Thursday, April 21, 2016
Garden of the Good Shepherd Easter Calendar  

One of the beauties of the Church is the celebration of seasons.  Christmas is not just a day.  It is a season that last weeks.  Similarly, Easter is a seven week season.  There is great wisdom in this plan.  These celebrations are for mysteries that cannot be contained in weeks of pondering, let alone a single day.

This Easter Season we have added another new tradition that takes advantage of the week of weeks of the Easter season.  For years, LG had wanted to purchase the Easter sticker calendar called the Garden of the Good Shepherd.  However, the book was fairly expensive.  The original book which is now sold out can be seen on Amazon.  It came complete with illustrations by Tomie dePaola.

LG was thrilled to find out that Charlotte of Waltzing Matilda had kindly reproduced the 50 symbols of the original Garden of Good Shepherd book and made them available free of charge on her site.

Thanks to Charlotte's generosity, LG was able to make her own Garden of the Good Shepherd "Sticker" Calendar.  On her blog, she provided wonderful versions of the 50 symbols along with the background images.  These can be found here.  LG took it from there to draw the rest of the background and to color everything.  She decided to use magnets.  The background is attached with magnets on a magnetic white board.  We have attached small pieces of thin magnets to each symbol.  Then, each day a new symbol is added to the picture.

There is a theme for each week of the seven weeks of Easter.  For instance, the first week's theme is the Good Shepherd.  The symbols for that first week include a shepherd, a shepherd's staff, a gate, a sheepfold, a wolf, and several sheep.  In addition, each day there is also an associated Scripture reference.  From the first week the Scripture references are from Psalm 23 and John 10 where Jesus called Himself the Good Shepherd.  Here is what the calendar looks like part way through week four.

And here are the remaining symbols for the rest of the 50 days.

We always enjoy adding to our liturgical traditions.  And this new calendar is certainly a well-welcomed addition.

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Thursday, April 07, 2016
Are you interested in Improving your Writing? Try the Seven Secrets to Writing Success  

Are you Interested in improving your writing? This short Kindle book describes seven secrets which will help anyone improve their writing whether you are a student or a business professional.

In the book, you will learn the easy steps to having a plan, getting organized, staying focused, and successfully completing your writing task.  These are tried and true secrets that can be used again and again and will enable you to become a better writer and to complete writing tasks faster.

 Click on the book below in order to preview its contents.

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Friday, March 18, 2016
The Rabbits Celebrate Easter is Available Free from Kindle March 18 - 20, 2016  

Easter is right around the corner.  If you are looking for a children's Easter eBook to read aloud with your children or for your early readers to read, you can get The Rabbits Celebrate Easter from Kindle for free March 18 - 20.

Simply click on the image below or click here and download the book to your Kindle device or to your Kindle App.  You can also find the book by searching for The Rabbits Celebrate Easter in the Kindle Store.

Please also provide any feedback you have on the book on Amazon.  Thank you.

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Wednesday, March 02, 2016
Jesus Tree: A Review of Jesse Tree Treasures' Jesus Tree Kit  

Our family's devotional discovery this Lent has been the Jesus Tree.  Although similar to the Jesse Tree of Advent, it has some subtle differences that make it more than just a devotion which has been applied to a different season of the liturgical calendar.

Instead, in its own right, the Jesus Tree is a very beautiful devotion that helps mark the days of Lent with stories from the Gospels which cover our Lord's life from His youth through His passion, death, burial, and resurrection. By focusing on Christ's life and death, the devotional focus becomes not on the anticipation of Christ's second coming or His first coming as a baby, but on what He has fulfilled as the One who came to redeem us.

Another way to view the differences is to note that the Jesse Tree of Advent focuses on the roots of Christ's first coming through marking important events of salvation history prior to the birth of Christ.  The Jesus Tree focus on the fruit of His coming, namely, His adult life, passion, death, and resurrection.

In this devotion, during the days of Lent, there are familiar parables such as the Prodigal Son and the Lost Sheep.  The days also focus on Jesus' healing of the 10 lepers, the centurion's servant, and the man with the withered hand.  Finally, the stories include His miracles of changing water to wine, multiplying the loaves and fishes, and raising Lazarus from the dead.  Each of these stories teach about His Kingdom and point the way to why He came--to die and rise again in order to save us from sin.  This theme is underscored by the days of Passion Week which include Palm Sunday, the Last Supper, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday.

If you are looking to add this powerful devotion to your own family's Lenten practices, you might want to consider purchasing the Jesus Tree from Jesse Tree Treasures.  They provide a high quality, well-made Jesus Tree that consists of 64 wooden discs.  The discs have stickers attached with attractive pictures, titles, and Scripture references for the daily devotions for Lent (40 days), the Sundays of Lent (7), and several bonus days (St. Patrick's Day, St. Joseph's Day), and some of the days of the Easter season.  The kit includes a card with each of the days listed along with the story title and Scripture reference for each story.  A bag is provided to keep the discs.  Finally, it was packaged in an attractive cardboard box with an gold elastic band to hold it together.  The high quality certainly adds to the devotional aspect of this version of the Jesus Tree, and the product is very durable and will last for many Lents in the future.

The discs can be used any way you would like.  Two suggestions for use which are listed on the store include adding a magnet to each disc or hanging them from a tree.  We have chosen the latter. Using a small drill bit, holes were put in each disc and a purple piece of ribbon was tied to the discs.  We conveniently have a ficus tree in the front hall which is perfect for hanging the discs.  The discs could also be simply laid on a table each day in some pattern that added to the idea that the tree was growing.  In our case, the ficus tree "grows" with ornaments throughout Lent and even into Easter when our tree will have been decorated with eggs and other Easter decorations.

I highly recommend the devotion of the Jesus Tree for your family's Lent, and I certainly recommend the Jesus Tree from Jesse Tree Treasures as a wonderful way to practice the devotion.

Note, I was given a discount on the purchase of the Jesus Tree from Jesse Tree Treasures as part of my reviewing their Jesus Tree.

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Saturday, February 20, 2016
The Jesus Tree: A New Lenten Tradition  

In our family, we always enjoy adding new traditions to our celebrations of the liturgical seasons.  And this year, we have been introduced to one for Lent that will be sure to be part of our Lenten seasons for years to come.

The new tradition is the Jesus Tree.  It is similar to the Jesse Tree of Advent.  The idea is to mark the days of Lent with passages of Scripture and a tangible symbol from the life of Christ beginning with His presentation in the Temple through His Passion and Resurrection.  It is a great way to reflect on our Lord's life, suffering, death, and resurrection during our Lenten journey.

For each day there is a passage of Scripture and a symbol which represents the Gospel account.  For instance, for the Presentation, the symbol might be the two doves which St. Joseph brought to the Temple in order to fulfill the Law.  And for the Gospel account of Jesus as the Good Shepherd, the symbol is a sheep.  As you move through Lent, you add the symbols to the tree, and the bare tree becomes filled with the life of Jesus.

We ordered one Jesus Tree online, and in upcoming post, I will provide a review of that Jesus Tree.

However, before that arrived, we made our own felt and flannel version based on a kit which you can order online.

And here is a sample of some of the symbols:

If you are interested in making your own, I put together a downloadable Jesus Tree Guide which includes a list of materials you will need, instructions on how we made ours, pictures of all the symbols, and the daily readings from both Scripture and a popular picture children's Bible--the New Catholic Picture Bible. 

The Jesus Tree Guide can be purchased from Etsy or Teacher's Pay Teachers.  Whether you purchase a Jesus Tree or make your own, perhaps you will add this tradition to your family's Lenten journey.


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Wednesday, February 03, 2016
Free Bible Study Series from St. Paul Center--"The Bible and the Virgin Mary"  

The St. Paul Center, which was founded by Dr. Scott Hahn, is offering a free Bible Study Series on the Bible and the Virgin Mary.  The series of 12 videos will begin on Ash Wednesday, February 10th.  Each week a new video will be released which explores the truths about the Blessed Virgin Mary from Scripture.

The St. Paul Center was founded in order increase the love of Christ through the increase of Biblical knowledge.  The video series is sure to be a great addition to their materials.

In order to participate, you must register.  Registration and more information, can be found here.

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Monday, January 11, 2016
New Calendar Cards: Angels in the Bible and the Apostles  

I am excited to announce that two new sets of Calendar Cards have recently been completed, and they are now available on Etsy and Teacher's Pay Teachers.  The two sets are Angels in the Bible and the Apostles.

Both are sets of 31 flash cards with a piece of artwork on one side and interesting information on the reverse side.  They are available in a PDF format and can be printed out in order to make the flash cards.  They can also simply be used in the PDF format.

Angels in the Bible Calendar Cards

The Angels in the Bible Calendar Cards are a fun way to learn about the important role of angels in the Bible. There are several introductory cards for the first several days which answer the questions of who are the angels, where are the angels, how many angels are there, and what is their role. The remaining cards in the set of 31 cards go through selected stories in the Bible in which angels appear.

Some of the stories over the 31 days include passages from the Bible where Abraham, Moses, Gideon, Elijah, Mary, Joseph, and Peter encounter angels.  The Bible reference for each story is included in a separate table.  Also, a prayer to your Guardian Angel is provided which is suitable for print out and display.


Angels in the Bible Days 1 through 6 FrontAngels in the Bible Days 1 through 6 Back

Angels in the Bible Day 16 FrontAngels in the Bible Day 16 Back

The Apostles Calendar Cards

The Apostles Calendar Cards are a great way to introduce students to the twelve apostles of Jesus. Through 31 days of calendar cards, students are provided fascinating information about each of the 12 apostles. There are two cards for each apostle which provide biographical information about the apostle, the apostle's feast day, some patronages and symbols of the apostle, and what the apostle did after Pentecost.

Apostles Calendar Card Days 1 through 6 FrontApostles Calendar Card Days 1 through 6 Back

Apostles Calendar Card Day 11 FrontApostles Calendar Card Day 11 Back

Both sets of cards include information about the artwork displayed on the front of each card.  In a separate table at the end, the title, artist, date, and current location of each piece of artwork is listed.

With 31 cards in each set, these can be used for any month of the year or simply used as flash cards for learning about angels and the Apostles.


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Monday, November 30, 2015
Online Advent Calendar from the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America  

Advent is a fairly big season in our family.  We have already brought out the Jesse Tree, the Advent calendars, and various other Advent related items.  You can see some of the ways in which our family celebrates Advent here

We really enjoy opening the Advent calendars each day throughout the season.  We have at least 4 calendars that we use each year.  (All of these are re-usable; we only used the chocolate or candy variety for a year or two.) The oldest Advent calendar we own is a simple card stock one with a picture of the Nativity.  There is a Scripture reference behind each door which takes you through the Christmas story.  The latest Advent calendar is from Caspari.  It is a large Christmas tree, and it has fun Christmas-themed pictures behind each window.  No matter what the calendar contains, we enjoy opening them each day to see what surprise is behind the window as we count down the days of Advent toward Christmas.

I have always wanted to find a good online Advent calendar, and I think that I have found one.

The online Advent calendar which I am excited about is provided by the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America.  These are the Franciscans who are Custodians of the various Shrines of the Holy Land.  Their monastery in the United States is in Washington, D.C., and it is definitely worth a visit if you are in the area.  We have had the privilege of being able to visit the monastery several times.

The gardens are absolutely beautiful.  Inside the main building, they have built replicas of some of the shrines of the Holy Land including the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Outside the lower garden area, they also have a replica of the grotto at Lourdes.  It is quite impressive.  From what I understand, the Franciscans are prepared for their assignment in the Holy Land at this monastery.

I just came across their Advent calendar.  There seems to be a video with a meditation on the readings for each Sunday and the rest of the days of the week provide information about the liturgical significance of the day.  If you are looking for a way to "count down" to Christmas and prepare your heart for Christ's coming at Bethlehem, this might be a good option for you.  It can be found here.

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Saturday, November 21, 2015
Introducing Calendar Cards: Christmas Around the World  

In LightStone's Etsy Shop, we have introduced Calendar Cards.  Calendar Cards are 31 cards which cover a particular topic.  The first edition is appropriately, Christmas Around the World in anticipation of next month.

The Christmas Around the World Calendar Cards introduce different Christmas traditions which are celebrated in selected countries around the world. Each country has two days. The first day for each country describes some of the unique Christmas traditions of the country, and the second day of the country lists how to say "Merry Christmas" in the language(s) of that country. The days can be printed out or read from the PDF.

Through November 28th, the Christmas Around the World Calendar Cards can be obtained for 40% from LightStone's Etsy Shop using the coupon code  THANKSGIVING2015.

Update, as of November 30th, the Christmas Around the World Calendar Cards are also available at CurrClick and Teachers Pay Teachers.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2015
Advent will be here Soon  

Although we are still preparing for Thanksgiving, Advent will be here before we know it.

Advent is always a very special time in our home.  During the four weeks, we enjoy preparing ourselves and our home for celebrating the birth of Christ.  We generally have several Advent calendars we open each day.  We participate in Giving Tree projects for the collection of gifts, clothing, and food.  There are special feast days--Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Immaculate Conception, and St. Lucia--which we celebrate.  There are many special events, as well.  And of course, many people in our community put up beautiful decorations and lights which it is fun to enjoy.  It is always a time of high energy which we can use for preparing our hearts for celebrating the wonder of God's gift to us--His Son born as a child to the Virgin Mary.

Several years ago, I wrote an Advent and Christmas-themed Rabbit book with my then seven-year-old daughter which eventually became the second book in the Bear and Rabbit Reader Series--The Rabbits Celebrate Advent and Christmas.  For the Rabbit Family, like so many others, Advent and Christmas go together.

In this colorfully illustrated book, Tom and Martha Rabbit are excited that Christmas is only weeks away. Join them as they prepare for Christmas during Advent. And then come along with them for more fun with their family on Christmas Day.

The Bear and Rabbit Book Series is for story time, bedtime reading, and for early readers. The stories include fun illustrations on every page.

The Rabbits Celebrate Advent and Christmas is currently available as a PDF on Etsy or as an eBook for the Nook, for Kobo, and for the Kindle.

For purchases on Etsy, use the coupon code THANKSGIVING2015 to get a 40% discount!  (The coupon code is good through November 28th.)

For more information, you can visit the the Bear and Rabbit Reader Series Facebook page.


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Saturday, November 14, 2015
Looking for Discounts on Catholic Items? Check Catholic Deals Online.  

I recently became aware of a great web site which pulls together online discounts for Catholic items.  (I became aware of it via my daughter who saw it on Catholic Inspired; she is very excited about it.)

The web site, Catholic Deals Online, is run by a mother who is also a blogger and freelance writer.  On the her web site, she posts items which are on discount or have a special offer.  The items are primarily Catholic.  She also does include items that are not Catholic, but she does not include anything that would be considered anti-Catholic.  (I would do the very same.)

Currently, she is featuring items for Advent.  If you are on the ball and already getting ready for Advent, you might want to check out her site.  Even if you are not shopping for Advent, any time you you are looking for discounted items, remember to check Catholic Deals Online.


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Monday, November 09, 2015
40% off Sale on the Rabbits' Thanksgiving and other Items on Etsy  

Looking for a good children's eBook for Thanksgiving?

The Bear and Rabbit Book Series is for story time, bedtime reading, and for early readers. The stories include fun illustrations on every page.

And now on Etsy, the Rabbits' Thanksgiving eBook (PDF) is available for 40% off.  Simply use the coupon code THANKSGIVING2015 at checkout.  The coupon is good through November 28th.  It can be applied to anything in the store.  To get 40% off the Rabbits' Thanksgiving or any other book in the store, go to the LightStoneGoods store on Etsy.


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Monday, November 02, 2015
November, Thanksgiving, and The Rabbits' Thanksgiving eBook  

The month of November brings the U.S. holiday of Thanksgiving, and for me, a reminder to give thanks every day.

Last year, the first Bear and Rabbit Reader book--The Rabbits' Thanksgiving--was released. I am grateful for everyone who has supported this book and the other eBooks in the series which have since been released.

In this colorfully illustrated book, the Rabbit Family celebrates Thanksgiving at school and home with their friends and family.  In this story for young readers, you can join the rabbits Tom and Martha along with their family for a fun-filled Thanksgiving celebration.

The Bear and Rabbit Book Series is for story time, bedtime reading, and for early readers. The stories include fun illustrations on every page.

The Rabbits' Thanksgiving is currently available as a PDF on Etsy or as an eBook for the Nook, for Kobo, and for the Kindle.

For purchases on Etsy, use the coupon code THANKSGIVING2015 to get a 40% discount!  (The coupon code is good through November 28th.)

For more information, you can visit the the Bear and Rabbit Reader Series Facebook page.


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Friday, July 31, 2015
Getting to Know St. Ignatius of Loyola  

July 31st is the feast day of St. Ignatius of Loyola.  This Spanish saint is the patron of spiritual exercises,soldiers, and, of course, the Jesuits, the order which he founded.  He was a man of humility and courage.  He left the life of a soldier to become a soldier in the Kingdom of God.  He is an example of being open to God's call through the events of one's life.

Now with Pope Francis, we have our first pope from the order which was founded by St. Ignatius.  We are just beginning to appreciate the impact that his Jesuit training has had upon him and how it has helped shape his pontificate.

If you would like to know more about the great St. Ignatius, you might want to get one of my copies of his autobiography which is available as an eBook in various formats.  In honor of his feast day, the eBook will be available at a special price through August 31st.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2015
Used Homeschool Books for Sale: Curriculum Sale Blog Hop  

Note, this post has been updated as of August 29, 2015. Prices have been reduced for many of the items which are still available.

This post is dedicated to the Curriculum Sale Blog Hop which is sponsored by Shower of Roses.  Click here to view the original post which includes other items for sale on other blogs.

Thanks to Shower of Roses for sponsoring this event.

The following homeschool curriculum items are available for sale. Many of these can be purchased via our Amazon or eBay sites--Light Stone. To purchase the book via Amazon or eBay, simply click on the book's title. (Note, there are two pages of Light Stone items listed on the Amazon site.  The book could be listed on either page.)

If you would like multiple items from the Amazon site, I am not sure whether Amazon will bundle the items when calculating postage. If not, please leave a comment, and I will work out a way to get you the books at a reasonable cost for postage.

If there is no link, the book is not available via Amazon, please add a comment indicating your interest in an item. Payment will be via PayPal. Thanks.

Title Author Publisher Year Price Status
MCP Mathematics Level B Teacher's Edition Richard Monnard and Royce Hargrove Dale Seymour Publications 2005 $8.99 Available
Saxon Math Homeschool 7/6 Solutions Manual Stephen Hake and John Saxon Saxon Publishers 2005 $5.99 Sold

Title Author Publisher Year Price Status
Who Has God's Life? Teacher's Manual Grade 1 Mary Jo Smith, Karlee Gardner, and Mary Hudrik Ignatius Press 1991 $4.99 Available
Who is Our Example? Teacher's Manual Grade 3 Michelle Richardson and Camille Kohner Ignatius Press 1991 $18.99 Available

Title Author Publisher Year Price Status
All Ye Lands: Origins of World Cultures Bridget Neumayr Catholic Schools Textbook Project 2011 $47.99 Sold
All Ye Lands: Origins of World Cultures Teacher's Manual Christopher Zehnder Catholic Schools Textbook Project 2011 $14.99 Sold

Title Author Publisher Year Price Status
From Sea to Shining Sea: The Story of America (Student Workbook on with Answer Key on CD) Ana Braga-Henebry Catholic Schools Textbook Project 2011 $7.99 Sold

Title Author Publisher Year Price Status
Behold and See 6 Textbook Rosemary C. Johnson Sheridan Books 2012 $37.99 Sold

Title Author Publisher Year Price Status
Creative Communications Sandra Garant Catholic Heritage Curricula 2006 $8.99 Sold
Little Stories for Little Folks Parent's Guide Fourth Edition Nancy Nicholson For Little Folks 2008 $1.99 Available

Title Author Publisher Year Price Status
Map Skills Teacher's Guide and Answer Key Level C Bernard A. Fox Continental Press 2004 $3.99 Available
Map Skills Teacher's Guide and Answer Key Level D Bernard A. Fox Continental Press 2004 $3.99 Available
Map Skills Teacher's Guide and Answer Key Level E Bernard A. Fox Continental Press 2004 $3.99 Available
Map Skills Teacher's Guide and Answer Key Level F Bernard A. Fox Continental Press 2004 $3.99 Available

Title Author Publisher Year Price Status
Christian Heritage Art Program Level 4 Sr. Marie Vianney Hamilton, O.P. St. Cecilia Congregation 2006 $17.99 Available
Christian Heritage Art Program Level 5 Sr. Marie Vianney Hamilton, O.P. St. Cecilia Congregation 2006 $17.99 Available
Christian Heritage Art Program Level 6 (not pictured) Sr. Marie Vianney Hamilton, O.P. St. Cecilia Congregation 2006 $17.99 Available
Christian Heritage Art Program: CD (Instruction Guide for Levels 1-8) (not pictured) Sr. Marie Vianney Hamilton, O.P. St. Cecilia Congregation 2006 $17.99 Available

Title Author Publisher Year Price Status
Puella Romana Little Latin Readers Primer A First Edition Julie A. Collorafi Guadalupe Press 2010 $3.99  Sold
Britanni et Galli Little Latin Readers Primer B First Edition Reader and Pronunciation CD Julie A. Collorafi Guadalupe Press 2010 $6.99 Sold
Italia Little Latin Readers Reader One Fourth Edition Julie A. Collorafi Guadalupe Press 2012 $7.99 Sold
Europa Little Latin Readers Primer C Third Edition Julie A. Collorafi Guadalupe Press 2012 $5.99 Available
Europa Little Latin Readers Primer C Third Edition Pronunciation CD Julie A. Collorafi Guadalupe Press 2012 $6.99 Available

Posted by David at 8:30 AM  |  Comments (2)  | 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015
The Bears' Fourth of July eBook has been Released  

In time for the Fourth of July, the latest eBook in the Bear and Rabbit Reader Series has been released.  It is the first bear book--The Bear's Fourth of July.  In this colorfully illustrated book, the bears celebrate the Fourth of July with a get together with friends and, of course, watching the fireworks show.  Join Lillian and Timothy for a fun-filled day of celebration.

The Bear and Rabbit Book Series is for story time, bedtime reading, and for early readers. The stories include fun illustrations on every page.

The Fourth of July book is currently available as a PDF on Etsy, for the Nook, on Kobo, and for the Kindle.

For more information, you can visit the the Bear and Rabbit Reader Series Facebook page.


Posted by David at 9:00 AM  |  Comments (0)  | 

Thursday, May 14, 2015
New Product: Flexible Magnetic Flannel Board  

We recently started making an educational product that takes a familiar item and extends its use.

The flannel board has been used for years for teaching and play. By adding a magnetic backing, the flannel board can be put on any surface that holds magnets--a refrigerator, a filing cabinet, or a magnetic white board.

The flannel is large enough (24 inches by 22.5 inches) to hold many felt pieces, and it can be easily rolled up for storage. It is made of quality flannel and magnetic backing.

It can be purchased on Amazon, eBay, and Etsy.

Posted by David at 10:30 AM  |  Comments (0)  | 

Thursday, January 15, 2015
Community Giving Article Published  

 Recently, Seton Magazine, which is an online and print magazine targeted to homeschoolers, published my article on our experience with what we call our Community Giving project.  My wife had the idea to make giving to our community a project each month.  We have had fun with the various projects and giving to others, and I appreciate the opportunity to share our experience in the Seton Magazine.

The article on the idea and how we have implemented it can be read here.

Posted by David at 7:30 AM  |  Comments (0)  | 

Saturday, December 06, 2014
What did St. Nicholas leave for you?  

There are a number of traditions surrounding St. Nicholas Day including the tradition of children leaving out their shoes the night before his feast day on December 6th in order that St. Nicholas has a place to leave presents and treats. We have had fun with that tradition for many years with LG. There is a similarity to the tradition of putting out your stockings by the fireplace on Christmas Eve. And both traditions are often traced back to the real St. Nicholas who was a Fourth Century bishop.

The shoes tradition has a couple of nice ideas associated with it. First, it gives us the opportunity to remember that saints are real people who really lived and our still a part of our reality. We can talk with them and ask them for help. And they help us in many ways which we will only better understand God willing in the next life. Second, the tradition of gifts from St. Nicholas is based in the generosity he displayed in his life. The legacy of St. Nicholas' generosity which we know of through the stories we have of his life remind us that generosity is fun as well as a way for us to live a fully human life. By celebrating this fun tradition, we have had the opportunity of integrating these ideas into our Advent preparation and celebration.

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Thursday, December 04, 2014
The Rabbits Celebrate Advent and Christmas eBook is now Available  

Last month saw the release of the first Bear and Rabbit Reader series eBook--The Rabbits' Thanksgiving.

Just in time for Advent and Christmas, the second book in the series has been released--The Rabbits Celebrate Advent and Christmas. The story follows Tom and Martha Rabbit and their family through their preparation during Advent and their fun Christmas Day.

The Bear and Rabbit Book Series is for story time, bedtime reading, and for early readers. The stories include fun illustrations on every page.

The story is available in virtually any type of eBook format.  If you are looking for a fun story to read to your children or for one of your early readers to read to you, you can get a copy of the eBook for Kindle, Nook, or Kobo.

For more information, you can visit the the Bear and Rabbit Reader Series Facebook page.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Every Day is Thanksgiving  

Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Our family has always enjoyed the opportunity that Thanksgiving provides to remind us to be grateful not just once a year, nor even for a month, but every single day and throughout the day.

Recently, I have tried to cultivate two habits for giving thanks.  First, I try to begin time in prayer with thanks and to spend as much time giving God thanks as I would spend in any other part of my prayer.  Second, I try to take just a moment at the beginning of each day in the office by writing on a small pad of paper at least seven things for which I am grateful at that moment.  I read about this idea, and I have found it to be very helpful for starting out the work day in the right frame of mind. By my thinking,we should be grateful to God constantly; it should be our overall mindset.  With reminders like these, I hope to cultivate is an attitude of thanksgiving in order to maintain it at all times as much as possible.

For some fun ideas to help you celebrate Thanksgiving in your family and to remind you to give thanks, you can check out these Thanksgiving ideas from the Homeward blog.

[Painting: Angelus, Millet,  Musée d'Orsay]

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014
My Memory of the St. Martin's Day Lantern Procession  

In Fifth Grade, I lived in Heidelberg, Germany, and I attended an American school. At least once a week, we received instruction in German from a nice native speaker who patiently taught us number, colors, key phrases, and lessons about German culture.

One of my main memories of her instruction is when she had us make St. Martin's Day lanterns. In Germany, and other European countries, St. Martin's day processions with lanterns are very popular. At the time, it seemed much better known than Halloween among the Germans, and it was a fun event to celebrate the saint's day on November 11th.

The lantern which I made was from sturdy black paper, It was rectangular in shape with four sides that allowed spaces for light to shine out of the lantern. We glued brightly colored tissue paper over the spaces which gave the lantern a stained glass window effect.

The highlight was that we actually took part in the city's procession. I do not have strong memories of the parade, but I remember that I carried a wooden dowel with a hook at the end which held the lantern aloft as my friends and I walked down the Hauptstrasse. It certainly must have been a beautiful sight to see all those candle-lit lanterns light up the dark November night.

Our German teacher certainly told us the story of St. Martin and his generosity toward the beggar. However, it is the memory of my making and carrying the lantern that has remained with me over the years.

I was not a Catholic at the time, and it would be many years before I would enter the Catholic Church. However, I recognize that this was another of His seeds of faith which He planted and then continued to grow over the years in order to draw me to Himself and His Church. I am very grateful for this seed and the happy memories it brings.


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Friday, November 07, 2014
My new eBook for Early Readers--The Rabbits' Thanksgiving  

Many years ago, LG and I started working on a series of books about rabbits and bears.  The books were simply fun to make as we came up with a story (often LG made up most of the story) and then I (mainly) added pictures to illustrate.  Over time, quite a number of stories were written and more information about the rabbit and bear characters was developed.

Not too long ago, I thought that these books could be edited and then published as eBooks for early readers as a series entitled the Bear and Rabbit Reader Series.  I was very interested in this idea and got started on this soon after thinking of it.  Since then, I have learned much about eBooks, and I know there is much more to learn.

I am very excited that the book has been published and in time for Thanksgiving, the first story has been released--The Rabbits' Thanksgiving.  The story follows the young rabbits Tom and Martha through the week of Thanksgiving and the fun they have getting ready and celebrating the holiday with their family.

The story is available in virtually any type of eBook format.  If you are looking for a fun story to read to your children or for one of your early readers to read to you, check it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Kobo.

For more information, you can visit the the Bear and Rabbit Reader Series Facebook page.

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Sunday, November 02, 2014
All Souls Day and Purgatory  

On the Feast of All Souls, Holy Mother Church urges us to remember our brothers and sisters who have passed away, but are not yet prepared to behold the Lord because of the effects of the stain of sin that have not yet been fully cleansed from their souls. Through our prayers and sacrifices, we can help them to be purified and enter into the Beatific Vision.

Purgatory is perhaps one of the most misunderstood doctrines of the Catholic Church. Despite the many ideas about what the teaching is, the actual doctrine is quite beautiful and makes perfect sense in light of other truths of the Faith. God is all holy and nothing unholy can be in His presence. When we die, we have made a choice to be with Him or to not be with Him. Even if we have chosen to be with the Lord and have repented of our acts of rebellion against Him, we might not have addressed the consequences of our wrong actions.

The example is often given of a boy who is told by his father that he should not play baseball in his back yard because of the risk of breaking something with his baseball. After he he refuses to obey and actually breaks a window with the baseball, there are two effects to his disobedience. First, he has disobeyed his parent and damaged that relationship, and second he has broken a window. To address the former effect, the boy apologizes to His father, and His father forgives him. The boy intends to not disobey his father again and play baseball in the back yard. The relationship with his father is repaired. The second effect of the broken window might be addressed in several ways including the boy helping in some way to repair the window.

The example illustrates the double effect of our sin. Sin always damages the relationship between us and our Heavenly Father. If it is serious sin, the relationship is broken and must be repaired through the Sacrament of Confession. However, there is a second effect to the sin that also needs to be addressed. For instance, stolen goods must be returned. Also, we are effected. Yes, through reconciliation we have a pure soul once again, but because of our sin, we might, for example, be more inclined, rather than less inclined to commit that sin or another sin. If we had resisted that sin in the first place, we would have strengthened our will rather than weakened it.

In this life, there are opportunities for us to repair the damage caused by our sin through penance. However, it might be that we do not complete this damage repair before we die. Purgatory is the place where we will complete that purification of our souls. In His mercy, God grants us the opportunity to be purified. Let us pray for those who await the completion of their purification in Purgatory.


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Saturday, November 01, 2014
November's Reminder--the Call to Holiness  

November is dedicated to the Souls in Purgatory. In a special way, during the month we remember to pray for those who are not yet cleansed of all of temporal effects of sin. They need our prayers in order to be purified and to enter into the glory of Heaven.

The month, however, begins with the feast day of All Saints. On that feast day, we are reminded of our calling in life--to be a saint. Every single person that God creates is called to be a saint and to live with Him forever and ever. We might get there via Purgatory, but nonetheless, we are called to live eternally with the Holy Trinity.

We should take comfort that, although it can seem very difficult at times, God is with us on every step of our journey. He wants us to be with Him. He created us to be with Him. He will help us be with Him. On All Saints, we can remember that all of these saints from every different time, place, and station of life, with God's grace, have been welcomed into Heaven. We, too, can cooperate with God's grace in order to receive His awesome gift of eternal life.

All you saints, pray for us!


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Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Angels and Calendar Connections  

As part of LG's daily lesson, we have a brief session in the morning routine which is called Calendar Connection. The idea which we received from 1+1+1=1, is to have a brief daily piece of information on a particular theme for the month. In the past, we have had covered monthly themes on the weather, Thanksgiving, astronomy, ocean life, and botany, This year, I have been making my own. September was dedicated to the Apostles, and October has been about angels.

After a few days providing general information about angels, the rest of the days in the month have been about angels appearances in the Bible. It is quite amazing to see how often throughout salvation history, God has sent his special messengers to intervene in human affairs.

Of course, the most amazing and well-known appearance of angel was at the Annunciation to our Blessed Mother. In a few weeks time, we will begin the Advent season which will be followed by the Christmas season. During those two seasons, the familiar passage from the first chapter of Luke's Gospel will be read many times during the liturgy. It might be fruitful to use those opportunities to meditate on God's angels whom He calls to help us in many ways known and unknown to us. Perhaps, we might even ask our guardian angel to have a greater appreciation of him and for how the Lord works through these special messengers. Also, it is a good idea to often thank your guardian angel for his assistance and prayers and to thank our Lord for this special minister of His grace that He has given to each one of us.

(By the way, I hope to make the calendar connections I have made, including the one on angels, available soon for those who might be interested.)

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Sunday, October 26, 2014
Pope Francis and the Autobiography of St. Ignatius  

Our Holy Father Pope Francis is a member of the Society of Jesus or the Jesuits as they are typically called. The contribution to the Church by the Jesuits since their inception in the Sixteenth Century has been immense.

There are many saints who are Jesuits including St. Francis Borgia, St. Francis Xavier, and St. Aloysius Gonzaga. If you would like to know more about the founder of the Jesuits--St. Ignatius of Loyola--you can read his autobiography in an eBook version which I recently published. It is an attractive copy with the original translation into English and the original artwork. It is available for a reasonable price of $1.99 at both Barnes and Noble and at Kobo.

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Sunday, May 26, 2013
Memorial Day: Joyce Kilmer, "Trees", and Duty  

A hand shot up from among the troops sitting on the ground. It was an eager sergeant who raised his hand and asked if he could help. In front of the troops was an enthusiastic young lady who was a volunteer with the YMCA. The sergeant's offer to assist her came as somewhat of a surprise. She was reciting a recently published, but well-known poem, and she had suddenly forgotten the remaining lines.

It was 1918 in France. The young lady, Eloise Robinson, who was a poet, was with the doughboys near the front lines of the Great War. Here the men knew all the ugliness of fighting and this war of attrition with its mustard gas, isolation in the trenches, and rampant diseases. The young woman hoped to bring some good cheer with poetry and chocolates. The troops of the Fighting 69th Regiment from New York were eager for any type of distraction from both the daily grind and the quick terror of war. A recitation of poetry held their interest perhaps because it was so unlike anything like combat.

In response to her quizzical look, the sergeant recited the remaining verses of the poem. Although not a long poem, Eloise Robinson was surprised that he knew the lines. The sergeant answered her unspoken question when he gently explained, "Well ma'am, I guess I wrote it."

The sergeant was Joyce Kilmer, and the verses he completed were the end of his best known poem "Trees".

Joyce Kilmer did not have to be at the front lines; he wanted to be there. Shortly after the United States entered the war, he enlisted in the New York National Guard. Although he had a wife and children and was on the older end of the age range for enlistment, he volunteered because he thought it was his duty. He wrote,
"I have considered this step I am taking from every side and I feel there is no doubt that I have an obligation to join the colors. I would be ashamed later on to look at the children if I don’t volunteer. However other married men feel about going, I consider my enlisting as a duty I owe to God and country.”

After a short stint in the 7th regiment, Kilmer was able to transfer to the Fighting 69th Infantry Regiment. He soon rose from private to the rank of sergeant. Kilmer was fiercely loyal to his comrades and refused several officer commissions in order to remain with his regiment. As the war went on, Kilmer volunteered for more dangerous assignments in military intelligence which involved him leading scouting parties ahead of the regiment’s lines. His comrades were impressed by how calm he remained in the midst of these patrols into no man's land.

Back home, Kilmer had a wife Aline Murray, who was also a poet, and four children. In the year before he enlisted, Kilmer and his wife had lost their four-year-old daughter to polio. Through their daughter's suffering, the Kilmers were on led on a journey of faith which brought them into the Catholic Church. That same faith buoyed them through her illness and their mourning of her death. It also carried the Kilmers though his military service and sacrifice for his country.

When Kilmer had surprised the YMCA volunteer by completing the lines of his poem, he might have given his last presentation of those famous verses. Only weeks after that day, Kilmer was leading a scouting party to find German machine gun positions when he was killed by a sniper. He was just 31 years old. His desire to fulfill his duty to God and his country had resulted in his making the ultimate sacrifice. Although his life was cut short, he has lived on in his family, his example, and his writings, especially "Trees" which has become one of the most familiar poems in American culture.

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth's sweet flowing breat;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

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