too exuberant, the Church reminds us that today is the Sunday of St Mary of Egypt.  You can read her life HERE.


Happy Spring and a peaceful Sunday to you all!

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Annunciation

By Mikhail Nesterovs, 1911
(found on Google images)

Today is the beginning of our salvation
The revelation of the eternal mystery!
The Son of God becomes the Son of the Virgin,
As Gabriel announces the coming of Grace,
Together with him let us cry to the Theotokos:
Rejoice, O Full of Grace,
The Lord is with You!

Blessed Feast of the Annunciation!

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Saturday, March 21, 2015

When to Say Enough is Enough!

Okay, so we had to have a vegan dinner on St Patrick's Day, because it falls within the Great Fast. It turned out fine. No complaints. I should have stopped there.


But no. I believed the woman on the blog who said she had created a Shamrock Shake just like McDonald's, only all vegan and all natural.  Do you see it? We made it. 


If somebody tells you they can create something as yummy as a McDonald's Shamrock Shake (which is a lovely pale mint green, for those of you who don't know), and the ingredients include bananas, spinach, and mint... don't believe them!  Just run away from that person and their horrible recipe!

My dear husband and I are NOT vegans. We have no desire to be vegans or vegetarians. But we do have the desire to keep the fasts of the Church, so there you have it. But seriously, some things cannot be duplicated using "all natural, vegan" ingredients. Why try? This horrible baby food green shake was the kicker for us. Enough is Enough! We'll wait until we are in fast-free periods and have the real thing!  Crikey!

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Friday, March 20, 2015

St Cuthbert


March 20, 687 +

St Cuthbert, pray for us!

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Bright Sadness


Bright sadness:  that is what we are meant to feel during this Lenten Spring.  I am slowly -- VERY slowly -- starting to understand that.

My life has been touched with loss and sorrow, worry for friends and family, grief and anxiety this spring. And yet...and yet... I feel hope in my bones. And I'm learning the JOY of repentance. 

So, we wait... and meanwhile...

O Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth, despair, lust of power, and idle talk. But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience, and love to Thy servant. Yea, Lord and King, grant me to see my own transgressions, and not to judge my brother, for blessed art Thou unto ages of ages. Amen. 
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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko


Who am I, to be writing a wee tribute to Fr Thomas Hopko? I never knew this man in person. I am not a scholar, theologian, member of clergy, or anyone very important. Tributes are starting to pour in from all those who knew him personally, worked with him, are fellow clergy, etc. They are all more eloquent and stirring than anything I could say.

But I have shed tears over his repose. My husband and I have talked about Fr Thomas off and on for the past 3 1/2 years. We agree that without him, we don't know if we would have made it to Orthodoxy. You see, in the far north of Scotland, the Orthodox Church is all but unheard of. There are no actual church buildings (although there is a glorious private chapel in a castle not far from here, and it is Orthodox, complete with incredible and beautiful iconography). There is no full-time priest. There are no classes, midweek services, or even weekly Liturgies. There are no gatherings, outings, groups, organizations, dinners, or anything to really bind the tiny little community together. In all of the Highlands, there are probably fewer than one or possibly two hundred Orthodox Christians. How, then, does one come to the Orthodox Church up here?

We had two advantages: first, I had been drawn to Orthodoxy for many years, long before I came here from Florida, so I had some idea about it (whereas in the Highlands, most people don't even know that it exists). Second, nearly 4 years ago now, when my husband and I were doing serious searching and seeking everywhere to find God's True Church, I stumbled upon Ancient Faith Radio. Thank God. And so, in a manner of speaking, I met Fr Thomas Hopko. And took my husband to him, too.

We listened to countless hours of his instructional podcasts, interviews, and lectures. We started reading his books. We gained enough knowledge to know that we HAD to become Orthodox. We gained encouragement. We gained insight. We gained perseverance. All this we received from Fr Tom. 

It took 3 1/2 years of pounding on doors and questing, but we finally made it. In November of 2014 we were received into the Holy Orthodox Church. And Fr Thomas Hopko was there, in our hearts, because he is the one person who was most instrumental in carrying us there.

How do you grieve someone you never met, but whose voice lives in your heart? How do you thank someone who somehow, from afar, saved you from drowning in a sea of half-truths and heresies? How do you pay tribute to someone who doesn't even know he completely changed our lives?

As I said, the tributes are starting to pour in, and I can only be a tiny drop with my heart full of thanks for this man, and sorrow for this loss.  Fr Lawrence Farley has a beautiful tribute on his blog. In it, he says the following about what Fr Thomas's life tells us:
First, Christians must be courageous. It is always tempting to temper the truth, to look full into the faces of those who disapprove of our Gospel and to falter, speaking only the words which our hearers will like. It is always tempting to tailor our Gospel for the times and to proclaim only those parts of the Faith which are currently fashionable. Father Tom taught us to have none of that. He taught us to speak the truth in season and out of season. Like St. Paul, he did not shrink from declaring anything that was profitable, but declared the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:20, 27). Not surprisingly one of his many books was entitled, Speaking the Truth in Love. The days to come will be at least as challenging for Christians as the days past.   Father Tom teaches us to have courage and to speak the truth in difficult times.
Amen.

Memory Eternal, O Lord, grant unto Thy servant Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Father Thomas Hopko :: Memory Eternal

Our prayers are with the family of Father Thomas Hopko.  We love you, Father Thomas, even if only from afar.  Thank you to the person most influential in bringing us home to the True Faith.

Memory Eternal!

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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

St. Patrick Enlightener Of Ireland - Saint of the Day - Ancient Faith Radio

St. Patrick Enlightener Of Ireland - Saint of the Day - Ancient Faith Radio

Happy St Patrick's Day


My name is Patrick. I am a sinner, a simple country person, and the least of all believers.
***
[why he cannot be silent:]
This is because there is no other God, nor will there ever be, nor was there ever, except God the Father. He is the one who was not begotten, the one without a beginning, the one from whom all beginnings come, the one who holds all things in being -- this is our teaching. And his son, Jesus Christ, whom we testify has always been, since before the beginning of this age, with the father in a spiritual way. He was begotten in an indescribable way before every beginning. Everything we can see, and everything beyond our sigh, was made through him. He became a human being; and, having overcome death, was welcomed to the heavens to the Father. the Father gave him all power over every being, both heavenly and earthly and beneath the earth. Let every tongue confess that Jesus Christ, in whom we believe and whom we await to come back to us in the near future, is Lord and God. He is judge of the living and of the dead; he rewards every person according to their deeds. He has generously poured on us the Holy Spirit, the gift and promise of immortality, who makes believers and those who listen to be children of God and co-heirs with Christ. This is the one we acknowledge and adore -- one God in a trinity of the sacred name.
***
[who he is:]
So I am first of all a simple country person, a refugee, and unlearned. I do not know how to provide for the future. But this I know for certain, that before I was brought low, I was like a stone lying deep in the mud. Then he who is powerful came and in his mercy pulled me out, and lifted me up and placed me on the very top of the wall. That is why I must shout aloud in return to the Lord for such great good deeds of his, here and now and forever, which the human mind cannot measure.
***
[what happened to him:]
So be amazed, all you people great and small who fear God! You well-educated people in authority, listen and examine this carefully. who was it who called one as foolish as I am from the middle of those who are seen to be wise and experienced in law and powerful in speech and in everything? If I am most looked down upon, yet he inspired me, before others, so that I would faithfully serve the nations with awe and reverence and without blame: the nations to whom the love of Christ brought me. His gift was that I would spend my life, if I were worthy of it, to serving them in truth and with humility to the end.

Read more of St Patrick's Confessio HERE.


Happy St Patrick's Day everyone!  St Patrick, pray for us!


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Monday, March 16, 2015

Coconut Update, Etc.


I love coconut. I love the smell of coconut, eating coconut, looking at coconut, coconut trees, coconut milk (we used to get this amazing wonderful sweet drink at Stuckey's roadside restaurant in the South -- they just called it "coconut milk" but it was some wonderful), coconut water, coconut cream pie, coconut candy... Well, you get the picture.

I have used coconut oil for awhile now. A couple of months? Here is my experience so far:
  • It is definitely antiseptic or even antibacterial. It has cured a persistent skin rash that medicine from the pharmacy did not cure.
  • It does well as a moisturizer on my face (NOT on my nose, though -- too oily for that).
  • It works as a deodorant.
  • It whitens teeth.
  • It prevents / stops acid reflux.
The jury is still out on whether it is actually pulling toxins from my body. And, I do not like straight coconut oil as a body moisturizer. It seems both oily and drying. I'm working on finding a compromise or a good recipe for making my own body lotion using coconut oil.

All in all, though, I'd have to say I'm quite pleased with it. Plus, it smells fabulous! And, a little goes a long way, so although a large jar was about £7, it is lasting a long time.

Does anyone else use coconut oil? I'm interested in other people's experiences, but not so much interested in the blogs that are really, really pushing it. Just the average person, like me.

***

And, in other news: we begin Week Four of Great Lent. It has been a fairly good Lent so far -- lots of struggles and challenges and a few Aha Moments and a few very good services in Church (remember, we live in a remote area and only get a service once or twice a month -- which is a MAJOR challenge for being Orthodox).

How is everyone's Lent going so far?


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Thursday, March 12, 2015

This and That


For the past two weeks I have been feverishly stitching (sometimes literally feverishly) this design. I designed this piece quite awhile ago, but it kept getting moved to the back. I don't know why, because I really enjoyed stitching it, and I'm quite pleased with the outcome. I finally decided it needed to get finished and listed in my Etsy shop before St Patrick's Day. It's a sweet little lamb with shamrocks (it's Doodle, one of our pet lambs) and I call this one: Lucky Leprechaun Lamb of Loch Eye. It's a fairly large design, approximately 8 1/2" by 8 1/2". You can find out more in my Etsy shop!


It has been a fairly quiet week. A little TOO quiet at times. The weather has been all over the place, including a few nights with storm force winds and rain. The snowdrops are still blooming, though. They are tough little flowers. And the daffodils and crocuses are just starting to make an appearance.


It was my intention to do all the lamb care this week and give my poor husband a break (he has had a very LONG and TIRING week at work thus far). He has also been the one to see to the lambs for the past two weeks while I have been unwell. So far, I have only been out once this week. There are times when this Florida girl simply cannot face this horrid Scottish weather. I'm going through a period like that right now. I can't wait for summer to get here. 

Meanwhile, the days ARE getting longer (it is light till almost 6:00 PM now, and get's light by before 7:00 AM). We are plodding along through Lent, and feeling the struggle. While it is definitely a Sacred Time, all the drudgery of life still insists on being dealt with: laundry, household chores, cooking, work. It is sometimes hard to find the balance.

For now, I am digging in with my design work and stitching up my designs. My dear husband has been very encouraging, and I have lots of ideas fomenting in my mind. Here's to a productive Lenten Spring...in all kinds of ways!

Trust in the Lord and do good!

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Thursday, March 5, 2015

Glory to God

TRUE Christian Faith.  In the West, we have no idea what it means to truly trust and love God in the midst of persecution.  No idea.  Please pray for the persecuted Christians in the Middle East and around the world.


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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Thankfulness


I have a horrible cold.  We are meant to be thankful to God for ALL THINGS.  All the time.  Sigh... I am meant to be thankful for this cold.  Well, last night, the tiniest glimmer of "ah-ha" came to me: because of my cold, it is hard for me to talk without coughing.  Which makes me remain silent. Which makes me think about what I'm going to say and if I really have to say it or not.  Guess what? I'm pretty sure I could go through my life without saying MOST of the things that I say.  AND... I had asked God to help me with (a) what goes into my mouth, and (b) what comes out of my mouth. Guess what, again?  He is doing just that.  Thank you, Lord, for my cold.

In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thessalonians 5:18

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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Joyful Silence

Read about Blessed Elder Ephraim Katounokiatis HERE, and be blessed yourselves.  An excerpt:

I cannot write more about this sanctified figure.  Those who knew him better I am sure will write more for the consolation of the people, so that it could be understood in our days, which have become so degraded from higher meanings and higher standards of life, saints exist, stars that shine in the firmament of our Church, that there are a multitude of inspired flowers of Paradise.
~Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou


I come across these things daily.  I keep wondering what the man I spoke of earlier, with the weak vision of the Faith, would say in response to such things.  

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Monday, March 2, 2015

Words the World Hates

Obedience

Purification

Prayer

Holiness

Modesty

Struggle

Suffering

Repentance

Obscurity

Silence

Humility

The Cross

Sanctification

GOD

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