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Come Out of the Tomb, Lazarus!

Lent has begun and I’m sure you’re thinking about activities you can do with your children or Church School students. I know I am! Every year we have a Lazarus Saturday event at the church for the kids and I wondered if others might do the same thing. Here are a few engaging activities you might want to try at home or in your classroom.

Fun Facts about St. Lazarus

Lazarus was 33 when Jesus raised him from the dead. This occured near the Mount of Olives. There is a mosque, a Catholic Church and a Greek Orthodox Church near his 1st tomb. Click here for images of the tomb.

Some time after Jesus’s Resurrection, Lazarus was forced to flee Judea. There were rumors going around that there were people who wanted to murder him. He fled to Cyprus where he lived for over 30 years. While there St. Paul appointed him the first bishop of Kition, which is now called Larnaka. This is where he was buried for the second time.

St. Lazarus missed the Theotokos and sent a ship to bring her to Cyprus to visit him. She brought him a gift – a bishop’s omophorion that she wove herself.

HIs feast day is October 17th.

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Make St. Ia and Her Friends!

Saint Ia and her friends created by Kristina Wenger

My sweet and crafty friend, Kristina Wenger, sent me the cutest gift – St. Ia and her friends! Isn’t it just adorable?! I can’t believe how much they look like the characters in the book and I can’t stop looking at them. It’s one of the most thoughtful gifts I’ve gotten. If you would like to make some of your own, Kristina has created instructions and templates for you to use. Below are images

She created directions for all of you in case you want to create them yourself. I can’t believe how much they look like the actual characters in the book! She has kindly written up the directions on how to make them and is letting me share them with you.

From Kristina:

“I’m a child at heart, and as long as I can remember, I’ve enjoyed making toys. Of late, I’ve most often made stuffed animals or dolls, chiefly to give as gifts. Occasionally, however, I create them as my natural response to someone’s gift of art. Some people write fan fiction or create artwork inspired by someone else’s work. I create fan stuffies or toys. I’ve made stuffies in response to store logos, a comic figure, and several books. 

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Saint Ia Rides a Leaf Activities

Earlier this year Melinda Johnson and I collaborated together to create the Orthodox board book, Saint Ia Rides a Leaf, which was published by St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press. One of the things that we love is sharing the beautiful Orthodox faith with children. We came up with some activities that you can do with your children or your Sunday School classroom that go along with our book. We thought it would be fun to do a whole unit on St. Ia while also studying leaves. This will help your child make connections to the story based their real life experiences with leaves, while teaching them important literacy, math and science concepts. The following activities are for toddlers through early elementary school aged children.

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Our Kouvouklion and Epitaphios

Today as we prepare for Holy Friday services at home, we made our own Kouvouklion & Epitaphios! Please know that this was not my idea. Sotiria Stavropoulos created a Facebook video where she showed how to create it. I was so amazed by how beautiful it was and we decided to make our own! I have included instructions on how we did this. Some of the work will need to be done by an adult but there are also tasks kids can do. (more…)

The Story of St. Romanos

Saint Romanos the Melodist

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!”

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Appreciating the Kingdom of God: Melted Snow

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.

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How to Care for Someone with Cancer

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!

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Finding Christ Amidst the Snowstorms of Life

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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…)