Monday, December 29, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

With love to all.
From The Ferrenbergs

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008

Winter Wonderland part 2

This has been quite an amazing storm we've endured. For the most part I LOVE the snow! But this part of the country is not meant to get this much snow (our yard has received approximately 11 inches). This snow will hang around longer than we are used to it hanging around here BUT it WILL melt much much faster than the ground can handle and it's not going to be fun! I'll enjoy it while I can though and share some of the beauty and adventure we've had.

First I want to say....Nicholas turned 8 today(the post is taking longer than I'd like to finish so his birthday was yesterday)!!!
The power went out last night and didn't come back on until this afternoon so after lunch we put a candle in a Reece's Peanut Butter Cup and sang "Happy Birthday".

This picture is looking up our driveway towards the house. This is after all the snow finally stopped falling. I still can't believe all the snow. And to think others had way more.

I was keeping track of this ladder, taking pictures of it throughout the storm. Here is the photo I last posted. The last picture in that series was 8AM Sunday, this one was taken Sunday night. Wow! What a difference another band of snow makes! Crazy!

I love this picture. I posted one previously from a day earlier. It looks so cool.

Some roof adventures through it all. I woke up to find the gutter down and snow starting to slide off the roof. It looks really funky, eh?

This is after James fixed it. Look how deep it looks!

James decided to try and go to town but first he had to get out.

This is the drive down Widme Road. They don't plow around here, except the major interstates or highways and if your lucky other main arterials. That's what's so frustrating me so much. I love the snow but not when they can't keep up with it.

This is in the Albertsons parking lot. Those of you used to snow wouldn't think much of it but my kids think this absolutely amazing!

My grass bush is covered with snow and it fell down to the sides and created a cool tunnel through it. Charissa discovered this. She crawls in the hole you see on the left and through a "u" shape to the right. Cool, eh?

I found this nail on the front porch and found it really funny how the snow collected on it. A nail!

These next 2 are just some trees in the front yard. They are completely weighted down with snow.

I'm completely astonished at how much snow we have and how long it is sticking around. Like James said, it's usually gone in 24-48 hours. Despite the fact that I LOVE snow and really miss my Minnesota snow, I am tired of this. I think mostly because it shuts the city down! It has to go away and typically goes away fast leaving an ugly, disgusting mess of mud. We haven't been to Church since December 14th. All services have been canceled till tomorrow and, OH, I just pray we get there tomorrow.
So, to say the least, it really grieves me that I see THIS in the weather report this morning.
UGH! If I was somewhere in the midwest (like between the Rockies and the Appalachians) this wouldn't be an issue. I'd welcome it. But, alas, it is not!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Pictures of our Winter Wonderland

This is a rare occurance here in Western WA. So I just need to take lots of pictures and have fun with it. Here are 2 items I watched pile with snow through the evening. We are not expected to melt any of this away for several days and it is very possible it will still be here for Christmas.

After the mosaics are some fun pictures from around the yard this morning. I measured 5 1/2 inches this morning.

This is right out the front door. That round thing is the mini trampoline.

Birdhouse on the front porch. I just liked the look of it.

This is the chicken waterer in the garden. It's been frozen all week and hasn't been in use at all.

I need to get out and measure the snow on this lid. It has remained undisturbed over the last week so it would give a good indication of how much snow we've gotten in the last week.

I'm looking up our driveway at Mina. You can see our house in the background.

Kelsey Anna built this little snow fort by herself. She named it "Fort Snowy Mittens".

My favorite picture. The fence along our driveway.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Sewing with the girls

We've been working on making Christmas presents and the girls have really been enjoying sewing. They've come up with their own creations and grandma (before she left) helped Kelsey quite a bit and now I am stepping in and helping them both. Kelsey started out wanting to make "cool dude" dolls for the boys but as we've run out of time I talked her into turning the one doll she has nearly done into a girl for her sister. When the doll is complete I'll post pictures but for now, here is the outfit we've made for the doll. She is really enjoying making dolls and would like to make a whole bunch of them for next year and maybe try to sell them at a craft fair.

Charissa wanted to get in on the action and seems to pull out fabric and randomly sew something so I helped her create something for the boys. I told her that they might like a belt to stick their swords in and so she designed something even better. She is calling it a "Jedi belt". She came up with the idea of pockets and so we used some old jeans and made both these belts in one day. She loves to sew. They have 2 pockets each, 2 loops for swords and several button holes to make room to grow. The boys will love them!

I am really enjoying sewing lately and hope to have many projects done within the next couple weeks. So thankful we celebrate the 12 days of Christmas so everything doesn't have to be done by the 25th. Yeah!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Wild Weekend

We started out Friday with Winter Weather Warnings that downgraded into just wind warnings. Which can be a big deal where I live. And it turned out we needed the warning to prepare, I'm thankful I did. Our power went out about 2:00pm and was out for13 hours. We enjoyed a woodstove cooked dinner, drawing by candlelight and guitar music entertainment from dad.

As we moved into Saturday with renewed "light" we busily prepared for a house full of guests for the impending ordination on Sunday, God-willing. The temperatures were scheduled to plummet but they told us no need to worry about snow. Well, later in the evening Saturday it began to snow. We went to bed with the snow blissfully falling from the sky and woke to cold temps and about 2-3 inches of snow.

Those of you not from Western WA need to understand this just isn't something anyone around here ever gets used to, it only happens MAYBE once or twice a year and when it does come it goes just as quickly. So we head to Church 20 minutes earlier than scheduled just in case the roads are slick and arrive to find our choir director would not be joining us due to her one hour commute and too much snow. Apparently her area received about4-6 inches of snow. Our choir director in training, Nathaniel, (literally, he's been doing vespers choirs for about 5 months and filled in for liturgy a few times but never been to a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy before) stepped in to save the day. He did a FABULOUS job.
Reader James very quickly became Subdeacon James after a few prayers by the Bishop and a first Subdeacon "job".

Bishop BENJAMIN saying the prayers over James and below Subdeacon James doing his first job.

Subdeacon James, Nathaniel, and Walter did the Eis Polla Trio during the service. Walter took Scotts place (he's the choir director's husband) after only practicing it three times before service. He did great! They all did!! At the bottom is a video of the trio.

We had a wonderful visit with those of our friends who were adventuresome and came over despite the snow. Then I prepared to help my mom pack up and get ready to be on the 4:45AM ferry this morning. She's been visiting for 4 1/2 weeks and has become a part of the household only to leave us early this morning. We are all really going to miss her. Yesterday Charissa told her she needed to sleep in her room so that she could be near her just a little longer. She spoiled us all.
Grandma and Joseph cuddling on the sofa.

Now we have frigidly cold temperatures forecast for the entire week with another chance of snow on Wednesday and Thursday. This morning when I took mom to the ferry at 4:15AM my thermometer read 20 degrees .

Here are a couple pictures I had mom take after Church since we were all dressed up. It's been awhile since we've gotten a good one.

Subdeacon James, Myself (Susan Sophia) and the kids from left to right:
Kelsey Anna, Charissa, Joseph and Nicholas.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Weather, Bishops and uncertainty.

We have an amazingly busy weekend planned. The weatherman is guessing that we are in for a very big chance of snow and, for this area, a significant amount. The Bishop is in the area visiting all the area OCA Churches. Today he is in Seattle celebrating at St. Spiridons for their Feast Day. Later he heads up to Port Townsend for an evening vigil and Divine Liturgy in the morning for St. Herman's Feast. And then he heads back down to Poulsbo to be with us Saturday evening and Sunday. On Sunday, Rdr. James is scheduled to be ordained as a Subdeacon and another man at Church will be tonsured a Reader. We expect lots of friends to visit but now I'm not sure if that will all happen.

Winter Storm Warning

I'll highlight one sentence....
What makes this even more interesting is the temps aren't suppose to warm up. So if it snows it will not be going anywhere anytime soon. And around here we aren't prepared for that. More snow scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, but just a little. Most likely everything will work out just fine because they are NEVER right! But it puts a little anxiety into my weekend.

I try to remember the words of Mother Raphaela...."God is in control of the universe! Give it all to Him."

ADDENDUM: Warnings have disappeared, sounds like things should be fine for the busy weekend. Another chance at some snow will be later this week...we aren't suppose to warm up at all this week.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Birthdays celebrated

On Saturday we had a few friends over and celebrated Kelsey and Nicholas' birthdays.
I cannot believe how fast they grow.
Kelsey turned 12 on November 26th and Nicholas turns 8 on the 22nd of December.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Feast of St. Nicholas

Today on the Feast of St. Nicholas we celebrate the TRUE beginning of the man in the red suit. St. Nicholas of Myra is a wonderful and fun Saint to commemorate with the children. It makes me feel good to be able to tell my children, yeah, Santa is real here is who he is. We've read stories of Saint Nicholas all week. Last night they kids put their shoes out in front of their bedroom doors and they will have fun surprises in them. My dear friend Liz sent these to share with me and the kids will think they are really cool.
Today is Nicholas' Patron Saint day and since we became Orthodox (the year he turned 1) we also celebrate his birthday since his birthday is so close to Christmas (22nd). I can't believe he will be 8!

If you don't know the story of St. Nicholas well, here is the story from the OCA website. Just click on the life of the Saint.

In truth you were revealed to your flock as a rule of faith,
an image of humility and a teacher of abstinence;
your humility exalted you;
your poverty enriched you.
Hierarch Father Nicholas,
entreat Christ our God
that our souls may be saved.

Troparion - Tone 4

Friday, December 05, 2008

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

More on the search for Wisdom

Sirach says in 4:11-16
Wisdom exalts her children and lays hold of those who seek her.
Whoever loves her loves life,
And those who come to her early in the morning will be filled with gladness.
He who holds fast to her will inherit glory, and the Lord blesses every place she enters.
Those who serve her will minister to the Holy One, and the Lord loves those who lover her.
He who obeys her will judge the nations; And he that gives heed to her will live with confidence.
If he trusts in her, he will inherit her, and his posterity will be in possession of her.

The note in my Orthodox Study Bible says: (bold is my emphasis)
*****Gaining wisdom is not passive or automatic. Note the action verbs: seek, loves, come, holds fast, serve, obeys, gives heed and trusts.

The Lord shows me another answer to my question.....How do I gain wisdom? What does it look like?

Monday, December 01, 2008

Craft Fair

My mom and I had a booth at a Craft Fair this weekend, Friday and Saturday. This is the first time I've ever done this and it was extremely disappointing. A combination of things made it very unsuccessful: 1. advertising was terrible and 2. it was Black Friday and anyone who went out went to the mall or big box store, those who didn't wouldn't go out for ANYTHING. We did earn our booth money back and about $20 extra dollars. But I had high hopes to earn some Christmas money. :(

I thought I'd share with you what we were selling. If you see anything that sparks your interest feel free to email me with any questions (sorry for the shameless commerce )
susansophia.f [at] gmail[dot]com

Here I am sitting at the booth. On the far right you'll see a beautiful quilt that someone at Church hand quilted. It's a lap size quilt and we are raffling it off to raise funds for our Church building fund. If you'd like to know more let me know.
The drawing is December 17th.
The stars on the Christmas tree are handmade paper stars we call German Stars. They are folded and hand-dipped in wax and sprinkled with glitter. Beautiful.

My mom has been doing an old fashioned art called quilling. She has been working on this for a few years now and has gotten really good at it. She makes beautiful quilled art and frames it. Below you will see her artwork.

This Eeyore is one of my favorites. She has also made Tigger for Joseph a year ago I think.

And I requested this barn....I love it.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Please Consider

If you have not done so already please, please prayerfully consider signing the petition against the Freedom of Choice Act. For more information and to sign click here. OR click on the ad in the right sidebar.

Monday, November 17, 2008

God heard me

This morning before I opened my bible to read I prayed a simple little prayer, "Lord, show me how to gain the wisdom I need." I then opened my bible and went right to this passage:

If you desire wisdom, keep the commandments,
And the Lord will supply it to you.
for the fear of the Lord is wisdom and instruction,
And His good pleasure is faith and gentleness.
Do not disobey the fear of the Lord,
And do not come to Him with a divided heart.
Do not be a hypocrite in the sight of men,
And be careful with your lips.
Do not exalt yourself, lest you fall
And bring dishonor to your soul.
The shall reveal your secrets,
And in the midst of the assembly He will strike you down,
Because you did not come in the fear of the Lord
And your heart was full of deceit.

Wisdom of Sirach 1:23-27

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Thanksgiving: Feast or Fast?

Father Deacon Raphael has a wonderful post titled Thanksgiving: Feast or Fast? It is an article written by a Father John Parker. It really is very well written and gives much food for thought.
Check it out!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Joseph Says

Joseph was sitting on the sofa with grandma and they were talking. I heard Joseph say, "Do you know what I want to be when I grow up?"
"No, what do you want to be?" Grandma answered.
"I want to be a monk."
I piped up and asked him "Since when?" (He's always saying he wants to be a priest.)
"Since Halloween." Mom and I both, laughed out loud. But that's not the funny part.

I then said to Joseph, "Do you know that if you are monk you cannot get married."

"OH, never mind, I won't be a monk then."


Before going into my post I must say:
Axios, to Metropolitan Jonah! I'm so happy at this election. See what James says and he posted a video here.


A couple months ago I decided that I needed to begin to pray for wisdom in my vocation as a mother and wife. I prayed that God would give me wisdom in knowing how to raise my children and to run my household. I studied Proverbs 31 to the best of my ability and prayed God would give me wisdom to become the woman he wanted me to be. So I started reading the "wisdom books" ( Proverbs, Wisdom of Sirach, Wisdom of Solomon). I came across this first:

Wisdom of Sirach 1:9-12

The fear of the Lord is glory and boasting,
And gladness and a crown of rejoicing.
The fear of the Lord will cheer the heart
And will give gladness, joy and long life.
For those who fear the Lord, it shall be well to the utmost,
And on the day of his death, he will be blessed.
The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord,
And she was joined with the faithful in the womb.

"gladness", "crown of rejoicing", "joy" These were things that I really wanted in my life but if "The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord" what really is the "fear of the Lord".
I found it in many places in scripture....

Psalm 111:10 (sep:110:10)
The fear of the LORD
is the beginning of wisdom;
A good understanding have all those who do His commandments.
His praise endures forever.

Proverbs 1:7
The fear of the LORD
is the beginning of knowledge,
But fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Proverbs 9:10
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,
And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

If I wanted wisdom I needed to "fear the Lord". What does it truly mean to fear the Lord?
What does that look like?

I want to answer these questions and will continue to search scripture and also read the Church Fathers.
I found a page of 27 quotes from Fathers of the Church on "Fear of God",
And there are 19 quotes on "wisdom".
And I am sure scripture is full of reference to these.

More later.

Monday, November 10, 2008

James, my love, you will get a kick out of this.

You can take the girl out of the Midwest (NorthCentral) but you can't take the Midwest out of the girl.

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: North Central

"North Central" is what professional linguists call the Minnesota accent. If you saw "Fargo" you probably didn't think the characters sounded very out of the ordinary. Outsiders probably mistake you for a Canadian a lot.

The Inland North
The Midland
The West
The Northeast
The South
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Monday, November 03, 2008

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Matthew 6:34

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Monday, October 27, 2008

Women's Retreat Treasures

I arrived home late on Saturday night. I had a fabulous time with dear friends down at the 7th Annual Women's Retreat in Beaverton, OR. Mother Raphaela was true blessing as she shared with us about prayer and silence. She is the abbess of the Holy Myrrhbearers Monastery in Ortega, NY.
Here I will share with you some of the treasures I heard as she spoke. I cannot do the entire talk justice in the list of quotes and thoughts but I hope maybe you might be blessed from even this small excerpt of her time with us. I realized after I typed it all out there is a lot. But I pray that somwhere in this bulleted list of thoughts you will find something from God.

~When judgment comes we cannot say to God, "Well, Lord, I was born in 20th century America, you can't expect me to become a saint. Maybe if I had been born 200 years ago in Russia or somewhere else, but not here in America, now." For some reason, I just don't think that's going to wash.

~ I think many orthodox don't pray because they have an exalted view of what prayer should be. Prayers from the Jordanville prayer book, 200 hundred prostrations, one time around the 300 knot prayer rope with the Jesus prayer and another time around with Most Holy-Theotokos. If you live with someone and spend the entire day not even acknowledging their presence, not saying hi, not smiling, speaking at all then there is a problem with that relationship, yet many of us go through the day without even saying Hello to God.

~We orthodox DO believe in a personal God.

~Before modern technology brought all the noise into our world, monastics weren't the only ones who lived in silence.
When Mother Raphaela was a young girl she had a "boombox" that blared in her bedroom much to the chagrin of her mother. The day she took it into the bathroom with her was the last straw and said to her, "If you turn that off what are you afraid of hearing?"

~What happens when we sit in silence is that every piece of garbage we've seen, heard or been through comes flooding our minds. But we need to realize that God is in control of the universe, and learn to give that garbage to Him as it comes into our minds. We can reprogram ourselves. As a thought comes in, visualize handing it up to Him.

~Sometimes we use religion to measure everyone else by instead of ourselves. Usually what bothers you about a person is really what you yourself is struggling with.

~Some of us feel like we don't have a choice about modern technology. We think it's part of our lives and we can't let it go. If we don't take control of the muscles of our brain that modern technology will (TV, computers, phones, etc.)

~ There is no one who cannot carve out 3 minutes from their day to be with God. If you start treating Him like a person, THE Person, than things can really start to happen.

~Prayer is deliberately & consciously standing before God and handing up to Him those we love. They are His, we need to let them go. God is in charge of the universe, NOT me.

~We need to become more transparent so that God can be seen through us. So that people can meet God through us (and we need to start at home). How? By prayer and fasting! Just like our exalted views of prayer (none or all) we also have exalted views of fasting...none or all. It doesn't have to be that way. We fast to the best of our ability...even a little is better than none at all. Fast from the worst of your addictions. We need a prayer rule, even if ever so small and we need to fast, even if ever so slightly. When we do these things....we change!

Her one and only thought on politics...
~No matter what candidate we end up with we WILL find ourselves surrounded by people who are tolerant of EVERYTHING except us!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Off to Women' Retreat!

I leave in 3 1/2 hours to drop the kids and head to the ferry, pick up a friend and drive south to attend the 7th Annual Fall Women's Retreat at St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church in Beaverton, OR. On the way Helen and I will stop in Olympia and get into Mimi's car (it gets way better gas mileage) and head the rest of the way. Hopefully I get to see lots of familiar faces from my old parish and ladies from my current parish are attending as well. But we will also be having a blogger reunion of sorts and I'll get to chat for a bit with these wonderful ladies: Christina, Carrie and Xenia.
Can't wait.

Have a fabulous weekend and see you next week!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Must-See Movie

Elenie over at Orthodox Christian Education had a post about this movie. If you go to her post you'll see what Fr. Demetri has to say about this movie.
You can go to the Advent Film Group website to see a trailer and read more about it.
One of the links I followed said that they hope to have it available for viewing online later this month!!! But...maybe we should support their efforts if possible.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A day of schooling on the farm.

We had a very non-traditional day of school on Wednesday. It was fun!
We did math first thing in the morning and then moved on to a lot of hands on fun.
Grandma and Grandpa were here and brought tons of juice grapes. So we spent a good part of the day making juice. I posted about it on the farm blog.
Grandma made salsa for us and Charissa, Nicholas and Joseph helped chop vegetables for that. Charissa was very brave chopping onion.

We had a zucchini that someone gave us over a month ago. It was HUGE! We didn't know if it was too big to use and so it just sat. But Wednesday Kelsey decided it was time to try something and she cut it up, peeled it and shredded 1/4 of it to make zucchini bread. It turned out great. I forgot to take a picture of the final product.

The men worked outside on the cabin. One of James' goals is to get it sided before winter. The boys loved helping all that they could--hands on learning!