Sunday, February 26, 2012

Gaps friendly Latkes and Carrot Cake

GAPS Latkes

1 large peeled and Shredded Rutabaga
Shredded onion
about three or four eggs
salt and pepper

mix together and cook in flattened lumps in a
skillet with coconut oil for frying them.

These turned out AWESOME. Very tasty and down-home if home happens to be eastern europe. I think every place in that general part of the world has this recipe. In Switzerland they are called "Roeschti". Yum. Normally these are made with potato of course.

Carrot Cake

3 cups or so of shredded carrots
6 eggs,
1/2 cup honey
3/4 cup coconut flour
pinch of salt
1/2-3/4 cup of raisins.
1/2 cup coconut oil

mix all this together and bake at 350 F. until done...9x13 pan makes a flattish cake. This tasted moist and delicious and was just the thing for toting to coffee hour.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Lenten Embrace

Whenever I encounter people who are normal, who have healthy kids, zero chronic illness and who have all their material needs met in abundance I am always left a little bit bewildered. The temptation is towards envy, I won't deny it. I struggle against that, though, and I do believe that God gives me a bit of success in embracing my own reality of chronic illness, ups and downs, spectrum kids, etc. I am very very aware that for all the checks in my "grief and loss" column, it could be much much worse. I am very aware of all the gifts, talents and provisions that God has made for us. I am grateful.

So I learn to be grateful for what IS. And that is spiritual medicine.

Today I was reminded of the vast differences between where people are at when a stranger on facebook commented on a mutual friend's post about fasting: two meals a day, "dry eating"...that sort of thing.

Yes, I know, I have heard it before...this is not news to me.

I'd just forgotten, you see, because MY fast is so different. Due to the chronic illness issues, due to the Autism spectrum issues...due to lots of factors, that monastic level of so-called perfection will never be happening at MY house. And that is perfectly OK. In fact, it would be a sin.

But nonetheless, Lent is coming and that has got me to start reflecting: Each of our "fasts" may be different due to various factors, but they will all have this in common: The Lenten Embrace of the Cross of Christ.

Jesus says to his disciples (that's us) "Take up your cross and follow me." And the reminder is that MY CROSS, although it looks a bit different from the norm, is the one I MUST embrace. So I embrace the GAPS diet...that's my lenten cross which has been given to ME for my health and also my salvation. It requires me to do without ALL my favorite foods and it is for the health and healing of my body. I also embrace my kids' special needs and their various peculiarities and special diets. I embrace our economic situation, that is directly tied in to all these other issues. I embrace my lack of a HOUSE (this one is huge for me...I would SO love a lovely house and garden) and I will choose gratitude for our current dwelling place.

And so on and so forth.

The Lenten Embrace: "Take up your cross and follow me". Embrace the cross of Christ as it has been give to you. ...I'm writing to myself.

Any other path will not take us to Calvary, and Calvary is where we MUST go.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Praying with the Saints

Someone wrote to me and asked me to tell him/her about praying with the saints, as we Orthodox understand it. I decided that what I wrote would make a good blog post:

Prayer to saints/with saints: There is a verse in the LXX psalter
somewhere that is translated "God is glorious in his saints". The
reason saints are special (and this has everything to do with our
"salvation theology", our understanding of what OUR goal is, and the
concept of theosis) is because they are utterly filled with the Holy
Spirit of God. So, when you are praying with a saint you are
praying with him or her IN THE HOLY SPIRIT.

Have you ever read the vignette about St. Seraphim of Sarov (I
consider him and St. Herman of Alaska to be my two saint "grandfathers".)
where he is explaining to a pilgrim about the Holy Spirit? This
explains it so well. We are in the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit
is in us, and we are filled with Christ...spiritually AND physically
when we take his body and blood into ourselves in the Eucharist.

It is the Holy Spirit who make some saints' bodies incorrupt. It is
the Holy Spirit who unites us with them...the "church militant and the
church triumphant" to use protestant terminology.

So when you are praying with a Saint, you are praying to/in the Holy
Spirit...because they have become a vessel/receptacle of the Holy

My favorite analogy of this is the image of a sword in the fire of a
forge. Theosis is like this. The sword, as long as it remains in the
forge, becomes glowing hot...because of being in the fire, it becomes
fire. But not by grace, if you will. As soon as the
sword is removed from the fire, it is no longer fire, it cools off and
is merely a sword. This image of theosis is very much the way we
Orthodox understand our salvation. As you already know, it is not a
one time event, check the box and you are done. It is a
relationship...we literally are that sword that needs to be in the
fire. And then we become fire. We become, by grace, what God is by
nature...from being all filled with God.

So that's where the saints are. They are all filled with God. And
because they are in that fire, and all filled with God (taking the
anaolgy one step further), if one were to hold an unstruck match to
the glowing sword, it would ignite. That's what our prayers to/with
the saints are like. We never get confused and think they are God,
just as we do not worship the icons...but because they are "in the
fire" of the Holy Spirit, God is there.

One thing that Orthodoxy teaches is that we experience God through
matter in the sacraments. Matter matters. The Eucharist: Christ
comes to us through matter. Chrismation: The Holy Spirit comes to us
through matter. Theophany: Water becomes sanctified and becomes
God's agent too.

And so the saints, by God's grace, have become His agents. We
ourselves become sacraments...and we are all united. I don't think
most of us have a CLUE about the glories that await us in Christ.

I think many of us with protestant backgrounds will balk a little bit
at the phraseology of theosis: That we are to become gods. Egads! A
part of me recoils from this myself, even though I've been Orthodox for ten years (which means I'm a toddler not an infant). But it's the truth in the sense
of the sword in the fire. This is who the saints are to us... and we
are the unlit matches that can be touched to them and caught fire
ourselves. It's not like there's any competition between God and His
saints, for He is the one who makes them that way...he is the Fire.
The match could just as easily be held into the flame to be ignited.

Neither are the saints a barrier between us and God. It's just all one big circle of fellowship. A love-fest if you will.

I John 4:12-21 explains that kind of love beautifully:

12 No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. 13 By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.
The Consummation of Love

17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. 19 We love Him[a] because He first loved us.
Obedience by Faith

20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can[b] he love God whom he has not seen? 21 And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.

Here's a link to the St. Seraphim
of Sarov story

Thursday, February 02, 2012

A Lesson from my Kitchen

It's official: I hate my crock pot. I bought a new crock pot a few months ago because my old one's crock had cracked (for the second time) and the lid handle had already been replaced. Same brand. But this one has an electronic timer instead of manual controls... Stongly. dislike. that. electronic. timer.

I know. It's "just" a control issue.

I want to be in charge of my appliances! I want to be the one to tell when food is done! I want the POWER. I will NOT submit to some dumb electronic timer who thinks it knows better than me. Submission is for unto God, not unto a Rival Crockpot timer. I have enough things in life I have no control over, and I WANT control of my own appliances, by dingy!!!!

I used to make bone broth in my crock pot...I'd let it go for days and just add more water as necessary.

This crock, however, makes weak, anemic broth because it keeps shutting the flippety flip OFF. And, it does not really get hot enough.

With my old crock, I could cook a frozen chicken and it'd be done in about four or five hours on high...from frozen. This new crock won't even bake potatoes in that amount of time.

You know what? I think I AM this new crock pot.

My spiritual broth is weak because I keep shutting off and "being in charge", instead of letting God be in charge all the time. And I'm reminded of the "lukewarm" verse in Revelation.

So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Revelation 3:16

Oh Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner!

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

That Dark Place

I do struggle with depression, don't I? I want to write happy uplifting blog posts, but that's just not possible.

Today was warm and sunny. We had our lessons, I did some knitting, some cooking, some would think it'd be an easy day...A sunny day...a perfect day...

Instead, it was just hard. I struggled to get up this morning, and then there was the inevitable guilt that I feel when my slow body does not kick into gear as soon as I think it should. So it's a bit after ten thirty and we are starting school. (Not all the kids wait on me...some of them get a jump start on things like Math and Science while I'm drinking coffee...but others play the Wii, content to wait until I've officially started the school day before engaging their brains.

But we got it done, that's the thing...we DID get it done.

And by mid afternoon, I was dead on my feet. After doing almost nothing today. Not nothing...just quiet stuff.

Cooking soup for an early pre-liturgy supper (we don't even TRY to pretend we are able to keep the fast for vesperal liturgies, so we don't take communion on these's just SO not happening) so we could go to Church at six was my own personal Mount Everest today. I was that tired. It took me forty-five minutes to chop two onions, a few carrots, a few leeks, half a head of cabbage and then clean up after. It's a miracle I did not cut myself.

And then, of course, the soup was rejected by half the members of my family. Fortunaately there were also some date stuffed baked cinnamon apples.

And I did not go to Church. I was simply too tired. So yeah...that dark place rears it's ugly head.

So, deep breath. I will think of some stuff to be grateful for:

I'm grateful for the sunshine.
I'm grateful for my wonderful husband.
I'm grateful that St. Herman helped me find my keys again.
I'm grateful that the day is over.
I'm grateful for my helps me to relax.