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 had a wonderful visit from Brother Joseph, a monk from Holy Cross Monastery, which culminated in a prayer time at our local waterfall. Christine has been teaching iconography at Holy Cross Monastery for sometime and will be leading another class in September, 25th– 28th. The time spent at the monastery is always so fulfilling that Michael made a short video about the monastery and what it is like to visit.
Christine is also working now on several icon commissions coming in from different parts of the country.
Chaplaincy News for Michael
Michael just went through five days of Critical Incident Stress Management [CISM] training for groups and individuals. The course teaches how to assist, as a chaplain, people who have gone through a traumatic event; like a shooting, hurricane, fire, terrorist attack or suicide. It was held in an Emergency Operations Center, in a new purpose built building ready to survive wind speeds of over 253 miles an hour, where the county 911 dispatch center was located and where the whole counties’ emergency operations could be directed from in a critical incident. The room we were taking the course in had no windows and sometimes it felt a bit like we were hiding in a cave, having tragic scenarios of disasters unfolding constantly through the teaching.
It may have been similar to how Elijah felt after fleeing from Jezabel’s threats and hiding in a cave. Then having the Lord ask him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’ 1st Kings 19:11-13.
And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.[a]13 And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
I can relate to that feeling of being asked, what are you doing hiding here when all those horrible things are going on around you. Was it meant as an accusing wake up call for Elijah or more of an encouragement to get back into the action? Back into the fight.
Elijah had reasoned he was the last prophet left working for the Lord, but God said no, he had another 7000 in reserve.
Sometimes we all need a wake up call to get back in the fight. We live in a country which is under attack from within, that is loosing its’ moral direction by attacking freedom of speech and the press, purposefully disregarding stewardship of the environment, building walls on its borders to control people and trade, and lying whenever it suits the leadership. We can also be sure that we are getting attacked from outside our borders as well in this time of cyber information penetration.
But God. God pulls us back to remember the smaller things he has created, through his sweet small voice, a drop of water on a leaf, a snail finding its way, the amazing gift of blooming flowers. It is through the amalgamation of appreciating the smaller things of God that we comprehend the enormity of his creative hand. There is no other way.
He is not in the wind, earthquake or fire. He is not in the constant military armament, or thousands of miles of border walls, separating children from their parents, or abusing our environment. He is not in the constant quipping, denying, accusing and lying we hear now daily. God is in love, in joy, in creation, in truth and is eternal. He is more powerful in his little things than we can ever be in man’s so called big things.
This morning I got to pray for a man suffering from a bunion on his foot, painful when you are on your feet all day. Just a short prayer of healing in Jesus name. That was one of God’s small things that happened.
But God. God is also capable of huge things, too. He created heaven and earth and all that is in it. He can also take it away. That is why we need to hear the quiet wake up calls, ‘What are we doing here, America?’ before God lets us fall out of his hands.
Please let us know how we can pray for you and keep us in your prayers too.
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.
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.
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 🙂 .
One of our frequent prayers is that we would come into new relationships with people and existing ones would grow deeper.
We have been really blessed to spend the winter in Florida which gives us the chance to explore new places, new churches, new friends and new ways of doing business and ministering.
We have found a liturgical church which is also very active with community ministry.
Christine has started to work with the Altar Guild at Church of the Redeemer in Sarasota which fits well with her understanding of the roots Christianity and the many symbolic aspects of liturgical worship.
Michael has started to volunteer in a homeless shelter the church is involved with, which has people waiting on the streets in the morning to get in for a shower and a bite to eat.
A bus ride can reveal how many people are living on the edge, struggling with health issues, mental and physical, struggling with real poverty, financial, nutritional and spiritual.
Walking through the quieter suburbs also shows the run down houses, with all the shades or curtains drawn to the street with a fancy car or truck parked in front. It must be so dark inside, one wonders what kind of life are people living, is most of their light coming through the television screen? It seems the appearance of the car is more significant than the home.
The reality that in this country of great wealth, America, there is a level of poverty which is easy to drive by and not see or just disregard. It reminds me of the parable of the Good Samaritan which Jesus told to emphasize what loving our neighbors means.
29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii[a] and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”Luke 10:25-37
On a similar tract Michael has just finished making a video concerning the opioid and heroin crisis which is sweeping our country. It is a horrible epidemic killing young and old, rich and poor. The video was created for a grass roots charity, Columbia County Pathways to Recovery, which was formed by five mothers who had grown up with children in the small affluent community of Chatham, NY. They realized their children and many members of their community were becoming addicted to opioids and heroin and they struggled together to find ways to help them. They did not pass by on the other side but have dived in wholeheartedly to find out how to help those addicted.
Bringing an understanding of the opioid crisis to all people in a community through discussion and sharing experiences is what this video is designed to do. It is designed to stimulate open discussion of people’s thoughts, prejudices , and stigmas towards those under addiction within families and our churches. So please use it – watch the video, show it to your friends- and think about the questions it raises. What kind of prejudices do you hold towards those who are caught by addiction? What kind of help do we offer as a faith based community?
As we come to the end of 2017 which has been a very divisive year in politics let us not turn our backs on those who are in need but embrace the fact that Jesus came to give us all life and life more abundantly.
Please keep us in your prayers and let us know how we can pray for you.
“Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.”
Ephesians 6: 26
And may you be blessed and healthy in this New Year!
The autumn this year has not been spectacular so far because a lot of the maple leaves went brown without turning red. They dried out before coming to their wonderful yellow-orange and red colors. Fortunately the stag horn sumacs have added the most color on the sides of the roads and there are still the oaks trees in reserve to turn.
It reminds me of Elijah hiding in a cave after running from Jezebel telling God, he was the only prophet left and the word of God gently correcting him to say there were still 7000 faithful in reserve.
Sometimes it feels like nothing is happening but God always has more to give than we can imagine.
This last month I have had the privilege of videoing people who have gone through serious additions to opioids and heroin telling their stories. It is material for a video I am making for Columbia Pathways to Recovery, a grass routes local community organization formed to help those caught up in the currant crisis. Each one of these people eventually coming through these horribly destructive experiences have recognized that it is a spiritual and physical disease. Each one talks about God or their Higher power and how that awakening to a divine presence is the saving foundation from which they can build their lives again. Each ones way to recovery is different and there is no cookie cutter answers to this very complex healing called ‘Recovery’.
One of the sentences that was quoted to me was, ‘ the opposite to addiction is not sobriety, but being in community with others.’ The way of addiction is to isolate people and slowly destroy them through the cravings of what ever drug they have chosen to take their pain away. This slowly makes them withdraw more and more from other people and social interactions.
God created us to be in relationship with each other, the drugs want to take us into isolation. The stigma around addiction shown by society will have to change before there can really be widespread healing for this disease. It is a much larger issue than a moral failing, or a weakness of character as society often view those fall ill with addictions. There are definitely chemical issues in the brain which make this a physical as well as spiritual illness.
There is a real need for the church to take a lead in this awareness that the people who are dying around us from overdoses are not bad people but people who really need healing, just as people need healing from cancer, they deserve to be loved, cared for and treated as other people with a disease.
Jesus only did what his father asked him to do and he healed everyone who came to him for healing. As a Christian we are called, in this epidemic of opioid and heroin addiction, to help every one we can and be totally informed on what recovery means and how we can use the gifts we have been given to help them. That is more than just allowing an AA group to meet in the church once a week but knowing person to person and congregation to congregation what recovery really is.
I just met God in those people I videoed, they have recovered and they are back in society living a life more abundantly than they could imagine. That is what Jesus came to give us, a life more abundant than we can imagine.
Please pray for all those who find themselves in a trap and for those who help them get free.
We ask your prayers this month for those in recovery from opioids and their families, and for ourselves as we transition into God’s next plan for us!
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!!
This month Christine received recognition from New York State for the work she has been doing with the ‘artists dinners’, in Hudson. This a huge achievement as it has been building community for artists who often follow a pretty isolated life. It has also opened many opportunities for artists to share about their lives and what is important to them. People come together and eat, then two or three talk about what they have been doing in their art, their lives and their spiritual walk. Many different relationships have grown out of this monthly event and it has been recognized now by the state of NY.
Christine also led an icon retreat at St James Church in the heart of New York City. It was a wonderful gathering and again many people had the powerful presence of the Lord through the class.
I have done a lot of driving in June and as there is no radio in my car it becomes the perfect place for prayer. One of the revelations I have had this month is a correction in one of my prayers, which has been a prayer of ‘God help me, God help me, God help me, please.’ That was corrected to ‘God how can I help what you are doing? How can I be your helper?’
The difference is I am not asking God to help me with what I am doing but to have help- to help God with what He is doing.
Having prayed this way for a couple of hours on the way to photographing a Greenwich garden, a man approached me out of the blue and asked if I had ever photographed spiritual bodies. This opened up a whole conversation into the spiritual world, Jesus Christ and we ended up in prayer together.
Another revelation from my car time has been the praise and worship of God for His nature as creator. I felt a call to return to worship the wholeness of the Lord, his magnitude and particularly His creative nature, not only for His creation of us as human beings but also the purpose that He has for each one of us. The extent of His creative nature is far beyond our ability to hold or comprehend. To walk in the woods with all the tree leaves now fully formed, I notice each leaf has it’s own place. Each leaf has a particular placement. The bible talks of how God knows all the hairs on our head. He knows each one of us so well. We are a part of His creation, His purposes are deposited in us for us to live out through our lives. As Creator he watches how we unfold what He created in us, as He does in the trees, in the animals and in our nations. The size and magnitude of His creative nature goes unnoticed and undeclared. It is so vast, it remains untold and unrecognized. But God desires our praise and worship and I believe yearns for us to comprehend His love for His creation and for us to discover each element’s purpose.
Consequently we carry a responsibility as stewards of what God has created to allow and enable that purpose to unfold. In His wisdom God has chosen us to work with Him in this world. For us to be in relationship with Jesus, to love Him and to love our neighbors as He does. For us to steward God’s purpose for an unborn child as much as those who may stand before us in need. This is all a part and form of His creative nature and it deserves our praise.
I am also working on a video project on Psalm 23 and find the Lord is taking me deeper and deeper into this Psalm of David. Often thought of as the Psalm read at funerals, it is of course a very powerful prayer which talks of our relationship with God and His with us. I often just get filled by the first line, ‘The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.’
There is such an assigning of authority and declaration of security, I can stay with that for hours.
Please know that you are all inner prayers daily. And we love hearing from you, with how best to pray.
Until next month, may God bless youth good health, family love, and peace and safety.
The mission of The Fra Angelico Institute for Sacred Art is to deepen the prayer life of Western Rite Catholics by evangelizing the truth, goodness, and beauty of God through education and the prayerful creation of sacred art.