Hello & Holy Week 2019 update

Hello everyone,

Since it’s been almost 2 years to the day since I last posted here, I wanted to say hello, whether you be a subscriber or passing through!

I’d like to begin by wishing everyone a happy holiday weekend! As a (semi?) adherent to the Eastern Orthodox calendar, I have one more week of Lent fasting before the Russian/Greek Orthodox Easter finally arrives (and I eat *all* the yummy things on sight!)

In retrospect, this has been a challenging week, beginning with the very sad news of the devastating Notre Dame cathedral fire. It has been—and remains—my favorite Paris monument, and it still feels so unbelievable that it happened. It makes me all the more grateful to have enjoyed its beauty, and to have climbed it twice, each time I was there. The first time was as a study abroad student in 2005-2006, and the most recent was in 2016. In that year, I specifically chose my place in Paris to be near the cathedral. My first morning there, the boulangeries weren’t yet open, so while waiting to get my fresh croissants and baguette, I took a nice stroll around the corner to the church. It was a beautiful 8am-ish morning visit, perfectly quiet and basically empty, exactly as I prefer it. To have it be so near and accessible was exactly what I was going for, and I’m thankful for the memories. While they will surely rebuild, it goes without saying that it will take time, and in short, will never be the same again.

Source: My March 16, 2019 Instagram post to commemorate Notre Dame de Paris’s publishing in 1831.

Art by Dibujosdecristina on Instagram

Despite the circumstances, what has been touching, and great to see, are French people expressing their faith, perhaps more openly than the secular French may be used to. With all that’s going on in their country, if not the world, perhaps that’s a much-needed change and something to actively re-incorporate in their life, in whatever way fits those inclined.


Unsurprisingly, given the church’s 800+ year history, it’s appreciated by a range of people the world over, while carrying particular meaning for those of Catholic, if not overall Christian, faith.

Sadly, this event also reminds that, in addition to discrimination and persecution, the destruction of ancient churches is a common experience of Christians of the Middle East, the very region in which our Light that is Jesus Christ incarnated on earth, forever blessing us.
Having briefly volunteered with Sabeel when I spent 3 months in Jerusalem, my heart goes out to those involved in such challenging, important work.

If you’d like to learn more about and donate to some French NGOs dong amazing work with Christians of the Middle East, check out:

*SOS Chrétiens d’Orient – French NGO that assists Christians throughout the Middle East, such as Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt, with active volunteers serving at various locations

*Fraternité en Irak & Shlama Foundation – two Iraqi NGOs helping minority communities rebuild their lives after ISIS mayhem

If you know of any others, feel free to share!

On a tech note. Recent tech snafus have made many reconsider using mainly social media to interact with their audience—an especially concerning factor for anyone primarily running a business that way. In addition to that, platforms can have different ‘vibes’ and requirements, such as character limits that can sometimes impact how users choose to present information.

Even before this occurrence, I’ve been considering using this blog more actively, even if mainly, for the time being, to ‘duplicate’ some of my book reviews here. Though I once mostly saw Goodreads as the place for me to do this, it certainly doesn’t have to be the main or only place where they’re aggregated. (It still boggles the mind that hosting book giveaways via the platform used to be free, whereas now you pay at least $119 to do so. Can you say no thanks?!)

This reintegrating of blogging in my routine is also with keeping in mind that I’m finishing a historical fiction novel, which at least partially explains the dropping off of other writing-related endeavors. In the end you have to prioritize and eliminate anything that gets in the way, and even if that ends up being way more than you thought, if it leads to the accomplishment of your main goal, then it’s all worth it!
As the finalizing of that approaches I may start blogging about that as well, although that will require its own process…

So, on that note, if anyone feels like sharing what they’ve been up to, please feel free to do so! In the spirit of fostering positive energy, I send you, reader, abundant blossoming vibes with whatever you’re pursuing!

Thanks for reading & cheers! =)

Some Lent humor:

Source: @litcatholicmemes on Instagram


Thoughts on Easter fasting

Being that Orthodox Lent is approaching (and Catholic Lent season has already started), I find myself contemplating the subject of Easter fasting.

Last year (2015) marked the third time that I completed the Easter fasting for Lent. For Christians, Lent refers to the period of 40 days prior to Easter, during which you restrict yourself from various pleasures—be they dietary and/or lifestyle—with the intent of purifying yourself and turning to God as we recall the ordeal Jesus went through for us. I find that it can serve as both an intense and rewarding learning experience, provided you approach it with the right set of mind (and isn’t that true of everything in life! 😉 )

Doing the actual fasting usually means not having any meat or dairy for that time period, which basically leaves you vegan. With that said, if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years it’s that the various church specifics of Christian fasting can vary. For instance, the Catholic fasting may differ from the Orthodox fasting… and even the Orthodox churches themselves (Greek, Russian, etc.) may each do things their own way! For example, some allow fish 1-2 times during the Lent period; others say it’s ideal to do a total fast (aka no eating at all) on Good Friday, and maybe have some fruits and wine on Saturday… and so on, and so forth. So if things seem confusing—and inconsistent—on that front, it’s because they are!

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On 8/15/15 in various parts of France, Catholic church bells to ring for Middle East Christians

As stated by a French Facebook group called AraMic TV, in about a day (technically even less if in Europe), Catholic church bells will be ringing in France for Middle East Christians. I appreciate this show of support, and truly wish the US churches—and other countries’ as well—would get ON IT stat and do the same!!

Check out the event page, although I note it is in French: https://www.facebook.com/lesclochesdeFrance

The map below shows the dioceses that are participating (in purple). The list is growing, which already includes other countries like Spain, Canada, Iceland, and Switzerland.



“Delbedel” album by Saideh Eftekhari & Khatchadour Khatchadourian

Saideh Eftekhari and Khatchadour Khatchadourian have come together to deliver a breathtaking release appropriately titled “Delbedel” (which translates to “soul to soul”). The album is a soothing blend of Middle Eastern instrumental devotional pieces coupled with Armenian lyrics (sung by Khatchadour) and Farsi lyrics (sung by Saideh). Saideh and Khatchadour’s vocals are simply beautiful and compliment each other amazingly well, effortlessly sweeping you away to places far and wide.

The album download file includes a PDF with the lyrics as well as other album media. Get the album here: http://delbedel.bandcamp.com/album/delbedel

To check out a previous interview with Khatchadour, click here.

To view Khatchadour’s two previous albums (available as free downloads), click below:

Arshaluys (2011)

Ascent (2013)

 Khatchadour Khatchadourian and Saideh Eftekhari:



Things I’m reminded of by watching ghost / paranormal shows

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved watching scary shows (one of my “Twisted Reflections” short stories touches on that). By this I mean anything with ghosts or even strange phenomenons (ie: like one with this guy who’d make it rain no matter where he went… yea!)

I’m all grown up now (or am I?! haha) and while I still enjoy watching such shows (thank you “Paranormal Witness” and “The Dead Files”), my spiritual views have obviously evolved, and as a result, so have my take on those types of events. And while there are different stories that qualify as paranormal, I’ve always been most interested in stories of disincarnate / unseen spirits–like ghosts–rather than UFOs, werewolves, strange creatures, etc.


^Mmm. Never thought of that one!!

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