At Play in God’s Creation

61vivvvjcil-_sy498_bo1204203200_I recently had the opportunity to review At Play in God’s Creation: an illuminating coloring book by Tara M. Owens and illustrated by Daniel W. Sorenson, and I am profoundly grateful for the experience. Spending an evening reading and coloring instead of mindlessly scanning Facebook and reading the news brought two things to my attention: 1) I’ve been spending too much time mindlessly scanning Facebook and reading the news and 2) God would like to have a little more of my attention.

As I sat in Starbucks on my night off from putting the children to bed I slowly filled in the intricate design of a flowering tree, having underlined part of a quote from Mother Theresa above:

We cannot find God in noise or agitation. In nature we find silence-the trees, flowers, and grass grow in silence. The stars, the moon, and the sun move in silence. Silence of the heart is necessary so you can hear God everywhere-in the closing of a door, in the person who needs you, in the birds that sing, in the flowers, in the animals.

I’d underlined “in the person who needs you”. I really hadn’t been able to see God that particular day or even week in my little children who seemed to need me constantly. The wear of having dealt with them with so little love hung heavy on my heart. I colored and felt the frustrations of encountering the same bad behavior in all of us with seemingly no change bubble up and dissipate.

I also noticed the initial stress of sitting down to color such an intricate design–I was never going to finish! I caught my distress, had a little chuckle at myself, and wondered what else in my day I was rushing through to simply get done. There were a million little jobs at home that I could’ve done today. Maybe they were like these flowers? I seemed to rush through my whole day-had I done any of my work well? Maybe like this page God didn’t expect me to finish it all. I colored some more, admiring the symmetry of the picture.

Oo, I spotted a cluster of grapes. There some hidden pictures scattered throughout the book, and I’d have to look up what those meant later. One little rounded flower stumped me. I wondered what color would look best with it…and I wondered why I kept making the same mistakes at home. For instance, the toddler and three-year-old seemed totally incapable of either playing together nicely or entertaining themselves even for a little bit during the day so that I could get some things done, and they were truly driving me mad. I looked for all the little rounded flowers and remembered that when their older sister was their age, I’d made her a schedule for each day so that she knew what to expect. We both appreciated the shared understanding of what the day would look like, a day complete with activities and times that we both looked forward to, if not always the same ones: why I hadn’t I done that for them? I realized that I’d solved this problem before and resolved to do draw up a plan for tomorrow so that we didn’t run into the same issues as we had today.

I relaxed and eventually finished the top part of the page, satisfied with my progress and encouraged by the author who had written some helpful guidelines for using the book, including the missive to resist feeling like one had to complete an entire page in a sitting. I peeked at the next page and admired the quality of the paper as none of the marker ink had bled through despite my having colored on the page for an hour.

I packed up my things, already looking forward to the next time when I could get out my markers. I felt lighter, happier, more prepared for the next day, so little like how I feel after having wasted a bunch of time online. I felt like God noticed that I’d set some time aside for Him and He joined me, even if it was just to color.

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Copyright 2016 Meg Matenaer 

 

Book Review: Mother Mary, A Marian Catechism

mother-mary20223lgDo you struggle with teaching your children about Mary’s role in our lives?

I do and I never realized it.

I have a deep devotion to Our Lady and she comes up often at our house. My children know that she’s very much their mom and that they’ll be eating ice cream with her in heaven some day, God willing, when Jesus calls them home. I sort of thought we had Mary “down.”

Then I had the pleasure of reviewing Mother Mary…God’s Gift to You: A Marian Catechism for Children of All Ages, Vol. 1*, and I discovered just how much more we had to learn together.

Used in conjunction with The Parable of Willy Wheat (can be found here), the Mother Mary catechism guides children through the basics of our faith: the life of Christ within us, the importance of prayer and Mary’s role in assisting us in it, placing ourselves in the heart of Mary who can make us more Christ-like, and giving everything to Jesus through Mary.

The bright, cheerful illustrations are meant to deliver the main lessons, and they certainly did the job. My children quickly crowded around to get the best view of the pages, which effortlessly conveyed ideas that I’d forgotten I’d fumbled before on my own. A picture of Mary sitting with a little child on her lap as they both held rosaries and imagined the same mystery efficiently conveyed to my children what I often muddled through when I’d try to tell them how Mary helps us meditate on the mysteries. A picture of Mary kneeling behind praying children with her hands on their shoulders as they all faced a crucifix was an easy way to show my three-year-old how Our Lady helps us pray.

It’s a favorite now. I keep the book by our rosaries and the children often ask to read it by their own volition. Mother Mary has been a terrific tool to help teach our children about their Blessed Mother in a fun and effortless way.

*I received a copy of Mother Mary…God’s Gift To You from Aquinas and More in exchange for an honest review!