In the name of God, here's looking forward to a single, unified Orthodox Church of the United States.

Monday, April 28, 2008

He's a Private First Class

Wow,

wow wow wow.

EJ's back home. It's been three longs months filled only with letters and a single phone call, but last Thursday I found myself in San Diego at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, finally hugging my new Marine.

Family Day was great and Graduation was wonderful, but nothing beats having him actually here with us. It's only for 10 days and I've got exams in between, but at least I can call him whenever I want to now. =)

He said boot camp was different than anything he could have prepared for. Yes, it was just like the movies with the screaming and mud and the yellow footprints (which he showed to us), but he says it's just incomprehensible to someone who hasn't gone through it.

The physical change is the most obvious, of course; he lost 40 lbs in boot camp and is now skinny as a rail. I didn't notice the more subtle changes in his personality right away, though. That only appeared through everyday interaction. He's much more reserved. I can't really explain it. Lol. I guess that, just as boot camp can't really be understood by someone who hasn't gone through it, so this personal transformation can't be adequately described in words.

More to come later; I just wanted to make a quick update.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I just found out that it's 211 licks to the center of a tootsie pop.

It was on the Food Network. Some students at some university created a licking machine for the sole purpose of answering the old question.

=P

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Summer Reading List

Ugh. Papers, exams, and more papers. My mind is so fried right now that I can't think straight. All I can do is dream of the long, glorious summer days that are right around the corner, just waiting for me to embrace them. =D

I think I'm going to read through Taylor Caldwell's books. I've only read three so far: The Romance of Atlantis (*love*), The Devil's Advocate (*highly* recommend), and I read most of Dear and Glorious Physician.

I like her. She didn't have it easy, she made a lot of poor choices in her life and had a lot of poor choices made for her, but she turned out some truly amazing prose that makes one think and, usually, is pretty much dead on in its social commentary.

I admire her tough spirit. What's interesting, though, is that I don't want to emulate said spirit, and, indeed, I don't think she'd want me to, either. Does that make sense?

Oh, and I love this quote by her: "There is no solid satisfaction in any career for a woman like myself. There is no home, no true freedom, no hope, no joy, no expectation for tomorrow, no contentment. I would rather cook a meal for a man and bring him his slippers and feel myself in the protection of his arms than have all the citations and awards and honors I have received worldwide, including the Ribbon of Legion of Honor and my property and my bank accounts. They mean nothing to me. And I am only one among the millions of sad women like myself." - Ask Them Yourself

"You will know them by their fruit." (Matthew 7:16)

I was reading the book of Mark today and I re-ran across chapter 7, in which Jesus rebukes the Pharisee's for placing a stumbling block before men with their extra-biblical traditions.

(1) The Pharisees and some of the scribes gathered around Him when they had come from Jerusalem, (2) and had seen that some of His disciples were eating their bread with impure hands, that is, unwashed. (3) (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they carefully wash their hands, thus observing the traditions of the elders; (4) and when they come from the market place, they do not eat unless they cleanse themselves; and there are many other things which they have received in order to observe, such as the washing of cups and pitchers and copper pots.) (5) The Pharisees and the scribes asked Him, "Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with impure hands?" (6) And He said to them, "Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written:

'THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS,
BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME.
(7) 'BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME,
TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.'

(8) Neglecting, the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men."

(9) He was also saying to them, "You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition. (10) For Moses said, 'HONOR YOUR FATHER AND YOUR MOTHER'; and, 'HE WHO SPEAKS EVIL OF FATHER OR MOTHER IS TO BE PUT TO DEATH'; (11) but you say, 'If a man says to his father or his mother, whatever I have that would help you is Corban (that is to say, given to God),' (12) you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or his mother; (13) thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that."

It's important not to make an idol out of your actions. This may be obvious to many, but God sometimes has to remind me that dressing modestly and following the commandments is not what saves. Only Christ's own sacrifice on the Cross is what paid the ultimate price demanded by our sins, and our subsequent behavior is simply outward evidence of an acceptance and thankfulness of that sacrifice.

Of course, that doesn't mean we shouldn't strive to live a God-pleasing life. I'm no more an antinomian than a legalist. One just has to be sure one's actions are only to please God, not because one thinks they make you holier than someone else or they will earn one a higher spot in Heaven. Faith without works is dead, and likewise works without faith are useless (James 2:14-26).

I can wear skirts till the cows come home, but that won't save me, only Jesus will.

I also know this viewpoint is incredibly unpopular. That's okay. If I can't speak for Jesus over the anonymity of the Internet, how in the world am I going to speak for Him in real life?

Saturday, April 19, 2008

It stinks having to write a paper that needs to be finished by Monday, while needing primary sources that all happen to be in German, which, you know, wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for the fact that they also all seem to be in the old Gothic text and that is like reading a foreign language in and of itself.

I ish teh frustrated.
WOW.

One day in the 80 degree range and already it's hard to dress modestly. It doesn't help that the girls in the sorority house next door are all out in their front yards, full bikini mode, playing on their slip 'n' slide. >.<

Having fully committed myself to modesty only a few months ago in the dead of winter, it was easy to wear long skirts and long sleeves all the time. Now, however, I realize that most of my old summer clothing is unwearable without some kind of modification. I really really need some nice, light skirts that won't make me sweat, but still cover the knees sitting and standing.

Time to go pick out some fabric! Yay!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Trembling with Joy...

The Crucible is almost over.

EJ is going to become a U.S. Marine today.

I'm so happy right now that an ordinary smiley face won't cut it.

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Flip Side of Anti-Feminism

Ugh, it seems I have to monitor my consumption of anti-feminist texts just as carefully as I do any other media outlet, though for slightly different reasons.

Yes, I wish I could have stayed home instead of going to college, I wish my dad was the strong Christian patriarch of our household and my mother his adoring, submissive Queen of the Home - but, the fact remains, I am here at college and they are neither of those things. I have to make do with, and even flourish under, circumstances as they are - and sowing discontent by constantly stuffing my mind full of the ideal rather than facing reality in a Godly fashion has to be just as much of a sin as someone maintaining a "holier-than-thou" attitude because they have those things described.

Truth be told, I wasn't ready to stay home at age 18. I need to be honest with myself. The change God has wrought in my heart has only really come about in the last couple of months. The way my parents raised me and the way they live their lives is simply not conducive to a daughter remaining at, and learning from, home. (That's another way of saying they won't let me come home.) I suppose one could say that God worked a miracle by leading me to choose a small, conservative college which respected traditional values (including how men should treat women), lessening the negative aspects of my parent's influence over me, and allowing Him to work a slow and painful change in my very being. I'm not saying this was the best way, simply that God knows what he is doing and can take what is not good and turn it into something beautiful.

It's helpful to remember one's actual past rather than what one wishes were their past. Regret won't get me anywhere. There's nothing I can do to change what is already happened and, indeed, I can't change my immediate future either, so I'm trusting in the Lord to deal with things as He sees fit and not to let me wallow in self-pity.

Blessings!

EDIT: I love my parents. Even though we don't see eye to eye on a lot of things, I still strive to be a Godly daughter - their Godly daughter. (But, all too often, I have to say "Thank goodness for Grace!")

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Learn from my mistakes

Ok, kids, this is how you should NOT act when you suddenly realize you have a "surplus" of money: DON'T go to the Wal-Mart fabric clearance section if you know you're a fabric addict, because, invariably, they will have all this adorably cute, gingham-imitation stuff in bright, cheery spring colors that you just have to have, even if you don't know what you'll do with it. Thankfully, if you're like me (*wink*wink*), you will have some self control and manage to walk out of the store with only two yards of the prettiest color - and then be eaten away with the desire to go back and purchase every last bolt.

Oh heaven and earth, it's just sitting there on my pillow, screaming, "Why didn't you bring home all my brothers and sisters??" and, you know what? I can't answer.

)=

I think I'll make an apron with it.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

On phone calls and platoon videos

Oh my goodness. So, yesterday I got to speak to EJ and today I got to see him!

EJ is almost finished with bootcamp (only 14 more days!) and the day before yesterday they beat the other platoons in their Final Drill Test, so their senior drill instructor gave them all a phone call home and bought them pizza, haha. It was so wonderful to hear his voice again after nearly three months; it sounded so much deeper than when he left. =P

Today, the platoon videos were posted. All the recruits in India company stood with their platoons and drill instructors while a video panned over all of their faces. I think I recognized him; in fact, I'm about 98% sure it was him, but he is so incredibly changed from the boy I hugged goodbye last January.

I dunno how to describe it. As I just said, they only filmed his face, which was a lot thinner from having lost quite a bit of weight, but even just seeing that, there was something different in his demeanor, something stronger and more confident, not to sound too cliché.

I just can't wait to have him back for a few days, in which we can be deliriously happy, before sending him off to San Diego once more for some further training. This is an entirely new chapter in our lives, one which I'm most anxious to begin. Only another year or so, God willing, before I'm that man's wife!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Oh dear. I'm moody. I'm so very moody. I can't adequately describe my hatred for the human race right now.

Everyone out there should know that I'm an emotional wreck once a month and that my wrath is usually centered on this school I'm "forced" to go to, then spirals out from there. This month is particularly bad and I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that EJ is graduating in less than three weeks and even though he'll have a steady income and would fully be able to support me, I still can't marry him. Instead, I have to waste one more year here, learning about dead people (who normally fascinate me, but today their arrogance and greed just made me angrier).

I don't post this to wallow in self-pity, it's happened enough times now that I can recognize the signs and reserve a small part of my brain to continue rational patterns of thought rather than surrendering myself fully to depravity. I want to show you that I'm not perfect and don't try to be.

Peace. I'll even force myself to say "God Bless." =P

Saturday, April 5, 2008

A Story of Life

About a month ago, we received the gift of life into our home.

You see, it all began when we thought they were all female. Our blue parakeet has been laying eggs for quite some time now; she will even carve out a hollow in the bedding/seed on the bottom of the cage and sits on them like any good mother (we've provided her with the location and materials to build a nest, but she never seemed interested in them). We would normally wait a few weeks before throwing them away, or they'd break in the interval. Well, this time seemed no different, except we left the eggs there for a longer time than usual because she seemed to be sitting on them more consistently and she was just so cute while doing so. One can imagine my complete and utter surprise when, as I was changing their water, I saw a TINY NAKED CHICK laying among the eggs!

Seriously! We had no idea one of them was a male! We also had no clue as to how to care for the little, helpless thing. In a near panic, I called around to several veterinary hospitals and pet stores, asking "what do we do??" The response was almost universal - "Let the mother do her thing. Wait and watch." They also told us to remove the other two birds from the cage, so the Blue wouldn't become pregnant again and there'd be no aggression towards the chick.

Erm, well, that last part was slightly difficult. You see, these parakeets are wild; we never tamed them. In the past, they'd careen around the cage attempting to evade our grasp and actually hurt themselves (thankfully, nothing serious). If we were to have tried to get them out now, they could possibly injure the chick and smash the other eggs. Thus, we allowed them to stay and simply monitored their behavior closely. As it turns out, the two non-moms were wonderful little helpers.

So the chickie, whom we dubbed "Pip," grew like a weed and, much to our surprise, flourished. The mother took excellent care of it - regular feedings, keeping it and the other eggs warm with her body, chasing the other two birds away if they ventured too near (after conveniently using them as a babysitter=), we realized that there was really nothing to worry about.

Four days after the first one hatched, his brother, Squeak, appeared. (I've assigned them both the male sex simply for ease of identification. I actually don't know their sexes and probably won't for a while). I'd forgotten completely just how weensy they are fresh out of the egg. A single egg is slightly smaller than a standard marble, so picture a creature that's barely there, for real; I actually feared for his life all over again. However, God knows what He's doing, and this one got plenty of TLC from mom, doubling his size in no time.

Really, the two looked like bugs without an exoskeleton. They couldn't hold their heads up for the first few days, because, directly after hatching, their head was quite nearly the same size as the entire rest of their body and it took a little while to catch up. After their necks strengthened enough, seeing a naked pink noggin sticking out from under the mother's body became one of the highlights of my day. As Pip grew bigger and he could no longer fit beneath her, she hid him under one of her wings, giving new meaning to all of those Biblical references. And whenever mom was away and they began to cry, she would race back and chase away the babysitter.

We kept expecting the other eggs to hatch, but they never did, so the Blue got to focus all of her energy into these two rambunctious babies. It seemed that every 10 minutes or so saw her feeding them and she only really left the "nest" every couples of hours to stretch her wings, in which case, one of the other two 'keets would stand guard.

Now, a month on, the two have entirely transformed. Pip looks like a miniature mommy-clone, with a blue body and gray wings and head. Squeak is simply covered in pin-feathers about to unfurl; he looks like he's going to be a cross between mom and dad - blue tail and yellow-and-black striped head and body. The Blue is away from the nest far more than she's actually there, but I've noticed that she always keeps one eye on her babies no matter where she is in the cage and one call from them is enough to send her scrambling their way. It's actually taught me a lot about motherhood. You can tell she's anxious when she's not with her kids, her feathers are often pulled closely about her and, I wasn't kidding, she always has an eye on the two (unless one of the other two volunteer to watch them), but she knows she has to let them grow and learn to fend for themselves.

And it's great fun to watch as they adjust to doing just that. Pip is quite the little adventurer. He's comfortable wandering a short distance away from the nest on his wobbly little legs and he'll follow his mom anywhere (though he hasn't gotten the hang of climbing the cage bars just yet). Squeak still likes to stick with what he knows, but he'll follow big brother around if he's up and about, and, just today, I saw him venturing a few inches out of the nest all on his own (the Blue was, of course, diligently monitoring her boys from the top of the cage).

We're not an "animal breeding" family, so this was quite the accident, but what a wonderful accident it was! It's so fascinating to watch them develop and to see how perfectly God created their relationship. I can't wait to see Pip and Squeak become beautiful adults and then send them off to a wonderful home (well, that second part will be hard). I love this and hope one day to have a whole small farm just full of animals. God gave us this gift of life and even a sterile suburbanite like myself can be taught it's true greatness through something as small as a parakeet.