Welcome to Lamb Cottage. It's a real place, and this is where I live with my dear husband. We even have lambs. This is a personal blog, especially concerning life as an American expat in Scotland, life as an over-50, life with lambs, and life as an Orthodox Christian. You're most welcome to come and visit awhile. I hope we can be friends!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Thank You, Sister Vassa

Okay, Okay.  So maybe I need to work harder on this whole forgiveness / letting go / not judging thing.  As evidenced by how convicted I felt when I watched Sister Vassa's podcast this week!  Which is why we I need constant reminders, prayers, reading, encouraging, insight, development, etc., just to get through one single day.

Thank you, Sister Vassa, for your encouragement...and reminder.  Judgment belongs to God alone.  

It's just so hard sometimes.  It seems like there's a lot of material to work with, you know what I mean?  Sigh...

If you'd like some encouragement, and a laugh (Sr Vassa can be very funny, and she has this great NY accent, even though she is living in Vienna), you can find her videos on Ancient Faith Radio.  Plus, you can find an absolute TON of resources for the Faith.

Lent...it's a-comin'!

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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

There Are Times...

...when I absolutely HATE living in Scotland.

When I first came here, I was all excited and looked at life as a big adventure, even in my mid-40s. How naive was I?  Little by little, but in a short period of time, really, my wide-eyed wonder gave way to severe culture shock and all that goes with it:  sorrow, fear, loneliness, dislike, distrust, and on and on.  It did not help that I was attempting to make my new home in the village in which my dear husband was born and had lived his whole life.  We're talking TINY, pin-dot-sized village (complete with tiny, pin-dot-sized minds, in a lot of cases).  Within our first year of marriage, both my mother and father died, and we trekked back and forth across the ocean FOUR times.  And that was the start of the insane, never-ending, merciless village gossip that persecuted us like the hounds of hell.  Why? Who knows.  I guess because a "ferriner" was in their midst.  We stuck it out for 3 1/2 years, trying to build a marriage and a life together in a fish-bowl, with incessant intrusions by people I didn't even know (or care to know, as it turns out), and meddling by local family members.  Never, in all my life, have I encountered such mean-spirited, hateful, ignorant people.

Alas...after literally TWO SOLID YEARS of looking for a better home and a fresh start (since we were not allowed a decent start at all, thanks to gossips and meddlers)...we found a wonderful house in a lovely neighborhood in a small village in a different county.  We have nice neighbors.  We have lambs. We have a darling home.  God has been gracious.

But still.  Scars run deep.  Scars are...well...scars, and often, they never go away.  During this Lenten period, I am attempting to forgive.  To be frank, I cannot even begin to do this on my own.  God will have to plant the seed and till the soil of my heart.  I suspect that will be painful.  Lord, have mercy.


I just needed to get that out.

Most folks can never begin to understand what it is like to leave everything you know and love behind for a life in another country, another culture.  Women do this more often than one would guess, though.  We do it for love.  We would rather be with our husbands than not.  So we yank ourselves up by the roots and look to plant ourselves anew.  Unfortunately, a lot of us experience a new field that is littered with trash, and the planting isn't so easy.

Never mind.  We are stronger than we think we are.  And if anyone reading this is an expat or immigrant, may God richly bless your new life.  If you are struggling, hang in there.  You are not the only one feeling the way you do.  And remember, it takes YEARS to feel at home in a new culture.  I'm nearing the 7-year mark, and I'm not there yet.

When I had a blog during the first couple years of my life here, and the little people of the other village stalked it and tried to intimidate me with mean comments and even letters through my front door, I eventually decided it wasn't worth it, and I just wasn't going to go there.  I'm older now.  I'm a little bit tougher.  And so, there may be times on this blog when I discuss my very difficult first years here in Scotland, and the many things I do NOT like about this society and culture.  These are my thoughts, feelings, and experiences.  It's okay if you disagree.  I would ask, however, that you just disagree silently and move on to another blog.  Thank you.

Big sigh.  Feeling better now!

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Monday, February 24, 2014

Cheeseburger...or Paradise

We said goodbye to meat yesterday.  That would be all meat:  beef, pork, fowl, etc.  We had cheeseburgers, and turkey legs!  It was Meatfare Sunday, traditionally the time to make sure all the meat is out of the Orthodox home.  It is.  We felt rather yucky this morning, thanks to our feasting yesterday.  God uses everything to get our attention.  I love cheeseburgers.  I'm actually NOT sad to see them go for awhile.  Awhile = 8 weeks.  Yep.  That's how long the Orthodox say we must be meat-free for Lent, or actually, for the last week of the pre-Lenten period, all of Great Lent, and all of Holy Week.  Meatfare Sunday is also the Sunday of the Last Judgment.  A very sobering thought as we continue to prepare for Lent.

The prior two Sundays, part of the pre-Lenten period of the Triodion, were the Sunday of the Prodigal Son (last Sunday, the 16th of February) and the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee (the 9th of February).  The theme, obviously, is repentance.  

We are working to prepare for Great Lent:  devising a reading list, focusing on spiritual disciplines, focusing more intensely on the Scriptures, working on our prayer rule.  Lent is a time of increased fasting, prayer, and almsgiving.  For the first time, I think, I am looking forward to all that the Lenten season brings.  

We are also working on improving and beautifying our icon / prayer corner.  SOON I will post photos!

This week:  It is "Cheesefare Week," culminating in Cheesefare Sunday, or Forgiveness Sunday. The next Monday, March 3rd, Great Lent begins.

Source:  Google images

Meanwhile...daily sheep care continues.  I am working on my huge Christ Pantocrator cross stitch project.  I am also almost done with a freebie design I will be giving away on my cross stitch design blog.  And I continue to develop my Orthodox Fast recipes.  I will share with you soon, when I have posted them to my recipe page.

Spring is coming!

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Sunday, February 16, 2014

Leftovers and Roses

We had a lovely Valentine's Day!  I hope you all did, too.  No, I did not get four bouquets!  But my dear husband did bring me two dozen roses.  I'm not sure I've ever had that before!  They are really beautiful, and I'm enjoying them immensely.

This year, we actually had leftovers for dinner on Valentine's Day!  And they were delicious, too.  My dear husband works nights, so even though Valentine's Day fell on a Friday this year, no romantic date night for us.  Never mind, we still had a lovely dinner (and easy to prepare) in the middle of the afternoon (which is our normal time with his work schedule), a beautiful bouquet of roses, Strawberry Crumble for dessert, and a sweet card, too.  The table was decorated with candles and pink paper heart doilies and honeycomb cupids and hearts.  What's to not to like?

The weather has been horrible in the UK, but still we have managed to miss a lot of it.  It's all south of us, oddly enough.  Last night was quite windy and sleety, and I worried about the lambs, but it appears they are using the makeshift house we built them, and are snuggling up in there to stay warm and dry.  I'm glad of that!

Hope everyone has a happy weekend!

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Thursday, February 13, 2014

It's the Day Before Valentine's Day

And here is a photo of Grace Livingston Hill.  I am busy reading her novels right now.  Actually, she had over 100 novels published (in her lifetime, I think), and I have read some in the past.  There are about 10 for free on Project Gutenberg.  Since Valentine's Day is tomorrow, I thought it appropriate to mention Grace Livingston Hill.  Her stories are such a delight to read, and a real breath of fresh air in this polluted world we live in.  They are all very modest and sweet, and many of them have strong Christian themes.  All of them have moral themes.  What a novel idea in this day and age!  I am currently reading Marcia Schuyler.  It's great!  I highly recommend this author.

Which makes me think of an experience I had here a few years ago.  I was matriculated in a Master's level University program here in Scotland.  I really enjoyed it, all except for one class, which was taught by an Irishwoman (which is neither here nor there, actually) who was all about waving the Post-Modern banner, and pretty much shoving it in our faces.  If we disagreed with her (I thoroughly did) she basically said, No, you have to read and write as I say.  Well, I limped through that particular class and avoided reading what I regarded as utter trash and filth.  Don't you know, the next semester, there she was again?  And the first book of short stories I had to read was such complete and utter filth, trash, and basically pornography, that I threw the book in the trash bin and started to seek a substitute course which would still allow me to continue in the program.  After all, I had done a lot of reading, writing, and research already, and quite enjoyed the other classes.  Well, NO ONE would champion my cause; I was not allowed to take a different course; I was pretty much given an ultimatum.  I dropped the whole program.  No way was I going to fill my mind with the pornography and filth that the contemporary academic world is attempting to laud as "literature".  I've read real literature all my life.  I can recognize the crap when I see it.  And you know what?  I've never regretted it.  Sometimes standing up for what you believe in is difficult.  It is always worth it, if you are on the right track to begin with.   

It was another example of what St Anthony of the Desert (sometimes called St Antony, or St Anthony the Great) meant when he said:
A time is coming when people will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will mock him saying, "You are mad.  You are not like us."

Okay, off that soapbox and on to other things:

I am getting ready to stitch this design!  I love it.  It is the Christ Pantocrator found in St Catherine's Monastery on Mt Sinai.  The designer at Solaria Gallery, Stoyanka Ivanova, has charted it for cross stitch, and I think she has done a great job.  I am doing mine on 14-count Aida and the finished design size will be 10" X 18.57".  I have my fabric and my threads (46 colors).  But I need a floor stand and frame.  Any suggestions or recommendations will be most welcome.  This will be the largest chart I've stitched.  If I make it through, I have one by HAED (Heaven and Earth Designs) that I bought when everything was 50% off earlier this month.  That will be my next HUGE project.

Meanwhile, the lambs continue to demand lots of attention (we have such spoiled babies).  They now each have their own dinner bowls, rather than the trough.  And you know, everyone has slowed down with their eating (with the possible exception of Doodle), and seem to be much more peaceful at dinnertime.  

Of course, no one is eating from their right bowls!  But, they seem to be more comfortable when kibble time comes, and there is no pushing and shoving now.  Well, not too much, anyway!

We are in the Lenten Triodion now.  That's the time of the Church year.  We just passed the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee, and we're coming up on the Sunday of The Prodigal Son.  The heavy-duty fasting has not yet begun.  This whole week has been fast free.  Next week will be normal, with strict fasts on Wednesday and Friday.  It starts tightening after that!  But it's all been good so far.  Challenging and thought-provoking and driving us to prayer.

I will try to write more as the season progresses, and talk about the themes and such.  As well as the fasting and how we are doing.  I hope to share a bit about our Church, as well.  

And tomorrow is Valentine's Day.  Well, my dear husband works at night, so no special romantic things for us.  I am planning on making a special dessert tonight for our midday dinner tomorrow.  And I will set a special table with a bit of decorating around the house.  Otherwise, it is quite simple here. We don't tend to do anything very commercial, pretty much ever.  And the UK does not do heart-shaped boxes of chocolate (which is an absolute tragedy, if you ask me).  Sigh.  Never mind, though. I have my Valentine all year through!

Happy Valentine's Day!

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Friday, February 7, 2014

A Bit About Our Icon Corner...and a Lamb

I've decided to show a couple photos of two of our icons.  We just recently got these as the main focal point of our prayer corner.  Our prayer corner is just coming together.  We only have a couple of icons so far.  But already, it draws us to itself.  The icon above is Christ Pantocrator (all-Mighty or Powerful), and the one below is the Theotokos (Virgin Mary) ~ Tenderness.

You can see below a little different view.  You can probably tell, I'm way behind in the whole technology race, and my camera (no, I don't even have a "smart phone" or a cell phone with a camera) just sort of limps along for me.  Anyway, the first two photos were taken with no flash, and the second two with a flash.  Our corner is painted a sort of midnight blue color, and it has 40 white lights sparkling through the top third.  I've painted gold stars around each light.

When we first began this journey into Orthodoxy, almost three years ago now, I really liked icons as "art".  Now, however, they have come to mean so much more to me.  Initially, I did not understand the veneration of icons.  Now, it is becoming second nature.  The more you grow to love Someone, the more you want to honor that person.  Also, there is the whole prayer aspect (but I'll save that for another post).

For anyone who is looking for icons in the UK, it can be a struggle.  We got these two from Pilgrim Gifts.  Another good site that ships directly from Greece is Oramaworld.  

This will be a special weekend for us:  There will be a Divine Liturgy served up here in the Highlands on Saturday morning, and my dear husband has Saturday off so we can attend.  It means a huge lack of sleep beforehand, since he works late into the night, but we can take naps when we come home in the afternoon.

And, finally, here is my latest design which I just listed in my Etsy shop.  It's a lamb inside a heart. The model for this design was our lamb, Doodle.  There is a matching one with Snowball as the model.  

I hope everyone has a happy weekend and gets plenty of rest!

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Thursday, February 6, 2014

Jane, Jane, Jane...

I am determined to spend some time with this blog!  So, in between working on my stitching and designs, hunting for Orthodox fasting recipes (Great Lent is coming quickly), and listening over and over again to the same CD, I'm going to work hard to keep this blog up-to-date.

And so...which CD is it that's getting worn out?  The soundtrack from the 2005 movie version of Pride and Prejudice.  And so everyone knows, I shamelessly stole ALL of these P&P photos from Google images:

This is the movie to which the soundtrack I am listening.  Really, the cinematography (is that the right word for the beautiful photography work?) and the music was lovely.  But...

You just have to admit...the 1995 version was really much better and had such wonderful depth (as well as Colin Firth...keep scrolling).

Words are certainly NOT necessary!

And honestly, wasn't the 1980 BBC version wonderful, too?  I remember watching it as a very young woman on PBS back home.  I must have been about 18 or 19.  I completely and totally fell in love with Eliza, Mr Darcy, and Jane Austen.  I immediately went out to Waldenbooks (are they still around) and bought ALL SIX of the novels in paperback (Penguin version, most likely), and read them straight through!

I don't know how many times I've read the books, and I've watched the movies even more.  I confess, I have not seen the very old one...yet.  I'd love to hear other people's thoughts on the movie versions, and of course, the books, which simply cannot be topped.

Now that I live in the UK, one of my dreams is to attend the Jane Austen Festival (or whatever they call it) in Bath.  Everyone dresses up in period costumes!  Meanwhile, when it's cold and grey and rainy (which is a LOT here), I sometimes settle in with some popcorn and DVDs and have my own Jane Austen Film Festival.  You should try it, if you haven't already!  

Note to self:  Replace portable DVD player ASAP!  We don't have a television, only a small portable multi-region DVD player...and it has died!  This has seriously impaired my movie watching abilities.

Well... stay tuned.  You just never know what the topic will be next time.  It could be anything from homemaking to lambs, Orthodoxy to cross stitching, life in Scotland to travel dreams.  I'd like to say that I won't be too random, but that would be a lie!

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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

February...Already! Sigh...

I don't suppose just thinking about this blog is quite the same thing as posting, is it?

I've decided to add a few pages (right sidebar) to this blog to help me organize my thoughts.  I suppose these pages also indicate what things are important in my life (among others, of course).  Although I doubt very many folks read this blog, maybe someone will find my little bits of information here and there to be helpful in some way.

I'm also going to be posting more about what's going on with our journey into Orthodoxy.  It has been a fascinating, long, and winding journey so far.  We have been headed in this direction for about three years now.  Things are finally starting to gel.  There are, perhaps, a few more stumbling blocks than the ordinary ones for us, mainly because we live so far away from...well...anything.  Certainly from civilization!  And so, the actual, physical Orthodox Church resources are very limited.  Nevertheless, we know nothing is impossible with God, and amazing things are developing!  Maybe our experiences can help others discover the beauty and truth of Orthodoxy.

In my pages, you will also find information about Orthodox fasting, links to Orthodox sites and resources (updated as I gather them), thoughts about sheep and lambs, a bit of information about my life in Scotland (having moved here from a lifetime in Florida), books I'm reading or have read, and information / photos of my cross stitch designs and other stitching finishes.  I hope you have fun browsing my pages!

And here is my only photo from February of 2014 (so far):  Snowdrops peeking up in the woods! Spring can't be too far, right?  It was growing dark when I took this photo.  I will try to get better ones to share with you.

I hope everyone is having a great start to the New Year.  Am I the only one who can hardly believe that more than 1/12 of it is gone already??

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