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!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Pretty Much Sums It Up

Would you believe this has been our weather today? Yes, all of these things. Right at this moment, mid-afternoon, it is slightly breezy but much calmer than it was; sunny but with more clouds building; cold, but not as cold as it was; dry but looking like it will be wetter again shortly. We had quite a lot of snow, but fortunately, none of it stuck where we are. This is especially good considering how many baby lambs are in the fields. 

Today's weather is exactly like life with MG. You can experience everything in one day. This makes it very difficult to plan, or even to begin or complete a task. 

This past week has been another trial. On Saturday, though, I felt pretty darn good. So, I overdid it. Then on Sunday, I felt pretty darn worn out. Didn't get enough good sleep. Struggled to get all the nourishment I needed. Fell right apart by evening.

NOTE TO SELF: It is easy to become stressed and fatigued, which makes me an emotional wreck, which makes life even more difficult for me and for My Husband. Stress and fatigue. They are the key players here for wrecking any progress.

Today has been slow in getting off the ground, but I was finally able to eat a bit and get my supplements down. I'm hoping to do a few small things before the day is done: making up my homemade toiletries (I am running out of some things), stitching, organising things in our prayer corner.

So, the lessons for today (so far) are these:
  • Life is very unpredictable for people with MG
  • Be grateful and thank God for every good thing...no, for EVERY thing
  • Love your loved ones well
  • Be kind to everyone
  • Do NOT stress over every little thing

Whilst the tomb was sealed, Thou, O Life, didst shine forth from the grave, O Christ God; and whilst the doors were shut, Thou didst come unto Thy disciples, O Resurrection of all, renewing through them an upright Spirit in us according to Thy great mercy.
Resurrectional Apolytikion

Yesterday was both Thomas Sunday and the Feast of St George. A double whammy! St Thomas is the patron saint of our household. Like human beings, he wrestled with doubt; but when he saw (and we can see with the eyes of our hearts) he was quick to say:  My Lord, and my God!


Liberator of captives, defender of the poor, physician of the sick, and champion of kings, O trophy-bearer, Great Martyr George, intercede with Christ God that our souls be saved.
Apolytikion of Great Martyr George

Lord have mercy upon us and save us! Be strong in the Lord!

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

JOY Amidst Suffering


I am not good at this. I'm working on it. I believe it is vital. Joy is paramount to living our lives fully and truthfully as Christians. And, it is an integral part of our healing and working to correct the illnesses in our bodies.

Yesterday was a particularly bad day for me. I am having a seriously bad flare up of MG, and last night my breathing was quite laboured. I get so angry when I struggle like this - and yet, I know anger is NOT the answer. Joy is. My dear priest has told me to pray:  Thank you, Lord Jesus. Thank you. A simple and most beautiful prayer. And oh so hard to pray when you are suffering. But that's the paradoxical thing about our Christian faith, and about healing in the Light of God: Glory to God for all things.

So, I dragged myself to bed with the hastiest of ablutions. My Dear Husband put the house to bed, and helped to calm me by praying over me and rubbing my chest. Eventually, I was able to get some rest - sleeping in a nearly sitting up position because of all the phlegm that accompanies a flare up like this.

BUT...I woke up! I may have slept late. I may be pretty much keeping to my bed today, but I'm still here. Life is indeed a gift. 

Fear of death consumes all joy.

An article I read today was so timely for me: it spoke about how we let fear (especially fear of death) and worry and anxiety create a barrier between ourselves and God. The author said "fear of death is like the background of life...This fear of death consumes all joy; it consumes the satisfaction with one's life, the joy of love, the joy of parenthood, the joy of creative success, and the joy of prayer." Startling thought, isn't it? But true. I have experienced it in my own life, on a regular basis, and seen it in the lives of those around me.

The writer goes on to say that Christians should be filled with joy, because Christ came and conquered death. For the Christian, there is no death. And if we are carrying guilt, there is confession. We confess, we repent, we commune. Still, a lot of us struggle with finding and holding joy in our hearts. The kicker was this: "Could it be a lack of faith in the most important, in the very victory over death?"

If Christ is not raised, our faith is in vain.

I think it comes down to this: we know in our heads what we believe, but we have not translated this to our hearts, to our very marrow, our complete existence.

Have you ever met a really, truly Christian person? He or she is filled with joy and radiates peace. It is amazing. I want to be that way.

And, I want to be that way IN my struggle with Myasthenia Gravis and all its horribleness. I want my trust to be in God alone.

I have joined a few Facebook groups pertaining to this illness. I have read a LOT about it. One thing that strikes me and makes me very uncomfortable: for the most part, everything I have read is completely rooted in Western conventional medicine. There is this assumption that there is nothing else. Nothing more. No alternative, or perhaps better to say, NON-Western medicine. That somehow what we have in our current healthcare systems here in the west is the be all and end all of medicine. I refuse to accept that. And I have so far found NO ONE who is talking about beating this illness from a Christian perspective. If I try to do this without Christ, I am lost. 

One of our priests said to me recently, words to this effect: There is more than conventional medicine. God works in ALL things. This illness is teaching you something. There are things needing fixed that are not only physical. And in the end, don't worry or be anxious. Just don't worry about it. You are in God's hands.

That is far better advice than anything I have heard from a doctor. The doctors here see only test results and symptoms. That is what they treat. They go no farther.

I will go farther, with Christ. I will work as hard as I am able to do what it right for my body, mind, heart, AND soul. I will give thanks in everything. And all of it is in God's hands.


Stay strong in the Lord!
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Monday, April 17, 2017

Christ is Risen!


Truly He is Risen!

It is a challenge I have never faced before: celebrating Pascha and seeking to be joyful when I feel so unwell. I am facing it, though. God, in His mercy, will see me through.

We never went to Skye. Well, we did, but then turned right around and came home. A very long day, to say the least. The place we had rented for the week turned out to be an absolute DUMP. The owners were rude and difficult. We had to fight to get a paltry 25% refunded for the whole week that we DIDN'T stay. I have many bad feelings about the whole thing, and am especially amazed at how greedy and heartless people are. In case you are wondering, we were meant to stay at The Captain's House in Stein, Skye. I have no compunction about mentioning this because I would hate for anyone else to drive all the way there, only to be faced with a dirty, dingy, dump of a house. There are many lovely places to rent on Skye - don't choose this one!

So, Holy Week at home was quiet, often peaceful, sometimes a trial, mostly a challenge. My Dear Husband needed a break, but at least he was able to have some rest. He also went fishing twice, and we ate a wonderful rainbow trout for dinner twice! We managed to make it to the Service of Anointing in Inverness on Great and Holy Wednesday. It was lovely and well worth the effort.

The MG has been kicking my butt. I'm fighting back. Two priests in our Church have talked to me, prayed over me, given me renewed determination and strength. I have readjusted my supplement schedule, and am forcing myself to eat something solid every day, hoping my muscles will adapt and not forget how to chew and swallow.

It is Bright Week! I get up and face each day with hope, a goal, a plan, and a Risen Saviour.

Be strong in the Lord!
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Sunday, April 9, 2017

Palms and Pussywillows


In Heaven, He is seated upon a Throne and on earth He rides upon a foal. O Christ our God, accept the praise of the Angels and the hymn of the Children who cry out to You, "Blessed are You who comes to recall Adam."
Seasonal Kontakion

This has been the most unusual Lent I have ever experienced. We are in Holy Week already. The time has flown. The physical food fast was nothing to me as I was suddenly plunged into an illness that is making eating nearly impossible. I could easily refrain from eating meat, fish, dairy, wine. I could barely get enough calories each day. I am still at this point. Twenty-one days into my treatment through diet, lifestyle, and environment changes, along with the addition of supplements. I have certainly been focused on God this Lent, though much of it in prayer for healing. I have thought about all the good Churchly things I have been missing. Watched the feasts and fasts pass me by. Surrounded myself with more icons, since our Church is predominantly our home (we are living far from an Orthodox Church). This Lent has indeed been a desert for me. Also, I have realised, again, how little I can do on my own and how absolutely everything comes from God. Lord, have mercy!

I love this photo from an Orthodox Palm Sunday Liturgy with Patriarch Kirill. How glorious it must be to attend something like this. One day!

In the northern Highlands, the weather is both springlike and cold. The snowdrops and crocuses have come and gone. The daffodils are everywhere. The sky is often grey, but when the sun shines, it is lovely. Most days are fairly windy. I have seen no palms (although they do grow in the more temperate regions) or pussy-willows, but I have them in my heart and mind. 

Holy Week is upon us, and I will be in a remote area, far from an Orthodox Church. This year, I will be meditating on each day of the Week, reading the services and Scriptures, thinking about the meaning of it all. Little comprehending. Just my Husband and I, but still awaiting the glorious Resurrection.

Pray for us!
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Saturday, April 8, 2017

Lazarus Saturday: God Has Helped


Oh Christ our God, before Your Passion, You raised Lazarus from the dead to confirm the common Resurrection for all. Therefore, we carry the symbols of victory as did the youths, and we cry out to You, the victor over death, "Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.
Apolytikion Lazarus Saturday

More sorrowful joy as we draw near to Holy Week and the Lord's Passion. How I wish I were in a big Orthodox Church somewhere, but it is not possible for me this year. 

A positive thing: our dear Priest is coming to our home today, to bring me Communion. I am so grateful. The "medicine of immortality".

This evening will be packing for our week away. I am determined to pack as light as possible and not take loads of clothing. We won't be going out to dinner or anywhere requiring dressy clothing. It is to be a week of rest and quiet. Of course, being Scotland, the weather could do anything. Judging by the last couple days, I'm thinking sweaters and jeans, mostly. Wellies and wax jackets. A good scarf. Earmuffs. Raincoats. Warm jammies. 

I am both excited to go -- desperately needing a change of scenery, and a reminder of the beautiful Scottish outdoors; and also nervous because of how unwell I am. I am worried I won't be able to handle the travel, or be comfortable for a week in a strange environment. Hoping for the best, however. And I am blessed with a Husband who almost always has a very optimistic outlook, so that will help.

Keep fighting. Stay strong in the Lord. Trust God!
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Friday, April 7, 2017

Skye


I am really unwell. We had planned to be in Edinburgh for Holy Week, and at the Church for the whole of Easter weekend. Can't do it. I could never handle the crowds, public transit, standing in Church for hours, etc. I don't have the strength or energy right now. And my poor dear Husband desperately needs a break. So...

He is taking me to Skye for a week -- way up North in the Trotternish peninsula. Someplace that is peaceful, restful, quiet. Lots of fresh air, and the sea. Hopefully my husband will get some good fishing in, as well.

The plan: head up on Palm Sunday. Once there: rest, rest, rest. Reading and stitching and praying are my goals. 

Someone said there was good shelling! Being a Florida girl, I love looking for shells. 

Hoping and praying this wee break will help in leading my back to health, and will rejuvenate my hard-working husband.

God bless. Don't despair. Stay strong!
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Thursday, April 6, 2017

I Just Realized...

I am too impatient. Well, this is not news to me, but in this case... it is. I have actually only been treating myself holistically and through nutrition and supplements for a total of 19 days. No wonder I am not running laps yet. It has felt like so much longer, but really, it's not! 


This right here is what my eating looks like these days, plus various powders: Purition "meal replacement shake", pea and brown rice protein powder, spirulina powder, green stevia powder. Supplemented with Ensure and another MR shake when needed.

Note to self:  NATURAL HEALING TAKES TIME!

Do not despair. Stay strong! God bless.
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Monday, April 3, 2017

A Rough Week


I am struggling - on all fronts: prayer life, liturgical life, home life, relationships, this illness (or complex of illnesses). I am fighting the demons of despair. I am struggling to get nourishment. I am struggling to have a life beyond the daily drudge of medical this and that / therapies / supplements / monitoring health and nourishment. I am weary. I am asking "Where is God?" but I know He is there.

Pray for me, a sinner.
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