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Long Time, No Updates!

February 21st, 2017 | Posted by Russel in Donna | Preston | Russel | Russell Warren | Todd Daniel - (0 Comments)

I’ve been really lazy with my updates this last year. Sorry about that! It’s been a pretty interesting year, to say the least. My Father-In-Law had a liver transplant a few weeks ago. That has been a real blessing for our family. He is doing much better than he had been. I’ve been really excited to see how much he has progressed!

God has really been blessing our family.  We were getting a little frustrated with some things at church, and as is our modus operandi, decided to try going back to the Catholic Church.  Well our priest at the Orthodox Church, Father Peter, stepped in and set us straight!  Instead of running from our problems, he has been helping us talk them out.  I am really thankful for him.

Preston and Russell have both continued to serve at the altar at church.  Preston has really taken to it!  He knows how to do most of the liturgy already, and I’ve heard him asking to learn how to do other parts!  I’ve been singing for the church choir, with the most important part being the Propers.  It has been challenging, stressful, fun, and completely fulfilling!

Todd still doesn’t like to eat much (except for candy, bread, and other junk-type food), so he’s still a tiny little dude.  I’m sure he’ll get better, though.

I’ve started a new diet as of one week ago.  My cholesterol has been a bit too high and my doctor keeps wanting me to take statins.  I have taken them before and don’t like the way they make me feel, so I think I’m going to try taking this low-cholesterol diet thing seriously this time!  I’ve also decided to experiment with going gluten-free.  This makes Russie pretty happy.  He is glad to not be the only one!  Let me tell you, my stomach has felt much better in the last week than it has in years!  I’m not sure if it is because of the smaller portions that I’ve been eating, or the lack of gluten, but whatever it is, I like it…  I used to have problems with heartburn almost constantly.  I have only had a couple of small episodes of heartburn since I’ve started my new diet.  Yay!!!

Preston as the Torch Bearer for Pascha

Preston as the Torch Bearer for Pascha

We made it through our first Lent as Orthodox Christians.  I can’t say we did the greatest job at fasting, but we tried.  I think that we did okay, so that’s good.  I know that I can’t expect perfection right at first, but as long as we’re constantly improving in our relationship with God I think that we’re on the right track.

The boys got to participate in the Paschal procession.  Preston was the Holy Torch Bearer (at least, I think that was his title!), and Russell got to carry the Holy Water.

We were finally Chrismated in the Orthodox Church today! It is great to finally belong to a church again. I’ve felt homeless for a while, not being able to take Communion. I’m really excited about being a part of the One, Holy, Apostolic, Catholic, and Orthodox Church. Following the Mass, we had a potluck and all-parish meeting. It has been a great day!

Church, Again…

October 16th, 2015 | Posted by Russel in Donna | Preston | Russel | Russell Warren | Theology | Todd Daniel - (0 Comments)

I know that we’ve been back and forth over which church to attend for a while.  We’ve been attending (somewhat sporadically, at first) Saint Benedict Antiochian Orthodox Church since January, 2015.  Saint Benedict is one of few western rite churches within the whole of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

I think that I have finally found the church that teaches what I believe is the truth in the Eastern Orthodox Church.  Like the Roman Catholic Church, it is an ancient church that teaches Scripture and Tradition.  But, unlike the Roman Catholic Church, it does not teach what I consider to be excesses – such as papal infallibility.  It also doesn’t demand scholastic answers for everything like the RCC does.  This scholastic reasoning in the RCC has resulted in such teachings as the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, mortal/venial sin definitions and requirements, and a host of other things that just about drove me mad during the time I was in the Roman Catholic Church.

It is also different from Confessional Lutheran Churches in significant ways.  The Lutheran Church does not teach that Tradition is authoritative, which hardly makes sense since the New Testament didn’t even exist in the early days of the Church!  The Orthodox Church also teaches free will, unlike the Lutheran Church.  The Lutheran Church teaches a confusing single-predestination which is best described as follows:  If you get to Heaven, it’s God’s fault; if you go to Hell, it’s your fault.  Ultimately, nearly all of Lutheran doctrine is affected by this faulty doctrine.

The Eastern Orthodox Church is a sacramental church, which I think is a necessity.  Like both the RCC and Lutheran Churches, the Eastern Orthodox Church believes in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.  It is apostolic in both senses – bishops ordaining bishops throughout time, and in that it adheres to the apostolic teachings.  It is biblical – almost all the liturgy and prayer is taken from scripture.

I’m really excited to be becoming a part of the Eastern Orthodox Church.  If all goes according to plan, we will all be Chrismated in November, before Advent.

 

We made it up to Michigan again this year to visit with my parents.  We had a wonderful time!  My mom taught Preston how to play Rummikub, and he is pretty good.  He was beating all of us!  We got to visit with Uncle Gary and Aunt Lorna, Cousin John, and Marissa.  Melody and Chad seemed to be doing well, and Grace is a real cutie!  We got to see some of the sights – Tawas and River Road, Tahquamenon Falls and Lake Superior, and we even got to see the Chicago skyline on the way up there (I’m never driving that way again…)!  We bought some cheese and hiked some trails.  We got to see Mama’s new church building.  All-in-all, it was great!

 

 

Weekend Getaway

January 23rd, 2015 | Posted by Russel in Donna | Preston | Russel | Russell Warren | Todd Daniel - (0 Comments)

After a fairly stressful week, I decided I wanted to get away.  Years ago, when Donna and I lived in Alabama, we would pack up and drive a few hours, stay at a motel, and just explore the area in which we found ourselves.  It’s a little more difficult to do that around here, since you really need to drive a lot further in order to get anywhere interesting!  So we haven’t done that in a long time.  Well, this past weekend was the one.  I just had to decide where to go….  It was going to be a warm, but really windy weekend.  I figured east would be the way to go, since I could get to the woods, right?  But then, at the last minute, I decided to go west to Carlsbad Caverns.  The wind wouldn’t bother us underground!

We left on Friday after work and drove to Lubbock where we stayed the night at a nice Holiday Inn Express.  The next morning, we had breakfast at the hotel. They had the greatest breakfast ever!  Freshly made pancakes, biscuits and gravy, oatmeal, eggs, bagels, sausage, cereal, yogurt, several different kinds of coffees, and juice.  Yum!  We left from there and drove the rest of the way to the cave.

We decided to go down through the natural entrance.  The cave was absolutely stunning!  The trail was very steep, winding for about 1.25 miles down 750 feet, or, as the park ranger said, the equivalent of a 75 story building!  I had to carry Todd most of the way.  He walked some, and Donna gave me a (very) short break.  Preston and Russell were troopers, and made it down all by themselves!  By the time we made it down to the bottom, where the restrooms were, my arm and legs were killing me!  We didn’t make the tour of the Big Room, which was a little disappointing, but I suppose that gives us an excuse to go back!

We drove all the way home that evening, hitting a skunk in the process.  We all piled out of our stinky van and went to bed at 12:30 am Sunday morning.  And yes, we did make it to church later that day!

Once I get my pictures off the camera, I’ll add a few to this post.

Donna and I decided to start attending church closer to home.  United Methodist LogoWhile we weren’t unhappy with Our Redeemer, we were just getting exhausted going into Wichita Falls so much.  We also felt that it would be nice to begin getting to know some people in Holliday.  We officially joined Holliday First United Methodist Church on October 5th.  Donna and I both are in the choir, which we enjoy.  The boys have Sunday School or nursery and they seem to enjoy it.  It is really nice to not have to go to a restaurant afterwards on Sunday, too.  It only takes a couple of minutes to get home, so we can eat there if we want to!  All in all, I think it is a good move for us.  We really look forward to getting to know our new church home!

We all had an amazing time on our trip to Michigan!  It was wonderful to be able to see my mom and dad again.  It was also the first time I’d gotten to meet my brother-in-law Chad.  He is a great guy.  Melody is lucky!  Little Grace is very cute, a really sweet girl.  We also got to visit with Uncle Gary and Aunt Lorna, Uncle John, and Uncle Mike and Aunt Ida.

We did tons of exploring, including visiting Tawas Point and its lighthouse, River Road and Lumberman’s Monument, Hartwick Pines, a little zoo (slightly more than a petting zoo!), Sleeping Bear Dunes, and another lighthouse at Point Betsie (near Frankfort).  We got to do a lot, but we also got to relax a lot, so it was really nice.  Plus, we saw the best Fourth of July fireworks I’ve ever seen!  They were amazing!

We’ve been home for a couple of weeks now, and I do miss family.  But it is great to be home, getting back into our routines!

 

Trip to Michigan

June 18th, 2014 | Posted by Russel in Donna | Preston | Russel | Russell Warren | Todd Daniel - (0 Comments)
Antique Michigan Map

Antique Michigan Map

Next Saturday, June 28th, we will be making a little road trip from Texas up to Michigan to visit my parents.  I’m really excited.  I haven’t been up there in ten years!  I will also get to meet my sister’s husband for the first time and see their new little girl!  As long as the kids don’t drive us crazy, I think it will be a great trip!

Easter!!!

April 21st, 2014 | Posted by Russel in Donna | Preston | Russel | Russell Warren | Todd Daniel - (0 Comments)

Easter Sunday and everything leading up to it was wonderful, and exhausting…

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

We had a total of three Easter Egg hunts that I had to go to.  Preston even had another one that Donna helped with!  The City of Holliday’s hunt was a lot of fun.  The Easter Bunny rode to Stonewall Park inside the Fire Truck, with its sirens blaring!  Russell loved that.  He also gave out free dum-dums, which Russell also loved.  Preston wasn’t too sure about visiting the Bunny, even for free candy, but Russie went with him as moral support.  It was very cute!  Each of the boys hunted in a different ballfield, and so I had to run all over the place in order to get pictures.  I made the mistake of starting in Russie’s field.  I took a couple of pictures and then ran to Preston’s field.  It had nearly been picked clean!  I did get to enjoy watching Preston and a little girl run for the same egg at the same time.  Preston ran a woman over, but the little girl got the egg!  It was absolutely hilarious!

The Church’s Easter Egg Hunt was fun, and the kids found a lot of candy.  We had it all gathered into one bucket, and someone accidentally took it!  Oh well, the kids were going to have more candy than they needed anyway!

Church on Sunday was wonderful.  Since Donna and I are in the choir, we had to be at both the early and late services.  We were both exhausted, but they were beautiful services.  After church, we headed off to Ardmore, where Donna’s mom made a wonderful lunch/dinner.  We weren’t sure if we’d get to hunt eggs or not, but it dried out enough that our final egg hunt was on.  Donna’s sister and her family all came.  It was a ton of fun.  I was certainly glad to get home that evening, though!

It is wonderful to get to celebrate Christ’s resurrection so fully every year.  I think of how exhausted I get, and then I remember that Jesus was certainly tired leading up to the cross, but what joy awaits us in Paradise with Him!  It is all worth it!