I was going to do the "30 Days" for my Facebook status, but then thought, "hey, I have a way to update my blog!" Because, really, I'm sort of on a post-Halloween downer.
So, I'm going to catch up for the last three days, and then you'll have a blog post every day at least. (More, once I force myself back into the habit of writing every day.)
Without further ado...
Let's just kick it off with the big one, shall we? Without sounding trite, this really is the number one thing we should all be thankful for. God made flesh came to live among humans with a predilection for sinning, taught us, loved us, healed us, and in the end died for us and defeated death and sin, giving us the opportunity to do the same and live with God's love forever. How's that for something to be grateful for? But all of us, and I mean all of us, totally forget about it until Sunday morning, or when we go to our once-a-year Easter services. So let's start with being thankful for this every day.
No, this does not mean that Dale is just a step below Christ. (Although his world-conquering tendencies on Civilization may indicate such a mentality. J/K J/K.) But I'm going to get a little...personal with this one. I was incredibly insecure when Dale and I started dating. A lot of people would think that's a recipe for disaster. And with the kind of manchild that many women seem to prefer, it might have been. But instead, Dale encouraged me, loved me, and helped me become more confident. When I'm sick he waits on me hand and foot. Just today I came home from church and found he'd made bacon and eggs. Because we've trusted in God our relationship has only gotten better over the years. And as annoying as it is, at least I can wake up to him singing. Very loudly. Very early.
3.) The trip to the St. John Chrysostom Monastery
Our church planned a trip to this monastery in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin. Due to the cost I didn't think I would get to go, but one of the kind ladies at church offered to pay my bus fare. And I am so very grateful for that.
The monastery was founded by Elder Fr. Ephraim. Many of the sisters that live there (the Orthodox church normally doesn't use the term "convent") came directly from Greece to establish this monastery. There they work and pray. We visited the main chapel, which is still being decorated. The walls are covered in icons depicting the saints and the feast days of the church, and the chandelier is large, covering the entire front of the church. The sister who showed us around told us that on Pascha, all of the candles are lit and set into movement, while the lights inside are off. She brought out the silver box that contains a relic of St. John Chrysostom.
Then we went to the main building. There is a small chapel used for daily prayer services. It is not as ornate, but it is just as beautiful. The sister that let us in there told us about the founding of the monastery, of how they always seemed to have money when it is needed. She also told us about her spiritual father, Elder Porphyrios, who gave her great encouragement when she was preparing to move to American in the early 90's. He passed away shortly after that, and several of those who knew him compiled his writings into a book called Wounded by Love (which I bought from the gift shop and will be reading and reviewing soon). Her quiet fervor entranced all of us. The quiet, contemplative atmosphere in that place, surrounded by the beauty in Wisconsin, was moving. The sisters made us a delicious lunch and there was more than enough to go around. I'm grateful for these wonderful women that have dedicated their lives to God and who so readily shared with us despite their own struggles.
You can see their website here.