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)

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

"Spring Is Here Today! Winter's Gone Away!"

I brought out my vintage 1953 copy (second printing - it was originally published in 1945) of Lois Lenski's adorable SPRING IS HERE to show you, as I gather some things for our upcoming annual Annunciation Tea at church.

The Feast of the Annunciation, on March 25, falls close to the first day of Spring every year.  I find it a happy irony that in the midst of Lent, as we are saying goodbye to winter, the Annunciation is an event that reminds us to look forward to Christ's birth in nine months on December 25!

The women and girls of our parish always have a Lenten tea in March in honor of the Virgin Mary, celebrating the day she said "yes" to God when the Archangel Gabriel visited her.

The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you!"

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.

But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.  You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.  The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob's descendants forever; his kingdom will never end."

"How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?"

The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God..."

"I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered.  "May your word to me be fulfilled."

I love what our Bp. BASIL said in his essay, Mary Our Cause Of Rejoicing:
"In a very real way, she [at just age fourteen] became the first to receive Jesus as her Lord and Savior. She alone among all humanity can say that she not only received Jesus into her heart spiritually, but she housed Jesus in her womb, in her body."
(This essay originally appeared in The Handmaiden, Vol. 1 No. 1, published in the winter of 1996 by Conciliar Press. Bishop BASIL [Essey] is Bishop of the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America, Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese. You can read his essay in its entirety, here, on the Antiochian.org website.)

 Scripture above quoted from Luke 1:26-38 NIV

Monday, March 11, 2019

Lenten Meditations for Families

Can you feel your soul beginning to quiet?  Lent is here!  As I type this, my house is so still.  No television.  No music.  Peace.

Ancient Faith Publishing has a new book, Tending the Garden of Our Hearts, Daily Lenten Meditations for Families by Elissa Bjeletich and Kristina Wenger.  (I'll be giving this away, please read on!)

Parents/Grandparents, if you've read and enjoyed Great Lent: Journey to Pascha by one of the foremost Orthodox Christian theologians of the twentieth century, Fr. Alexander Schmemannyou know how helpful it is to have some insights and explanations of our services and meditations during this time of fasting, prayer, and contemplation.

It's wonderful to finally have a book that offers Lenten meditations for the whole family! This lovely volume offers devotionals for families based on the scriptures for each day of Great Lent, including explanations of various lenten services and questions to discuss and ponder. You'll also find an appendix at the end with hands-on activities to bring the lessons of the season to life for your family.

Need some other good books for Lent?

Adults and Teens:
Orthodox Worship: A Living Continuity with the Synagogue, the Temple, and the Early Church.
This is my new favorite!
Ancient Faith has produced a fresh update and redesign of a book cherished by a generation of seekers. Written in an accessible manner for the average lay person, Orthodox Worship offers insights into the Orthodox liturgy. Early Christians preserved a continuity of worship from the Old Covenant to the New, employing elements from the Jewish Temple liturgy, the synagogue liturgy, and the rituals of the Jewish home. The book shows how divinely revealed Old Testament worship is not only continued but also fulfilled in the Orthodox liturgy. A line-by-line explanation of the liturgy is included. A must read - you will come to love and appreciate the Liturgy more than ever.

The Tale of Three Trees:  A Traditional Folktale by Angela Elwell Hunt.
Once upon a mountaintop, three little trees stood and dreamed of what they wanted to become when they grew up. Each of their dreams come true in an unexpected way in this lovely retelling of an old folk tale that points to Christ.

St. Christoper, The Holy Giant by Tomie dePaola.
This is dePaola's interpretation of the legend of St. Christopher, who originally had been a giant named Reprobus out to serve the world's most powerful king - - a ruler he finds when he carries the young Christ across a river. 

The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde, illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger (I love this edition - Zwerger's illustrations with Wilde's telling are so poignant.) 
A once selfish giant welcomes the children to his previously forbidden garden and is eventually rewarded by an unusual tiny child. I cry every time I read this.

Those are some of our family's tried and true favorites.  I'd love to hear about yours!  
I'll send Tending the Garden of Our Hearts to the first reader who leaves a comment (please include your email so I can contact you for your mailing address)!

Go here to see my past Lenten/Easter blog posts and book recommendations. Have a blessed journey!