Reading Challenge

Saturday, February 11, 2017


Everyday Saints and Other Stories by Archimandrite Tikhon –

Report: 21 pages read in the hour.

Reflection: Archimandrite Tikhon related an account in which he and Father Raphael were in a car accident. Very late one snowy evening they were racing homeward from visiting a friend when their car swerved off the road and into a deep wall of snow. After they managed to clamber out of the car, the following conversation was had: “’Father!’ I [Archimandrite Tikhon, he was not an Archimandrite at the time.] exclaimed, shivering throughout from fear as well as from the bitter cold. ‘How could it be? We will die like this! Maybe we ought to pray somehow? But what should we ask for? Lord, help us drag our car from the snow? Somehow it doesn’t sound right!’

Father Raphael suddenly looked at me so severely that for a second I forgot about the cold. ‘Shame on you, Georgiy Alexandrovich!’ he said indignantly (Father Raphael always called me by my secular first name and patronymic, my name before ordination). ‘How can you possibly doubt that the Lord will not aid us in such a moment? Pray for help at once!’”

How often is it that I fail to pray to God for something because I am embarrassed, or I believe it to be petty/trivial, or I think it doesn’t sound right? Is this not a lack of faith? An absence of understanding about the depth to which God loves each and every soul?

I believe it is also a product of dysfunctional upbringing. I am afraid of Him saying no, because I fear that means I have angered Him or made Him not love me anymore. As a child I feared upsetting my parents, whether it be angering or saddening them, because I was taught by their words and actions that their disapproval meant they didn’t love me anymore, and that I was somehow responsible for that.

That isn’t who God is. We may ask anything of Him! The important thing is that we are always open and desiring His will, even if it is in opposition to what we ask. I don’t think there is anything wrong with asking Him for what you want or making plans, as long as you remain open to them changing to His desires and plans for you.

As a child I learned not to trust, not to talk, and not to feel. That isn’t what God wants for any of us. He wants us to trust Him, to talk to Him, and to feel our emotions. No matter how much I have been hurt and learned not to trust, I know in my head that He is not the one who hurt me, nor did He desire me to be wounded the way that I was. Humanity can TRUST Him. He truly only wants our benefit. Now I just need to get my heart to truly feel that.



Monday, February 13, 2017


Everyday Saints and Other Stories by Archimandrite Tikhon –

Report: This is the final post about this book, as, sadly, I have finished it. I am looking forward to starting Wounded by Love very soon.

Reflection: On the final page of this magnificent book there is a paragraph that I would like to share; it is a wakeup call, I feel, to just how much God is involved in our lives:

“One ascetic monk once told me that every Orthodox Christian could relate his own Gospels, his own Glad Tidings about coming to know God. Of course, no one would compare such testimony to the books of the Apostles, who saw the Son of God alive on Earth with their own eyes. Yet still, though we are frail and feeble sinners, we remain His disciples, and there is truly nothing more beautiful in this world than the contemplation of the remarkable unfolding of the Providence of our Savior in His divine will for the salvation of the world.”

We could not last millionth of a second without God. The entirety of creation would collapse and be no more if He took His hand from us for even a blink of the eye.

No one on Earth has not experienced God. It is an impossibility, for if they had never encountered Him, they would never have been. When I look at my life I see many extraordinary things, many miracles and graces. Yet in ordinary moments I somehow feel alone.

This is not because God is not with me, for, as I said above, if He weren’t then I would be no more. But rather because I want to believe I’m alone. I feel horribly embarrassed and awkward for hours every time I realize there is a Guardian Angel with me 24/7, let alone the Almighty!

He is watching humanity, every second of every day, and we need Him too. One day, I hope to be a healthy enough person to not feel that as a burden, but rather a blessing.

I think, this too, goes back to my childhood. I spent the vast majority of it on pins and needles around my parents, terrified of doing anything to upset them in the slightest. Scared to feel rejected for being myself, or for innocently making a mistake. As a result, I am having to learn that God is not my parents. That His watchfulness is not reproachful.

I believe God gave humanity parents so that each person could grow up with an earthly, tangible example of His unfailing love and acceptance. He wanted us to learn that when we err we are not lost, but that we can always return; and, when we return with humble repentance, there is nothing but love awaiting us.


Tuesday, February 14, 2017


Antiques at Home by Barbara Milo Ohrbach –

Report: 12 pages read in the hour; not sure I made it a whole hour.

Reflection: “It is the loveliness of little things that imparts life to a room,…” Isn’t that a wonderful thought? So poetic and beautiful. It inspires me.

That was the first half of the first line of the first chapter in this book, which was all about ceramics. I now know the difference between pottery and porcelain. Though, when you say one of those words it calls to mind a different image than if you say the other, I wouldn’t before been able to verbally define the differences. Now I can.

Pottery is formations of baked clay. They are heated in kilns or sundried and, without glazing, are porous. The color achieved after baking is due to the makeup of the clay. I believe earthenware describes pottery of a reddish/brown hue, stoneware describes pottery of a grey color, and creamware describes “cream” colored pottery.


Turkish Earthenware


Stoneware Churn


English Creamware Shallow Form Chestnut Dish and Cover

Porcelain/China is often made of kaolin. It is not porous, is very hardy, and comes in two kinds: hard paste and soft paste. Hard paste porcelain has been produced in China for centuries. Once it became popular in Europe, European manufacturers began producing porcelain. However, they didn’t yet know the correct formula so their creations were very fragile, thus called soft paste porcelain. Eventually they got it right, and Europe was able to produce its own hard paste porcelain.

hard paste porcelain Z&K Antiques; 18th Century Bow Musican Triangle Figure Hard Paste Porcelain

Soft paste porcelain

Fine Spode Antique English Soft Paste Porcelain China Teapot Blue Willow Gilding; based off of my past reading, I would venture a guess that the Orient inspired design on this teapot was chosen to mimic the designs of the imported porcelain that was selling so well.


A Piaget Primer How a Child Thinks by Dorothy G. Singer and Tracey A. Revenson –


I’m thoroughly enjoying this book. It’s not written in Scientific Journalism style so it is much easier to get through and understand than the previous Child Development book I read about Piaget’s theories.

I find his approach to his experiments very pleasing. I feel as though many scientists approach their research in a very dry manor, but, at least based off of what I’ve read, Piaget approached his work much more realistically. His experiments have a very real-life, organic, and empathetic feel to them. By that I mean to say that I feel him caring about people when I read his experiments and the theories they spawned.

“Believing that children’s spontaneous comments provide valuable clues to understanding their thinking, he sought a less-structured method for collecting answers to intelligence test questions than a formal test allows. Using a standard question or set of questions as a starting point, he followed the child’s train of thought and allowed the questioning to be flexible. If a child was confused, Piaget could repeat or rephrase the question; if a response was incorrect but intriguing, he could pursue the point further…Piaget was not concerned with whether a child gave the right or wrong answer, but rather what forms of logic and reasoning he used.”

I feel so convicted when I read his studies. How often do parents worry more about the answer than why the child gave it? Inflexibility is so selfish and therefore, unloving. I’m not saying I don’t believe in the value of structure, but structure for structure’s sake can be so sinful. When we have children and we become rigid because it makes US feel more in control and thus comfortable, we are not loving but rather hating our children!

Parenthood is SUPPOSED to be fall on your face, dead from emotional and physical exhaustion hard. It’s not supposed to be comfortable. I think many people create structure in their lives, which is really an excuse not to bare the God-given cross of parenthood, and excuse it saying that the children really do benefit from it somehow. But they DON’T! Not if the only reason for the structure is that it makes Daddy and Mommy feel better.

The irony is, it actually makes the parent’s life harder. This is because structure is not love, so the child who is being forced into a structure so that they don’t “upset” Daddy and Mommy does not feel loved, but rather rejected. And when a child feels rejection they act out, and then Daddy and Mommy have to either ignore the child completely, or spend even more time trying to untangle their mess than they would have if they had allowed themselves to be uncomfortable and not made the tangled mess in the first place.

It really makes sense when you think about it. We are called to live in love, because that is God’s way; and God purposely designed the parent-child relationship to break down the parent completely. He wants us to shed all of our sinfulness, all of our selfishness, all of our pride, so He gave us children.

How often is it that we look at God’s way and  we think to ourselves, usually subconsciously, “That’s too hard; but it’s what God wants of me so I’m going to do it, but I’m going to do it the way I think is best.” That’s what structure for structure’s sake is. A parent looks at the task before them, the LOVING rearing of a child, and they think, “That’s a lot, I don’t have that much to give and I will be depleted at the end. So I’m going to make structure to give myself the illusion of control and ease.”

We must always remember that God never gives us more than we can handle. This means that we have no excuse but to live the way HE wants us to, because He knows where the real end-of-our-rope is, and if we are truly living in love, He won’t let us reach it (that isn’t to say that if we are insistent upon our own will He won’t let us have our way and get ourselves into more than we can handle).

That means giving ALL of ourselves to our children; especially their freedom that makes us so uncomfortable. Freedom to ask any question and demand an honest answer. Freedom to express pain and anger and expect comfort, support, and protection. Freedom to feel secure in the knowledge that their parents will NEVER deny them their time, emotional connection, energy, and/or physical assistance because they are “tired” or “working”. Freedom to demand their parents ACTUALLY CHANGE WHO THEY ARE.

Having empty inflexibility is just the parent selfishly withholding a piece of themselves. We know that when we sin it affects EVERYONE on the planet because of the Spiritual Life. So when we are selfish, if it reverberates around the world, how much more does it shake, and ultimately tear down, those closest to us?


Piaget’s 4 Stages of Child Development are as follows:

Birth to 2 YRs, Sensory-Motor Stage

2 YRs to 7 YRs, Preoperational Stage

7 YRs to 11 YRs, Concrete Operations Stage

11 YRs to 16 YRs, Formal Operations Stage


Reading Challenge; Feb. 11, 2017

Saturday, February 4, 2017


What to Expect When You’re Expecting by Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel –

Report: I am no longer reading this book. As I have said previously, I find the authors to be alarmist and I believe that performing every test available is just an excuse to abort more babies. This week, during my reading, I was very shocked and saddened to see that they actually blatantly advocated extensive testing for the purpose of deciding to kill the child (I bolded the specific sentence from the offending section): “CVS is performed between the 10th and 13th weeks of pregnancy. Its main advantage is the fact that it can be performed in the first trimester and it can give results . . . earlier in pregnancy than amniocentesis, which is usually performed after the 16th week. The earlier diagnosis is particularly helpful for those who might consider a therapeutic pregnancy termination if something is seriously wrong, since an earlier abortion is less complicated and traumatic.

How wicked is that? For starters, why are we concerned about the comfort level of a person committing murder? Secondly, this proves my point about the actual reasons these extensive tests are being promoted. Many of my family and friends want to believe that these tests are there purely to help the mother and the baby, and that the abortions spurred by them were not part of the original plan, nor do they happen often. I contest that if authors of a “pregnancy help” book (i.e. this is a book that is marketed as pro-childbearing, yet they were not afraid of scandalizing or offending their readers with this bold statement) are willing to blatantly state this as a reason for testing, then it is not as rare an occurrence as people choose to believe.

Furthermore, at the time of this addition, the CVS test had a miscarriage rate of 1 in 370 babies….I’ll let that sink in, 1 in 370 babies. Not only were they encouraging people to get this test, but this is what they said about its safety, “CVS is safe and reliable, carrying a miscarriage rate of about 1 in 370.”

How is 1 in 370 considered SAFE??? They aren’t just saying this is a good test for if you don’t want your baby, because this is a test they are saying you should use to determine that; rather, they are saying that a woman should risk her baby’s life to determine if it is “abnormal” or not.

Lord have mercy.

I have ordered another child development book to replace this one, it should be here sometime this next week. It is focused firmly on the psychological development of children, specifically Piaget’s theories expounded upon, so I don’t anticipate it being a disappointment.


Antiquing for Dummies by Ron Zoglin & Deborah Shouse –

Report: 26 pages

Reflection: The first, and largest part of my reading had to do with Asian antiquities. The first discussed was Japanese prints: “Japanese prints give you a lot of information you don’t find in most antiques, including the artist’s signature. Many also include the title of the print and if it’s from a series, the name of the series as well. Often you find publisher’s marks, and sometimes date and censor seals. All this information gives you a chance to research your artist and your print.”

Now, I have never been a real fan of Asian art, but I have to say, when you are just starting out in antiquing, you probably couldn’t ask for a better jumping off point. Since the Japanese were meticulous about keeping track of every conceivable detail about a piece, it strikes me that it may prove easier to say with confidence whether the piece you are looking at is indeed an antique or not.

Here are a couple more tips from the book, with regards to Japanese prints: “When the blocks are new, the details of the print are often fine and crisp. As the blocks get worn from use, the details can suffer. This impacts the value of the print. The finer and crisper the detail, the more desirable the print.

You can still find wonderful woodblock prints at affordable prices. You can also find old reproductions of some of the more famous prints. Sometimes, only a true specialist can figure out that these are reproductions. If you have your heart set on original wood block prints, find some knowledgeable dealers who can show you the real thing.

You can find quantities of lovely Japanese woodblock prints whose prices never reached the level that made them worth reproducing.”

I have a couple thoughts about this: One, it isn’t smart to make the goal of your first foray into collecting Japanese prints, to get a well-known print. Two, if you want a print that will increase in value rather quickly, it would seem that buying one of the “lovely…woodblock prints whose prices never…made them worth reproducing”, would be the way to go. As I’ve stated in earlier posts, one of the factors that determines an antiques value is its abundance, or rather, lack thereof. And, it would appear from the above excerpt from the book, that the prints that were less-valuable in their day are less abundant now, and therefore, could rise in value as people lose interest or are unable to obtain the more renowned prints.

Below is an example of Japanese Woodblock Print that I do find hauntingly beautiful:lovers-walking-in-the-snow

(I believe this print was on The Met’s website.)

The following are common subject matter, for this art-form, from the 1600’s:


Long before Modern Screen and People, Japanese artists captured the actors in woodblock prints. The earlier prints had just the actors; later prints developed a background and then scenes.


The courtesans of the day were exceptionally talented, literary, smart, and beautiful…woodblock prints captured these courtesans and also served as a historic record of the clothing styles of the day. Utamaro is one of the most famous and inventive artists of the ‘beautiful women’ prints.


There was an edict against travel, so most people didn’t even know what their country looked like. Hiroshige traveled throughout the land, sketching as he went. He traveled the Tokaido Trail from the old to the new capital and drew every one of the 53 way stations…Several generations later, these landscapes are some of the most appealing to the western eye.

Literature and mythology

In the 19th century, Japanese woodblock print artists loved creating prints to illustrate one of the world’s earliest novels, The Tale of Genji, which was written by a woman in the 12th century. The artists also created prints about all kinds of mythological subjects.

The ordinary

Scenes of birds and flowers became a popular subject for Japanese prints. The earlier prints are often simpler, and the later prints get busier. Folks hanging around and enjoying themselves is another genre of Japanese print-making. You can see picnickers by the banks of a river, revelers watching fireworks at a New Year’s celebration, and pleasure-seekers whiling away the hours in the Yoshiwara, the pleasure quarters of Edo.

All other things being equal, such as condition, certain subject matters are often considered especially desirable. Some of these include snow scenes, rain scenes, and night scenes.”


Sunday, February 5, 2017


Everyday Saints and Other Stories by Archimandrite Tikhon –

Report: 23 pages read in the hour.

Reflection: This book never fails to uplift and enlighten. I enjoy every hour of reading it. Today I learned that there is a “Prayer Rule for Lost Things.” In the past when I have lost something I knew I could entreat St. Phanourios, and then bake a cake in his mother’s name, give it to someone, and ask them to pray for her soul. I have never seen this fail. I did not know, however, that there was a prayer rule that could be said for the same purpose.

You pray the 50th Psalm (the 51st if you have a King James Bible), then the Creed, and then you will find what you are looking for.

God is so good, and He never fails us.


Antiquing for Dummies by Ron Zoglin & Deborah Shouse –

Report: 16 pages in the hour.

Reflection: Imari is a hard paste porcelain from the Imari port in Japan. “Early Imari is blue and white; later they spiced it up with shades of reddish-orange, almost a paprika color; a little green; and sometimes a touch of other colors…

…Imari varies in quality and in timeframe. People are still creating Imari…Here are some tips for recognizing the true…thing:

Flaws: Look for signs that the piece is hand painted..If the work looks too perfect, it’s probably been printed. Some modern Imari is also hand painted.

The pits: Older Imari was fired in small, wood-burning kilns…Little specks of ash can fall into the glaze during firing, creating little dark pits…These specks are assurances of age. Bumps also indicate age.

The Gilded Ones: Newer gilding is shinier and more reflective than the old gilt…

Dirty Feet: Old foot rims have some brownness; the newer foot rims are generally icy white.

Spur Marks: Spurs held up the large pieces in the kiln; the smaller pieces may have one or none. Large plates always have some spur marks. A bowl may not…

Undulating Glaze: Look at the bottom of the piece in raking light (hold the piece at an angle so that the light reveals he imperfections). You’ll see an undulation or unevenness in the glaze of older pieces.

Gray tint: In the old days, they didn’t try to cover up that gray. The older glazes have a blue gray tint; the newer tend to have pure white look.”

Kovels Imari Jars 1890.jpg

Imary Jars from the 1890s, courtesy of


Tuesday, February 7, 2017


Everyday Saints and Other Stories by Archimandrite Tikhon –

Report: 22 pages in the hour.

Reflection: There is a story from my reading today that I want to share. It is such a touching and deeply convicting story about just what God can accomplish with our obedience. But first, some back story: Father Vladimir Rodzyanko was a widowed priest who had endured much suffering in his life, escaped communism, and started his own radio program on the BBC; which brought Orthodoxy back to the millions of people deprived of its theology in communist countries. He was so prolific and holy that he was known the world over; and the Church in the United States requested that the Metropolitan make him a bishop and send him to serve their congregations.

When Father Vladimir met with the Metropolitan, to be made a monk and then a bishop, he asked him, “…instead of starting me out as a simple monk, you’re immediately making me a bishop. In other words, instead of being a novice and obeying the commands of others, my job will mean that I’m the one who will have to command and make decisions. How then do I fulfill the vow of obedience? To whom will I be a novice? Whom will I obey?”

The Metropolitan replied, “You will be in obedience to everyone and anyone whom you meet on your journey through life. As long as that person’s request will be within your power to grant it, and not in contradiction with the Scriptures.”

The book relates many wonderful and remarkable things about the life of Father Vladimir (who, when he took his monastic vows and was ordained bishop, became Bishop Basil), but I want to share just the one as related by Archimandrite Tikhon, who was with him at the time: Once when the Bishop was visiting Moscow he was approached by a young priest and asked to come serve in his parish. Even though the parish was a very long and difficult journey away, Bishop Basil took up his obedience joyfully and went with the priest in his car.

“The trip to his [the young priest] village, however, truly was long and arduous, and we, his travel companions, were soon thoroughly worn out.

But then our car suddenly came to halt. Literally a few minutes ago there had been an accident on the road: a truck had run head-on into a motorcycle. There was a dead man lying right in the dust of the road. Standing over him, numbed with grief, stood a young man. Nearby, the truck driver listlessly stood smoking a cigarette.

The bishop and his companions hurriedly got out of the car. There was already nothing that could be done to help…

The young motorcyclist, clutching his helmet in his hands, was weeping. The dead man had been his father. The bishop embraced the young man and said: ‘I am a priest. If your father was a believer, I can say the necessary prayers for him.’

‘Yes, yes!’ The young man began to recover from shock. ‘Please do whatever is needed! My father was an Orthodox believer. Although…he never used to go to church. They got rid of all the churches around here. But he used to say that he did have a spiritual father. So please, do whatever is required!’

They were already taking the necessary ecclesiastical vestments out of the car. The bishop could not restrain himself and gently asked the young man, ‘How did it happen that your father never went to church, and yet had a spiritual father?’

‘It just happened that way…For many years my father used to listen to religious broadcasts from London. They were made by some priest named Rodzyanko. And my father considered this priest his spiritual father, even though he never saw him once in his life.’

The bishop sobbed and wept and got down on his knees before his spiritual son who had just died.”

Isn’t that remarkable? If Bishop Basil hadn’t been obedient to the young priest asking him to abandon his busy and important schedule to travel a long and exhausting journey to a tiny parish in the middle of nowhere, he wouldn’t have been able to pray for the newly departed soul of his unknown spiritual son!

What obedience is God asking of me that I am ignoring, either deliberately or subconsciously?

I could be a changed person in the blink of an eye, if I only said yes.


Wednesday, February 8, 2017


Everyday Saints and Other Stories by Archimandrite Tikhon –

Reflection: During my reading it struck me how I am called to love everyone. I know that’s not a new idea for anyone even remotely familiar with Christianity, and it’s a concept I always think I understand, but then, when I look deeper, it’s obvious that I don’t.

Love is wanting the best for a person’s immortal soul. And it is not inherently absent from anger or sorrow. Just like it isn’t inherently present in happiness.

Love can look like a lot of things, and only God knows which appearance is necessary for a soul.

I don’t know where I’m going with this…except…I believe I struggle with separating the sin from the sinner. And for that I am heartily sorry.


Antiquing for Dummies by Ron Zoglin & Deborah Shouse –

Report: 24 pages read in the hour.

Reflection: If you want to sell your antique(s) or merely know their value, here are some helpful tips on finding an appraiser and evaluating their expertise:

“You want an appraiser who is qualified. You may want to select an appraiser who belongs to one or more of the appraisers’ organizations. Some of the national appraisal organizations that certify their members are:

ISA, International Society of Appraisers…

ASA, American Society of Appraisers…

AAA, Appraisers Association of America…

…When you talk to an appraiser, here are some questions to ask:

What qualifies you to appraise my property? It’s a plus to have someone who has taken the courses from the appraisal societies and who knows the proper form and substance of the appraisal report…

Have you been tested? The test for certification should include ethics and the details of creating appraisal reports as well as testing on the appraiser’s specialties…

Do you take continuing education? You want an appraiser who is up-to-date on appraisal standards and procedures, which are subject to change..

How do you handle items outside of your specialty? No matter how competent appraisers are, they won’t have seen it all. They need to know how to describe, measure, photograph, and research antiques. They need to know other specialists in their field so that they can reach out for help when they have questions.

What is your fee? On what basis do you charge? Major appraisal organizations feel that charging a percentage of the appraised price is unethical. Charging on a percentage basis disqualifies the appraisal for use by the IRS. Most appraisers charge either per item or by the hour or on a total fee for the entire job…”

The following are tips for selling your antiques online:

Email online auction houses and find out their rules…

Get clear pictures of the item you want to sell from every angle..

Write a complete accurate description of the piece, including the way it looks and a full disclosure of its condition.

Write out a return policy…

Check your e-mail daily in order to respond promptly to potential customers.

Be prepared to change the item’s category listing if you get few or no responses…

Make arrangements with a reliable packing and shipping company to wrap the item or learn how to pack fragile items…”

That wraps it up for Antiquing for Dummies! I’ll be starting another antiquing book this coming week.

Reading Challenge; Jan. 14, 2017

As I said in Side Note, I have been unable to prepare a post for this week of the same ilk as before; however, I have found some very interesting articles on my chosen subjects of study. The links are as follows: (Eastern Orthodox Christian Article; An immensely helpful guide to the Jesus Prayer) (Antiquing Article; What sort of antiques should you collect?)’s_theory_of_cognitive_development#Sensorimotor_stage (Child Development Article; Jean Piaget’s Stages explained)


Reading Challenge; Jan. 7th, 2017 (Part 1)

Sunday, January 1, 2017; 364 Hours to go per Subject this Year

Everyday Saints and Other Stories by Archimandrite Tikhon –

Report: In my first hour of reading I covered only 22 pages. My goal is to cover at least 50 pages an hour in this book.

Reflection: I’m only a chapter into this book and, I must say, I’m really enjoying it.

It begins with a brief history of Archimandrite Tikhon’s journey to Orthodoxy and his becoming a monk. It is a truly inspiring story that reaffirms my belief in works of art (in this case, specifically writings) that are deeply theological, but not obviously so. For these are the works that will remain as a guiding light to the lost, despite the world’s best efforts to eradicate Truth. As his story proves, these will remain even when the obviously Christian works have been destroyed, because the world will not correctly identify them.

This is true because those who are blind to light have chosen to be so; and thus, do not, in reality, expend any internal effort to find it. They do this because if they looked for more than the obvious they would have to open themselves up to the Truth, becoming vulnerable to it, causing conviction and the drive to put forth effort in favor of their souls. Something that they do not want to do.

The following is an excerpt from this lovely first chapter that stood out to me (Archimandrite Tikhon has just related to us the story of his first visit to a monastery and is now talking about the events and thoughts that immediately followed): “Indeed, everything was different now. I didn’t know what had happened to me, but suddenly the world had lost all its attractions, and ceased to be interesting. All that yesterday had seemed desirable and valuable to me was now revealed to be not worthless (I certainly wouldn’t dare to say that) but irredeemably alien. I didn’t recognize myself. And my friends didn’t recognize me either.

When I came home to Moscow, suddenly I realized with surprise that throughout all those past ten days, not only had I not smoked, but I had not even thought about my incurable habit of many years. And this was despite the fact that until that time I had normally smoked not less than two packs of cigarettes a day.

Now the only place where I felt normal was in church. Neither my friends, nor my pastimes, nor the work I had once so strived for – none of it touched my heart any longer. Even my books, even my beloved Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy, somehow no longer held my attention. I understood that I had completely changed, and that in fact I was now hopelessly lost to this world that had once been so dear to me. Another life beckoned me, next to which all my prior experience of twenty-four years paled in comparison.

Of course, I did love that past world, and I was sad for it and felt compassion for it from the bottom of my heart! But that was just the point – my heart! It already belonged not to my old world and to my old goals, but to a new world that had mysteriously and unexpectedly revealed itself to me, a world devoted not to fleeting things, but to an unbreakable covenant between man and God.”

I believe this passage truck me so because it was so poignant to my current attitude. I have had many opportunities, even in my short life, to change the disposition of my heart as Archimandrite Tikhon did, and I have said no. Indeed, after leaving monasteries, or meeting an enlightened person I have felt the call strongly and have turned away. There have even been times when I move my heart to the proper disposition for a few hours, or even a day, only to talk myself out of it.

The horrible truth is that I don’t want to change. I don’t want to take that chance on God, not really; because I’m afraid of being bored and I have a hatred for work. Even though I have seen and experienced the grace and joy that God gives to those who wear down their physical bodies and minds in His name and pursuit, I deliberately turn away.

I must change, and since God never gives us more than we can handle, I know it’s possible. I just have to want it…but how do I make myself want it?


Antiquing for Dummies by Ron Zoglin & Deborah Shouse

Report: I read 25 pages in the hour.

Reflection: Firstly I’d like to stress that I am not blogging about EVERYTHING I read in the books I’m using for the challenge. That would mean that you, the reader of my blog, wouldn’t have to buy the book yourself if you were interested, and I am in no way trying to hurt the Authors’ royalties. If you find what I’m blogging about interesting, know that the books contain FAR MORE information; and it would be a benefit to your interest if you were to purchase them to read yourself.

My intention is that this blog be a place of reflection and discussion. That said, let us continue.

Antiquing for Dummies covers SO MUCH information. It’s wonderful and insane all at the same time. When they tell you about the different eras of furniture making, for example, they detail what woods were used, how they were commonly finished, and the methods and materials used to assemble them. It all feel terribly overwhelming.

But then, I’m finding Antiquing to be rather overwhelming. Not in a bad way, I’m still terribly fascinated. Indeed, that seems to be the trouble. There is an incomprehensible amount of categories, and genres to be interested in! It seems every page I turn I see a new category that I crave to know EVERYTHING about. I’m even picking up on such things in my everyday life! For example, after only just starting this book, I was listening to the song Sleigh Ride; one of the lines goes, “It’ll nearly be like a picture print from Currier and Ives”.

I have listened to this song at least 200 times in my l life, I know the lyrics essentially by heart, and up until reading this book, my brain completely passed over that line as if it were gibberish. But now…now my interest is peaked! Who are Currier and Ives? What do their prints look like? What price do they sell for? How do you appraise quality? Are there prints that are worth more than others? Why so?

To add to the overwhelmed feeling is the fact that Antiquing is truly subjective. This is a point that irritates me to no end. My interest in antiquing started because you have the potential to not just buy a piece of furniture to use and then eventually discard, but to have a piece that is truly worth something, and that is even appreciating! Something that is truly worth passing on to the kiddos. A legacy of functional taste, if you will. But the truth is that that isn’t entirely how antiquing works. As I said before, it is terribly subjective. Something that was worth $100 yesterday could suddenly sell at Christie’s Auction House for $1000 today or vice versa.

And it’s not even that straightforward! So let’s say that the item was a vase, and that vase has been appraised at $250 and is being auctioned off at Sotheby’s. Some person wins it for $2000. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the value of the item has actually gone up. It could simply mean that there were a couple inexperienced bidders there, who don’t know what to look for in an antique vase of that period, and thought it was worth more than it was, so they drove the price up! But their lack of knowledge will not necessarily change the value of other vases from that time up.

It’s all about supply and demand. That may sound obvious to you, and, indeed now, I chuckle at myself for having thought otherwise; but before starting this book I really did think that a renaissance vase in pristine condition had a (relatively) set value.

If your head is spinning, I totally understand, and I’m right there with you. I’m reading so many new words and having many more merely eluded to, that I wonder how I could possibly ever keep even the most basic in my mind. At the moment I am consoling myself with the thought that after seven years of reading about this field of study, I will know something. Some number of terms will mean something to me for forever. I don’t yet know how many that will be, but by the end I feel I will certainly be able to tell you thoroughly about one period of furniture styles; from the woods they commonly used, to the method of assembly.

Today, I learned something about Dovetail Joints. This may sound a very mundane topic, but bear with me. I truly enjoyed it. You see, there are many things you have to know in order to date a piece properly, and most of them are not only complicated, but also highly subjective. Meaning that what you’re looking for can be faked. But the dovetail joints are simpler method, it seems to me, in comparison. The book defines them as, “the corner joint that brings two perpendicular pieces of wood together.”

It is not guaranteed, but rather, widely accepted that the less dovetails used in a joint, the older the piece (Of course you have to employ many other methods of age assessment to be sure, but this is the one that is sticking in my brain for the moment). As time went on furniture making techniques changed, and so, in pieces made a little later on you will see more dovetails in a joint. The book says roughly 3 to 5. The key here, is that you are looking for dovetails that are irregular, because this proves they were carved by hand, and can indicate age.

Later furniture that was/is made with a machine, has a greater number of dovetails, and they are more uniform.dovetail-joint

Example Sketch of a Dovetail Joint

The Psychology of the Child by Jean Piaget and Barbel Inhelder –

Report: I have read roughly 4 hours of this book this week. I was supposed to read 6 but for various reasons was unable. I predict I will finish this book by Tuesday, January 10, 2017 as it is only 150 pages long.

Reflection: It is important to note that this book is written in Scientific Essay format. Meaning that it is written by scientists, for other scientists. As a result, I am finding it a difficult read; so my notes will be different than what I wrote for the others. Mainly, I will write this one entry about portions of the entire week, instead of hour by hour. The book is a terribly good one, chock full of information. But such an intense volume of data can be wearing on an unaccustomed mind, so I find myself needing more breaks than with the other books, as my brain becomes extremely fatigued.

There are a couple main ideas that I was struck with.

First, I have heard many people (and it annoys me to no end), say that their children, some as young as a couple months old, are trying to manipulate them. This distresses me from an emotional stand-point since the vast majority of parents in our society are neglecting their children’s emotional needs. In another book, it is presented that children need loving contact with at least one of their parents (and it must be their parents or guardian, not a sitter, other relative, friend, or sibling) once every interval of minutes equaling their age; i.e. a four year old needs to have loving contact with one of their parents every 4 minutes to keep their love tank full, and a 16 year old needs it every 16 minutes.

Obviously you can let time elapse, but know that children’s love tanks (yes that is the technical term) empty quickly (the younger they are, the faster it empties), and that is when you see behavioral issues. So if you are away from your child for an hour, you need to expect that their little emotional tanks are empty and they will act up if you don’t fill them. People don’t give their kids enough grace. I have witnessed parents make the change to this method, and, as magic, the problems disappear, because the child feels loved.

All this to say, when I hear people say their kids are being manipulative trying to get their attention, my heart bleeds for the child. This is because it isn’t the child’s fault. It’s the parents. If the parents were loving their children the way that God intended, and yes He intended for it to take up ALL of your time and emotional energy, then the child would not be behaving this way.

Now, through reading The Psychology of the Child, I have found out that not only is it wrong, emotionally speaking, to accuse your poor children of this, but it is wholly ignorant from a psychological standpoint!

You see, babies actually lack the comprehension to be manipulative. In other words IT’S IMPOSSIBLE for your baby to think, “Hm, I want mommy. So I’m going to cry even though I don’t need anything, so that she’ll come running.” This statement is false on so many levels! To begin with, if your child wants you, no matter what age, no matter how often, then they NEED you. It doesn’t matter if you think they should or not, the fact is that God gave you kids so that you would change, not the other way around.

Furthermore, if a person has children that are no longer babies, and thus have the mental ability to be “manipulative”, so what? If their child is trying to “manipulate” them it means that they are not giving their child what it needs. God never gives people more than they can handle, which means that every need or wound that child gets, He has given the parents the ability to, not crush or get rid of the need or wound, but to fill and or heal it. People need to approach their children with complete humility and shameless love.

There are 3 analogies I am very fond of that illustrate my point:

Our lives are like roads on which we ride bicycles. When we are born, the road before us is straight, and God has given our parents the ability to pave them through love and humility. But, they also have the ability to tear them apart, filling them with potholes and ruts. A child whose parents destroy their road will have a hard time riding their bike without going into the holes and ruts; it is possible, but ridiculously improbable. So at the end of times, who will answer for these falls? The parents or the child? Would it not be the parents? They were the ones charged with paving the roads, and indeed they were given every ability, but instead they chose to destroy it.

There is a man on an elevator. The elevator breaks, leaving the man stuck. First he looks around, stunned. Then he calmly calls, “Hello? Anyone there?” When no answer is received he tries again, “Hello? Can anyone hear me? I’m stuck!” The next time he calls he becomes louder, and, when there is no response, louder still; until he is in a panicking, fuming, fit. When we see children that are “out of control”, we ought to feel badly for them. They are stuck in an elevator, their parents are the only ones who can get them out, and they are refusing; turning their backs and leaving them helpless.

A woman is with her toddler, who is afraid of heights. They are outside of a skyscraper, on the ground. At the top of the skyscraper is something that the woman NEEDS to get. The woman knows the building. It is a sound building. If they go inside, nothing bad is going to happen. She kneels down and explains to the child why they need to go to the top and that it is quite safe. The child begins to cry, they are afraid. The woman thinks for a moment…there is no one she can have watch the child while she goes to the top; so, she picks up the child and carries them kicking and screaming into the building, all the way to the top floor. Is she a good mother?

No, she isn’t. What she did was horribly wicked and selfish. For starters, she asserted her own needs over her child’s. For though the fear was unfounded in her eyes, that is beside the point. In taking her child where the child is horribly afraid she has told the child she doesn’t care about it. She has damaged their trust. It is not for her to decide how her child should feel, it is for her to accept and love. Lastly, her “need” that was at the top of the tower, was only a “need” because she decided it should be. As I’ve said before, God never gives us more than we can handle, which means that even if there is something that a parent desperately, direly thinks is necessary to life, if their child needs the opposite, then God will either show the parent how their “need” was fictional, or give them another way to fill it.

When people conceive children they enter into a promise. A promise that starts the moment of conception. It is the promise that the child comes first. That they will, from that second forward, deny themselves every desire and apparent need, to fulfill the needs of their child.

This all probably sounds very bleak and impossible, but the good news is that children don’t need perfect parents. If that were true God wouldn’t give them to any of us. But they need humble parents, who are willing to be merciless with themselves, repenting and taking complete responsibility for EVERY hole and rut they create. It is humility that fills holes. It is love that paves them. God gives everybody who conceives the chance to have plenty of both. He never sets us up for failure. We choose that ourselves.

Second, play is important to a child’s development. And as I type that I’m aware how obvious it sounds, but let me elaborate; it is generally agreed that play is vital to a child. However, it is not as universally accepted/known that it is not vital because the child desires it, but rather because the child’s brain needs it. And it doesn’t need it simply as a diversion, either. It NEEDS it to process the world. According to the book, children are learning to cope and understand the world around them by playing.

I bring this point because it is so misunderstood. How often have I seen parents chastising their children for the way they are playing? By that I do not mean when they correct a selfish or violent act, but rather a benign act that, because they don’t understand it, bothers them. There is an example that the authors give, of one of the children they observed during the study. This child imitated both a church bell, standing there “gonging”, as well as a dead duck that they had had for dinner.

The parent of the child became annoyed at her “gonging” because he was trying to work and she was doing it right beside him. But she was merely developing her brain and understanding of the world. She NEEDED to play the bell and she NEEDED her father to participate in this learning experience.

Similarly, when she was playing the dead duck; I know parents, who, if they saw their child lying on the sofa playing a dead duck, would “correct” them, saying that that’s morbid and we don’t play that way or some such. They have just shut down their child’s learning process because it makes them “uncomfortable”.

Please do not misunderstand, I am not advocating for a world without propriety. But playing a dead duck hurts nothing and illustrates a need to understand. To stop the child’s play, when it isn’t hurting them or anyone else, is sending a message that they have done something wrong when they haven’t, and it stunts their understanding.

A child’s development is not done by the clock, nor by an adult’s sensibilities. By that I mean that it happens exactly when it needs to and how it needs to, whether it’s convenient or not. And parents are called to drop everything to do what’s necessary. That is part of the conception promise.

Third, during their studies, the authors conducted experiments in which they asked children of different age groups to do the same tasks. The younger group, whose brains were, naturally, not yet as developed, completed the assignment in a very different manner than the older group. So the presiding scientist showed the children what method was expected of them, versus what they had done. The children did it again, this time how he had just shown them, however, in further testing it was discovered that they had done so, not because of a new understanding, but rather because he had made them.

In other words, when a young child is doing something in a way that doesn’t make sense to their parents, and the parents “correct” it (i.e. show them how to draw properly or color inside the lines), and then INSIST upon it, the child will do as they are being forced. But the parent should make no mistake, they have not “educated” their child, they have simply forced them into outwardly performing. Their brain and way of thinking about that particular activity has not changed. So would it not be better to let them continue in their own way?

Monday, January 2, 2017; 363 Hours to go per Subject this Year

Everyday Saints and Other Stories by Archimandrite Tikhon –

Report: In my second hour of reading I still only covered 22 pages.

Reflection: The second chapter of this book is about Archimandrite John Krestiankin, Archimandrite Tikhon’s Spiritual Father. I’m going to do some research, in the hopes that he has written something that has been translated to English. From what I read, he sounds a true inspiration and motivator.

He was known for his unerring wisdom and compassion. The chapter was full of examples of this. The interactions he had with all were so touchingly beautiful. But one story seemed the best to write about (Archimandrite Tikhon is relating a time when Archimandrite John is crossing with courtyard of the monastery with a parade of pilgrims, seeking his advice, on his heels): “ …Suddenly a woman in tears, holding a three-year-old baby, threw herself across his path.

‘Father, bless my baby before his operation – the doctors demand that it be done immediately in Moscow.’

Father John stopped and told the woman something that utterly shocked the pilgrims from Moscow: ‘Under no circumstances! He’ll die on the operating table. Pray, and take loving care of him, but do not do the operation under any circumstances. He will get well.’”

Archimandrite goes on to say that the woman followed Archimandrite John’s instructions and all went well, just as he said it would.

This story strikes me so much because of what he says. He doesn’t just tell her not to let her son be operated on, but he instructs her to pray and love him so that all will be well. To me, this makes a very striking point that I see most of our Society missing from their lives.

The first is the instruction to pray. In order to pray, truly pray, we need to be humble. The second is the instruction to love. How often, when we see others in pain, instead of seeing how our selfish denial to give them the love of God has created these problems in them, do we look for other Earthly causes for their problems? This is especially true with our own children. I don’t know the backstory to this antidote, so I don’t know what was wrong with the boy or what condition his relationship with his parents was in. However, it puts me in mind of a lot of other situations that look similar (a parent frantic over an “ill” child) and merely require the parents to exercise humility and Godly love to make everything ok again.

Instead of wanting the easy way out, instead of wanting there to be something really wrong with our child that requires a doctor, why don’t we take responsibility for the fact that our pride and lack of love are what have forced our children into this corner, and actually change??seeker-of-the-lost

Archimandrite John’s “beloved” Icon of The Mother of God: Seeker of the Lost


Antiquing for Dummies by Ron Zoglin & Deborah Shouse

Report: I read 25 pages in the Hour.

Reflection: There seems to be information that you have to know before you can even start learning about Antiques. Like, there’s a safe with just the basics, but you have to have the combination first. Thankfully, this book gives you the key code so that you can open the safe. Now, the safe, it appears, is usually a person, and you have to know the right manner and verbiage with which to approach them in order to get the answers you need.

As far as I can tell from my reading, you want to go out antiquing, without actually buying anything, A LOT. And you want to go to a variety of places, i.e. antique shops, flea markets, auctions, estate sales, garage sales, etc.

But before you can even go into these places there is some basic etiquette, “Don’t bring in food or drink…Don’t smoke…” You don’t want the establishment to deem you a hazard to antiquity before you even get into the door.

Once inside, look for the owner or manager of the establishment. Be honest and straightforward with them that you are new to antiquing and wanting to learn. This seems counterintuitive to me because they are there to do business, right? So why would they want to talk to me if I’ve just said that I’m just looking; and not only just looking, but I’m asking them to essentially “donate” their time and knowledge?

That part I’m just going to trust them on and do no matter what.

Now, just a few more tips for while you are perusing. “Don’t open a closed display case…Ask for help before you handle fragile items…Pay attention to any Do Not Touch and Fragile signs…Don’t pick anything up by its top or handle alone…Ask permission before taking photographs…Ask for permission and help when using your antique sleuthing skills.”

The last thing I’m going to leave you with here is a phrase that I found most intriguing and potentially useful; when you see an item you like, whether you know anything about it or not, you can ask the dealer, “Can you explain the price on this _____?” Not only could they tell you much about that piece and why it’s worth what it is, but they could potentially sidetrack into telling you about the genre as a whole.