All posts by Taryn Frazier

About Taryn Frazier

Taryn is a wife, mother, and writer from all over, most recently southeastern Pennsylvania.

On Children’s Book Curation

“Butter and honey shall He eat, that He may know to reject the evil and choose the good.” (Isaiah 7:15

These days I have the pleasant problem of keeping up with four young readers with varied ages and interests. After dinner is read-aloud time at my house, then the older kids grab flashlights and their own books for “staying-up time” in bed. Our local librarians are good sports, gamely checking in and out the piles of books we chew through each week.

There’s an art to finding the right book for a child: a glossy encyclopedia of cat breeds for a kitten-crazy kid or a sprawling fantasy epic for a dreamy one. There’s also an art to filtering out the wrong books. “Censorship” usually refers to an action by a governing body or institution, so let’s call how I choose the books coming into my house “curation.”

Because I do curate, as almost every parent does. If those debating book bans can agree on one thing, it’s that parents care deeply about who gets to put what in front of their children. My kids have invited some curation; one of them doesn’t want any snakes in a book. But some parental curation happens without my kids being aware of it, and every once in a while it happens against their will. 

When my kids push back against limits to book or internet access, I fall back on a food metaphor: would I give their four-year-old sibling free rein in a grocery store? That usually gets a laugh, and they’re open to hearing why I wouldn’t give them unfettered access to all sections of the library. As kids get older, I can invite them more and more into the process of choosing the food they consume—and their food for thought. Curation turns into a conversation. I want to equip my kids to think critically about books and other media, because I won’t always be there to ask, “What does this story glorify?” or “What is the creator trying to tell readers?”

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Book Review: As for Me and My House, We Will Serve the Lord

Rev. Brad Heinrichs’s latest book will be a useful addition to any New Church parent’s reading list. I was especially drawn to the subtitle: “Parenting Principles from the Word: Passing Your Faith to Your Children.” As a mother of four young children growing up quickly, this is something I think about often. Am I doing enough to introduce my kids to the habits and practices which will serve as a spiritual foundation in adulthood? 

Rev. Heinrichs, a husband and father of a large family, says people often ask him what the secret is to raising children who grow to love the Lord and His Word. As he sets out to answer this question, he notes that the first state of the church as described in Coronis is the appearance of the Lord and then a calling and covenanting. Instruction and introduction to the church make up the second state (47-52). With this in mind, he encourages parents to repeatedly call their children to the church and to remind them of the Lord’s covenant, just as the Lord called Abram, Moses and Joshua.

To this end, Rev. Heinrichs offers twenty principles drawn from the Word. Some are simple: remember the Sabbath, teach the Commandments, and work together as a family. Others are more challenging or less obvious: help children decide who they want to be, challenge “wild asses” to compel themselves, and encourage them to persevere. He elaborates on each point and offers supporting passages from the Word.

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Art For Easter

This year, I started Holy Week feeling unsettled instead of reflective, so I went hunting for art to celebrate the season. I reached out to friends for recommendations of songs, poems, and visual art. Below are some highlights which made Easter more meaningful for me and my family this year. 

Not all of these are appropriate for young children. When offering the stories of Easter to my kids, I try to keep in mind the gentle way angel children learn of the Lord’s crucifixion–with only an “idea of a tomb” and other gentle images offered with “incomparable care and reverence” (Heaven and Hell 335). 

Visual Art

I love the disciples’ varied expressions in “Jesus Washing the Feet of his Disciples” by Albert Gustaf Aristides Edelfelt: thoughtful, uncomfortable, annoyed, touched. 

With vibrant colors and strong lines, Rose Datoc Dall captures the breathless joy of the three women in “First News of the Resurrection.”

Henry Ossawa Tanner painted many scenes from the Lord’s life, and it’s hard to find them separately, so happy scrolling.

Peter and John Running to the Tomb of Christ” by Eugene Bernand gets me every time. The expressions on the disciples’ faces, the light, the moment–all wonderful.

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Mental Load

It’s an honor and a challenge to keep track of the moving pieces of a home. Beyond the shopping, cooking, and cleaning, there’s the education and emotional needs of kids, the connection with a spouse, and–if there’s time left–care for my own body and mind. No wonder I’m tired a lot of the time.

A few years ago, I came across a term that helped me frame my exhaustion: “mental load.” It’s the responsibility of noticing needs, making decisions, and overseeing outcomes. Homemakers have a thousand things to think about, a household of people and goods to tend to. Check out Dr. Lucia Ciciolla’s work for more about her studies on mental load and its effect on women.

A passage from one of Swedenborg’s posthumous works gives me some peace when the busy-ness of earthly life gets overwhelming. 

Before the battle [a soldier] raises his mind to the Lord, and commits his life into His hand; and after he has done this, he lets his mind down from its elevation into the body and becomes brave; the thought of the Lord–which he is then unconscious of remaining still in his mind, above his bravery. And then if he dies, he dies in the Lord; if he lives, he lives in the Lord. (Charity 166)

Sometimes I feel like I’m in the trenches, battling combat fatigue. So I try to schedule times of “raising my mind,” like regular reading of the Word, prayer, and blessings at meals. In between those times, it sounds like I can trust the Lord to carry my intention through the rest of my life. He promises to lighten my burdens and give me rest–not from our work, but in my soul.

​​Take my yoke on you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest to your souls. (Matthew 11:29)