Saturday, June 30


By Father William DuBovik

 What do we do now? It’s a question many may ask when assessing their parish and its direction as they seek to witness for Christ in their parish and in their local community.

Desiring to respond to the call of Christ, to Baptize all nations, and with a love for all of our sisters and brothers in Christ to bring them to the fullness of God’s call, we have begun to implement parts of a program that helps us visibly witness for Christ, sharing His message with others. We share these ideas, not as new, earth-shattering revelations, but as an outline that might be of use in helping to further enliven our parishes.

Outreach, with the goal of bringing more people into the true faith as expressed in the historic church of Orthodox Christianity, is accomplished in many ways. We do this, or seek to do this, so that others may be transformed and may come to know God in the fullest way possible-the only true and fruitful motivation for such efforts. Of course, each one of us must grow ourselves as Christians so that we can reflect Christ in our lives to others. This is a true missionary effort. Still, it is good to make efforts to give our Church greater visibility and to let people know what the Orthodox faith can offer.
Studies show that of those who join a Church, from 70 to 90 percent come because of family or a friend. We need to keep this in mind in any efforts we make to share our faith with others. Even with this statistic, we are left with some 20 percent who come for other reasons-moving into an area, attracted by programs, seeking a new faith, looking for truth, church school, etc., and we need to find ways to appeal to them.

Outreach For The Right Reasons
Ideas and the voluntary efforts to carry out Outreach programs are welcome as long as they are consistent with our Faith. Traditionally, through parish bazaars, special programs and activities that are publicized, people in the community learn of our presence. We need to do more, however, and a parish needs to decide, prayerfully with the Father’s guidance, the Son’s love and the Holy Spirit’s inspiration, in what direction we want to go. Let us be careful as we embark that our goal is to share Christ’s truths and not just to share our budgetary expenses with others, seeking persons to fill seats and to pay their fair share or dues. Why would God guide us in growth if our motivations are not out of love, but are selfish?

The following are proposals for Outreach, some of which our parish has attempted, others to which we are aspiring:

Outreach-Car-Pooling: There are people who cannot come to church because they do not drive, or no longer drive. Forms can be distributed to find those who need and would like a ride, and to identify others who would be willing to drive someone from their area to church.

Outreach-Advertising: A society that a couple of years ago got excited over a stuffed red animal that produces an electronic laugh when you press on its stomach-otherwise known as “Tickle Me Elmo”-is a society that attests to the effectiveness of advertising. Our parish has allocated funds and earmarked contributions to increase advertising in the local newspapers-not just that we are here, but with messages of who we are and what we believe. We have seen some fruits from this effort, at least as far as having persons visit us for services, even if they have not yet joined the parish.

Outreach-Community Relations: How can we relate to the neighborhoods in which we find ourselves? Will we become just commuter churches? Some say the latter is impossible to sustain over a long period, and that a church needs to reach out to its neighborhoods. Don’t we have an obligation as Christians to do just that-taking Christ’s message to all people?

Outreach-Liturgical Life: Our liturgical life is the reason for our being, and if we enthusiastically come to as many services as possible, we are in a position to invite others and encourage others to come. Lukewarm adherents will not attract others.  Only those with a passion to worship will. Imagine creating a traffic jam, not for a tag sale or bazaar but for Liturgy! For major feast days and special church observances, we should make a statement by taking the day off from work and by keeping our children home from school to attend the Liturgy… Overall, liturgical life must be renewed, and this does not involve a committee or a meeting, but each person making a commitment to Christ. This is of utmost importance for our lives as well as our witnessing for the Lord. Will some lead the way and encourage others to follow their example?

Outreach-Flyers: Distributing flyers about the church is another possibility. Parishioners can go door-to-door, post them on store bulletin boards, give them out on corners and at stores.

Outreach-Libraries: Are there books on Orthodoxy at all libraries in the region? Let’s check and see what libraries will accept in donations of books on Orthodoxy as well as Orthodox newspapers and periodicals. Can we sponsor the appearance of an author who has written about Orthodoxy at a library or bookstore?

Outreach-Telephone: Many people enjoy talking on the telephone. How about calling someone who has not been seen in church lately, or someone who comes sporadically whom we may feel is in danger of falling away? How about calling a non-Orthodox friend or acquaintance, inviting them to come and see?

Outreach-Welcoming: Our parish does have greeters who do a good job of welcoming guests. They provide mini-forms for the guests to fill out so they can then receive follow-up contact. Greeters wear nametags and move out to welcome guests. They do not wait for guests to approach them. One consideration is to have a “Nametag Sunday” periodically, on which each person wears a nametag. There are people at church, new and not so new, who may not know everyone’s name, or who perhaps have forgotten it.

Outreach-Special Activities: Our parish’s “Russian Tea Room” and Bazaar, while a fund-raiser, is a wonderful opportunity to meet new people. We hold church tours throughout the event.

Outreach-Education: We are beginning a library, and have offered opportunities for adult education. Most importantly, we learn through our worship as we listen to the hymns and prayers, especially from the verses for the appointed feast days. Our icons also tell us about the meaning of what we commemorate. In our worship, God speaks to us in many ways and feeds us – body and soul.

Outreach-Computer Age: We need good access to the internet. We need to study how we can best utilize our own website to reach out in this advanced age of technology.

Outreach-Other Publicity: Our parish sends a schedule of our services each year to the colleges, universities and hotels in the area, welcoming all. If one sees a calendar without Orthodox holy days, one can write to the company. School systems can be notified about holy days, but at least a year in advance. Significant church information can be sent to television and radio stations as well as newspapers. Making a "pest" of oneself can be fruitful. We also can correct erroneous statements. We can write letters to the editor.

Outreach-Ministries: Perhaps there is a special ministry in which a parish would like to be involved, such as a ministry to recovering alcoholics, to widows and widowers, to the abused. This is an excellent form of Christian compassion that can result in outreach. Our parish has begun to develop a relationship with an organization that assists pregnant women and newborns.
My sisters and brothers in Christ, these are a few ideas that come to mind when we think of Outreach. You may want to add more, or eliminate some. What is important is that we do not just talk about ideas but that we act to bring them to fruition. How bold and determined will we be? What small mustard seeds of ideas are awaiting our nurturing so they will sprout and grow into huge trees?
We need with openness and most importantly with faith in the power of God to look at our parish-where it is and where it is going. Whether any or all of these projects results in even one new member will be according to God’s will. Just as importantly, with the Grace of God, trying some of these ideas can reinvigorate us, and be a response to any lurking stagnation or backsliding that threatens. We know, too, that an individual or family that focuses only on itself is one in danger. So, too, is a parish. Projects such as these will turn us outward. And, finally, we do need to try to respond to our Lord’s command to “Go and Teach All Nations, Baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

Friday, June 29

Saints Peter and Paul...

O Leaders of the Apostles and teachers of the universe,
Entreat the Master of All,
Grant peace to the world and to our souls, great mercy.


The Learning Basket for Saints Peter and Paul can be found HERE.

Thursday, June 28

Creating a Child-Friendly Environment: Gardening Tools...


I am always on the lookout in odd places for child-sized tools (silverware, brooms, buckets, shovels, etc.) that are sturdy and will stand up to the abuse that little children can give them.  A few months ago we were wandering through Home Depot (surprise!) and noticed that there were some real shovels in just the right size for children .  Fun!  We bought two small ones (about 17 inches) and one in the next size up (about 23 inches).  Though they are small shovels,  I have also found myself using them for various gardening jobs.  They are not just for little ones!  We also found butterfly nets in a bookstore that have lasted for several years.  We use them to catch frogs, butterflies, and insects.  With a watering can, a few buckets, shovels, and nets, we have discovered that our little ones can stay busy for hours. 

I found big old flower pot from our shed and use it to corral all of our gardening tools together and at the ready for my little ones to grab as soon as they need them.  It is so much easier to clean things up at the end of the day with this method, too.  It is nice to see the children reaching for these things over and over again.  They are truly useful items that have allowed our little ones to discover and learn many new things as they wander and play on this bit of earth!

Tuesday, June 26


A few weeks ago, we bought a little purple basil plant at the farmer's market.  It has been happily sitting on our step since then and tonight I added it to my pasta sauce.  Yum!  At the last minute, I garnished everyone's plate with a little bit of the basil and it really added something special.  I think that I am going to move the basil to my kitchen counter so that I can be sure to use it more frequently.  I'm also going to keep an eye out for some cilantro and flat leaf parsley to round out my kitchen herb garden!  I think that they will really add something to my cooking that my jars of dried herbs don't. 

Do you use fresh herbs in your kitchen?

Monday, June 25


We dashed away after Liturgy yesterday for an engagement party for friends of ours.  My mother and father hosted the lovely party for the sweet couple and we enjoyed our time there so much.  We slept at my father-in-law's house last night and just before leaving we stopped for delicious bagels!  It was a quick trip that gave us a little respite and some much needed time with our family and friends.  How was your weekend?

Sunday, June 24


Goodness, Topaz is actually putting on eggs to boil!  No one told me the hens had yielded to prayer.  Oh, excellent hens!  I was only expecting bread and margarine for tea, and I don't get as used to margarine as I could wish.  I thank heaven there is no cheaper form of bread than bread."

Dodie Smith

Saturday, June 23

Summer Essentials...

I have been really enjoying three of my favorite summer essentials these past few days!

It has been quite hot here and having a light summer bag to toss everything in has been great!  This tote is easy to wipe clean, but the fact that it has a chic handle and flap made of gorgeous caramel leather, seems to elevate it from a beach tote to a respectable handbag.  This is my second Longchamp tote (the last one was navy) and I really like how the bag wears as the seasons pass.  The black and caramel colors of the bag look great with everything in my closet!

I try to remember to put on my sunglasses every time I step outside and these are the nicest pair I have ever had. It seems that I am more sensitive to bright sunlight as I get older.  I really like how these sunnies look...  I put them on and feel a little glamorous!

When I saw these flip flops in Marshalls, I was excited!  They are made by Born (such comfortable shoes!) and look great with just about everything from a simple skirt and tee to my more dressy clothes.  Though I have always admired shoes with flowers and other embellishments, I was always hesitant.  I did want to draw too much attention to my large feet and I also didn't want to tire of the style quickly (especially if they are a more expensive shoe!).  I do not have to worry about either of those things with these flip flops!  They are a perfect color (almost a neural) and make me feel summery and elegant. 

What are your summer essentials this year?

Thursday, June 21

Keeping a Clean Kitchen...

If there is one thing that I don't like to do, it is clean.  However, since I like a reasonably tidy home and there is no Alice in our future, I find it easiest to keep up with messes as they happen. Therefore, I try to do the following on a daily basis:

1.  Keep Up with the Dishes
2.  Wipe the Counters and Table after Every Meal
3.  Mop Up Spills as They Happen
4.  Sweep the Floor Once a Day
5.  Take Out the Garbage and Recycling Every Evening

I find that if I go though this mental checklist after each meal (or at the very least, after dinner!), the kitchen is kept in pretty good order.  Obviously, there are days when the basics are barely done or ones when I never seem to leave the kitchen!  Every day is different around here!

I think that it is also very important to enlist the help of any little ones there are around your home.  Even a toddler can help clear the dishes (with supervision!), wipe the table, help with the sweeping (we found sturdy little brooms at Home Depot that are just their size!), and bring recycling out.  Cleaning up doesn't have to be drudgery!  It can be a fun, family affair that is a continuation of the family meal!

What are your tips for keeping a clean kitchen?

Wednesday, June 20

Learning Basket: Fireflies...


Surprise the little ones with a twilight walk to catch fireflies
Set up a firefly nature table
Create fireflies out of wool roving
Draw a nightsky picture on black construction paper using sidewalk chalk for stars and fireflies

Tuesday, June 19

Bathing Suits...

I finally took the plunge (ha!) and ordered a new bathing suit last night.  I know that bathing suit shopping is torture for most women, but I try to make it as painless as possible by just shopping online.  The biggest problem that I have had with suits in the past is that they have not been large enough in the bust area, and so this time I went with a Land's End swim suit in black that boats a larger size and more support for that area.  I am looking forward to receiving it in the mail!  Next on the agenda is to find a sunhat and a pretty bathing suit coverup!  Any suggestions?  I wonder if a simple men's button-down shirt would look good or just ridiculous.  What suit are you wearing this summer? 

Monday, June 18

Favorite Things: A White Bed...

My sister and I were recently on the telephone discussing bedding and our mutual love of a bed made up all in white.  I couldn't remember where I saw a white bed that made me want to always choose white blankets, sheets, and shams for our bedroom, but she reminded me that I fell in love with the white bed while babysitting for a little girl named Sophia.  Sophia's mother is a cultured woman.  Every time she walked into our church, we would take a mental note of what she wore (bad girls!) to discuss on the way home.  She always looked chic and put together!  When she asked me to babysit for her once a week, I was thrilled!  I loved her little girl and was excited to spend time with her.  The bonus was that I could soak up all the style that was in that little house while I played with sweet Sophia.

Nap-time always took place in Sophia's parent's bedroom.  It was a gorgeous white room with a hardwood floor and lots of windows.  There were very few furnishings or decorations in the room, but I do remember  a dressmaker's dummy covered in gorgeous sparkly brooches and one window ledge had a small collection of matryoshka dolls in beautiful colors lining it. The thing that stood out to me the most though, was the simple bed made up with lovely white linens.   It was really the showpiece of the room! 

When we were setting up our first home, we chose a beautiful white matelasse duvet cover and we still really like it!  We did need a new lightweight summer blanket though and my gift for Mother's Day was to choose a new one.  What fun!  I chose a white pick-stitch quilt and it arrived today!  I feel like it really makes our room look inviting and relaxing. Our room still needs a little more organizing and re-arranging before it is as cozy as we would like, but we are well on our way now that we have this beautiful bedding! 

Sunday, June 17


He looked about him with pleasure.  His possessions - the dearest of them still busy with her mending - gave him enormous quiet pride.  He liked the grey watered silk wallpaper that had been new when they married twelve years ago, and was now comfortably grubby.  He liked the sofa, the armchairs and the two prim little occasional chairs, flanking the sofa, all upholstered in good dark red velvet.  He liked the heavy mahogany sideboard, richly carved, and crowded permanently with silver, china, bronze, as well as the ephemera of daily living such a s letters awaiting answers, bundles of  knitting, indigestion tablets, and spectacle cases."

Miss Read

Saturday, June 16

Life with Father...

Every Father's Day, we watched Life with Father with my dad.  I'm watching clips of it tonight and giggling over the funny dialogue!  Have you every seen it?

Friday, June 15


After dinner is over, the children help me tidy up the dining room and kitchen and then we head to the bathroom for bathtime.  After getting everyone into the tub, I sort the clean clothing that I washed earlier in the day.  I put away everything except for Sugar Plum and Little Man's clothing (they put their own things away after they get jammied up), lay out everyone's pajamas, pick out books for story time, and generally tidy up in the bedroom and bathroom.  Once the children finish their bath and get ready for bed, we read a few books, say our evening prayers, get blessings from Papa, and lots of kisses and hugs.  I rock the baby to sleep and then it is relaxing time for Papa and Mama!

Since the older children no longer take naps, we do our best to put them to bed by seven.  They spend a little time playing in their rooms before they drift off (though Sugar Plum is usually up a lot longer than Little Man!).  Once the children are in bed, Father John and I try to spend time together talking, watching something on television, reading, etc.  It is nice to decompress after a long day!

Thursday, June 14


Once lunch is over, it is quiet time in our house.  I put the baby down for a nap (usually!) and the two older children play for a little while.  I try to follow my mother's rule that everyone stays inside during the hottest part of the day from twelve noon to three in the afternoon (more important in the warmer months, of course!) and so while I do the dishes and a chore or two, Sugar Plum and Little Man play with their toys, look through books, and draw or color.  Sometimes I even slip out to run a few errands while everyone is occupied (I am fortunate that Father John works from home!).

When Button wakes up, we do whatever strikes our fancy.  Most of the time, the children are completely happy wandering around our yard using their outside toys, digging in dirt, playing with the hose, and just generally exploring.  During this time, I try to do a little gardening or tidying of the front yard and porch.  I am really not an outdoors person (summer is my least favorite season!) and I find that it helps if I am doing something to keep myself busy.  

As it gets closer to dinner, we head inside and while I prepare supper, the little ones listen to an audio recording or watch a television show (usually Little Bear or an episode of Little House on the Prairie).  One thing that I would really like to improve is the care and thought that I put into dinner.  Often, we have something simple (and that is fine for us!), but I don't like to have to scramble at 5pm to think of something to make.  I am hoping that as we ease back into life without construction, that will be easier!

Stay tuned for our Evening Routine tomorrow night!

Wednesday, June 13


Mornings in our house can be hectic!  To keep things running smoothly, I try to follow a bit of a routine once we get going.  

First, I tidy up our bedroom while I encourage Sugar Plum and Little Man in tidying theirs.  We make our beds (theirs are easy to make since they just have a blanket to pull up, a pillow to plump, and animals and baby dolls to line up).  Next, we put things away in our bedrooms (books are returned to shelves, clothing heads to the hamper, and anything else out of place is put back where it belongs).  Once the bedrooms are tidy, I bring a load of clothing to the washing machine and get it going.  Next is breakfast and cleaning up the kitchen.  Then it is time for school.  Usually, Sugar Plum's schoolwork takes no more than an hour to complete and once it is done, we get on with whatever we have on the agenda for the day.

One thing that I try not to worry about is keeping everything on a timed schedule.  Every day is different in our house.  Sometimes we have to be out the door on the early side or we have someone that sleeps in and things have to move earlier and more quickly than usual.  If the children's rooms don't get tidied, then it is not the end of the world!  The thing that really matters to me is that most days things run predictably for the our little ones and for me.  I can be a huge procrastinator and creating the habit of tidying the bedrooms, keeping up with the laundry, maintaining a clean kitchen, and making sure our school work is done first thing, helps me stay on top of what needs to be down each day.

Tomorrow I'll tell you about our afternoons!

Tuesday, June 12


 Happy Anniversary, Father John!  I love you!

Monday, June 11

Cleaning During the Apostles Fast...

Today begins the Apostles Fast in the Orthodox Church.  One of the things that I like to do during the four fasts of The Church (Great Lent, The Apostles Fast, Dormition Lent, and The Nativity Fast), is the clean our home thoroughly.  The first reason for this is practicality.  With three little ones, our home often gets a "lick and a promise" as the saying goes (this is doubly true with all of the construction debris flying around right now)!  My second reason for deep cleaning during these time of the year is spiritual.  It seems fitting to ready our home for these special feasts by cleaning and organizing, at the same time as we clean the cobwebs and dust off of our spiritual lives.  

Because The Apostles Fast varies in length each year, it is hard to have a plan that will fit year after year like my cleaning plan for Great Lent (which is always the same number of days).  This year, the fast is nineteen days, so I have broken up our house accordingly:

June 11:  Laundry Room
June 12:  Dining Room
June 13:  Kitchen
June 14: Playroom
June 15:  Office
June 16:  Entrance
June 17:  Sunday
June 18:  Half Bath and Guest Bathroom
June 19:  Boy's Room
June 20:  Girl's Room
June 21:  Sort Through Out-of Season Clothing
June 22:  Master Closet
June 23:  Goodwill Drop Off
June 24: Sunday
June 25: Master Bathroom
June 26:  Master Bedroom
June 27:  Tidy Yard and Porch
June 28:  Clean Sweep of House
June 29:  The Feast of Saints Peter and Paul

Sunday, June 10

From House to Church: The First Baptism and Liturgy!

The Godparents and Their Little God-daughter

Father John Blessing the Baptismal Water

Anointing with the Oil of Gladness

Waiting for the Baptism

Prayers just before Baptism


Blessing the Baby's Cross

Blessing the Baby's Cross

Newly Baptized

Newly Baptized

The Liturgy

In Line for Holy Communion

Receiving Holy Communion

The Altar

In line for Holy Communion

My Niece Ready for Holy Communion

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