Advent – The First Week

December 1, 2008 § 1 Comment

Hope

For Advent I am sticking a week long post on the top of the page,  if you scroll down you will see the newest articles I have put up.  I also haven’t been doing Reflections.  I will pick these back up after Advent.

Pieter the Elder Bruegel - The Numbering at Bethlehem

Pieter the Elder Bruegel - The Numbering at Bethlehem

In the crowd of people can you see them? The carpenter and his young wife on the donkey’s back are nearly lost. People are busy, children are playing, and everyone has something important to do. Among all this business the very reason this moment exists is almost forgotten. What a perfect image for our world. God winds His way through our lives weather we notice Him or not. Maybe that makes it even sweeter when we turn and see that glimmer of Christ in a place or moment when we least expected to find it. Hope is being open to the possibility that God will reach into our lives at whatever time He pleases and will surprise us with something beautiful.

Sunday, Novemeber 30, 2008

 We made our Advent wreath and we lit the first candle after dinner while we sat around the table eating cookies and talking about the fun things we want to do this year as a family for Christmas.

This is the start of a journey.  It is a journey that we all know well, yet every year it is a new journey.  The unexpected awaited us around each turn.  The star we follow, the light that has shown on us for every year leads us anew.  This is a journey we take confidently knowing that Jesus waits for us at the end.  That beneith the star is love, life, peace and joy — our hope is in journey.

This seems the perfect day to take a little time to set things aside and find quiet and peace as we begin our Advent season.

 

Monday, December 1, 2008

Mondays are so taken up with business for me.  The children have their CCD and Hannah has ballet.  So between getting something ready for dinner before leaving the house at 1:45 life feels rushed.   
 
 journeydetail
While I was looking for some music yesterday I came across of snip of one of the Nativity movies.  The scene where Joseph is frantically searching for a place for Mary who is in full on labor.  Learning of the manger he actually picks her up and rushes to the creche.  He falters for a moment at the horrible little spot, but having no other option lays her softly in the hay to continue the birth. 
Mary is in a sense the center of Advent for me.  I am not a big “Marian” type.  I certainly don’t see anything wrong with a devotion to the Blessed Mother, it is just no chrism.  Except for Advent.  The first time I started to catch a glimmer of Advent through the eyes of Mary was the year I was pregnant with Ashley.  My first baby.  I was far from “home” and family.  I had very little support and felt very disconnected.  I could feel Mary’s heart in Christmas that year.  The overwhelming reality of motherhood was  pressing everyday a little more as this little person growing inside of me.   It made me identify with her in a way I had never been able to appreciate  before.

 

 This song gets stuck in my head.  The plaintive cry of a woman overwhelmed not just by the child she is expecting, but the unparalleled magnitude of what this all means for herself and world.  Just what has she been chosen for and can she do it?  It is the desperate joy of being a tool in the hand of God.   And it feels desperate.   A sense of trusting in God because that is all you have.  Child birth is like that for me.  I get to the point where there is nothing left but just having the baby.  There is no end, just the moment and while that moment is horrific it is also magnificent.  Possibly (hopefully) the closest thing I will ever get to understanding the ecstasy of the martyrs.

There is something about being a mother that draws me to God more fully than anything else in my life.  It is my vocation.  Everyday reminds me how small and unworthy of the task before me I am and how much my every breath depends on the Grace of God.  This is a great thing, a wonderful thing, my most worthy work.  It is through this very base act of having children that I am connected to the Incarnation.   Advent brings that home in a real way each year.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

 

The Annunciation - Henry Ossawa Tanner
The Annunciation – Henry Ossawa Tanner

Wisdom and grace are so often connected to Mary.  That in the fiat she exercised the ultimate freedom in offering all she was to the service of God.  I think this is the great contradiction that so many modern atheists fail to grasp.  If you haven’t already heard about the controversy in Washington over the Freedom from Religion Foundation’s display you might want to watch this video:

The card reads “There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”  I am sorry (not really), but that is just so much willfully stupid post modern sentimentality and naivete.  There is the underlying supposition that if there was no religion that people would have no differences and nothing to fight over.  It is John Lennon’s simplistic ideology morphed into a misbegotten creed which ignores not only human nature but all the good that religious feeling and belief have added to the world and totally ignoring the real evils and wrongs committed by those individuals and regimes with no faith.  But somehow I don’t think these people really bother with thinking things through very far.  They have a belief and will not look at anything that might weaken that belief.  And they accuse people of faith of being the illogical ones… sort of funny in a sad way. 

And it is of course the exact opposite of Mary’s simple declaration of faith and submission..  It is somewhat ironic that (arguably) the most praised, honored and respected of woman in all history is a  girl who did nothing more important that have a baby.  I know that thought probably makes many woman bristle.   We girls are taught early on that having a baby is NOT what makes a woman important.  Certainly it is nothing to be proud of or take any satisfaction in.  Motherhood is fine if you really want to be ghettoized in the suburbs with endless boring days of play-dates and grocery shopping but it isn’t important or really fulfilling.  No woman really worth any notice, no one any girl should aspire to would be just a mom.  Anyone who praises motherhood or is happy being just a mom must be wrapped in the social constraints of a cruel misogynistic patriarchy that only values woman for their wombs.  Just look at the most important woman in the Catholic church who is only important for the babe she bore.

But then that pesky reality intrudes again and despite all the decrying of how life draining, unimportant, unfulfilling and useless to the world motherhood is there are plenty of us who embrace this life and love it.  How we ever managed to free our minds from the endless conditioning that we had in public schools and college is nothing short of a miracle.  For those of us called to this vocation Mary’s journey to Bethlehem is a model.  I don’t think all women are called to motherhood – or even called to it the same way – there are some woman who are called to balance career and family in unique ways for the glory of God and the betterment of the world.  But for many of us modern women who looking to fulfill this vocation in a small and simple way Mary is the ultimate example. We leave behind what we have been taught to desire career, fame, or economic independence, and find joy in the simple things, the small and poor things.  There is where we see our star and follow it, no matter where it might us led even to that lowly stable long ago and the mother who was brave enough to say yes.

 
 

Holiday Grand Plan Week Thirteen.

November 20, 2008 § Leave a comment

The Official Holiday Grand Plan started on August 31.  In order to accommodate the Advent season I have started earlier, and I hope to have everything in order and ready for a calm and spiritual Advent season.

This week the I am focusing on the Kitchen.  This is totally out of order, but I really need to back up to the kitchen and do a good turn through it and take inventory for the Christmas cooking.  

Last Week’s follow up: I will have the checklist for sorting up soon, God willing.  I bought four new Christmas children’s books for the book basket.

Week Twelve: Cleaning:  The Official Holiday Grand Plan has the kitchen listed on week six.  I like having it closer to the Holidays.  My goals in the kitchen are to do a good clean out of the fridge and freezer, cull the baking supplies, check the pantry and make a final shopping list for the items I will need for the holiday baking.  Don’t forget the cleaning list for the Kitchen.

Preparing for the Holidays: This weekend is the weekend we are making sure the lights work.  I bought my Advent candles already.  Cards should be ready to go by the end of next week. 

Planning:  The Offical Grand Plan has recommendations for this week.  My list is a little different since we started a couple weeks earlier. 

Gifts: I need to make a trip to get some fabric for the boys.  This week I want to get one good shopping trip in. 
Cards:  Still working on my cross stitch cards.  I need to check labels for mailing.
Parties: This week I am doing the first plans for our Christmas eve shin-dig.
Menus: The menu for Christmas eve and what we are bringing to Thanksgiving.
Decorating:  Got those Advent Candles, plan for crafts that will be decorations.  The thanks giving goodies go up this weekend.
Baking: I need to get anything that I don’t have after going through the kitchen. 
Devotionals: I picked up some items for Advent devotionals/crafts.  Later today or tomorrow I will have my Advent page up with our devotionals. 
Traditions: We have new books.  I am looking through to decide which night we would like to go to the Grotto and Zoo lights.  We have a couple parties booked.  St Nicholas day celebrations.  Lot’s of things starting to show up on the calendar.

Advent Video

November 18, 2008 § Leave a comment

My friend  Jennifer  has this posted at her blog.  It came out through our homeschool list and it really goes into what I want to do this Christmas season.

Holiday Grand Plan Week Twelve.

November 12, 2008 § 1 Comment

The Official Holiday Grand Plan started on August 31.  In order to accommodate the Advent season I have started earlier, and I hope to have everything in order and ready for a calm and spiritual Advent season.

This week the I am focusing on the Dinning Room and the Children’s rooms.  My dinning room is very straight forward so there isn’t a ton of cleaning there.  Normally I would have done the children’s clothing at the middle of October, but this has slipped a month.  This is a good time to go through the children’s toys and toss/donate anything that isn’t played with.  

Weeks before follow up: The past two months have thrown me completely off task, life happens.  This is almost a restart so I have to take a little time to evaluate where I am this week.

Week Twelve: Cleaning:  The Dinning Room  page at the original Holiday Grand Plan is very helpful.
Children’s rooms: the Grand Plan cleaning page is a good place to start.  The main goal this week is to get all the summer clothing/too small/torn, stained and otherwise clothing out of the children’s drawers.  I am rather ruthless in this.  I developed a checklist for the children’s clothing that I use to “prune back” to and by following it I save myself a great deal of work in laundry and clothing maintenance.  I also want to go through the children’s toys.  As they grow they do out-grow certain things, some thing break, others aren’t played with.  By pruning the toys not only do I make room for the Christmas gifts that will soon be coming, but I create a great deal of sanity in my life.

Preparing for the Holidays: This week I am looking for some new holiday books.  We will pull the decorations up from the basement and double check what is working, broken, missing etc.   The goal is to have holiday gifts done by the first week in December. 

Planning:  The Offical Grand Planhas recommendations for this week.  My list is a little different since we started a couple weeks earlier.  The USPS had a Holiday Planner for mailing gifts.  Check it out.  If you are mailing gifts over-seas these need to be going out right now.  (USPS suggests last week for gifts for overseas troops).  We are finalising our Thanksgiving plans.

Gifts: I have fabric for the girls Santa Jammas  I need to make a trip to get some fabric for the boys. 
Cards:  Still working on my cross stitch cards.  I need to double check my mail list and order stamps.
Parties: No planning for parties this week.
Menus: No Holiday menu planning this week.
Decorating: Taking down the Halloween decorations and checking the lights and decorations.
Baking: The stores are starting to offer holiday baking items, it is a great time to stock-up.  This week we need to purchase any needed containers for freezing and gift giving. 
Devotionals: We got our Advent candles from our Little Flowers group.
Traditions: Checking the needed items for our wreath and Advent decorations..

Back to planning for Advent and Christmas

November 12, 2008 § Leave a comment

After taking an insanely long break I am returning to the Holiday Grand Plan posts.

Holiday Grand Plan Week Four.

September 16, 2008 § 1 Comment

The Official Holiday Grand Plan started on August 31.  In order to accommodate the Advent season I have started earlier, and I hope to have everything in order and ready for a calm and spiritual Advent season.

This week is the post for week four, delayed but not forgotten.

This week the Master Bedroom is getting a good cleaning.   

Week Two follow up: The past two weeks have been a bit “up in the air” for me with us starting schooling and with Kyle being gone.  So far so good though.  The cleaning schedule is going well and the planning is starting to really take shape.

Week Three: Cleaning:  The Master bedroom.  Since the children aren’t allowed to play in our room it is the cleanest and most organised room in our home.   Easy week this week.

Preparing for the Holidays:  If you are going to order Christmas cards this is a good time to starting thinking about that.  We are looking at getting family pictures made later this month.  It is a good time to get a photo sitting, it takes time to get photos back and near the holidays appointments are at a premium.

Planning:  The Offical Grand Plan has recomendations for this week.  My list is a little different since we started a couple weeks earlier.

Gifts: I have a list and am checking it twice.  I want to sew pajamas this year.  The fabric stores are getting in their holiday fabrics and the craft stores are stocking up as well.  I will start the purchasing for gifts to buy in two weeks. 
Cards: This week I start working on my cross stitch cards.
Parties: No planning for parties this week.
Menus: No Holiday menu planning this week.
Decorating: No decorating this week.
Baking: I have my cookie and candy lists and I am starting to watch for sales for thing I will need. 
Devotionals: We are considering a Jesse Tree this year – I have a couple websites that I have been looking at for this.  I want to have an Advent Calendar, an Advent Wreath and an Advent Chain – I purchased a calendar last year that will be useable this year.  We have the items for the wreaths and the chain.  I would like to print out prayer books for the Advent Season – I am keeping my eyes open for art work for these.
Traditions: Nothing really planned for this week.

Things keep moving along. Next week I will start adding in some of the fall plans (whoopee).

Holiday Grand Plan Week Three.

September 4, 2008 § 3 Comments

The Official Holiday Grand Plan starts on August 31.  In order to accommodate the Advent season I have started earlier, and I hope to have everything in order and ready for a calm and spiritual Advent season.

We had a fantastic trip last weekend and we have started schooling again.  This is the third week for the Grand Plan, The Entry/Foyer week.  Since my house is a little different than the Grand Plan I am also adding my laundry room to the list. 

Week Two follow up: My time away gave me a chance to think about the Questions from last week.   I made notes in my planner to help me keep our goals in mind.  We want to be sure that this year we emphasise the spiritual and play down the material, focusing on “special times” not “special things”. 

Week Three: Cleaning:  The entry/foyer/laundry room is my focus this week. 

Preparing for the Holidays:  Check out the holiday prep items.  This week I am making plans for the holiday baking.  Each year I like to make six types of cookies and three candies.  By deciding what we will make this week I can keep my eyes open for sales and stock up on the good stuff when it goes on sale.  I also need to check my craft supplies to see if there is anything I have on hand that should be used so I am not buying what I own.

Planning:  The lists continue to get fleshed out as I work on them.

Gifts:  I am starting to think of specific gifts for the people on my lists. 
Cards: I need to get patterns for the cross stitch cards and then start looking into cards for the rest of my list.
Parties: We will be doing our Christmas eve party.  I am still thinking about how we want to do this.
Menus: I want to have some freezer meals made for when things get a little nutty near the holidays.
Decorating: Everything seems to be in good shape from last year.  I haven’t checked the lights, but I will do that once they go on sale again.
Baking: I need the cookie and candy list finished. 
Devotionals: We are considering a Jesse Tree this year.  I want to have an Advent Calendar, an Advent Wreath and an Advent Chain.  I would like to print out prayer books for the Advent Season.
Traditions: Are we going to need tickets for special events? When do they go on sale? which things do we definitely want to do?  Still working on this.  Zoo lights and maybe the Nutcracker with my mom.

Again I have to keep reminding myself that the goal isn’t to blow Chritmas bigger it is to make the planning easier.  Hope everyone has a great week.

Holiday Grand Plan Week Two.

August 27, 2008 § 1 Comment

The Official Holiday Grand Plan starts on August 31.  In order to accommodate the Advent season I have started earlier, last week, and I hope to have everything in order and ready for a calm and spiritual Advent season.

The weather has been cooler this week and I have been busy so far.  Getting things ready for Back to school(ing) and getting ready for the end of summer cabin trip has taken up a bit of time.  This week is Question Week, one of my favorite aspects of planning.   

Week One follow up: The children and I did a good scrub-a-dub on the porch and Kyle helped with re organising the area.  I have a list of outdoor maintenance items that need attended to next month and my lists have been created. 

Week Two: Cleaning:  This week we come indoors.  Here is where my cleaning list departs from the Official Grand Plan list.  And really, that is ok.  My house is laid out differently than the person who made the list.  I don’t have a guest room, master bath or family room.  I do have a home office and if I tried to fit both children’s rooms into one week I would go more than a little batty.  So we switch it up a bit.  This week I am actually NOT doing a room.  Basically because I am going to be gone most of the week.  If you are doing this along with me you might want to take a look at the cleaning schedule that the grand plan uses and think through how to make it work for you home.  We all have different houses and no one list is going to work for everyone.

Preparing for the Holidays:  Taking stock.  Every year I go out after the Holiday’s and snag a few rolls of paper, a bag or two of ribbons and maybe some cute tags and gift bags.  I also try to hit the art supply store and catch their clearance racks in late November and then again after Christmas.  But all of that won’t do me a bit of good if I don’t take the time to figure out what I have and where it is.  So my big thing for preparing for the holidays this week is checking out what I’ve already got on hand for Christmas and Advent.

Planning:  Last week I made up my basic lists this week I am fleshing them out and adding to them.  We also have some questions to think about.

Gifts:  What are we buying and how much are we spending and how important is the whole “gift thing” anyhow?   (insert anti-consumerism rant here).  What gifts am I making? 
Cards: How many cards do I need?  Which cards am I cross stitching?
Parties: We will be doing our Christmas eve party.  Is there anything we want to do differently?
Menus: What can I do ahead?  What are the menus for the feast days? If there are any new recipes I want to try for the big Holiday meals I want to make them at least once before hand.
Decorating: Do I know where my decorating stuff from last year is?  Do I need to replace anything?  Is there anything new I would like?
Baking: I need the cookie and candy list finished.  What gifts am I baking?
Devotionals: What worked in years past?  What didn’t? How can we focus more fully on Christ during the Advent season?  When I get home I am goingto be looking around online for some new ideas.  Are there any books I want to look through?
Traditions: Are we going to need tickets for special events? When do they go on sale? which things do we definitely want to do?

The goal for this week is to get the “theme” of Christmas set.  Note, this isn’t some marathon planning session where I decide in nitty gritty detail what each moment of each day will be.  Nor is the idea to blow Christmas into the focus of the next 12 weeks.  The goal is to set aside a small amount of time for Christmas/Advent planning early enough that I am not stressed and rushing around during Advent.  The other thing I like about the “Grand Plan” is that I will be able to hit each area of my home for a deep clean/organization session.   In theory I would do this anyway, but in practice it doesn’t get done unless I plan for it.

Holiday Grand Plan Week One.

August 20, 2008 § 8 Comments

The Official Holiday Grand Plan starts on August 31.  In order to accommodate the Advent season I am starting earlier, this week, and I hope to have everything in order and ready for a calm and spiritual Advent season.

Week One
It is the middle of August and December Holidays and the cold and snow of winter seem a million miles away, but we all know that they are right around the corner.  It is also a busy time for moms.  School is starting, the summer is ended, there are peaches to preserve and weeds to pull and all those small projects that need doing in between squeezing in a last bit of summer fun or beating off the late summer heat. 

Cleaning:  The front porch is the space on the agenda this week.    While I am outside looking at my front porch I am also looking around the outside of the house and making some notes for the fall maintenance.  The cleaning list linked above is a good place to start. 

Planning:  I use my family planning notebook instead of a separate holiday planner.  This is called “List week” because you are setting up your lists.  I have the following that I am making:

Gift list – who we are shopping for
Card list – collect and update addresses
Parties – which parties we will host
Menus – menus for the holiday meals we will be hosting and rough menus for the Holiday season.
Decorating – plan for decorating for Advent and Christmas
Baking – plan for the baking needs for gifts and goodies
Devotionals – what devotionals will we be doing during Advent/Christmas and what supplies we will need
Traditions – things we enjoy doing as a family or things we might want to experience this year for the first time.

The main goals of the lists at this point are to decide a rough budget and space out the shopping for the Holidays, make sure that we have things we need ready (no shopping for Advent Candles the day after Thanksgiving), and to just get a handle on things.

I am not printing out additional calendar pages, because my master planner has the calendar in it already.   Most lists I make on the computer and then print out lists that I need for my dayrunner or my family planning notebook as needed.

Christmas and Advent 2008

August 5, 2008 § 1 Comment

I walked into Fred Meyer’s the other day and tucked away near the cards and the books was the first Christmas display, the American Greetings ornaments I believe.   Normally I am rather perturbed by the consumer driven tendency to market Christmas earlier and earlier each year, but this year I looked at it and thought about how dizzying the Advent/Christmas season is.  Every year I hope to be more organised and for the last few years I have note of “The Holiday Grand Plan” which starts holiday planning in the last week of August and finishes it in the main planning endeavors by the middle of December. 

Normally I forget all about the “Grand Plan” until mid October.  This year I actually remembered about it early enough to bump it back two weeks so I can use it for Advent and Christmas.  I plan to bump the Grand Plan back to August 17 and “Tweak” it so that I can focus on Advent too.

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing entries tagged with Advent 2008 at Simply Catholic.