Purpose of this Blog...

You may have noticed that not all books are equal in capturing children's imaginations and in cultivating those innocent, tender souls. My goal is to help you find the ones that do!
(Painting by Mary Cassatt: "Mrs Cassatt Reading to her Grandchildren" -1888)

Friday, September 25, 2015

Fall Book Giveaway: "A Gift For Matthew" Could Be A Gift for YOU

Today I'm excited to offer a review and giveaway for a very special picture book (about heavenly pictures) recently out from Ancient Faith Publishing:  A Gift for Matthew by Nick Muzekari.

"Reminders of heaven."

"Visual sermons."

"Theology in color."

Icons have been called all these things. Most of us are familiar with the Gospel verses where Jesus says,

Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.

Iconography as God's Word in art is a "window to heaven" that helps us to experience the mystery of God and his truths in the way children do:  through our eyes and hearts.

Sacred images have long played a part in teaching Christians about their faith. In the earliest days, icons of the Church were a means of depicting Gospel events to Christians who may not have been able to read the Gospel themselves.

In A Gift for Matthew, a boy visits a peaceful monastery with his mother.  He meets the monastery cat, and learns from a kind monk, Brother Justin, what actually goes into painting - or "writing" - an icon.

As he helps the monk, Matthew discovers the symbolism behind the thin sheets of gold leaf and the egg tempera paints that are used; how prayer and layers of color are an integral part of icon painting; and that we can accomplish much with a quiet heart and patience.

I learned a lot about iconography from this book, and so will your child!  It's great for any age, but it will become a special treasure for children between the ages of 4-8 who love to draw, sketch, or paint, and for anyone who is drawn to the beauty of holy icons.

Masha Lobastov's warm and rich illustrations are a lovely accompaniment to Nick Muzekari's thoughtful and engaging story.  Kids will love the monastery cat, and enjoy the satisfying ending when Matthew receives a surprise gift from the monk!

To enter my giveaway for this unique book, A Gift For Matthew, please leave a comment at the end of this post by midnight (PST) Friday, October 2, 2015.  A winner will be chosen from a random drawing (I use list randomizer from random.org) on Saturday, October 3, 2015.

Go here to see a digital preview and trailer of A Gift For Matthew.  You can read more about icons and iconography in this article.

Friday, September 18, 2015

There and Back Again

“When going back makes sense, you are going ahead.” ― Wendell Berry

Hard to believe it's already mid-September! Traveling is always an adventure, but it's nice to be back home.

With my daughter and grandsons in tow, I had a lovely trip to my mom's in Indiana (see my last post) en route to our destination in New York - where I helped my daughter, her husband, and their boys get settled into their new home as my son-in-law attends seminary there for the next three years.

My airplane read, while flying the friendly skies back
to my husband and my quiet house.

For my daughter and her little family, "going ahead" has meant moving and going away from their families and friends in order to follow what God has for them.

But for me, "going ahead" - moving forward - has meant going back - to my dear husband and a very quiet home.

My two little grandsons were especially hard to leave, as we now have to love each other from afar. But we're all "going ahead" and being brave!

My grandson heading up to story hour at their new neighborhood library.

Today I'm giving you a peek into my journeys, which included adventures not only in Indiana and New York, but also Hawaii!  (Nice how that worked out: the beauty of Kauai really helped sooth my soul after our sad good-byes in New York!)

Back porches and lightning bugs.
We must be in Indiana...

My mom in her new white rocker -
aren't back porches and rocking chairs the best?

Moving on, and moving in...unpacking in New York.

Coffee break!

 Super cute coffee place, yummy pastries.

Antique tables and chairs and a "book" shelf, to complete the vintage French shabby chic atmosphere.

And Latte Heart Art, 'cause he melts mine.

Home again to unpack and re-pack for a quick trip to Hawaii, where my husband and I saw...

Sea Turtles

A "Tunnel of Trees" and gorgeous waves

Waterfalls, cliffs, sunsets...

And a rainbow on the beach!

All good things must come to an end, but like I said, it's good to be home!  My friends wonder how I'm doing - making the adjustment of my grandchildren being gone. I'm happy and at peace, and "going ahead", because I know they and their Mommy and Daddy are where God wants them to be.

And it's probably helped that "saying goodbye" was the "norm" for me as a child...

If you've followed my blog for very long, you know that my Dad was a priest and writer.  He dedicated his life to helping people find the Kingdom of God on this earth, and he had to travel all around the United States to do that. He missed us, and I'm sure he often wished he didn't have to travel so much. I know we missed him!  But we all knew he was doing God's work.

After I was grown and married (I am the oldest of six), Dad once told me his goal as a parent was to someday be able to say (3 John 1:4):
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. 

My Dad's goal wasn't that we should or shouldn't have certain careers, or that we had to live close to him and my Mom.  He never tried to pressure us like that; he knew that life - and God - could take us all in different directions.  He let us work out our own salvation.

And because our Dad walked in truth, we knew we shared a common bond in Christ that would never be broken - no matter how far away any of us lived.  That was the example my parents set for us, and I try to have the same faith in my kids as they make their life decisions.

My grandson visiting his (namesake) Great Grandpa's
graveside in Indiana.

A Nun's Advice on "Letting Go"
I happened across a very pertinent quote from the book Becoming Icons of Christ (my airplane "read" pictured at the top of my blog post) - it's a good reminder for Sundays when I am in church participating in the Divine Liturgy:

As we are present at the liturgy, we bring our lives, ourselves, our loved ones, the whole world to offer in sacrifice - to make holy - before God.  As we do this, we learn that the truest relationship we can have with others is to allow them to be themselves and to place them in God's hands. Liturgy teaches us that this is true prayer. It is the way of radically letting go rather than always attempting to control.  
-Mother Raphaela

A good place to end this post!  If any of you are struggling with being far from family, or "releasing"  your grown children to live their own lives, I hope this helped a little.

I highly recommend Mother Raphaela's collection of talks and essays, Becoming Icons of Christ.  She is the abbess at Holy Myrrhbearers Monastery, which is on 220 acres of pastures, woods, wetlands, and a four-acre mill pond in Ortega, NY.  You can read about it here.