We are Brad and Mindy, and we live in Laramie, Wyoming. We have been married since 2011, and have three beautiful children: Isidora, Lydia, and Isaac. They range from 3-6 years of age, so we have a lot of fun and stress in our lives.
As Orthodox Christians, we know it’s not easy being Orthodox in today’s world, especially for our Orthodox youth. Orthodoxy is a mystery to so many people in America, mainly because of how America came to be from a religious perspective. The practices and theology of Orthodoxy is extremely foreign to most Americans, and anyone who has ever been in a conversation with another person (whether an atheist or another Christian outside of Orthodoxy) knows what I’m talking about here. That’s where this blog site comes in. It essentially has one main purpose: to help keep our Orthodox youth grounded in their faith by providing content through fictional stories on various topics about Orthodox theology. With that being said, let us be clear – we do not consider ourselves in any way to be qualified to undertake such a task as to instruct others on Orthodoxy, of which, we ourselves fall short of daily. So, then why are we seeming to contradict ourselves here? Well, that’s a fair question to ask, and it deserves nothing short of an honest answer.
I, Brad, was born and raised a Baptist, and eventually discovered Orthodoxy while I was security contracting in Afghanistan. The reason I mentioned that is because I was deployed often, and had nothing but time on my hands. You see, while I was away doing security work eight hours a day, and spending the rest of my day reading Orthodox theology non-stop. From books to website resources – anything I could get my hands on. I was nothing short of obsessed with uncovering the entire history and theology of the Orthodox Christian Church. Meanwhile, my wife, Mindy, was at home raising our children, of which, I am incredibly grateful for. She is truly the strongest woman I’ve ever known. So, as I gained all this information about our Orthodox faith, I would somehow find myself in multiple conversations about various aspects of Orthodox theology with my fellow co-workers overseas, of which, had all different kinds of backgrounds ranging from Christians to atheists, and everything in between. I talked to guys who didn’t have much knowledge on topics of theology to guys who were protestant pastors. I even, on multiple occasions, would talk to a Mullah (a Muslim priest) about Islam and Christianity. I kid you not! I had so much fun, and loved every second of the conversations I had. And to be clear – these conversations were not debates! Far from it. I’ll admit, as a protestant, I would always fall into debates, but when I became Orthodox, somehow, I put all that behind me. I never got in a debate with anyone, it was always an edifying discussion, and yes, sometimes those discussions got heated, and we would have to agree to disagree, but it was always in a spirit of love.
I quit going overseas in December 2015, and in the few years now that I’ve been back home living in America, I’ve realized something. That is, that most Orthodox do not know the answers to their own faith if asked or confronted by a protestant or anyone for that matter. To be honest, this was quite shocking to me because I’ve always felt it was important to know and understand what you believe – and be able to speak somewhat intelligently about those beliefs. As St. Peter tells us, “…always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15). But like I said, Orthodox theology can be quite daunting, but at the same time, it doesn’t have to be.
Now, going back to why I’m trying to teach others about Orthodoxy (by now, you probably thought I was avoiding my own question)…well, first off, I don’t look at it as teaching. Let me explain why. Anything that I presume to know about Orthodoxy I’ve read from someone else (an Orthodox priest, Church fathers, Orthodox articles, etc.), so I certainly can’t claim to have any knowledge on my own. I would be a fool – and so would you – to believe that the Holy Spirit speaks to me in some special way. I am just a guy who at one point had too much time on his hands, and with that time, has read (probably) too much. I’ve always considered myself a mere snake that only regurgitates the teachings of the Church. I certainly am not perfect and if I ever go off the reservation in my writings about Orthodoxy, I fully expect – from one Orthodox to another – that you correct me. With that being said, I encourage you to question everything and always go back to our Church fathers and let their teachings be the light that guides you, because that is where the Holy Spirit speaks and guides the Church into all truth. Bottom line is, we’re all here to learn from each other’s experiences, and all the reading and studying I did over the years gave me a lot of great experience in speaking with others from many different walks of life because of the unique situation I was in. And that’s all I aim to do here. Not teach. But share those experiences with you. Like my previous situation, I intend to share with you in a unique way.
To understand that, you must also know that I am an English major which means two things: I love to read, and with that, I love to write. To be more specific, I like to read and write fiction. So, I thought it would be fun for me (and hopefully you too), if I wrote short fiction stories that outlined conversations that I had with other people. Ok, so it’s basically fiction that is also grounded in some truth. My only hope and prayer is that you will find yourself in these stories, and relate to some of the characters. More so, hopefully you’ll find your own voice in these conversations, and if you do, I would love to hear about it. As you read the stories, and have something else to add to the conversation, I encourage you to do so through the comment section below. This is about us Orthodox Christians coming together, and helping to explain or reveal ways that we can talk to our friends and loved ones about serious topics pertaining to the Christian faith.
Our hope, is that you will decide to follow our blog so you can be sure you never miss the latest story. I hope you enjoy reading the stories as much as I enjoyed writing them. All glory be to God!
In addition to offering you stories to read, we also want to help raise money for your Orthodox Church. In fact, not only can you raise money for your Church, but you also get something out of it as well. Jesus said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). We believe whole-heartedly in Jesus’ command to Seek 1st The Kingdom. And that’s why we used this acronym to help remind us of this very fact: S1TK. Let it be a reminder to you, wherever you are – S1TK. As Orthodox Christians we are surrounded by reminders to S1TK such as the crosses we wear, and the Icons we have present in our homes. We use prayer ropes, and wear icon and prayer bracelets as well to help keep our heart and mind focused on God throughout the day. So, naturally, we applied this concept to S1TK, and created some accessories. We have bracelets that you can wear by itself, or alongside your other accessories. We have multiple colors that you can change out depending on your mood (or outfit), or feel free to wear them all together to create a colorful display on your arm. And we have rings that are embossed with S1TK in four different colors. When you purchase any S1TK product, 75% of the proceeds will go to your Orthodox Church or an Orthodox Church of your choosing. The other 25% will be used to replace and order new S1TK products. All you have to do is click here and don’t forget to write the name and complete address of your Orthodox Church in the comment section when you purchase! We will send your Orthodox Church a check on the 1st of every month. If you think that your Church’s bookstore could use some S1TK accessories, please reach out to your bookstore manager and have them contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.