21 October 2013

Recognizing Divine Intervention

 I'm back!! We spent 5 days last week in Chicago where Fall was in full swing.  The weather was fresh and crisp, and it even got chilly at night (something we haven't experienced yet here in California.) We went back to visit family, but really to see our sweet grandbaby Grace.  I had a great time babysitting and playing with her, and we're so glad we had the chance to get out for a visit.   I wanted to be there for her first tooth so I  could prepare hadeeg for her.  For those of you who don't know about this tradition, it's a little celebration when the baby cuts their first tooth.  You put out various small items that would symbolize vocations, and you see which one your baby will pick...and that will (supposedly) determine what they'll be when they grow up.  It's a lot of fun. The problem is though that we were out in Chicago in May when Grace was 6 months, but she didn't have any teeth yet, so we decided to forego her hadeeg a bit.  Grace is now 10 months, so I thought, great! We'll tie in the hadeeg now.    So I brought the wheat with me to Chicago, but at 10 months, she still has no teeth! But it looks like they'll be popping in soon, SO, I decided to have the hadeeg ceremony anyways since we'd be back in California when it happens. We had different items symbolizing different jobs:  a pencil for writer, small toy animal for a vet, thermometer for the medical profession, little stubby screwdriver for construction, you get the idea.  We covered all the items with a cloth, brought the baby over and sat her in front of it...and uncovered the items.  Grace looked right at them and picked up this small solar charger that I have for my cell phone.  She grabbed it and hung on to it, even though we tried to introduce other things that she might be interested in.  No go.  Soooo, the forecast is that she will either go into something with electronics or be an environmentalist (she did pick up the Solar charger, right?)

This all reminded me of my daughter Ani's hadeeg celebration.  Ani was 14 months old before she got herhttp://ahnoosh.hubpages.com/hub/agra-hadeeg
first tooth, and then she got 6 at once!  Because our family was spread out, we had planned a vacation where we'd all meet at Lake Mead.  My brother's family coming in from the Cupertino area...and us from L.A.  We did Ani's hadeeg on the grassy lawn of a hotel in Barstow!  I had brought the hadeeg wheat and the items, and my two brothers had brought a racing form to put in front of Ani....(CHAR!!!)  Of course that's what she grabbed and they were convinced she'd be a gambler!  But I made them start over, and she picked up a pen.  And if you know Ani, you know she likes to write, draw and blog...so it worked on that one.  And I think she's been known to gamble a bit as well!  Anyways, it's a fun tradition.  I wrote a piece about it on HubPages, so if you'd like to learn more about hadeeg, check out the  following link:   Here's the link to an article I wrote about it if you'd like more info about this tradition.

I wanted to also catch you up on our homeless outreach at Ascencia, Glendale's homeless shelter because I wanted to share what happened that evening because it was just one of those divine intervention things that are too cool not to share. So two weeks ago, after church, I was approached by Deegeen Azniv.  She told me that she had brought a bag of clothing for the homeless outreach, but she had put it in the church office. She wanted to make sure I took it with me to the shelter and asked me to go put it in the car.  So I went to get the bag from the office.  When I got there, there were two bags.  A bag of clothing in a Macy's bag, and next to it, a plastic bag as well.  I grabbed them both and put them in the back of my car.  I came back to join the crowd during coffee hour, and thanked Deegeen. Azniv for the bags.  She told me she had only brought one bag...not two. But I had already loaded the clothes in my car so I just left the clothing there anyways.

On Thursday, I pulled up to the shelter, opened the hatch to unload the food and soon some of the resident men had come out to help me bring in the food for dinner.  A man with a shirt wrapped around his waist came up and rather than help, he asked me if I would have a pair of pants I could give to him.  He told me that he had ripped his pants and that's why he was wearing his shirt around his waist.  He said he was a 9 year veteran, and that the clothing on his back was all he owned.  Well, as usual, I don't know what I have donated in the bags.  People save their clothing for our outreach, and bring me their bags which I store in my garage til we're ready to go either to the shelter or to Skid Row.  I told the man that we could look and hopefully we'd find something.  So there we were going through the bags of clothing and they were all either women's clothing or tshirts.  No men's clothes.  I opened the back passenger door of my car and there was Deegeen Azniv's bag.  We looked through that bag as well...there was a towel which the man was grateful for...but no pants.  And finally, I brought forward the extra bag.  Remember, this is the bag that Deegeen Azniv didn't give.  In fact I wasn't even supposed to bring that bag with me.  But there, at the very bottom of the bag....was a pair of jeans.  When I pulled them out to hold them up for the man, we found that they were the exact perfect size.  Now THAT is some serious divine intervention!  And there's one more cool thing to the story.  The man that received the pants was not even a resident of the shelter. Edward, the resident manager told me that the man had just stopped by as he was passing through.  And I wasn't supposed to have the extra bag of clothing, but somehow, I picked it up...and he happened to be at the shelter that night, ready to receive a pair of pants that I had brought just for him.   I love it when that happens.

I have another story about divine intervention that I wanted to write about.  It revolves around another exciting thing that happened this past week.  My book is finally published!!!  This is a book that I illustrated for the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church called "When I Go to Church".  It was a labor of love.  The book is beautifully bound on heavy board for little fingers.  The idea for having this book is to keep them in the pews in all the Eastern Diocesan churches so that when families attend church with their children, their child can sit and look at this book showing them what we do during the Armenian Orthodox services.  Familiar scenes to our service.

Working on this book was a lot of hard work.  And there were many revisions.  The drawings had to be correct, and I never realized how everything in our church has a purpose and reason.  For example, I  had to do a whole new drawing because I had forgotten that the priest holds the gospel book with a cloth.  Or that the deacon holds the poorvar (censor) chain a certain way.  There were all kinds of details to pay attention to.  I would do the rough drafts, scan them send them via email to NY for  clergy's approval, and if all was right, then I could go ahead and work on the ink and color.  We finally got the drawings done...and were waiting for printing when Hurricane Sandy hit and that pushed the print date back.  But sometime last week, a package arrived from the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church.  I opened it and there it was!  My book.  It's finally in print.

As cool as it all is, it hardly sounds divine, right?  Well, there's a back story to how it all came to be.  And that's what I wanted to share with you.  It was all due to a prayer.  I went to school to be a children's book illustrator.  Unlike illustrators today, back in the day, we had to learn how to draw by hand...not by computer.  I have a degree in illustration and graphic design.  But what I needed a degree in marketing myself.  Self Promotion - which I have not been very successful with.  So although I could draw, I was not able to make a living with my art, and so I have done all kinds of jobs throughout my life.  And currently, I have a desk job managing property accounts for an insurance broker.  It's one of those kinds of things where on a daily basis I ask, "what am I doing here?" because although I have been at my job for 10 years now, it still doesn't seem "natural" to me.  So one afternoon, I was especially frustrated, and at my desk, I said a prayer.  I asked God to use me and my creative talents so that I would be able to do what I love (create) and bring Him glory.  That was it basically.

But we have to go back.  About 15 years ago, I went to a Sunday School conference to hear two speakers from the Eastern Diocese Department of Religous Education speak about curriculum.  Our church was using the Eastern Diocese Sunday School curriculum and I loved the illustrated books.  I had the idea to take my art portfolio and some samples to the conference to show these two women - Nancy and Elise. Their presentation at the conference was wonderful.  And afterward I went up and introduced myself and showed them my artwork.  They liked it, but sadly, they had just redone their curriculum and they didn't need any artwork done at that time.  I left them some samples of my artwork.

Fifteen years later, the idea of this book came about.  Elise was going through her files to find the right illustrator for this book, and she found my samples.  Mind you, this was about a month after my prayer to God.  So she pulled out the samples and she wanted to call me, BUT, since I gave her those samples, a lot had changed.  My name had changed after I remarried.  My address had changed.  My phone number had changed.  And she didn't have my email address (I don't think I even had an email address back then).  She couldn't find me.   But this is the amazing part.  Just by chance, in NewYork, there was a girl from California who was visiting the diocese.  The drawings were in Elise's office, when this girl happened to visit.  When Elise showed her my artwork and told her she wasn't able to find me, the girl stopped and looked at the samples.  She noticed my last name and said, "I think I may be friends with her son on Facebook?"  She contacted my son Nareg....and the rest, as they say is history!  Nareg gave her my email address, and Elise was able to contact me about illustrating the book!  Another cool Divine Intervention, right?  So never underestimate the power of prayer (and social media!).  God has us all in His hands.  We just have to trust and believe in those prayers!  How about you.  Have you had experiences with divine intervention?  I'd love to hear about them, so leave your comments on my blog!!

So I'm excited for this coming Sunday, October 27.  We're having a book signing with the debut of the book right after church.  A lovely member of our church family, Mrs. Nina Simonian, donated 100 of these books to our church to be used by the children of our parish during badarak.  So our church will have these books in our pews for children to use during church.  So come down to St. Peter on Sunday, October 27!

Oh one more thing.  This Thursday we'll be walking with Datev Outreach from Glendale to the Western Diocese in Burbank...about 6 miles in solidity against Domestic Violence.  Join us!!  More details at the https://www.facebook.com/datevoutreach  But meet up at St Peter Armenian Church at 632 W. Stocker Street in Glendale at 4:00 p.m on October 22.  Come on...it'll be fun!  And maybe you'll get the itch to do a bigger, longer walk - like the 2014 Avon Walk for Breast Cancer?  Maybe?  ; )

1 comment:

Laura Artinian said...

Congratulations on your book Anush.
I was pleasantly surprised to see it listed on St Vartan Bookstore's website a couple of weeks ago when I went to place an order for our Church in Sydney. Needless to say we ordered a number of copies to sell in our bookstore. It's a great idea to use them as pew books and I will definitely suggest it to our Parish Council.
Can't wait to see the book and have it available for the children of our community. Thank you. God bless you.