Entries with tag marriage and family .

Preparing for the Journey of Marriage

Few days in our lives are as memorable as our wedding day, and few decisions more significant, than deciding to marry. While couples spend hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars on the wedding, which will last a few hours, they often neglect to prepare for the marriage, which we want to last a lifetime. All couples dream of living “happily ever after” but many are unaware of, and ill-prepared for, the normal challenges and struggles of marriage. The sad reality is that almost half of all couples will experience the pain of divorce because strong feelings of attraction are not what you need to have a great marriage.

Research indicates that couples who take some sort of marriage preparation have a lower divorce rate than couples without marriage preparation. Preparing for marriage means…

Learning what marriage is for

God is the author and architect of marriage. He reveals to us, through the Scriptures, the Church, and the Tradition, His purpose and plan for marriage. Couples get married for a variety of reasons, but couples need to learn that a successful marriage needs to follow God’s plan for marriage.

Marriage is a journey together, a journey of getting to know ourselves and each other, and a journey of becoming one. “O Master, stretch out Your hand…and join your servants; …Yoke them in oneness of mind; crown them in one flesh.” (Orthodox wedding prayer before the crowning) Becoming one means learning how to make decisions together, not apart, and working together through the challenges and disagreements of daily life. It’s easy to work together when spouses agree on things. Marriage is a journey of learning how to build oneness with your spouse when you disagree.

“Marriage is a journey of love,” writes Elder Aimilianos. I remember how much I loved my wife on my wedding day. After 20 years I realize how limited my love was for my wife back then. It is easy to love my wife’s good qualities, or when she sees the world the way I see it. Marriage is a journey of learning to love each other as you discover the faults and when we you see things differently.

Marriage is about learning to love each other with God’s love, with Christ-like love. Christ’s love for our spouse is selfless and unconditional. God’s love is much deeper than feelings, which come and go. God’s love is expressed as a commitment to serve and care for someone, no matter what we’re feeling. Christ’s love is expressed as putting our spouse’s needs before our own desires. God allows the predictable struggles and challenges of marriage so that we can learn His perfect love. “Marriage is the key that opens the door to discover…perfect love.” (St. Gregory Nazianzus)

This journey of acquiring God’s love for our spouse is a process of healing of our own sins, rather than trying to change our spouse. Preparing for marriage means learning that God’s plan for couples, on their wedding day, is that they do live “happily ever after,” but not by getting all our desires met, or trying to change each other. Rather, it is by learning how to love with Christ-like love, and allow God to change us.

“If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.” 1 John 4:12

Learning the danger signs

All couples have differences and all marriages experience disagreements and difficulties. Happy couples learn how to work together through these differences. When couples chose to react selfishly, then criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling to enter their relationships. When these selfish types of reactions fill a couple’s relationship, intimacy and oneness are undermined and couples slip down a slippery slope toward marital meltdown and divorce. Couples need learn how to recognize these warning signs that they are sliding down that slope and learn to address their difficulties in a way that nurtures intimacy and oneness.

Getting to know each other

Everyone enters marriage with certain expectations about marriage, assumptions about the world, and ideas about love and family life. We acquire these things from the families we grew up in. The list is endless of the ways the families in which we grow up shape our expectations about everything from the role of the Church in the home to the role of the dad in the home. Preparing for marriage means getting to know your own family, and your fiancée’s family, and deciding together how you would like to do things in your new home. These mature conversations facilitate oneness and put good patterns in place for how couples work together in the home.

It’s one thing if you discover, after the wedding, that your wife prefers Miracle Whip to real mayonnaise. It’s another thing to discover that she wants a career, and you want to have kids right away, or you want to attend Church and he wants to sleep in on Sundays. Preparing for marriage means making the time to discuss the larger issues that can undermine oneness in marriage if they are unaddressed. Issues related to faith, finances, parenting, in-laws, communication, sexual intimacy, problem solving, and personal time versus couple time need to be addressed before the wedding. Discussing this issues as a couple, and with your priest, prepares couples for all the issues that will arise along the journey of marriage.

Engaged couples can feel a lot of pressure to go through with the marriage without addressing these issues. While it’s disruptive to postpone a wedding until these issues are addressed, it is more disruptive to get divorced because one of these issues was not attended to before the wedding.

Learning to communicate

We inherit our communication style, in part, from our families. Before the wedding is the best time for couples to learn how to speak and listen to each other in a way that builds oneness and intimacy. Learning to speak, as an offering of our thoughts, feelings, and ideas, allows couples to grow in intimacy as they work though difficulties.

No marriage struggles from too much listening. Rather, listening is the first casualty in marital discord. Listening is a sacrificial act of self-offering to your spouse. Real listening requires that we suspend our own thoughts, feelings, and agenda, and allow the other to be heard. Real listening is an act of veneration that nurtures oneness in the midst of daily life. Couples do best when they learn the importance of listening and make time to listen to each other.

Making a plan

As engaged couples learn about the path of marriage, the danger signs, about each other, and how to communicate, they can put some strategies in place before the wedding to help them stay on the path of marriage. Several of the strategies include:

Ground rules: Like guardrails along winding roads, ground rules keep happy marriages on the path on oneness and salvation. Couples need to make ground rules together around those areas they have difficulty, whether it’s anger, communication, finances, or time together. We show our love to our spouse by sticking to these ground rules no matter how we feel.

A guide: Couples who desire to stay on the path of marriage need a guide, a priest who knows the path, to work with them, to lead them on the path of marriage, and assist them when they get stuck. It is the priest, with the Gospel in hand, who leads couples on their very first steps of their marriage in our wedding ceremony. Couples are united in Church, in the midst of a community of friends, family, and faithful. Couples who desire to stay on the path of marriage keep their marriages, and their homes, Christ-led, intimately connected to the Sacramental life of the Church.

Forgiveness: All couples have struggles and all couples make mistakes. Happy couples learn how to incorporate forgiveness and repentance into their daily and weekly lives. Christ offers to each of us the sacrament of Confession, to help us get back on the path of oneness and salvation.

Prayer: We participate in the life of Christ and His Church by incorporating prayer into our marriage and our homes. Couples who learn how to pray together, and as a family, invite the Holy Spirit into their union. It is the Holy Spirit who transforms a couple and unites them into one. Oneness is a gift of the Holy Spirit.

Mandatory marriage preparation for all couples

We need to make marriage preparation a priority as we prepare for our wedding day. The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese Center for Family Care, developed a 3-part marriage preparation program designed to address this need, The Journey of Marriage in the Orthodox Church. For more information about workshops in your area please contact Center for Family Care familycare@goarch.org for more information.

 

Dr. Philip Mamalakis is the Assistant Professor of Pastoral Care and Director of the Field Education Program at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, MA. Together with Fr. Charles Joanides, he authored The Journey of Marriage, marriage preparation program. He offers seminar for couples and trainings for facilitators on the marriage preparation program. He and Georgia, his wife of 20 years, live in Boston with their seven children.

The Power of a Mother's Prayer

As someone who studies motherhood and theology and who has five children myself, fellow Orthodox mothers often ask me if I can point them to prayers for mothers for their children, since few of our prayer books include prayers on this subject. While I do have a few prayers I pass on, I also recommend that they read Saint John Chrysostom’s thoughts on prayer and motherhood.

Saint John of the fourth century is a frequent source for reflection on family life in the twenty-first. His reverence for family rings clear across the centuries, and this is true especially in his appreciation for motherhood. Saint John elevated motherhood to something beyond the mundane, daily care of children and into the realm of spiritual significance. Directing his remarks at mothers, he said, “I mean, the children being born, provided they receive proper care and are brought up to virtue by your attention, prove a basis and occasion of complete salvation for you; and in addition to your own virtuous acts you will receive a great reward for your care of them.” (Homily on Hannah, Old Testament Homilies by Robert Hill)Thus Chrysostom saw motherhood as a salvific opportunity, as a vocation that can lead to the heavenly reward.

Saint John was particularly moved by the vision of motherhood he saw in Hannah, the mother of Prophet Samuel in the Old Testament (1 Samuel 1-2). He admired the power of Hannah’s spontaneous prayer when she visited the temple eager to have a child. He wrote of the intensity of the prayer she prayed in her quest for motherhood and in her later dedication of her child to the Lord.

In praising Hannah’s spontaneous prayer, Saint John contrasted it with more typical, less mindful prayer: “I mean, while we all pray, we do not all do it before the Lord: when the body is lying on the ground and the mouth is babbling on, and the mind wandering through all parts of the house and the market place, how will such people be in a position to claim that they prayed before the Lord?” (Homily on Hannah, Old Testament Homilies by Robert Hill)

In short, Hannah provides the model for all types of prayer, not just a mother’s prayer. Most prayer is half-hearted, barely present, whereas Hannah’s prayer is fully present, felt in her body and her soul. Yet, Saint John also saw a special role for prayer by mothers. His specific instruction to mothers is that they should consecrate their children through prayer. As a mother and a theologian, I find this to be an important reminder of the importance of my prayers for my own children.

Though the Orthodox Church lacks many composed prayers for mothers, and though the addition of such prayers would be welcome, Hannah’s tale shows that mothers have taken prayers for their children into their own hands for millennia—and that the Church has celebrated this initiative. This is why I point mothers to Saint John: he reminds us that our spontaneous prayers as mothers are powerful on their own. Whatever words we choose, it is our sacred responsibility as mothers to bless and consecrate our children by praying for them.

 

Carrie Frederick Frost, PhD is a lifelong Orthodox Christian of Belarusian descent and a scholar of Orthodox theology, with an eye for theological matters of family. She lives in Washington State with her husband and their five children.

Building a Strong Family by Serving Others

The tech giant Google recently reported that 93 million “selfies” are taken each and every single day.  On many days, I think that my fifteen-year-old daughter is single-handedly responsible for a sizeable percentage of that number.  From the time that the first Kodak camera was sold in 1888 through 1950, it’s estimated that a few billion photographs were taken worldwide.  That’s seemingly less than what my other kids – ages eleven, nine and seven – snap, tweet, post and vine in one week.  It’s easy to think that young people these days are so hooked on technology, so absorbed in self-promotion through their social networks, that they can’t see past their device’s screens and don’t care for anyone other than themselves, their “friends” and “followers”.

But to dismiss our young people’s social networks as frivolous or downright bad is to ignore the trend of how young people are using their phones, computers and virtual networks to inspire action and activity in the real world.  While we do need to be protective of what our young people are viewing and sharing across cyberspace, we also must understand that our children value these networks and connections immensely and that they are not going away any time soon.

Throughout history, there have always been many demands, distractions and societal problems pulling at families.  I doubt that an Orthodox Christian family, at any point in time, would say that raising a family “in the Church” was easy.  Yet, we must deal with where we are today, live within the society which we currently have and struggle towards salvation in this world as it is.

The challenge for families today is to allow our children to leverage the strengths of technology while teaching them that our faith places a high value on external and personal relationships.  Christ’s commandments, to love God completely and to love and serve our neighbors, were given to all of us and include every age group.   Fulfilling these two great commandments typically takes personal interaction. At some point, if we are going to live up to Christ’s commandments and stand on His right side at Judgment, we must teach our children to put the tech down, go out and meet people where they are.

But who has the time to go out and help others?  Life is busy – plain and simple.  I’m the first to admit that my wife and I struggle to keep a balance among Church, work, school, Greek school, baseball, Greek dance, modern dance, Girl Scouts, family vacations, gymnastics, swim team, soccer, house chores, and homework. Even though we claim an importance on raising kind and helpful children and a desire to have our kids stay faithful members of the Church into adulthood, our actions often do not follow our aspirations.  Many of us suffer from the fleeting desire to give our children material wealth and prosperity while we fail to give them the peace, calmness of home and dedicated time that is necessary to grow together as a family and to work together, family-as-church, towards our salvation.

“We need to keep our kids in the church!”  This is a plea that I hear often –– I think that a better approach would be to say that “we need to keep the Church in our kids”.  Keeping the Church in our kids starts with the family.  As faithful parents a we must root our Faith deep into our homes and then take that faith back out into the world, building it into the routines and habits of our children.  This needs to be done through actions, not words.  Parents need to lead by example, allowing our children to see us actively praying, fasting, attending church regularly and participating in acts of service to others.

Working together on outreach projects as a family not only allows us to follow Christ’s teachings, but it strengthens family togetherness, helps children learn, and empowers them to understand that they can help others.  Serving others benefits a child's psychological, social and intellectual development. It increases self-esteem, responsibility and helps children develop new social skills.

The time that you spend together as a family helping others will be rewarding and more memorable than almost any other family activity this year.

Christmas is hardly two months past and my children have already forgotten what they received as presents.  My children don’t remember where they celebrated their last birthday party (was it at home or did we go bowling?).  My kids do remember with perfect clarity the days that we spent in Fairfax County, just outside of Washington DC, as a family helping children in need through FOCUS North America.

Each year, the Fellowship of Orthodox Christians United to Serve (FOCUS) assists thousands of homeless and disadvantaged children get ready to go back to school.  FOCUS’ program Operation Lace Up helps families in need get ready to go back-to-school by providing children with medical and dental check-ups, school supplies, new backpacks and new athletic shoes so that they can attend school ready to learn and succeed.  Over the past five years, FOCUS has been a significant partner with 250 school districts in 30 cities throughout the country, providing more than 252,000 disadvantaged children with educational support services while moving their parents from dependency to self-sufficiency through vocational training, job placement, and securing permanent housing.

Once these children are in school, FOCUS provides many of them with nutritious meals to ensure they stay properly fed—especially during targeted times of the week and month when family cupboards may be bare. FOCUS provides more than 20,000 meals each month to children who are hungry through no fault of their own.

My kids will never forget sitting and talking with children from area homeless shelters, walking hand in hand with them and helping them size a new winter coat and a new pair of shoes.  They remember those children’s names and they cherish the photos that they have.  At first my kids were shy and uncomfortable, being surrounded by children who they didn’t completely understand.  But once my kids got past that discomfort, they realized that these children had the same hopes and fears, likes and dislikes as any other child.  And in the end, when the children in need reached out and hugged my kids, my kids realized that they had the power to help others, to make people happy and in a very small way to bring positive change into the world.

Working together as a family in service to others is a wonderful way to instill the teachings of Christ into our children.  In addition to teaching our children to pray, participating in the sacraments and attend services regularly, family outreach activities are excellent ways to look outward from ourselves and invigorate parish life.  When your family serves alongside other families from your parish, the network of community-family is extended.  You become better friends, all families are strengthened and we often learn more about ourselves than any selfie could ever show.

Nicholas Chakos is the Executive Director of FOCUS North America and holds an academic appointment at the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School for Public and International Affairs, where his teaching centers on developing and implementing human assistance programs. He lives in Pittsburgh with his wife Haido, and their four children. 

Cruise-Control Marriages Invite Disconnection

Marriages cannot be sustained in a healthy way, let alone grow, if—as couples—we set them on ‘cruise control.’ All marriages need to be nurtured from the first day to the last of our lives.

In all relationships we seek to know and understand the other—just as the other mutually comes to know and understand us. This takes time, attention, and a vested interest. When we experience someone taking the time to know us by asking questions, listening, and sharing their own thoughts and feelings, we feel connected.

Engaging the other in dialogue while being fully present requires putting aside “all the cares of this life.” This attentiveness demonstrates care, concern, and interest. We all want to feel that our spouse will respond and be there when we call out to them. Ultimately it is about trust; as if to say, ‘Will you be there and can I count on you?’ If the answer is ‘Yes,’ each person will experience two extremely important components to a healthy marriage: safety and security.

When a marriage is put in ‘cruise control,’ there is the belief that the relationship is good and has no pressing issues. This point of view looks at marriage from a ‘problem-free’ perspective. If there aren’t any real concerns to address, then all time and attention can be directed toward other things such as children, work, friends, and fun.

However, the danger of this is that it opens the door to disconnection between the spouses. This disconnect may not be felt immediately—just as a plant won’t show it’s in distress without water for a couple of days. In time, though, the lack of water will manifest itself in the leaves and flowers. In the same manner, a marriage relationship without regular ‘watering’ will, over time, begin to show signs of distress in one or both spouses in ways such as:

  • Irritability
  • Sarcasm
  • Complaining
  • Withdrawing
  • Nagging

Our typical reactions may come out in abrupt questions and statements such as:

  • “What’s wrong with you?”
  • “Why are you so rude and mean?”
  • “Stop already! All you do is complain.”
  • “You’re never around anymore. Everything else in life is more important to you.”
  • “Give me a break! Stop hounding me about everything.”

These comments come out of our own frustration, pain, and fear of being neglected, abandoned, and isolated. A better way to respond would be to engage our spouses in a way that invites them to kinder dialogue.

  • “I’ve noticed you’ve been a little irritable lately. Please tell me what’s going on.”
  • “That comment was hurtful. Is everything okay?”
  • “You seem like you have a lot on your mind. Is there anything I can do to help?”
  • “I feel like we’ve been drifting apart. Can we take some time to talk about this?”

Marriage is like a dance where we work together, learning to synchronize our steps with our spouse. This can’t happen if we don’t nurture our relationship daily.

Here are a few suggestions to nurture our marriages:

  • Dialogue with Christ every day in prayer.
  • Learn the “love language” of your spouse. (For more details, see Gary D. Chapman’s The Five Love Languages)
  • Offer encouraging and supportive statements to one another daily.
  • Listen carefully to understand each other and don’t assume.
  • Cultivate a spirit of gratitude for the blessings in your life.
  • Spend quiet time together—just the two of you.
  • Take an interest in activities your spouse enjoys.

God is the source of love and, through Him, there is no limit to the love that we can experience with our spouse. If we intentionally nurture our marriage daily, there is no limit to the intimacy we can feel for each other.

 

Fr. Timothy Pavlatos is the director of the Family Wellness Ministry of the Metropolis of San Francisco. He is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. Fr. Timothy has been married since 1995 to Presvytera Vicki and they have nine children ranging from ages three to nineteen.

 

Is Your Marriage Struggling?

Sometime the challenges we face in marriage need someone from the outside to help us sort them out. Deciding to go to marriage counseling does not indicate that you have failed in marriage or as persons, but rather that you are seeking assistance to strengthen your relationship. For assistance in finding help speak with your parish priest or visit www.marriagefriendlytherapists.com or www.aapc.org (American Association of Pastoral Counselors).

Holding Space for Family

It’s 5:30 pm—almost dinner time in the home of the Chronos family. Mrs. Chronos has arrived home from work and frantically begins to pull something together for the evening meal. As she is chopping some onions, her 17-year-old son, Nicholas, breezes past the kitchen.

“Bye, Mom!”
“Wait, where are you going?”
“Soccer! Don’t you remember we have an extra practice tonight because of the championship this weekend?”
“Oh yeah, I forgot. See you later. Love you.”

Mrs. Chronos has mixed feelings about Nicholas’ involvement with soccer. She loves the values of recreation, teamwork, and discipline but is less than enthusiastic about how it impacts family time.

A few minutes later, through the front door comes Gracie, age 10, who was just dropped off by a friend’s mother.

“Hi, Sweetie! How was Megan’s?”
“We had fun. Mom, why can’t I have a TV in my room like Megan. It would be great. I wouldn’t have to bug you anymore, and I could just hang out in my room like Megan and I did today.”
“That’s all you did today at Megan’s, watch TV?”
“No, we played video games too.”

Mrs. Chronos groans—this kind of conversation is nothing new.

She then glances at her phone and notices a new text message from her husband.  “Have to stay back at work and will be late. I’ll grab dinner here. So sorry! Love you!” Mrs. Chronos’ heart sinks. Mr. Chronos’ job has been consuming him lately, and she misses his presence. After 25 years of marriage, their relationship is certainly grounded in mutual love, but she can’t remember the last time they enjoyed some time as a couple. Come to think of it, the times that the four members of Chronos family are all together seem to be decreasing.

This scenario plays out daily in homes across the country. When its occurrence is more of an exception than the rule, it’s not too concerning for family life. However when individual schedules fracture family unity with regular frequency, the concern is greater. The ‘busyness’ of life is pulling families further away from one another—further away from this vital connection. In his keynote address at the 2013 Family Ministry Conference, His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios stated,

The demands of the modern life weaken the bonds between family members, between parents and children, between siblings, between grandparents and grandchildren… The net result is that family members spend more time with co-workers, with teammates, with paid caregivers, than with each other. The real work of parenting—which is to say, of developing character and life-skills in children—falls to coaches and teachers. The real joys of companionship are found in relationships outside of the home. Family life becomes a perfunctory routine rather than a fellowship of shared purpose.

The Joy of Companionship

God fashioned humanity so that it would exist through relationship.  After creating Adam, He declared, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him” (Genesis 2:18). We were made by God to live in communion with one another.

Current studies on neuroscience show that we all need connections to thrive at every age—from cradle to grave. We all need to belong and be a valued member of a social/family structure. When people are significantly disconnected from others, there is a higher occurrence of depression and isolation which can adversely impact all aspects of daily function.

But what does real connection look like? In many ways technology has made us more connected than ever. Today, we have ways to stay connected to people under circumstances that would have been difficult just 10 years ago. We can Skype with grandparents that live far away. We can text a quick message of support to our spouse during a particularly trying day at work. These are particularly helpful ways of using technology to stay connected. However it is important that we avoid swapping connection through technology when face-to-face contact is viable—especially within the household. Deep relationships cannot be sustained through emojis!

Likewise, the internet has given us accessibility to many resources for learning more about the Church. We can listen to podcasts, chanting, and videos about any topic of the spiritual life we like. We can even watch services live as they are broadcast from various Orthodox parishes[1]. But true connection with Christ doesn’t happen online—it happens through encounters of prayer, repentance, and communion—living a life in His Church as a member of His family.

As Christians, our relationship with Christ forms the basis for all of our other relationships. In her book, Persons in Communion, Kyriaki Karidoyanes FitzGerald writes,

Human persons are meant to be in communion with other persons. Authentic human life requires relationships with others. A relationship with God cannot be separated from relationships with other persons. As human persons, we share a common origin in God’s creative love and we share a common goal in God’s transfiguring love. We are bound together in God and are by nature social persons. We are not meant to live our lives in isolation from others. Rather, we are meant to be in relationship with others.

God’s Transfiguring Love

God presents us with the perfect image for family in the Holy Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. United as one essence with unique individuals existing in perfect love with one another.  But somehow this image of family has been distorted greatly so that instead of abiding in the perfect love of the Trinity, we try to live with the distorted ideals held up by this world. If we allow ourselves to become seduced by the images we regularly see in conventional and social media, we lose perspective of how we are called to be in family. We become consumed with keeping up appearances. This is not God’s purpose for family. It is not the goal of family be perfect as the world would define it, but rather it exists to create communion where people are loved unconditionally and growing in grace for the purpose of their salvation.

Family relationships can be ‘messy’ and challenging—whether they are with our biological or Church family members. As exhausting as it can be, these difficulties need to be acknowledged and, in a sense, embraced as opportunities for spiritual growth. When we read the lives of the saints, we learn that many of them had difficult family lives and sometimes suffered blamelessly at the hands of fellow Church members. It is through these obstacles that they were transformed and—in the process—transformed others by their holy example. When we keep Christ in the front and center of our being, we are better able to see His will in our lives as well as our fellow family members. Mother Gavrilia is quoted in her biography as saying, “God is not interested in where you are or what you do…He is interested only in the quality and quantity of the love you give. Nothing else. Nothing else.”

The Love You Give

We should make time daily to engage one another eye-to-eye and heart-to-heart—monitoring our time in front of screens and carefully discerning the cyber world and its myriad of distorted images. Let’s thank God for whom we have in front of us in the present moment. We might create intentional rules for our families to spend time with one another and, short of unforeseen events, strive to keep that appointed time as sacred. The culture we live in—this is critical to realize—isn’t going to help us with this. We have to set these boundaries for ourselves as well as our families.

We need a revolution in our family life. We need to fire a shot heard round the world calling our fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, to come together again and put aside the shackles of screen addictions and activities to make the church in the home. –His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America


[1] These broadcasts are meant to be an aid to those homebound and not as a substitute for physical attendance.

Melissa is the Associate Director of the Center for Family Care of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese where she has worked since 2001. Prior to her work at the Archdiocese Melissa worked for 10 years as a development specialist for an Early Intervention Program which worked with families with children from age birth to three who had special needs. She received her BA from Sacramento State University in California in child development with an emphasis in family education and an additional 2 years of studies for a credential in early childhood special education. Melissa and her husband, George, live in Tarpon Springs, Florida with their son, Nomikos. They have one son, Nomikos. Her passion is to teach about spiritual development and how we can live our faith daily in our homes and lives.

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