Have you ever wondered where some of our hymns come from? It always amazes me that these beautiful words have been preserved for so long. It makes me feel connected to that time period. You may be wondering who St. Romanos was and what he had to do with our hymns.
The abbreviated version of his life: He was a monk that lived around 518 AD. He served as the deacon of the church of Agia Sofia in Constantinople. Back then Deacons would face the congregation and chant most of the service. St. Romanos had trouble reading and singing out loud. He had a dream that the Theotokos asked him to eat a scroll of music. When he woke up, he was able to sing with confidence. He began to sing new hymn that might be familiar to you –
“Today the Virgin gives birth to the Transcendent One, And the earth offers a cave to the Unapproachable One! Angels with shepherds glorify Him! The wise men journey with a star! Since for our sake the Eternal God was born as a Little Child!”(more…)
Can you believe it is already Holy Week? Maybe it’s because Pascha is a little early this year but Lent has seemed to fly by. I’m happy to share with you a piece I did for New Martyr Magazine last year. It is a one page “comic.” Not really funny, but drawings of what happens at the service. It also instructs children on what the priest will do and where they will be anointed, so they can prepare. If your children are very young, you may want to get a paintbrush out and pretend to anoint them so they can practice. This helps out a lot so they know what to expect. (more…)
We’ve had a LOT of snow days this year and January isn’t even over yet! This week has been better but it seems we’ve had lots of cold weather and snow. One of the things I like to do with my children are learning experiences that help us learn about the beauty of God’s Kingdom. Whenever we do science activities like this, I learn something new and become fascinated by the amazing world we live in.
This week we decided to collect some snow and see what happened when it melted.
Today I am interviewing Marjorie Kunch, an Orthodox children’s book author, who is currently in active treatment for stage 3 breast cancer. You may remember her book, “When My Baba Died” and “When My Yiayia Died,” which help children understand death and the Orthodox funeral. She also has an activity book that is perfect for children that helps them review the material in the books!
She’s recently released her new book, “When Mama Had Cancer,” which teaches children about cancer from diagnosis to treatments and how to rely on their faith to get through this difficult time. She took some time to answer a few questions that I’m happy to share with you!
This weekend we were making snowflakes out of paper. My kids love to do this activity and so do I! When I opened up one of the snowflakes I noticed I had made a cross in the center. As I sat there and admired it’s beauty, I couldn’t believe what a powerful meaning this craft held. Most of us have probably experienced times when we’ve felt like our life is like a snowstorm. Whether it be a major or minor storm, where do we turn? Christ is like the Eye of a storm, a Calmness in the center, just like my snowflake. If we rely upon Him, He will be in the center, protecting us when everything else is chaos.
It was like God was speaking to me with this craft, because the night before I had attended a presentation by Dr. Philip Mamalakis who wrote, “Parenting Toward the Kingdom.” (more…)
Recently my daughter has been very scared at night. Someone at school told her a scary story and she just can’t get the idea out of her head. The same week Ancient Faith also released their book called, “Sasha and the Dragon.” It is about a little boy who is scared of a lot of things. He has an icon in his room of St. Michael. He prays and a miracle happens that helps him through his difficult time. I’m going to keep the description brief because I don’t want to spoil the ending for you. 🙂 It’s really beautiful! And Nicholas Malara is an amazing illustrator! He captures scenes from different perspectives and uses light to communicate the mood of the story. It’s really awesome! (more…)
When I was little, our manger had a baby Christ that you could remove. My parents would not put Him in the manger until Christmas morning. We loved looking at the manger and would check it every day until Christmas to see if Jesus arrived. Throughout December our minds were thinking about Christ’s birthday and helped us build anticipation for His birth. We would always looked at the manger first before our presents, which also brought our minds back to the true meaning of Christmas.
One of my favorite quotes and the inspiration to writing my books is from Colossians 3:1-4. It says, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.”(more…)
This post is written in honor of my grandparents and all of the Greeks who gave their lives and survived during WWII. OXI Day is October 28th and it commemorates the day the Greeks said, no, and took Greece back.
While we usually think about the Nazis terrorizing the Jewish people, we also have to remember that they went after other races and even other Christian denominations. Since Greece is next to Italy, Germany’s enemy, the Germans occupied Greece during WWII.
Both of my grandparents experienced family members being killed during the war. My yiayia, grandmother, and her siblings were orphaned because the Nazis killed her father along with several other men from the village. Then her mother died of a broken heart. My papou, grandfather, had a brother killed during the war as well. (more…)
The story of St. Patrick is one of my favorite stories. I love how he used shamrocks to teach others about the Holy Trinity. It is such a beautiful example because he used something that everyone had seen and experienced. This is exactly the way I like to teach – taking things from a child’s environment and making them into Orthodox lessons! In honor of the Holy Trinity, I have three activities that you can use at home or in the classroom!
At our church we always have a Holy Friday retreat for the kids. We have activities planned to help them learn more about the important events of the day and of Christ’s Resurrection. A couple of years ago I had to teach the kids the hymn, Christ is Risen. Since my group was preschool through 6th grade, a lot of the kids may not be reading or not reading well enough to read the bigger words. My teacher brain was thinking of ideas to help the non-readers be able to sing along. I’m sure many of you have seen early reader books where they have the text and a small picture that shows the word. I love how icons tell stories and especially love it when a hymn describes exactly what is happening in the image, so I decided to make a visual version of the hymn for my students. (more…)