Molly Sabourin

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My kind of town

Posted by on Jul 30, 2009 in Reflections | 3 comments


Don't you think for a minute that when Troy and I announced to our friends and co-workers a couple of years ago we were moving from trendy, happening Chicago to Indiana of all places, we weren't teased and taunted endlessly about it. Well, maybe they didn't mock us verbally so much, but I could see it in their eyes – the sympathetic pity and confusion. But what's there to do? What is there to look at, besides endless fields of corn of course? Well, you can always take the Metra train to the city, they assured us. 

Small town life, however (particularly life in this small town), has suited us to a tee. I feel we've blossomed here. Every morning I still wake up and swear we've stumbled onto a secret treasure – a treasure valued for it's quaintness. See the video below (from the show I90 North) for a brief tour of our own beloved Chesterton!!

And then there are the people. I love, love, love all the ladies in my Zumba class – a rockin' salsa infused form of aerobics offered daily at our local YMCA. Without the slightest hint of self-consciousness, these dedicated women of literally all ages, shapes and sizes shake and sweat their way to health having a great deal of fun in the process. I also love the ladies in our growing book club! I love our librarians who know us, and everyone else, by name . I love my girls' ballet teacher. I love the hard-working and super friendly volunteers at our community resale shop and the vendors selling their hand-made, locally grown and produced wares at the European Market held on Broadway St. every Saturday. I am thankful, with all my heart, for living only blocks away from our close-knit Orthodox Parish. 

Maybe it is because I've moved a lot that this whole setting down roots thing means so much to me. Interacting often and face-to-face with my neighbors feels right and wholesome, as opposed to the empty and lonely sensation I get from excessive internet surfing (aka "colossal time wasting").  The process of growing and feeding new friendships, here, has been healing and refreshing and inspiring simultaneously. One such family that has blessed our lives is THIS ONE. They are funny (oh my goodness those kids are funny!) and creative and interesting and spontaneous.  We've all enjoyed, immensely, getting to know them (see photos below of BFF's, Mary and Mikey)!

Mary and Mikey

Mary and mikey 2

Oh man, I heart those pictures!

Well, I promised the kids that before dinner we'd walk to the park. It's the small things, like that, I count on to stay connected (to them, to my community) and to keep the global hysteria, screaming threateningly, ominously through my radio and the screen of my computer, in perspective.

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Jump! Jump!

Posted by on Jul 29, 2009 in Reflections | 8 comments

Trampoline 1

Trampoline 2

Trampoline 3

Trampoline 4

I don't know what it is like for you all but around here a house without a Wii, a swimming pool (the non-blow-up kind) and/or cable television is a house not often visited by the neighborhood kids. For a variety of reasons I won't go into (my alloted blogging time is too limited and precious for tangents), we have zero of the above and thus my own children have often lamented the fact that, "Nobody ever wants to come over – it's too b-o-r-i-n-g!"  While I am hardly sympathetic to many of their complaints (most of them involving chores, which they feel are cruel, unnecessary and hazardous to their health), this one seemed to me a tad more legitimate. The older they get (Elijah is turning 11?!), the more I long for the type of home where my kids and their friends feel welcome and safe. Maybe I'm being over protective, but  I would much rather have them around me than out in the ambiguous "there." I still have plenty of moments where the noise and bickering make me feel certain I will soon EXPLODE, but over all I have been pleasantly surprised (gosh, that sounds horrible : ) ) by how much I truly enjoy their company. 

Troy and I both believed that saving up for something "Whoa cool, look what the Sabourins have!" worthy would be a positive use of our resources and effort. We wanted the item in question to be fun for all of them -from our youngest to our oldest, to lure them outside as much as possible, and to not shed or pee on our floors. I'd had my eye for awhile on this sturdy, "Spring-free Trampoline," but it was way out of our budget and so we toyed with other ideas, none of which met all of the criteria listed above. While talking recently with my next-door neighbor, however, I discovered that she also was interested in a trampoline for her daughter – but not a cheapy one. Next thing I knew, we were pooling our money together to purchase the original super-duper trampoline I wanted and, Ta-da! it finally arrived – thank you to my husband and Paige's brother, Zach, for putting it all together! 

Hip hip hooray for a bouncified summer! 
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Simplicity

Posted by on Jul 26, 2009 in Reflections | 10 comments

Simplicity

Back in my Bible college days it wasn’t unusual to, while
grabbing a third helping of Apple Jacks from the student cafeteria cereal bar,
be confronted out of nowhere by classmates and professors with
invasive inquiries such as, “So, how is your walk?”  Meaning my Christian walk. How was I doing in
terms of growing and maturing spiritually?  One hundred percent of the time my answer was, “Fine.”  Never mind that I’d all but stopped
attending church and had taken to sleeping in on Saturday mornings instead of
participating in the women’s Bible study being held in the common area of our
dorm floor.

With but a grin and a nod and maybe a, “Praise the Lord,”
thrown in for good measure, I could avoid the discomfort of being prayed over
right there on the spot and keep my lack of joy, and disillusionment, to my own
burnt-out self. I was having what you might call a “crisis of faith” – a
condition not all that uncommon among twenty-something, life-long believers.  I was annoyed by the cliché-ness – the
“Got Jesus?” t-shirts, the “What would Jesus do?” bracelets, key chains, breath
mints, white-faced mimes reenacting Christ’s Passion (silently, of course) on
the streets of Chicago.

Secretly, I’d already begun the literally scary as hell process
of inwardly distancing myself from not necessarily my childhood convictions but
rather an expression of those convictions I was becoming increasingly less and
less devoted to. And yet that evangelical sub-culture was all I’d ever known,
the only language I spoke, my only means, I assumed, for gaining access to
God.  I couldn’t bear to reveal
publicly the gnawing misgivings I felt for sure would be read as a sign
of my capriciousness, as dangerous, and worst of all as a betrayal of those I cared
for and respected.  “Hey, I’m
struggling here!”  I thought near
constantly beginning in the spring of 1996. But you wouldn’t have known it by
looking at me or conversing with me because I (and I hardly think I’m alone in
this) would bend over backwards for the approval and admiration of my
peers, which in that particular context was easily garnered with a few
strategically placed references to God’s omnipotence, grace and awesomeness.

Fast-forward thirteen years, through thirteen years of
significant transitions. I am married now and wearing a tri-bar cross around my
neck (representative of my commitment to the Orthodox Christian Faith I have converted
to).  I drive a mini-van. That’s
right, I’m a mom. I am Orthodox.  I
am immensely grateful for these developments in my life, but still get so
utterly flustered sometimes when it comes to those inevitable periods of despondency and insecurity within motherhood and faith that seem always to precede both
humility and enlightenment.  With
each new stage and trial I tend to panic, failing to pace myself one inch by
prayerful inch at a time (Learning curve, schmearning curve – I can and will overcome
and master all of it instantaneously!). Instead of factoring in my uniqueness –
unique temperament, vulnerabilities, circumstances and background, when working
out with fear and trembling my salvation, I chase vigorously after a one-size
fits-all ideal, pieced together by yours truly from a smorgasbord of
characteristics I’ve observed in others, representing to me what defines a “good”
mother, a “good” Orthodox Christian.

It can be lonely, I tell you, and embarrassing to
struggle.  Behind closed doors, I agonize
over a rebellious son or daughter, my doubts increase in strength and number
and overtake me, I give in, once again, to the same old tired temptations.  Being imperfect, having children who
are imperfect, makes me (I hate to admit it) feel ashamed.  And then there is the added burden of trying
to maintain a reputation I have fostered with such care and diligence. I forget
too easily that all of those moments in which I find myself way in over my head
are imperative for becoming more and more dependent on Christ’s direction and
mercy.

But what will my neighbors, my co-workers, my fellow
parishioners think if word gets out that I screw up, like all the time? Even worse, how do I go on if the intensely personal cross I am asked to carry is misinterpreted, generating negative assumptions about my degree
of piety, my mothering know–how or my intentions?  Could it be, I’ve been asking myself lately, that the
forfeiting of my pride – the pride that flares up like a flame burning my insides
every time I say something stupid, every time I fail to control one of my
children’s outbursts, every time my beliefs, as an Orthodox Christian, are
scorned – is the key to my freedom? 
How much more of a blessing I could be to those around me if, instead of
being so tethered to my self-esteem, I just put myself out there, as is (un-glossified,
un-airbrushed) – as a walking, talking, breathing manifestation of God’s
continuous compassion. Because those most acutely aware of how many, many times
they’ve been forgiven, are far more apt to forgive and really love, themselves,
without judgment or stipulations.   

The opinions of others
about us,
wrote Father Alexander Elchaninov, – this is the mirror before which we all, almost without exception,
pose. A man moulds himself in order to be such as he wishes to appear to
others. But the real man, as he is actually is, remains unknown to all, often
himself included, while what acts and lives is a figure invented and dressed up
by his own imagination. This tendency to deceive is so great that, distorting
his very nature, a man will sacrifice his own self – the unique and inimitable
element present in every human personality.

But how great is the
attraction we feel whenever we meet a person free of this cancer, and how much
we love the complete simplicity and directness of children, who have not yet
entered into the realm of self-consciousness! Yet we have the alternative of
struggling consciously to return from this evil complexity to simplicity. In
any case, when we become aware of the presence of this evil in us, the task is
already half accomplished.

Complexity versus simplicity.  Self-protection, self-promoting, self-assurance,
self-loathing, self-justification, blah, blah, blah (whew! How exhausting!)
versus  fruit- bearing, peace-rendering,
soul-healing self-denial.  If there
is one thing we all share, it is our longing to be understood. That woman in
your parish with the crying baby on her hip receiving annoyed glances from
those who prefer it quiet while worshiping, may very well be seconds away from tears
and your warm smile and, “Boy have I been there too,” could make the difference
between her staying and feeling welcome or leaving in despair.  Your priest, who may be working a
full-time job and raising a family, could surely benefit from, and become
energized by, a little more appreciation and support from his flock. Think of
how liberating it would be if instead of getting our feathers all ruffled by
those who disagree with our positions, those who flaunt their accomplishments,
those who belittle us, we prayed for Christ to correct our thoughts immediately,
in the moment.  Imagine if envy
held no sway over our words or actions.

I am sorry, my brothers and sisters, if I ever
been anything but forthright with you, if I have ever presumptuously summarized you, if I have ever purposefully painted an overly rosy, inauthentic
picture of myself or my skills or my family and you experienced even a twinge
of discouragement because of it.  There
is already too much heartache in this world, too much hatred, too much fighting
against us in our quest to become more Christ-like. Distrusting the power of Jesus’
Resurrection by declaring our true selves, or anyone else, un-redeemable is
tragically and unnecessarily crippling. 
We are all in this together, friends. Let us uplift one another, always.

 

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Are You Saved?

Posted by on Jul 21, 2009 in Reflections | 5 comments

So I am pretty certain I have mentioned this video on my blog before – a video created by a young Orthodox Christian woman from Latvia I found on YouTube, featuring a section of a podcast I wrote and read for Ancient Faith Radio over a year ago. I was and still am entranced by the photos she chose to accompany the piece. They give me goosebumps to tell you the truth. I went back to YouTube recently to check it out again and discovered that some interesting discussions have been brewing there regarding faith and salvation. I am posting the video here in the hope that it might provide a bit of clarity to those who are not familiar with Orthodoxy and are unsure what Orthodox Christians mean when they refer to salvation as a "process" rather than a one time, instantaneous event. Please do understand that I am by NO means a theologian or expert (I would be happy to point you in the direction of some individuals who could more thoroughly and articulately explain the teachings of Orthodox Christianity), just a gal ( a slow learner!) who can't seem to contain her ever increasing gratitude, wonder, joy and relief at having discovered within this Ancient Faith both her purpose and potential through Christ Jesus and His Church. 

Therefore, casting out of our souls all faithlessness, sloth, and hesitation, let us draw near with all our heart, with unhesitating faith and burning desire, like slaves who have been newly purchased with precious blood. In deed, with reverence for the price paid on our behalf, and with love for our Master Who paid it, and as having accepted His love for us, let us recognize that, if He had not wished to save by means of Himself us who have been purchased, He would not have come down to earth, nor would He have been slain for our sake. But, as it is written, He has done this because He wills that all should be saved. Listen to Him say it Himself: 'I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world' (Jn. 12:17). St. Symeon the New Theologian, On the Mystical Life, Vol. 1

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with faith and love draw near

Posted by on Jul 20, 2009 in Reflections | 8 comments

Carnival 1
Carnival 2
Carnival 3

Carnival 4

Carnival 5

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I teared up three times this past Sunday. The first occurrence involved an emotional response to watching Archbishop Job (who had a direct impact on our conversion to Orthodoxy) serve Liturgy with our own priest and deacon at St. Elizabeth's, our home parish, in celebration of her Patronal Feast.  The second was a reaction to rain – heavy rain pouring mercilessly on our parish's front lawn, where a carnival had been set up by my children's incredibly generous Sunday School teacher and her husband, prompting my seven-year-old daughter, Priscilla, to break into quiet sobs behind the choir stand where she was singing and crying in disappointment simultaneously. The third time was near the end of the service when the hymn, We praise Thee. We Bless Thee. We give thanks unto to Thee, O our God. O our God, filled our Church – when the rich voices of the clergy mixed with what appeared to be a sudden onslaught of whimpers, fidgeting and loudly whispered questions/comments from the many infants, toddlers and kids present (oh what a blessing!). I am not sure how to best explain it, the elation I felt at that moment. It was as if heaven and earth were intersecting right there in Chesterton, Indiana. We'd all just come as we were: tired, imperfect, hungry, and together were gifted with a taste of something divine. I closed my eyes and sang along. It was lovely. 

Believe it or not, by the time we were lined up to receive the Eucharist the rain had stopped.  Within the half hour, the sun was bright and the carnival, oh boy, was so on! Pinata? Check. Games with prizes? Check. Inflatable Bounce House? Yes! Relay races? Cotton Candy? Fire truck tour? Check. Check. Check. It was special alright -truly a day to be remembered. And yes, by the way, that is my son, Benjamin, wearing the star sun glasses in the last picture. What can I say? Us Sabourins are super classy.  

Carnival 10
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