PK and the Gang

Bringing Eastern Europe to Eastern North Carolina

Archive for the category “Holidays”

Polish Holidays and a Huge Thank You

I want to start this post with a huge thank you! Our Chrome Buffalo drive ended on Wednesday and Becky and I feel so blessed. Through your generosity, we received $330 through the drive site and with other gifts and donations during the drive we raised another $150! This money will go towards sending our dossier to Poland. Next week, we actually head to Durham to have our fingerprints taken by USCIS which will lead to the last form we need for the dossier. After that, we just have one more (very large) stack of papers to send to get apostilled!

Our Lady of Czestochowa, the Polish Black Madonna

Our Lady of Czestochowa, the Polish Black Madonna

While we are doing our own little celebration because we’ve been so blessed, today is a pretty big holiday in Poland as well. August 15 is a kind of double holiday there – the Feast of the Assumption and Polish Armed Forces Day. The feast of the Assumption celebrates the belief that Mary was taken bodily up into Heaven. The Catholic churches will have special masses today and many people will make the pilgrimage to Jasna Gora Monastery in Czestochowa where Poland’s famous Black Madonna is kept. There are several legends surrounding the icon including that it was originally painted by St. Luke on a tabletop belonging to the Holy Family (though studies point towards it actually being a Byzantine icon) that came to Poland in the 1300s. Another legend surrounds how it got its dark coloring and the scars on Mary’s face. Hussites (a protestant group predating the Reformation and very opposed to icons) stormed the Pauline monastery in 1430, plundering the sanctuary. Among the items stolen was the icon. After putting it in their wagon, the Hussites tried to get away but their horses refused to move. They threw the portrait down to the ground and one of the plunderers drew his sword upon the image and inflicted two deep strikes. When the robber tried to inflict a third strike, he fell to the ground and writhed in agony until his death. Despite past attempts to repair these scars, they had difficulty in covering up those slashes as the painting was done with tempera infused with diluted wax. Another legend states that, as the robber struck the painting twice, the face of the Virgin Mary started to bleed; in a panic, the scared Hussites retreated and left the painting. The painting is still kept as Jasna Gora and many Catholics travel to pay homage the painting.

Today is also Polish Armed Forces Day. It is in honor of the Polish military and a way to remember the victory of the Battle of Warsaw in 1920. During the battle, the largely outnumbered Polish forces held off the invading Red Army, ensuring Polish independence for a time. Many national cemeteries will have a reading of the soldiers who died in battle. Today will also hold a very ceremonious changing of the guard at the Poland’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

I’m loving learning more and more of the culture of PK’s home country and want to share it with you all. While we might not celebrate all the Polish holidays when we have PK here, I’m going to have to start making a note of which days I should wear red and white – the Polish colors.

Again, thank you all so much for all of your support and love! Until next time!

Mother’s Day Thoughts

april-723017_1280It’s that time of year again. Mother’s Day is right around the corner. It’s a holiday that, until a few years ago, I never gave much thought. Buy a card, some sort of gift and have a special meal with Ma. Fun but little thought involved (other than the present). After getting married and waiting to begin our adoption journey, I learned that Mother’s Day can be a day of pain, tears, and feeling “less than.” From there, I began looking at the day in a new light. I’m still not a massive fan of the day. While I get to spend it with some of the amazing women that are part of my life, I often have to spend it with one of my least favorite – the Proverbs 31 Woman.

She’s like Michelle Duggar, Carol Brady, Oprah Winfrey, and Helen Mirren all rolled into to one. She’s too good to be true. Which is because she’s the ideal, not a real woman. She’s likely even the personification of Wisdom, like many of the virtuous women Solomon uses throughout the rest of the Book of Proverbs. Still, she’s often held up as the measuring stick all women should strive for and I’ve met several women who are frustrated trying to become this perfect woman.

Whether you hear another sermon on her this Sunday or not, perhaps we should take a glance around our congregation and see the other Biblical women who make up our congregation. Women, throughout the body who line up with some of the amazing women in the Bible whose stories often get too little attention:

Close to my heart, you can find Pharaoh’s daughter (Exodus 2), longing to pull a little one out of the water and take on the title of “Momma.”

Across the room, Jachobed, Moses’ mom (Exodus 2), who would love to keep her child more than anything but realizes that, for so many reasons, she must let her little one go to be raised by another.

Down near the altar is Hannah (1 Samuel 1), a woman with fertility issues.

Standing in the back near the door, wondering if she is even welcome, Tamar (2 Samuel 13) remembers abuse at the hands of family members and wonders if anyone could ever love someone like her.

David’s mother is sitting there beaming so proud of her brood and how blessed they are.

Leah (Genesis 29) seems to have it all but is just putting on a brave face to hide the discontent she feels in her marriage.

Hagar (Genesis 16) comes in a few minutes late looking rushed and trying to get adjusted to life as a newly single parent.

A younger and older woman are worshipping beside each other. Their lives have been dedicated not to caring for families of their own but to meeting the physical needs of those around them and mentoring them spiritually. Their names are Tabitha (Acts 9) and Priscilla (Acts 18).

Rizpah (2 Samuel 21) still mourns the loss of her sons in a war she doesn’t understand. The only thing that makes sense now is preserving their memory and honor.

A pregnant teenage girl, Mary (Luke 1) thinks about the new life inside her, the changes it will bring and whether this religious group will still accept her.

Bathsheba’s (2 Samuel 11) life didn’t turn out like she thought it would. Two marriages, losing a young child would break weaker women but she has overcome and is pouring the wisdom gained from a life of hard knocks into her son, Solomon, hoping that the girl-crazy teen will finally realize that Wisdom is the dream girl he should be chasing.

All these women, and so many more, surround us every day. Hopefully, our eyes are open to see them and to love on those who need to know that they are not alone. May this Mother’s Day be one of joy for the things worth celebrating, comfort for the mourning times and understanding of all the different journeys all the different mothers of the world go through.

Father’s Day and Chrome Buffalo

The globe reminds me of the Pan-Am Airlines logo.

This is the “official” design for our t-shirt. I think it rocks but so do all the other designs!

Today is Father’s Day and it’s the first time that it has caused more than a thought of “Did I remember to get a gift for Da?” My Da, by the way, is an awesome man. He’s taught me how to work hard, realize that no one is beneath me, respect those around me and to be willing to stand up for myself, my convictions and others. He’s supported me and come to my performances and programs (some of which were, admittedly, beautiful in the their travesty – but how else are you going to grow?). I can only hope to instill half the lessons to PK that my Da taught me. Today though, I received my first (expectant) Father’s Day present. It’s an awesome pocketknife to replace the one that the State gave me for five years of service that was stolen from my car. This one look like olive wood and is engraved “Kocham Cie,” which is Polish for “I Love You.” It is also one of the few things I can say in Polish without sounding special. Receiving my first Father’s Day gift has made me realize that in a relatively short period of time I’ll have a kid to scar for life.

Today is also the beginning of our Chrome Buffalo drive! Chrome Buffalo is an awesome company. In dealing with the company, we have been showered in love and encouragement. They’ve even included our entire family in their prayers. The company sells artist-designed t-shirts. Becky and I were able to choose one “official” design for our drive but any shirt bought from the site benefits us. For each shirt sold, we get $11. The site suggested a goal of $150. We’ll be thankful for any amount but we certainly wouldn’t complain if we blew right past $150 since we have a ways to go! Currently we have about 1/4 of the money needed for the adoption. Check out the site here and buy a tshirt. Who knows, we might have your last minute Father’s Day gift (You can always print off a picture to give him). Thanks to those of you who help us out financially and thanks to those of you support us with encouraging words, prayers, and letting us prattle on about our journey!

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