Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Newest Addition to my Icon Corner

Springtime in Texas came in mid-February, and the rosebushes responded accordingly. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Beginner's Musings on Forgiveness

Some of you may recall this post that I put up after an altercation with a former friend. It's pretty self-righteous and angry. Being self-righteous and angry were my forms of defense after the affront. But time is a good healer, and eventually you start thinking of other things besides the "horrible" things someone did to you--things which are frankly to be expected by anyone who dares to hold an opinion on anything. After all, Christ said, "Blessed are you when men shall revile you and persecute you and say every evil against you falsely for my sake," so I guess I shouldn't be surprised that when I express a pro-life opinion that someone from my infinitely more liberal past doesn't handle it well.

That said, that doesn't mean the occasion doesn't pop up in my mind and sting a little bit. And I don't want to be self-righteous and angry anymore. I know that in the incident I didn't do anything wrong, but I'll keep doing wrong if I continue being angry or proud of myself for what I said. Yet I'm sad when I remember--I'm sorry things had to end that way. I end up in my room, sitting on my bed, facing the "informal" icon corner (the official one's in the living room, and there's a more laid-back one next to our bed), and praying for my former friend. That's really the only thing that can calm the turmoil in my heart--and the pain, and the inadequacy.

I don't think I'll ever forget telling my godmother that I didn't like this person anymore, but I still loved her. And once when I was praying for her about a week after the incident--when the hurt was still strong--my heart expanded and I realized, "This is how God loves." God does not hate unbelievers, nor is He eager to condemn them--He loves all His creation and desires that all be saved. If I continue in self-righteousness and anger, how can I hope for what we pray for in the Lord's Prayer? "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors." I was listening to a podcast this morning talking about a teacher who didn't care much for people "below" him. When this teacher came to talk to the author of the podcast and ignored the cook he was with, the author apologized for his colleague's behavior. The cook, who was unusually wise, said that she loved him because Jesus loved him--the author said that this made her the only person at the school who loved him. I thought of this as I was praying for my old friend just today. I don't want to say that I was proud of myself for having such Christ-like love--far from it. I'm the one who constantly struggles with anger and hatred--prayer is all I have to turn to. I'm petty, I'm bitchy, I'm self-righteous, I'm proud, I'm embarrassed by those I should love, I refuse to forgive--the Jesus prayer and a prayer rope are all I have sometimes. "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on Anonymous."

I will have been Orthodox five years this Pascha, and I'm still a horrible Christian. That's why this is a beginner's musings on forgiveness. When I think of all the eloquent writings on forgiveness the Holy Fathers have written, I know I'll always be a beginner. Lord have mercy on me and have mercy on my old, dear friend.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

All Girls Allowed

I became aware of a group called All Girls Allowed through Twitter and have just now signed up for their newsletters. They asked me to share their site with at least three people, and I figure that since I have at least three gentle readers of the Loquat, I'd share the video on their website here. Consider helping them. :)

How to End Gendercide (short) from All Girls Allowed on Vimeo.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

More Homeschooling Shenanigans

I met with my other family this morning, and it was not shockingly quite different from my first family. Consider this: Both families have four children, but my first family's youngest is 5 and learning phonics ... my second family's youngest is 9 months and learning how to drive her mother bonkers. So I did a lesson with the oldest (6) while Mom worked on lunch, the middle two showed off how well they could make loud noises, and baby (somehow) slept.

I admit that I'm pretty indulgent with the children. If they want to go off on a tangent and ask me things like which Hot Wheels I think is the fastest, I know I certainly don't mind. Just as long as they get the lesson done eventually I'm okay. Sometimes they need a tiny mental break anyway, just like any person. The mother talked to me after lessons about how she knows people who are putting children as young as 18 months in school, so I'd like to think she agrees with me on letting the child set the pace in learning.

I gotta tell ya, I love this! I wish I could do it every morning of the week instead of just Monday and Tuesday. That said, I think my husband likes my short schedule because he wants me to able to take care of the house and take photos and knit and garden--things he considers necessary to the household economy. It feels weird coming from me (who used to be an ultra-feminist), but I enjoy being a housewife. I guess anyone really can change. Anyway, I'll need to be super-duper moral support for Chris while he's in nursing school, so I might as well be content with my life!

I need to go thank St. Ia for a successful day. What a wonderful saint!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

My New "Job"

The word "job" implies I'm getting paid, but it's more succinct than "My new thing I'm doing right now to ward off a life of incredible laziness."

To the left is St. Ia, who, if you can't read for yourself on the icon, is a martyr of the Boxer Rebellion in China. She has a rather distinct designation: She was twice-martyred. If that sounds weird, it's because it is. The Boxers buried her alive, but she was dug up by a sympathetic non-believer. When the Boxers found her again, they beat her to death.

St. Ia has been special to us for some time. When Chris was a teacher, she was sort of his extra patron saint because she was a teacher herself. Her intercessions helped him find his first job in Dallas. But Chris is, to put it weirdly, vehemently not a teacher anymore. Still, we keep her icon in our icon corner and think fondly of her for all her prayers have done for us.

It seems that the time has come for St. Ia to be my extra patron saint: My new "job" is assisting homeschooling families from church. I'm not quite sure how the desire to help started, but when thinking about having children I seemed to be getting the response of, "I have something different in mind for you for now." (Goodness knows what the future holds--the present is good enough to spend my time on.) Anyway, my personal affection for homeschooling was overwhelming, and seeing myself with a dearth of children to homeschool myself, I asked Chris to send out a message on the church's email list to offer my volunteer services. Now I'm helping two families as well as being the helper (and all that that implies) for preschool Sunday school.

One family is on spring break, so I won't see them until next week. Meanwhile, I met with the first family today! I think it was an all-around success, although I was so bushed when I got home that I napped for about four hours. (That's okay--the family in question takes the afternoons off too.) I'm not too surprised that it was a bit hard on me considering I've spent my life since college as a lazy housewife (not that all housewives are lazy--just that I am). Perhaps with the prayers of St. Ia I will not only be an effective tutor but also not completely wiped out by lunchtime. :)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Continuation of a Long Term Bit: Arkansas

Being a devoted fan of a team gives you some nifty built in travel excuses. North Texas has been in the Sun Belt basketball tournament championship game for four out of the last five years, you say? Said tournament is in the noted tourist trap and place of mild historic interest of Hot Springs, Arkansas, you say? Well, of course, we must make this journey! It's almost a civic duty, you know.

Hot Springs has a lovely convention center with a nice little arena on one end. Great venue for a tournament.

This is Karen Aston, first year head coach of North Texas women's basketball, worker of minor miracles. She inherited a team that had won all of five games the previous year, and how they did that I'm not sure I can explain. Calling them inept is an insult to the talent and work ethic of all things inept. With almost the exact same group of players they won 15 games, beating the likes of Alabama and Oregon State and played with an intensity that I didn't think they were capable of last year. It was as dramatic a reclamation as I have seen in any sport on any level from one year to the next. Sadly, they seemed to hit a bit of a wall in February, winning only once the entire month. In Hot Springs, they beat Troy University fairly handily in the first round but lost an absolute heart breaker to Florida Atlantic in the quarterfinals. During that game I realized something. You can call me a prude if you want, I don't much care, but I'm not a big fan of the whole dance team idea. I just think it's a little crude. I will, however, now consider these young ladies

to be downright wholesome after seeing a performance by these young ladies.

The guy sitting next to me said "they forgot their poles." I don't think I can add anything to what he said.

That sad, dejected soul above is the man, the myth, the legend, Tony Mitchell. He could very well be the greatest athlete to set foot in Denton, TX since Joe Greene himself. A defensive machine, he will have more blocks in a single game than lesser men will have in a lifetime. If he comes back next year (before the tournament he said he was leaning that way, but had yet to really weigh everything and make a decision) do yourself a favor and come to a game to see this young man up close. Sure, you'll be able to catch him on television for years while he's in the NBA, but up close and in person makes you appreciate what you're seeing so much more. Also, you can get really close seats to UNT basketball for way cheaper than you can get not so close seats to an NBA game.
As you probably guessed looking at that picture, UNT lost in the final. To add insult to injury, it was to a team that had a half melted McDonald's character for a mascot. I mean, really, what is that? And just so I can offer visual proof that I was on national TV

See the one guy wearing red in the top right corner of the picture? Right below him in a white shirt is me, head slightly tilted.

Enough basketball, time to talk Hot Springs.
In an earlier post you could see the view from the little apartment we rented. We were situated on lovely Lake Hamilton just across the way from some of the fancy old houses that used to host illegal casinos back when the town was a playground for the rich and powerful. It's easy to see how it used to be such an important place. It's an area of great natural beauty, and spa towns have been a big deal for centuries.

The national park visitor center is in one of the old bath houses, and they've kept everything pretty much how it was back when.

That is the men's bathing room. While waiting for their turn in a tub, the men would sit around in their towels lounging on those marble benches around the fountain. Imagine the things that have been said in that room, the deals struck and political bargains made. It all seems very Roman to me.
There is kitsch enough and to spare across the street from Bath House Row, and as my dad has said about Hot Springs, it is a town well versed in the art of separating you from your money, but don't let that distract you from the interesting things it does have to offer.