Thursday, May 26, 2011

Heroes and Bad Hair Days

Oh my, what a busy month! I love it. I love this beautiful time of year and the fun in wrapping up things at school for summer break. The students have done an excellent job with their projects. The 6th grade worked for many weeks on these Hero Books. I found the idea on (an excellent resource for teachers!) and from Day 1, the class put a lot of thought and time into writing and illustrating a story about a true hero from their lives. They first wrote the story and then did sketches to illustrate each page. Some wrote about God and the story of creation, others wrote about a relative who had done a kind and honorable deed. One young man wrote about the charitable work of his church. I was blessed by each one and felt glad when a few students volunteered to present their book to the class.

Each page, bound together by string lacing, was made by the student. To finalize, they added details such as decorative borders, bows, feathers & metallic markers. I am so proud of them!

To follow the Hero Book project, I decided upon something whimsical and a bit less tedious: the Bad Hair Day project. ha! I discovered this idea through a Homeschooling Newsletter that I receive. The students had to draw a face on the large 18” x 12” art paper given to them and then add either crazy hair or a beard made entirely by block letters. Then they had to come up with at least 10 different patterns to fill in the spaces created by the letters. We talked about using values to create dimension in their work. I was very impressed with some of the patterns they came up with, like the 7-Up logo, zebra stripes, tie-dye and cobwebs; the whimsical facial features were fantastic! These pictures were taken before they had completely finished, but you get the idea...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Praise God...

from whom all blessings flow...

"If I cry and don't smile then the devil will be happy -
so I'm gonna smile."
-Izzy McManaway,
4 yrs. old, a day after having her leg amputated.

It's been over a week & Izzy is doing remarkably well. She came home from the hospital the day after surgery and attended the school's Spring Patriotic Play the day after that! She has several walkers, one of which she promptly decorated with zebra stripe duct tape to make the handles easier to grip.

She has had sporadic pain today, but this evening is feeling better after her doctor prescribed a new pain medication. The surgery has not slowed this child down. She continues to keep up with her sisters and cousins, loves playing with the dogs & eats like a growing girl should.

So many prayers go up for Izzy; each one powerful and deeply appreciated. It's really this that makes me tearful... the loving hearts of people who remember her to our Lord and Saviour. I cannot cry for Izzy. How can I when I only see a child full of smiles?! But the tears do roll when I witness the love of others reaching out to her. Just like Bryson's prayer did to me this morning. What joy and lessons we can learn from children.

Thank you Bryson! God is using you to bless the
heart of others ♥

Izzy on the way home from Morgantown, the day after surgery.

Glory to God for all things †

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Izzy: Post-Surgery Update

Izzy with her sister, Zoe, just before surgery yesterday.

Izzy's surgery took place yesterday, on Tuesday, May 10th and was successful. Her left leg was amputated just above the knee and the surgeon was very pleased with how everything went. He was satisfied that the skin graft will heal in such a way as to facilitate fitting for a prosthetic in only a few weeks! That is remarkable to me.

Izzy's attitude has been amazing --Jenny said that is the evidence of so many, many prayers! Izzy is accepting of this, understands that her leg was bad and that she needed a new one. Her talk is all positive and forward looking. She has asked many questions about her new leg but has never said anything sad or longing for her old leg. I credit her parents for preparing her so well and the loving mercy of God.

When Izzy came out of the recovery room yesterday and they were directed to her hospital room for the night, they were happily surprised to receive the largest room the hospital had to offer -- and what's more, it was decorated from end-to-end with one of Izzy's favorite people: Justin Bieber! There were posters, balloons, streamers,... Jenny said it was beautifully done; so thoughtful! God bless those who go out of their way to bring a ray of sunshine into the life of another.

I am currently awaiting news from Jenny -- she told me yesterday that if all went well, they may be able to come home today. That sounded incredible to me, but that's what she said. Her pain is being managed with morphine and lortab and even under these types of drugs, Izzy has been talkative, fully coherent and even laughing at times. ♥

She is in God's hands.

Thanks to all the prayer warriors out there, for the surgeon and my dad as well as Izzy. The effect of your prayers is clearly seen. Please continue to remember them.

Glory to God for all things †

Monday, May 9, 2011


From the 2011 Sundance Film Festival

A horse story...a human story.

Seeing the grace between man and horse-
and how that relationship transforms a soul.

I am looking so forward to seeing this.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Izzy Update: May 7, 2011

A sneaky, silly moment

My, oh my what a grand day...
We celebrated J's birthday at the park under mostly sunny skies. The kids played and laughed while creating sidewalk art, blowing bubbles, swinging, running, doing the zip-line, watching softball games, riding bikes, playing with dolls and eating delicious cake. I love days like this...spending quality time with friends and family, sharing joy.

Izzy was true to form... laughing, socializing, being ornery at times, eating plenty of strawberries and cantaloupe, running to catch up with her big sisters, playing "hair-do" with one of J's very patient friends as well as enjoying the playground in-between. You may notice in the photos something on her's a heart "painted" on there by her sister. I think it was done with lipstick. God is good. He continually restores her spirit; her zest for life and enjoying each moment is amazing and contagious.

She had a busy day today, plenty of activities scheduled, as her parents want her weekend to be filled with happy, lighthearted memories.

Patiently waiting for the cake to be cut.

On Tuesday, May 10th, Izzy goes back to the hospital. This time it isn't for chemo. She is scheduled to have her left leg amputated. The following is the update my sister, Jenny, put forth to friends on FaceBook a few days ago:

"As you know, Izzy had a full -body PET scan yesterday to check for any spreading of the cancer. By the grace of God, there was no sign of the cancer anywhere else in the body except for her left leg. Unfortunately, they found another tumor growing in the same area as the previous one ~ which means the chemo is not working. However, considering how fast-spreading and dangerous this cancer is, and considering that the chemo was not doing it's job, the doctors are a bit stunned at how this cancer stayed contained to the leg. We're not ~ There's no doubt in our minds that our Lord knows exactly what he's doing and he's the Ultimate Physician ~ without him and without your prayers, we would not be able to get though this tough time.

On May the 10th (next Tuesday) at WVU Children's Hospital, Izzy will be having an amputation of her left leg. Although it's such a drastic measure, we feel at peace with this decision. As of right now, we don't know if chemo will continue or not after the surgery.

I thank you sooo much for lifting us up in prayer and I just ask you again to please continue to keep Izzy and all of us in your prayers ~ it sincerely means the world to us right now. Thanks so much with love and hugs ♥♥♥♥♥ "

Riding her bike

I know beyond doubt that there are many, many people praying for this little one. As strange as it may sound to you, this decision has been one that I am completely at peace with, too. I feel like I should be crying, but the emotion just isn't there.
I am only rejoicing for the gift she is to us. For the fact that the cancer is only located in this one place.
There is no doubt she is in God's care and with faith in Jesus Christ, all shall be well...all manner of things shall be well.
Thank you for praying... please also pray for her surgeon as well as my Dad.

Thank you
Blessings always †

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Greater Love Hath No Man...

...than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." St. John, the beloved disciple recorded these words of Jesus Christ, the 13th verse of chapter 15. Lt. Michael P. Murphy was such a man as this, sacrificing himself for his friends. Praise God for the courage and calm he gave to this man. A man who, even in his youth, was fighting bullies and protecting those who were defenseless. A man who died probably because of his mercy to those sheep herders in the mountains of Afghanistan...the ones who let the Taliban know of his whereabouts.

AP Photo, Navy Seal Lt. Michael P. Murphy

Lt. Michael P. Murphy died 6 years ago during a firefight in Afghanistan, acting in a way to protect and call aid to his fellow Navy SEALS. You can read the full account here. I mention this today because Lt. Murphy resurfaces in the news from time to time as various places are being named in his honor; most recently a warship has been christened with his name. I also call attention to this man, whose honor and sacrifice may well represent hundreds if not thousands of US and Allied service men and women who serve to put down our enemy, because of the backlash and seemingly incomprehensible opinion on what warfare means to the Christian believer.

Some Christians say, “Rejoice! Osama bin Laden is dead!” others say, “How can you celebrate someone’s death? Jesus said to pray for our enemies, not kill them.” Still others will say, “Be glad for the riddance of evil, but don’t celebrate.” Where is the middle way? Where is wisdom? I want to know.

Are we not born into warfare? Do we struggle against powers unseen? Do we seek the high road, striving to put down our passions such as anger, lust and greed? In so doing, are we to remove ourself from the world around us? Christ said to love our enemies, yes, to pray for them. Does this fact negate the way God delivered the Israelites from the Egyptians? Is this a contrast to the reality of the Red Sea devouring the enemy of God’s people? It cannot be, because God is unchanging; He knows we will always be engaged in conflict on this earth, both spiritual and temporal.

I have encountered Christians who are pacifists, have had in-depth conversations with them and, although this is not my belief, I respect their view. How can I not, given Jesus’ example with Pontius Pilate as well as many Christian martyrs, both ancient and modern, who willingly turned themselves over to their enemies. One Orthodox man I spoke with told me that even though an intruder would break into his home and threaten his life, he would not resist --that was his utter commitment to non-violence and loving his enemy.

Where would we be if Christians everywhere had this approach and understanding? There would never have been a Christian nation on earth, no one to spread the Gospel because the enemy would always prevail. How can we pray and ask God to “deliver us from evil” and then do nothing to work with God in this? It would be the same to pray, “God, please help those orphans down the street” and then do nothing to clothe, feed and protect them.

Orthodox believers adhere to the theology of theosis, that is, that we work in cooperation with God, we struggle (podvig in Russian) in order to be more like Christ. We struggle against our flesh, we struggle against unseen powers of the air and we struggle against those who are wicked. It is only because of that temporal struggle against the wicked that comfy Christians in free nations can sip coffee and ponder about whether we should celebrate or curse the death of the #1 terrorist in the world. Meanwhile, persecuted Christians in places like Mauritania, Yemen and Nigeria pray and wait with hope that someone would be given the strength and courage to deliver them from executions, burnings and public humiliations of all sorts...

It makes me ashamed that Christian people who claim a love of life and freedom could ever doubt the necessity of war and putting down the enemy. Elisha never doubted it, neither did David or Joshua ...or Jael or Deborah, whom the Lord God led into battle.

"When Israel came forth from Egypt, the House of Jacob, from a barbarious people, through the prayers of the Theotokos, O Saviour, save us. Judah became a sanctuary..."

First Antiphon

Baptist and Forerunner, the Chanters of St. Lawrence.

There are no sanctuaries without sacrifice.

God, I pray you would bless and protect those who fight for freedom everywhere.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Sounds of Heaven

I love bird watching...
listening is just as good.

Blessed Wood Thrush neighbors,
Hear their hymns through
The open windows in spring.


and see adoring wood thrush parents below:

Monday, May 2, 2011


..and kudos to all those who speak out against evil.
The video clip shows a German woman giving her voice to oppose a Salafist Rally in Germany -- a most interesting insight from her interview is this (emphasis mine) :

"maybe, I should explain briefly why I was showing up there: When Pierre Vogel showed up with his followers in Frankfurt am Main on Römerberg the last time, I was rather shocked. The protestant church was open and radical Muslims used it as acting base. In my opinion, this could only have happened with the approval of the church leadership there."


" What Pierre Vogel is doing is simply an elaborate brain washing, like it was the case with Hitler, Goebbels, Stalin, Honecker and how they were all called. He is addressing himself directly towards foreign youths, because they often have problems with their own identity anyway. They are torn apart between the world their families came from and their German reality. They have a hard time. Islam means form many of them a piece of identification with the other world of their ancestors."

With regard to American youth converting to Islam, I believe her reasoning her to be spot-on.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

St. George's Day

Byzantine icon of St. George.
Athens, Greece

We celebrated this great saint and martyr today, the patron of our parish. St. George is known & honored in many nations outside the USA including Egypt, the British Isles, Georgia, Russia, Sweden, Serbia, Romania, Greece, Lebanon, Canada, and Portugal to name a few. I found it interesting to learn that St. George is also venerated in Islam, even though their writings about his life differ from Christian accounts.

St. George lived in the 3rd century and was a Christian Roman soldier under Emperor Diocletian. George’s courage and bravery in battle was noted and he swiftly ascended military ranks, becoming a member of the personal guard surrounding the Emperor. When Diocletian issued an edict to destroy the Christians of his empire, reportedly, George refused to participate and confessed to worshipping Jesus Christ. This enraged the Emperor, who then considered George to be a traitor deserving of execution.

After days of enduring tortures, George would not renounce his faith and as a consequence, many witnesses were converted to Christ. Among those converts was Empress Alexandra, Diocletian’s wife. She is said to have pleaded for George’s life, although unsuccessfully, and died a martyrs death. George was beheaded after days of torture.

His body was returned to Lydda, in Palestine for burial and he was soon honored as a Christian martyr. Today, St. George’s tomb and sarcophagus is located in the Church of Saint George, Lod, Israel.

We sing this troparion (a short hymn) to St. George each Sunday:

As the deliverer of captives and defender of the poor, healer of the infirm and champion of kings, victorious great martyr George intercede with Christ our God for our souls salvation.

St. George is often depicted in later icons on a white horse (such as the icon above, 17th century Greek and at left in my banner, 15th century Russian) with spear or sword in hand and a dragon underfoot. This image is born of a legend in which details vary according to locale. Most Christians view the legend as symbolic, depicting the on-going battle between good & evil.

Today, after Divine Liturgy, a luncheon was held and the children’s choir performed several pieces relating to St. George and the praise of our Lord Jesus Christ. We listened to a few speakers & enjoyed a delicious meal of kibbe without the wheat (cannot remember what the Lebanese term is), rice, potatoes, peas & fattoush; an excellent morning and afternoon.

St. George's Monument in Tbilisi, Georgia

May we always remember the sacrifices of the saints;

their example points us toward

God eternal †

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