Actress and producer Roma Downey has built a long career in Hollywood, creating TV and film content that inspires and entertains.
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The “Touched By An Angel” star has also carried her uplifting, family-friendly messages into literary works, including a new children’s book, “A Message in the Moon.”
Downey said her touching new book is deeply personal, with the concept predicated upon her childhood.
“This story for this book has sat in my heart for a really long time,” she recently told CBN Digital. “My mother died when I was just a little girl; I was only 10.”
As a result of such a monumental loss due to an unexpected heart attack, Downey said she became quite close to her father, whom she described as a “great dad.” The struggles that came along with her mother’s death, though, were profound.
“To say that we were heartbroken would be an understatement, because we didn’t even have the preparation of illness, which I know can be traumatic and painful for a child to see their parents suffer and go through a long illness,” she said. “But … there was no warning, and so it was as if somebody just turned the lights out in our lives.”
Downey continued, “If I was making a movie of my own life, my childhood would be in full technicolor, and then, when my mother died, it’s as if the movie then went into black and white.”
Watch Downey tell her story:
The actress said she doesn’t know how she and her family would have coped without their faith.
“If we hadn’t had faith to lean into, if we hadn’t been people of faith, I don’t know how we would have coped,” she said. “I really don’t know. … As Christians and as believers, we have an understanding of the promises of Christ around this issue, and the promise of heaven, and the resurrection of the body, and all the things that we’ve been taught and believe.”
Downey said she believes the experience of losing her mother so young helped give her empathy and compassion. These emotions and attributes have since colored much of her personal and professional work and story.
Years after her mother’s death, Downey, who grew up in Ireland, recalled preparing to leave her father’s home to study at a college in England; she remembered being anxious about leaving her father.
“It [was] back in the day before there was a cell phone,” she said. “So, dad took me outside into the garden, and he pointed to the moon, and he said, ‘Wherever you are in the world, Roma, you don’t need to feel anxious or alone, because it’s the same moon that will be shining down on us, and, wherever you are, wherever you go, I’m going to leave a message in the moon for you.”
Downey said knowing she and her dad would be looking at the same moon provided her with “great comfort” in the following months and years.
“When I’d be walking home from college back to my lodging house, and I’d glance up, and I’d see the moon … I would pick up the message from my dad, and I would know that my dad loved me, and cared for me.”
Downey said her dad died while she was in college, but his timeless message about the moon remained with her over the decades. And she said the lessons and story were “sitting, and growing, and tugging” at her heart for years.
“I kept thinking, ‘There must be a nugget in this story that would make a beautiful and powerful story for young children, particularly children, perhaps, who are anxious about any kind of separation,'” Downey said. “If mom’s going off to work, or grandma’s moving across the country, your best friend doesn’t live here anymore.”
So, Downey wrote “A Message in the Moon” to help kids and families navigate those tough scenarios. She’s also hoping the book helps guide kids and families to rely more on prayer.
“I do believe in the power of prayer and … I begin and end my day with prayer,” Downey said. “I ended my book with a prayer to encourage parents … to relax and create that peace in our little ones before they fall asleep.”
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