“Without a shadow of doubt, on that last day, we shall rise again in the brilliant brightness of the sun, that is, in the glory of our Redeemer Christ Jesus, as children of the living God and joint heirs with Christ, still destined to be shaped in his own image; for of Him, and by Him, and in Him we shall reign.” Saint Patrick.
This Lent, inspire your children to tend the garden of their hearts and open the gate to Christ with Jane Meyer’s new children’s book, The Hidden Garden. “Within every heart is a hidden garden. We can neglect it until the weeds take over and the flowers wither and die. Or with the help of Christ, we can care for it and make it a place of beauty, grace, and joy.
We could all grow spiritually from tending our own garden in our hearts. Isn’t this week, the first week of Lent for Orthodox Christians, a perfect time to tend the garden of our heart and soul with these inspiring books? I have listed favorite selections: three books on forgiveness – The Life of Saint Patrick, Saint Dionysios of Zakynthos and The Hermit, The Icon and The Emperor, delightful lyrical poems for little ones by Mother Melania, and books by Niko Chocheli, Calee Lee, Barbara Pappas and Elizabeth Crispina Johnson.
1. The Life of Saint Patrick, Enlightener of the Irish written and illustrated by Zachary Lynch. With beautiful celtic illustrations, this book tells the story of Saint Patrick’s life from his kidnapping at age 16, to his return to Ireland as Bishop of the Irish people. I particularly love Saint Patrick’s breastplate or prayer at the end.
2. Saint Dionysios of Zakinthos by Dionysios and Egle-Ekaterine Potamitis, illustrated by Egle-Ekaterine Potamitis This is a profound story of forgiveness with vivid Byzantine style illustrations, just one of many, many excellent books from Potamitis Publishing in Greece.
3. The Hidden Garden, a story of the heart by Jane G Meyer, illustrated by Masha Lobastov. At this time, we should all open the gate to Christ and tend the garden of our hearts. Find out how in Jane’s new children’s book.
4. Jonah’s Journey to the Deep, from the Old Testament Stories for Children by Mother Melania, illustrated by Bonnie Gillis.
5. The Book of Jonah, illustrated for children by Niko Chocheli. Niko’s powerful illustrations help us to open our heart and mind to the Gospel of Christ in this prophesy.
6. Noah and the Ark of Salvation, from the Old Testament Stories for Children by Mother Melania illustrated by Bonnie Gillis. We all know this story from Genesis – Noah’s faith saved his family, animals and the rest of creation through the ark, which typifies the Church and our salvation.
7. The Entry of Our Lord into Jerusalem, from The Twelve Great Feasts for Children series by Mother Melania (Sister Elayne) illustrated by Bonnie Gillis. This is a beautiful lyrical book about Palm Sunday.
8. Great and Holy Friday, from The Three-Day Pascha series by Mother Melania with illustrations by Bonnie Gillis.
9. Great and Holy Saturday, from The Three-Day Pascha series by Mother Melania with illustrations by Bonnie Gillis.
10. Pascha, The Feast of Feasts, from The Three-Day Pascha series by Mother Melania with illustrations by Bonnie Gillis.
11. The Queen and the Cats, A Story of Saint Helena by Calee M. Lee, illustrated by Turbo Qualls. This is a lovely story about Queen Helena bringing the precious cross to Cyprus and another gift, a boatload of feral cats. Find out why…
12. God’s Bubbly, Gurgly, Overwhelming, Overflowing Love by Barbara Pappas, illustrated by Irene Boutarelos. This is a story from creation to God’s promise of eternal life in the garden of paradise where God will wipe away every tear.
13. And Then Nicholas Sang, The Story of the Trisagion Hymn by Elizabeth Crispina Johnson, illustrated by Masha Lobastov. A beautifully written story about the origin of the Trisagion hymn when a young boy was given the prayer by angels.
14. The Praises Psalm 148 illustrated for children by Niko Chocheli. This book is powerfully illustrated and invites all creation to praise the Lord.
15. The Hermit, The Icon and The Emperor by Chrissi Hart, illustrated by Niko Chochelli. My own book about forgiveness and a treasure of Cyprus.
All of these children’s books can be heard on Readings from Under the Grapevine podcast on Ancient Faith Radio.
- March 28, 2013 – 12:48 pm
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When our son Adam was three years old, my husband Barry, decided to start writing to him in a journal and then hand it to him when he turned 18 years old. That time has come. In fact, Adam’s 18th came and went as did Christmas but the finished product is now complete and shortly to arrive from the printers. Letters From Your Father, is a beautiful testament of a father’s love for his son which makes me think of our Father in heaven and his love for each and every one of us – “For in Jesus, my love for you is revealed.” John 17:26
As I write this blog, I am reading Letters From Your Father for the first time, although I had seen snippets of these love notes over the years on the computer. It is a mixture of memories, prestige moments, and, fatherly wisdom on such topics as perseverance, compassion, faith and religion, that life isn’t fair, and following your passion. I can’t wait to see our son’s expression when he receives these letters in book form. It is something he will treasure in years to come.
My husband wrote these letters to Adam to share a father’s thoughts, feelings and Godly lessons. He wrote them to let our son know that he was loved and being thought of every day – the process was indeed a labor of love. He wrote them to share what a father learned from life and did so with love and humor. My husband had wished his own father had done this with him, that is, shared his thoughts and feelings with him as he grew up. Sadly, he never did and passed away in the 1980’s. Perhaps it is not so surprising. In the 1950’s, fathers were less engaged with their children and roles were more traditional.
I want to share a few themes with you because through my work as a child psychologist I know that sons crave for their fathers love – I see this every week, sometimes daily. Some boys never enjoy a close relationship with their father, because he is absent for a variety of reasons – such as due to separation, divorce, working away or incarceration. Other fathers may be present, but uninvolved. Sons ache for their fathers. They need good role models. Their identity as a boy and later as a man, is shaped by their relationship with their father. The psychological effects of father absence, is well documented by research. Although some children can also grow up healthy brought up in non- traditional families, we cannot overlook the impact of father absence for many boys.
“Being a good father doesn’t come naturally to a lot of men, perhaps me included, probably because the only way we learn is by personal experience with our own fathers. Quality time isn’t enough, you need the quantity too.“
I remember my husband responding to Adam’s plea, “Daddy, play with me,” without hesitation – it was a decision he made early on that he would be a responsive father because life is too short and one day, our son would stop asking because he would have grown up.
“When you ask me to play with you, or just want to talk, I remind myself that you won’t be 3½ yrs forever.”
One thing that we tried to instill in our son from an early age and later our daughter when she came along five years later, was something we came across in a survey of successful American women. They were asked about the ‘messages’ they were given as children from their parents that may have shaped their personalities and character. Apparently similar messages were reported by all women, which were-
- You are loved and special
- You can learn a lot of things, and, learning is fun
- You can take risks in life, and, it’s OK to fail
- You can use creative aggression
- You can dream big
I like to believe that we have been reasonably successful. It has been a joy to see our son grow into a young man, with big dreams.
What about Godly lessons and messages about faith and religion? Here are a couple of quotes from Letters From Your Father for our son to consider on a daily basis:
“Seek the Lord in the Holy Mysteries, read His Scriptures, call out to Him in prayer, reverence Him through the holy icons, choose not to follow earthly wisdom but to risk obeying His commandments, our hearts can begin to warm and grow into a place for
the Lord, a habitation for the God of Jacob.” (Ps. 131:5)
“God does not work through disappointment. He knows your needs and cares for you more than the birds he finds food for and the lilies of the field that he clothes more beautifully than Solomon’s robes, so, do not worry.” (Matthew 6:25-34).
The two most important notes to our son are at the end of Letters from Your Father:
“In the final analysis, our relationships are probably the most important things in life we have. Relationship with our family, friends, workmates and God.”
“I wanted to let you know how proud I am to be your father – that’s it in a nutshell.”
Perhaps you may want to write letters to your own son? It is never too late to start!
First published on The Sounding Blog of the Orthodox Christian Network.
- February 20, 2013 – 5:33 pm
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I recently spoke with Fr Chris from the Orthodox Christian Network radio, Come Receive the Light about Childgood: The Journal for Creative Families, launched on Thanksgiving Day 2012, available for the Apple ipad.
We talked about:
What is unique about this parenting magazine?
What is my role in the magazine?
Some of the topics covered?
How can listeners find our more about the magazine?
I will be writing a regular bimonthly child psychology article for Childgood. The first holiday edition includes an article on Making sense of your child’s temperament. The next issue this month features, Raising kind and compassionate Children.
To learn more about this unique online multimedia magazine, click here to listen to this interview!
Find out more by visiting the Childgood website.
Subscribe to Childgood.
- February 4, 2013 – 1:25 pm
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“What shall we offer You, O Christ,
Who for our sake has appeared on earth as a man?
Every creature which You have made offers You thanks.
The angels offer you a song.
The heavens, their star.
The wise men, their gifts.
The shepherds, their wonder.
The earth, it’s cave.
The wilderness, the manger.
And we offer You a Virgin Mother.
O pre-eternal God, have mercy on us!
The Nativity of Our Lord, December 25, Vespers.
Christ is Born! Glorify Him! During the 12 days of Christmas, listen to any of the following Orthodox and classic Christian stories with your children on Readings from Under the Grapevine podcast on Ancient Faith Radio. Just click on the link to take you straight to the reading. I hope you enjoy listening!
Prepare O Bethlehem: The Feast of the Nativity by Niko Chocheli
Niko’s beautiful illustrations grace the pages of all his books by St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press. This one celebrates the hymns of the prefeast and feast of the Nativity of our Lord.
The Nativity of Our Lord, from the Twelve Great Feasts for Children by Mother Melania
Mother Melania’s lyrical style of writing is sure to captivate children of all ages. This is one of twelve little books in the series about the Twelve great feasts in the Orthodox Church.
A Perfect Christmas by Dennis Eugene Engleman illustrated by Niko Chocheli
This recording is in two parts as the book is lengthy. This book restores Saint Nicholas in children’s imaginations in the style of an Orthodox Russian folk tale. Listen to part two.
The Miracle of Saint Nicholas by Gloria Whelan illustrated by Judith Brown
A beautifully story about a Russian village – a boy, a babushkda and St. Nciholas.
The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado, with Jenna, Andrea and Sara Lucado, illustrated by Liz Bonham
Max Lucado wrote this delightful book with the help of his three daughters to remind us that God has a special place for those who are different.
The Story of Mary the Mother of God by Dorrie Papademetriou
Dorrie’s book is lovingly written and illustrated, inspired by her travels through Greece and Turkey and helps us understand who she was and why God chose her to be “the bridge between heaven and earth.”
St. Nicholas the Wondeworker by Lily Parascheva Rowe illustrated by Roland J Ford
This book tells the story of St. Nicholas’ life for young children.
Saint Nicholas and the three girls by Egle-Ekaterine Potamitis
This little book is part of the Paterikon for Kids series and tells the story about St. Nicholas’ generosity for which he is most known.
The Nativity of Christ by Egle-Ekaterine Potamitis
This book tells the story of Christ’s birth.
The Gifts of the Magi by Egle-Ekaterine Potamitis
This little book tells us about the precious gifts of the three Magi and how they are preserved at a Monastery on the Holy Mount Athos in Greece.
The Story of the Vasilopita by Egle-Ekaterine Potamitis.
Learn about the origin of Saint Basil’s cake, a New year celebration by Orthodox Christians.
The Theophany of Our Lord by Sister Elayne (Mother Melania), illustrated by Bonnie Gillis. Available from 1/4/13.
This book is part of the Twelve Great Feasts for Children and celebrates Theophany, the appearance of God, also known as Epiphany.
“When Thou, O Lord wast baptized in the Jordan,
The worship of the Trinity was made manifest !
For the voice of the Father bare witness to Thee,
And called Thee His beloved Son!
And the spirit, in the form of a dove,
Confirmed the truthfulness of His word.
O Christ our God, who hast revealed Thyself
And hast enlightened the world, Glory to Thee!
Troparian of the Feast of the Theophany of Our Lord.
First published on The Sounding Orthodox Blog of The Orthodox Christian Network on 12/28/2012, without links to Readings from Under the Grapevine.
- January 4, 2013 – 2:47 am
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The tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Conn. on December 14, shocked and deeply saddened the entire nation. As parents you may be struggling with your own emotions and how to talk to your children. How do you answer questions like why it happened and whether the children are in heaven? How do children process violence?
This week I talked to Fr Chris from the Orthodox Christian Network on how to talk to children about this tragedy on Come Receive the Light internet radio. What questions did your child ask?
My thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims of this heartbreaking tragedy.
- December 24, 2012 – 3:37 pm
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“Whosoever offers a gift In my memory
Will find me, St. Kendeas,
An intercessor Before God.”
And so reads the inscription on the scroll held by Saint Kendeas on his icon.
This box of delicious gala apples arrived the day after Thanksgiving! I opened my front door and there it was. It was a gift of kindness from Alexandra Anderson, a fruit farmer from Washington State, in gratitude for receiving a couple of paper icons of this local Cypriot saint that I had sent her a few months ago and for introducing her to Saint Kendeas through my book, Under the Grapevine. Alexandra felt a connection to my story about my grandmother’s miraculous healing through St Kendeas as she and her husband are apple farmers like my great grandfather was.
Alexandra told me that her son and daughter in law planned to name their daughter after St Kendeas as they too had fallen in love with him. Kennedy Lynn Anderson was baptized on July 21, this year at Holy Cross Orthodox Church in Yakima, WA.
I received three beautiful book marks with the troparian to St Kendeas on the back:
Through your struggles you hallowed Jordan’s desert and wilderness
On the isle of Cyprus you shone forth through great battles like a fixed star
Beholding thus the wealth of your great works God-bearing Kendeas, we cry out
Glory to Christ who made you wonderous!
Glory to Him who has glorified you!
Glory to Him who works healing for all through you!
Thank you for your gracious and kind gift Alexandra, in St Kendeas’s memory.
May he always intercede before God for you and your family!
- November 27, 2012 – 3:54 am
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I am excited to introduce a unique bimonthly online parenting magazine and a new creative venture of a dedicated team of experts. It is a joy, privalege and blessing to be a part of the Childgood Team!
“ChildGood-The Journal for Creative Families (CG) is an elegant, online lifestyle magazine for young parents. ChildGood is a positive, interactive, parenting magazine for creative families, who face the unique challenge of being a round in a square world. CG expertly informs and inspires families to transform tough parenting issues into successful outcomes.
Subjects include: How to cultivate socio-emotional health and well being, managing media with children, useful therapeutic modalities, how to have happy experiences with creative children, non-traditional family success stories and managing the stress of educational and support system choices.”
Childgood was launched on Thanksgiving day by Maria Del Rey, Editor in Chief, Publisher and Founder of Childgood and an award winning children’s media producer.
Log into Apple Newstand/Parenting Magazines to subscribe to Childgood Magazine now! Other Childgood products will be launched in early December and include video and audio series and therapeutic music. Look out for the psychology articles!
- November 24, 2012 – 5:17 pm
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Don’t miss this incredible sale at Conciliar Press which is offering 60% off many children’s books until July 31!
- July 28, 2012 – 3:29 pm
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Christ is Risen! Christos Anesti!
And now for the winners of the story contest…..Congratulations to:
Julia age 3, for her story on Mary
Anna age 9 for her story on The Lady of Light
Maria age 10 for her story on Saint Brigid.
Listen to these stories this week on Readings from Under the Grapevine podcast on Ancient Faith Radio, beginning Friday April 20.
Thank you to all the children who sent in their original stories of their favorite saints and to parents who helped send them in to me. I enjoyed reading them all! I hope you all had fun focusing on Christ through his saints especially during Lent and Holy Week.
Each of you will receive a coloring book from Potamitis Publishing and paschal chocolates for taking part! Thank you to Potamitis Publishing for their beautiful coloring books! Watch out for them in your mail…..
- April 16, 2012 – 12:32 am
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