Friday, April 29, 2011

Good morning!

Someone is getting a surprise today. I can't reveal anything or they will know what it is! Suffice it to say, it will be a big surprise. I'll clue you in tomorrow - isn't this mean of me? It's nice to have something to look forward to. (c:

Hope everyone is enjoying their Bright Week. Ours has been full of "getting back to normal" things.

Christ is risen! Indeed He is risen!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

How am I doing?

What can I say? I'm both ok and flattened. I don't exactly have good days and bad days, I have good hours and bad hours. I'm eating normally now - for the first time - and gained back one pound (not that I needed it but it's not surprising when you lose a lot very quickly). I'm sleeping mostly without nightmares. I can get through church services without crying. I can go to the store. I've developed a thick skin as concerns baby items in the stores; my eye slides over them and I deliberately look away and think of something else. I don't think I would be able to be in the same room with a young baby however. It hasn't happened yet, but I don't think it will be good. I don't want to look at pictures of newborns with rare exceptions. We were able to restart homeschooling yesterday after I spent several hours on Tuesday catching up with lesson plans.

Working on Lost Innocents has been both difficult and cathartic: difficult when I must read the story of someone else's miscarriage in the course of researching material for it, cathartic when I think I may be helping someone. I've had huge doubts about the wisdom of continuing it. I hate the thought of reinventing the wheel. I'm trying to remember that the whole point was to gather important things together in one safe place that was Orthodox, not evangelical protestant, pagan, secular, new age, etc. It wasn't going to include poetry or pictures of daisies and sunsets, but give more practical yet comforting help. I hope I'm managing (slowly) to accomplish this.

I'm trying to find my footing mentally. I have to remember to ward off intrusive thoughts - I try to keep my prayer rope with me all the time. The temptation to guilt is sometimes overwhelming. I have to keep reminding myself that Innocent didn't 'fall out', he died - all on his own - and I even kept carrying him for at least three weeks afterward. I find myself berating myself for not having held onto him tight enough so that he 'fell out'. It's a constant battle. Prayer, prayer, prayer. At the same time, hearing someone say something like, "It was God's will," drives me up a wall. God didn't make us for death! He made us for life - but all of created existence is fallen now and death and sickness is a part of that. The icon of the resurrection depicting Christ literally yanking Adam and Eve from their tombs while standing on the broken gates of hell is comforting to me.

There is the obvious unspoken thought on a lot of people's minds: are we going to 'try again'. Well, either God blesses us with another child or he doesn't. I'll be honest and say that I pray he does, but I'm trying to keep that from being the focus of my existence right now. That will horrify a lot of people, but there is one thing I've learned during this whole tragedy: I've learned not to care what other people think, but only what God wants.

Keep us in your prayers. I appreciate the people who have "checked in" over the past week or two, even in the midst of Holy Week and Pascha. This is a lonely place to be and it's easy to feel forgotten after the first horrifying days. That, of course, would be my fault and not anyone else's, but I told myself at some point that I would keep this blog honest while avoiding scandal, and admitting that is the truth.

Holy Father Innocent pray to God for us!

Pray for Tornado Victims

My heart goes out to those affected by yesterday's tornadoes, especially those in Alabama. Our family members are fine, as far as we are aware, and we haven't yet heard anything negative from our friends. Viewing the damage, it is truly heartbreaking. Our oldest was born in Cullman in northern Alabama and we lived in Birmingham more recently. In fact, the massive tornado associated with Tuscaloosa and Birmingham narrowly avoided the house of the Orthodox priest there. Dear friends of ours live in Tuscaloosa. [We've just found out the friends in Tuscaloosa are ok - the tornado went between their houses.]

Lord have mercy!

[update: Friends of ours in Huntsville were hit but no one was hurt, glory to God!]

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Liturgical Armaments

When I came across this video tonight while looking for a setting of Christ is Risen, I knew I had to post it. Joseph (Byzantine Texas), in response to your "Pascha in Australia" post, this one's for you:

At least they don't pull out the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch...


The Romanian readers have probably all seen this, but I'll share it with everyone else who might not have. If you don't have about ten minutes right now to watch it, wait until your house settles down and come back when you do. Quite remarkable.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Birth Story

I finally finished writing and posting Innocent's birth stories on "Lost Innocents". I posted the general story under "Your Stories" and the more graphic medical version under "Natural Miscarriage". I'm glad I took the time to write them out. I feel like it would be rather distressing at some later date to only have vague memories.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Christ is Risen! flash mob

(I love it when the man gets up and inserts "Christos Anesti"!)

h/t Byzantine Texas

And, just for the heck of it, this classic:

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Agape Vespers

OK, I just love these vestements. Thanks, Krista West!


Christ is risen! Indeed He is risen!
Hristos a înviat! adevărat a înviat!
Христос воскресе! Воистину воскрес!
Христос Васкрсе! Ваистину воскресе!
Christ est ressuscité! Il est vraiment ressuscité!
Cristo ha resucitado! En verdad ha resucitado!
المسيح قام! حقا المسيح قام!
Χριστός Ανέστη! Αληθώς ανέστη!
Tá méadú tagtha ar Críost! Tá méadú tagtha ar Fíor sé!
Christus resurrexit! Vere resurrexit!
Crist atgyfodedig! Yn wir ei fod yn codi!

 Some photos from last night and this morning...

Note: We went to bed at 4:00. The kids woke us up at 8:00.
They asked if they could have candy from their baskets.
I said, "Sure, have as much as you want. Make yourselves sick.
Just let me sleep."

Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!

More pictures to come later in the day, but for now...

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Holy Saturday Liturgy

Litia Bread

Fifteen Old Testament Readings


Venerating Tomb


I warned Ribby that was wine and not juice...

Apparently Duchess liked it.

+ Holy Friday + Holy Saturday +

Buying a lily for Innocent's grave.

Not crying in Walmart.

Passing the torch: the girls did 95% of the decorating for the tomb.


Venerate the tomb.

Lentil soup.

"How's the pregnancy going?"
"I, um, lost the baby..."


Pickles falls asleep. We look like the Pieta.

Breaking down during the ninth ode:

Do not lament Me O mother
seeing Me in the tomb,
the Son conceived in the womb without seed,
for I shall arise,
and be glorified with eternal glory as God;
I will exalt all who magnify thee in faith and in love.

Pickles wakes up.

Process around the church with the shroud.

Entering the temple under the shroud.

Home. Bed.

3:36 alarm.

Psalms over the tomb.

It's Holy Saturday...

Sorry, the link to Lost Innocents in the sidebar was incorrect. I've fixed it.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

New Blog

You may have noticed another blog listed in my profile. "Lost Innocents" is under construction right now and it will be a little while (possibly Pentecost) before it's done. It is intended to be a safe place for Orthodox Christians to go for practical information about miscarriage and burial, encouragement and solace. In the event that you are curious you can go ahead and have a peek. I will go ahead and forestall any thoughts about how arrogant it is that I would start such a site with 'so little experience' by saying that I've already had those thoughts myself and I stand accused. However, I had to piece information together from myriad sources and I had resources that not everyone has. I want to put it together in one place and offer an Orthodox perspective. If anyone wants to offer any suggestions or criticisms, please feel free to email me.

Monday, April 18, 2011

NOT Abandoned

This morning was not good. I had a bad night last night. Sleeplessness, a physiological relapse frighteningly reminiscent of the original miscarriage, pain and nightmares. I woke early despite all of this and decided to read until the house woke up. Sadly, the non-fiction book on the nightstand, the only one in the stack I hadn't finished (I've been doing a book a night trying to fall asleep.), was rather depressing.

The last few days I've felt fairly "ok" due in large part to realizing the difference between despair and grief. Grief is ok, despair is not. Staying in the here and now and not going off into useless fantasies about "what will never be" or "what might have been" keeps me on the road of grief and out of the pit of despair. The intrusive thoughts that try to start one of those fantasies do not originate in my own head. The raging unseen warfare around here has been vicious. Turning from them immediately is the only way out. They are impossible to fight directly. Recognizing them for what they are, turning from them and refusing to feel guilt for doing so has been fairly successful and has resulted in those few "ok" days.

The Orthodox readers know what happens when the demons realize you've figured them out on one front: they switch tactics. Hence, the nightmares and the half-waking anguish in the middle of the night. This morning I descended into despair. How could I fight the war on so many fronts? The actual grief, the depression from the big hormone drop, the huge work of getting a large family through Holy Week, and now night-time battles with invisible foes.

Skip to a little later with Father putting me back to bed to cry it out. I clutched the washcloth (handkerchiefs are almost useless for crying that hard) and stared at the wall. I felt my empty wrist, the constant reminder of the loss of my prayer rope two weeks ago. I had been in such a fog that I had no idea where I might have put it. Its loss had been excruciating but I was holding out on getting a replacement. You do get attached to things like prayer ropes. Looking all over had yielded nothing. The despair was palpable. I wanted to pray, but there was nothing there. All I could get out was help me God. 'Deliver me from my enemies for they are stronger than I.' (Ps. 142:6)

Father came in and I said something about the missing rope. He asked if I'd looked by the nightstand. I had, in fact, and had turned up some surprising things, but no prayer rope. Then, it hit me out of nowhere: it's on the opposite side where all of the sewing and crocheting things are kept. Father moved everything. It wasn't there. He left the room momentarily. I felt it again. I knew it was there. Then the thought came: it's in the red bag (a rather large one full of yarn). I sat up, pulled out of it three plastic bags with yarn...

and there it was.

Holding it, I felt immediately that I had not in fact been abandoned by God. That he could help me find a little, insignificant, dime-a-dozen prayer rope, right now, when I needed love and assurance the most, seemed incredible.

I think I will be ok this week.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” [John 11:25-26]
(from the Gospel for Lazarus Saturday)