We are going to make the Kindle edition free for two days, October 11 and October 12. It is also on Amazon in the UK for our UK friends- also free Kindle on Oct 11 and 12.
One thing we would ask, is that you leave a review on Amazon- it can be just a couple of sentences, but Amazon will notice and perhaps if we get enough reviews, they might promote it.
Christine has worked hard all summer on this and we are delighted to be able to share it with you!
From Michael: This book is really significant in that it ties together not only Christine’s personal journey but also reveals what Art in our world today has rejected. This is a work from the Lord through Christine and it is worth every hour of its conception.
We have our house in Philmont on the market and feel the season in Philmont is coming to an end. We will probably return to the area in the future but there is also a strong calling in Bradenton, Florida, for Michael as a chaplain and for Christine to continue her iconography based from there.
Icon Writing Retreat in September
Christine has just led another successful Icon writing retreat at Holy Cross Monastery that focused on sacred geometry. The attendees, coming from as far away as Jamaica, Canada, and Washington DC, completed an icon of St Francis. All the Icons were blessed by Brother Aidan at the Diurnum service.
Christine’s New Book!!
The big news is Christine’s book, ‘Eyes of Fire’, will be published any day now. Here is some of the PR which has been prepared for it, please forward it to anyone who could may have an interest in it. When it is published we will send you a link for it as it will be available free for a short period and we would love you to get a digital copy.
‘Eyes of Fire’ written by Christine Simoneau Hales, is not only a book on the journey of an artist finding her way through the contemporary ‘Art World’, but more importantly, a summation of how God has been mostly neglected and rejected by the ‘Art World’ since the renaissance, but is now being powerfully presented through a grass roots resurgence of Iconography.
Christine Simoneau Hales, is an award winning artist and the founder of the American Institute of Iconographers, she has been a pioneer in the awakening of iconography across gender, laity, denomination and contemporary artists.
Through a close encounter with the Holy Spirit in a nunnery in France, Christine’s life changed, a deep hunger for learning about, writing and eventually teaching iconography developed. She realized at that point that Icons held all the elements of good art as well as being grounded in a deep relationship with God and prayer.
‘Eyes of Fire’, puts a perspective on contemporary art from a Christian’s point of view and points to a revival of the visual image in Holy worship. It will be published on Amazon soon!
The phrase ‘do not be afraid’, either in those actual words or with that meaning are in the Bible at least 40 times.
Jesus also uses those words many times in addressing the disciples. I’ve always interpreted them as an instruction or an encouragement. Last week in prayer I received them as a command. A command from God is not to be ignored. ‘Do not be afraid’, is a clear command.
Do Not Be Afraid!
To receive a command and act on it, we have to accept that it is coming from a higher authority, an authority we are subject to. When we undertake a command we do so in the context of an assurance from a larger body, as when a soldier carries out an order he knows he is part of a larger army and acts within its mission and protection.
When we give our lives to Jesus Christ we subject ourselves to His authority, mission and protection.
When I got this revelation, I realized God was giving me a wake up call. He was not encouraging me. He was commanding me.
I began to realize I had been afraid all my life. My inner child reminded me of how frightened I had been as a child. I began to write out the things and times I had been afraid throughout my life, from fear of wetting my bed, of people arguing or fighting, of meeting people, or remembering their names, that my father was caught up in the Biafran war and might never come back home, fear of talking and being ridiculed with what I said. The list went on as I reviewed my life, particularly as a freelance photographer never knowing where work would come from for forty five years.
I found that most of my fears were based on what other people would think about me; Proverbs 29:25 addressed that with, ‘The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe’.
I realized that when I have relied on myself the result inevitably was fear.
So what was the larger teaching God had for me here? 1 John 4:18 answered with, ‘There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.’
Love Not Fear!
God was commanding me to not fear, but to love. When I stepped into God, the result inevitably would be love.
1 John 4:8.‘Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.’
This command from God was a gift to correct and to equip me. 2 Timothy 1:7, ‘for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self control.’
God’s command for me to not be afraid, was to enable me to pick up the power, love and self control God wants us to use.
I hope this message touches someone else as well because fear keeps us back from fully loving and walking as God would have us, in power and self control. Often when we loose our self control the root cause is fear. If we can not stop drinking or being drawn to pornography, or any other addiction the root cause can be found in fear.
That is why it is a gift as well as a command. Do not be afraid for God is with us and will always be so. When we are free from fear we can accomplish so much more for the Lord.
Sending you all love and prayers, until next month!
June has been a busy month for Christine as she has been very focused on writing a book, “Eyes of Fire,” about her experience as an artist in a secularly oriented art world. For her the Holy Spirit connection to painting is paramount and she delves deeply into her personal journey of discovering and exploring iconography. The book will be terrific for those who have struggled with the contemporary art world and their spiritual journeys.
Michael has been busy capturing the June garden season which quite often means visiting Madoo Conservancy, the house and garden of painter, gardener and writer, Robert Dash. This is one of America’s classic works of art in garden form. As we know gardens are always changing and it is very difficult to maintain the creative intention of the original gardener as plants grow old and die.
Sometimes I ponder how God is able to be the same, yesterday, today and forever. Or I consider how can the Creator, God, watch how his creation is being used. How does He decide to favor somebody, prosper and protect them, while not so for someone else.
Certainly Jacob was favored by God and he fathered twelve sons who became the twelve tribes of Israel. He was not,though, the picture of impeccable behavior. His twelve sons were fathered through two wives and two servants, he had stolen his brother’s inheritance twice, and used his family and servants as a human shield in times of danger. Yet he found favor in the eyes of God, Jacob did prosper and was protected, and his neighbors could see that was happening.
God’s favor is not something we can work for, although it may come through our working for the Lord. It is something we should pray for though. Essentially, God’s favor, is a gift, given by God.
When Paul wanted to minister in Macedonia but was blocked by God from going there, he knew he could not minister without God’s favor and did not try.
There is in our calling an aspect of favor. We get good at what God has called us to do. It is because God’s delight is to be in relationship with us, and when we are living that relationship, God’s favor is manifested in our talents, gifts, thoughts and ideas. Resulting in our desire to ‘get up and get it done’.
So finding our way, in this ever-changing world, is to rely on a relationship with our never changing, loving God. For us that means finding our way through freelance lives and knowing the only thing we can trust in is God’s steadfast love for us.
God has called you. He will not fail you!
As Paul writes in 1st Corinthians 7:17.
Only let each person lead the life[a] that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him.
Please keep us in your prayers and let us know how we can pray for you.
This has been quite the month for Christine teaching Iconography at Ghost Ranch, NM, and Holy Cross Monastery, NY and for Michael photographing in TX.
Ghost Ranch was an extraordinary experience for all the participants who were writing an icon of St Francis with Christine teaching. There was a wonderful sense of the presence of God in the class and a lot of physical and emotional healing occurred.
The landscape and nature surrounding the ranch was a powerful influence and all who participated could feel the spiritual strength and heritage of the land.
One could understand how Georgia O’Keefe eventually sought the solitude of Ghost Ranch over the energy of the New York artistic scene of her day.
For Michael there were some wonderful walks through the canyons reminiscent for him of walking over the moors of Dartmoor in Devon. Away from all distractions, when alone in a landscape, the awareness that we live in a world so extraordinary in every way that it has to have been created by God breaks through.
Watching the daylight move across a vast landscape and then seeing how wildflowers bloom and reproduce through the extreme dessert conditions.
These are the things we should talk about- how the birds sing, how the morning light shines through the trees, how a plant lives in the dessert, how the hills are formed or how the cows moo calling to their young. Such things are a part of God’s creative nature and these are the type of things we need to wonder, ponder and explore. This is worthy of our attention, to recognize God’s creation so we can praise Him all the more.
Too much of our lives focus on an untransformed world; a world in active degradation under the orbit of the devil. Our work as Christians is to bring to reality the world of the Creator God, what God created, not what the devil has formed in its’ place. To nurture and love not only our neighbors as our selves but appreciate the whole of God’s creative hand, from the intimate center of a tulip to the vast vista of the canyon, God shows His hand.
Originally God created paradise for us to live in; all was perfect, all was created by God. There was no demonic, we walked naked in purity amongst the abundance of God’s creation. All was good.
So lets talk about and not loose sight of those things God created, like the birds singing in the morning or how beautifully our bodies have been formed and praise God for them.
We know we live in a broken world but lets focus on what God’s Kingdom is like, as Paul writes to the Philippians 4:8,
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Please keep us in your prayers and for our house to sell in preparation of our move to Florida where we believe God has called the next chapter of our lives.
Christine has been working on a major icon commission of St Patrick for a church near Palm Beach of that name. She has been under a deadline to complete the work before the end of April, and has been working diligently to finish it. So with great joy we delivered it on time last week and to Father Aidan and a group of excited parishioners.
They love the work Christine has done and it may stand as a definitive icon because it includes twelve depictions of scenes from St Patrick’s life. Part of Christine’s ministry involves deeply researching the subject of the icon she is working on. That involves reading and searching as much as possible about a subject and then through prayer portraying it as she is led by the Holy Spirit.
So for the St Patrick figure which she came up with is younger than often depicted with a wonderful peaceful and confident demeanor.
Christine has also been preparing to lead a week’s retreat and icon writing class at Ghost Ranch, in New Mexico, where Georgia O’Keefe had her influential painting studio. Christine’s icon workshops always are very powerful spiritually because the time is spent in a prayerful creative environment. Many people receive deep inner healing through these retreats and a more intimacy with our living God.
We both had a powerful ministry evening with a group who had asked us to go further on teaching about the Holy Spirit and our experience with prayer, healing and art. It was a wonderful evening, full of the Holy Spirit touching lives, and we came away realizing we have a lot to offer in this field. So often we do not comprehend how much has been deposited in us and how others need to know more about the Holy Spirit.
Taking the bus a lot recently gives me a view of the less fortunate in our society. There are many in this area of Florida who sleep out on the streets, or on the beaches. The bus system is of course one of their main means of transport. Yesterday, out of the blue on the bus a lady started to preach the gospel out loud. She was preaching out of the Great Commission from Mark 16: 15-16.
15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
It is such a blessing to see people be filled with the Holy Spirit enough to witness in every day situations. Putting out into the world a word which is so seldom heard in daily life. That is what St Patrick did, evangelized in such a way that people could receive new teaching without being threatened.
The St Mark’s text talks of ‘proclaiming the gospel to the whole creation.’ It is through creation that God often preaches to us. The extraordinary world that we are surrounded by is for me always a reminder that there is a creative God who has blessed us with the joy of being creative as well. God loves to watch how we are creative in all we do.
Please let us know how we can pray for you and keep us in your prayers too.
Our monthly blog is coinciding with Good Friday and Easter this year. For Christians it is the most significant season of the year. Holy week reminds us of the powerful act of redemption that was undertaken by Jesus Christ. This is a gift given by the most powerful divine God in the most humble and humiliating way to you and me. Whether we receive that gift with thanks or reject it, for whatever reason, is the most significant decision we will make, ever.
Two interesting conversations this week made me consider the common attributes of giving and receiving. In giving there is an exchange of worth that is facilitated by the Holy Spirit. The giver blesses the receiver in some form; however, there can also be an exchange facilitated by the demonic, where the receiver hurts the other party, as in stealing and abusing. In that case the exchange becomes a curse rather than a blessing.
The Bible is full of different attributes to giving and receiving, a very prominent verse on this subject is from Acts 20:35, where Paul recounts, ‘In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’.’
How much the giver actually gives needs to be viewed by what it actually cost the giver. Jesus talks to the disciples about this in the passage about the widow’s offering, in Mark 12:43-44.
“Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. 44 For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”
How we give and how we receive becomes an aspect of our characters and is often formed through our childhood experiences. If we experienced poverty and material insecurity as children we may spend our lives working to get out of poverty and find it very difficult to give to others. Jesus is very clear about the need for us to be lovers, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matthew 22:37-39. To be able to love requires giving. Love is an exchange that requires giving.
At the last supper when Jesus washed the disciples feet he was giving them an example as to how to give, I expect some of them were uncomfortable receiving that gift.
The complete message is that Jesus wants us to be both givers and receivers. To able to receive as well as give, for there is an exchange of the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit desires to flow and be active.
If we refuse to receive a gift, it can stop the Holy Spirit flowing. Similarly if we receive without giving thanks that will also stop the Holy Spirit flowing.
This Easter as we consider the gift God gave to us through his Son’s sacrifice on the cross, we really need to receive it completely as an act of God’s love for us individually and enable the Holy Spirit to flow by giving heart felt thanks.
Such an extraordinary gift of love we can receive or reject freely. However, if we choose to reject that gift we can not be givers and lovers as God purposed us to be. It is almost childlike thinking, true. ‘Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” Mark 10:15.
This Easter Christine and I have so much to be grateful for. In our professional lives Christine has been working on a wonderful commission for a large icon of St Patrick, which is just unfolding beautifully on our lanai. I’ve had a book signing and publication launching for the latest book I photographed, City Green; Public Gardens of New York, written by Jane Garmey. Ichael also has the cover for NYC & G April issue for a house in Kinderhook shot in January.
However, for both of us, what we celebrate is how Jesus works through our lives to the people around us, through the many gifts he has given us but most importantly through his redemptive gift for paying for our sins and inviting us into His family of brothers and sisters in Christ.
This is the gift which cost Jesus everything and has created a family, his church, which is called to give and receive with thanks through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Please keep us in your prayers and let us know how we can pray for you.
With great love and thanksgiving, wishing you truly, a Happy Easter!
To have people pray over you as they are being led by the Holy Spirit is a life giving experience. The words they say often go deep into our hearts and resonate in our minds. Where do the words come from, which just remain with one, as if they dropped out of heaven? That is exactly where they come from. The Holy Spirit is speaking.
That just happened to Michael and the word given was that he would be ‘winsome’ to draw people to the Lord.
He had to find a Merriam-Webster dictionary to define ‘winsome’, it was not a word he was familiar with, as ‘generally pleasing and engaging often because of a childlike charm and innocence,’ some words related to winsome were listed as, ‘hopeful, optimistic, rosy, animated, lively, sprightly, vivacious and beloved.’
He recognizes these are aspects of his personality which he can have when fully activated in a leadership role but quite often take a back seat in day to day life. The child like nature can be a sword that cuts through pride, fear and unbelief and the activation comes through the presence of the Holy Spirit.
We all need words of encouragement spoken over us, whether it is a prayer situation or while we wait for a bus. We know the tongue has the power to build up or destroy. What is spoken over us as children can affect us our whole lives. Working with people who are homeless is an opportunity to speak good words into their lives no matter how brief the interaction. Just asking ‘How are you doing today?’ is a recognition of their humanity and a bridge to normality. If they have been sleeping on the streets their priority is food, the chance of a shower and to get their clothes washed. The material provisions we take for granted; a bed, shelter, food, washrooms and clothes are essential for everyone. But just as significant is a good word spoken into their life, a word of encouragement and of joy. After all Jesus Christ called us ‘beloved’, and he was talking to all of us.
So when you see homeless person put on that ‘childlike innocence’ that can cut through fear and remember they are also the beloved.
We have the perfect example when God spoke over Jesus Christ encouraging words, [Mathew 17:5]
He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”
Christine has had a busy month giving a talk to the Church of the Redeemer about icons and what is happening with iconography around the world. She has also had a commission to write a large icon of St Patrick for a church near Palm Beach. She had a wonderful meeting with the priest of the church and several members showing initial drawings and discussing aspects of St Patrick’s life and ministry. The Celtic way of evangelism through building relationships with people and inviting them to come alongside the Christian life was modeled by St Patrick. This is a very wonderful commission for Christine and her heart is really in it.
Michael’s new book, City Green: Public Gardens of New York, will be published in March and he is excited to see it out.
Please keep us in your prayers and let us know how we can pray for you.
Michael has just finished a wonderful chaplaincy training and has this to say about it:
All trained up- but not utilizing it.
A question which often goes through my mind is whether the training and education I have had in the past is being utilized as well as it could be and then if not -why not? What is stopping me moving more actively in my gifting? This is not just a personal issue, or even a Christian issue, it is a question many people face.
Of the bachelor degree graduates currently coming out of universities, a quarter of them, can expect to get work below their qualification level, and earn 50% of the wages of their contemporaries being employed in appropriately qualified jobs. That is a lot of people not using their training as they imagined they would.
Similarly, many people are trained up in their churches but never quite get to utilize what they have learned.
So when Michael finished a solid week of classes for training in Chaplaincy by the International Fellowship of Chaplains recently, the question of how can he incorporate this training into his life over the long haul, and not waste it, came up. There are many different chaplaincy fields where one could serve, for example- the fire department, emergency responders, police, the armed forces, in homes for the elderly, schools, universities, hospitals, hospice, jail and prisons, business and industry, and at disaster events like hurricanes or wild fires.
A chaplain can be defined as a minister in the workplace and their main purpose is to serve the needs of the people. By serving the needs of the people that answers the requirement that the main purpose is secular in nature. Evangelism can not be the primary purpose of a chaplain, however when serving peoples needs a chaplain can share their spiritual beliefs when asked. People came from far and wide to attend the class because it is a way that we can serve God and our communities without a degree in divinity.
The primary difference between a pastor and a chaplain, is that a pastor serves the spiritual needs of a congregation within a church, a chaplain serves the needs of people in the community and when requested can address their spiritual life.
Michael has always had an interest in being a minister in the workplace and often prays for people when on photography assignments. So many people are hungry to receive prayer when it is undertaken in a loving and caring manor.
So what is it that often stops me from being as active in my gifting as I would like to be? Often it is not having enough time, or being in the right place, or apprehension of how I will be received if I introduce myself as a Christian. So I am praying that I will take this opportunity to become a chaplain and step out in the workplace and really utilize the training I have had over the years.
A Good Servant of Christ Jesus
6 If you put these things before the brothers,[a] you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed. 7 Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; 8 for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. 9 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance.10 For to this end we toil and strive,[b] because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe. 1 Timothy 4:6-10
I, Christine, am so happy that Michael has done this training- it brings together so many of his talents in the ministry. We pray and thank God, that God opens the doors for him, in God’s perfect timing.
I’m working on a Jonah Icon and after asking God what message does He have for me with this Icon, I heard” When God asks you to do something- DO IT.”!! So, I’m keeping my ears open too 🙂 .
We hope this summer is going well for you all? It is a working summer for us- God is blessing us with many opportunities to make our art and share it! So, it’s crazy busy sometimes but also great fun because we love what we’re doing! Couldn’t be better!!
This morning this is the last little baby bird to fly the nest on our front porch!!
“Even the sparrow finds a home, and a swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God. Happy are those who live in your house, ever singing your praise.” Psalm 84:3-4
I’ve just taught an Icon Workshop at Holy Cross Monastery and that is always a blessing for everyone, praise God.
Also just took a week long painting intensive at Bennington College through my alma mater, Massachusetts College of Art. During this workshop, I began exploring the boundaries between Icons and religious painting- something I hope to do a lot more of this coming year. Here is a photo with me and my Saint Joan of Arc painting.
This from Michael: “I have been working on a video on Psalm 23 which has been a wonderful project. It has given me a deeper understanding of how close the relationship of King David was with God. The first line states the Lord is my shepherd and right up front assigns authority to God. David declares that God has authority over him and once that has been established the Psalm then states God’s security, leadership, rest, provision, abundance, redemption, direction, love, family and on and on until finally unity with Him for eternity.
This Holy scripture describes so intimately the relationship between God and David and it is all available when David assigns authority over his life to the good shepherd. David having been a shepherd himself before becoming a king, understood the roles of both of those positions. He likens himself to a sheep under the care of a shepherd, a foreshadow of how Jesus became the sacrificial lamb for mankind under the authority of God the Father. The depth of the love voiced in Psalm 23 is a witness to the love Jesus has for us. Psalm 23 video
Please watch the video and share it with someone who may not know the Psalm at all. When I started to film people for the video, I approached a group of teenagers on a NY subway platform and asked if they would read the psalm 23, none of them knew what a psalm was, never mind the number 23. One young man was willing to try, but a train came in at that point. That experience just increased my desire to make scripture alive to people who do not get to hear it in their daily lives.”
And, for the first time ever, Michael and I had a pop up exhibition together in my studio in Hudson. It was so much fun, visiting with our friends and being able to talk in depth with them about our work. Thank you God!!
Over Memorial weekend we were visited by some of our family and then with short notice some strangers came through.
As we cleaned house it struck me that we keep a pretty orderly, clean, beautiful house, but if I was looking at it for the first time, as through the eyes of a stranger, I would be struck by all the imperfections of an old well worn house. What had become acceptable to me through years of living here would not look good to a first time visitor.
Through the Old Testament the phrase ‘God will surely visit you’, is used as a reminder that God’s righteous eyes will be looking at our lives and seeing how we live and what we worship. What we have become accustomed to and what our society accepts as good and normal, is often not how the bible relays God’s perspective. Of course for us to know what the bible says, we actually have to read it and sometimes the bible seems to be the last thing we want to read. Even for committed Christians there are days when the bible seems to not have the allure it once did when we first found ourselves hungry to read it, to dive in deeper each day.
What I am writing about is how we become dulled by our ongoing day to day lives. We do not notice things we ought to change in ourselves; how we act, how we think and how we pray. The passion of our first love is diluted until we are just going through the motions when we talk to God, not yearning to be so close to Jesus.
This is a dangerous place for us to be, but thank goodness, like the sun breaking through the clouds, God will visit us. He will shine his light on us and invite us back to the place of our first love with him. Our hunger for His word will come alive again. We will learn how God sees the lives we are leading and what we need to clean up.
How can I say this will happen, because God’s love for us is so deep that he will rescue us time and time again. As the graffiti artist put it, ‘Love is a crazy thing’. We can not get our heads wrapped around the love that God has for us. It is ‘crazy’ that His son was prepared to go to the cross for us, but that is the truth and it will always be the truth.
So for me, the next time I am cleaning house, I will remember how much God loves me, that He is alive in me through the Holy Spirit and I am righteous through His redemption of me.
Christine’s Icon news is in another blog, please read for details!
We always value your prayers, and you are in ours daily. Please keep in touch,
The mission of The Fra Angelico Institute for Sacred Art is to deepen the prayer life of Roman Catholics by evangelizing the truth, goodness, and beauty of God through education and the prayerful creation of sacred art.