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December 30, 2008

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Merry Christmas!

December 27, 2008

I haven’t posted in while. December was busy but it was a good kind of busy. Our Advent season was really nice this year. For the most part the girls and I slowed down our schedules on the weekdays. Sure there were play practices, gymnastics, RCIA, music rehearsals and schooling. But, somehow we managed to keep things in perspective and even made some choices about what we wouldn’t do each week so that we could go to mass or make it to church for adoration. Making those choices was good because by the time the week of Christmas arrived it was easy to cross  the non-essentials off of my “to do” list so we could focus on what mattered most instead.

One of the blessings of this Advent season has been being a part of the music at church. Music and writing are two of the cheapest forms of therapy for me. Thanks to Bruno, our church music director (and fearless children’s play director), I’ve received a lot of therapy this Advent. You’ll have to ask Scott if it’s working. I think it must have some benefit because he makes every effort to ensure I have time for music in my life.  Hmmmm…I wonder if Scott’s paying Bruno under the table to let me sing with him. If that’s the case then Bruno may not know what he’s gotten himself into.

One of the more challenging aspects of this Advent for me involved the words “empty” and “poverty.” Much of Advent focuses on emptying oneself of, among many things, oneself,  in order to prepare for the coming of Jesus. And poverty is the very thing into which Christ was born (a lowly manger). I felt challenged this Advent to really examine what it meant for me to be empty and what spiritual poverty looks like in my life (for the poor in spirit will see God).

Should have known better than to ask God to reveal those things to me. Somehow I think God and I got our wires crossed because I didn’t mean for Him to bring new examples of emptiness and poverty into my life. But He has. Let’s just say, God has His work cut out when it comes to me. Could be why I need so much therapy. 🙂

When all is said and done, this Advent season was really blessed. As we celebrate the Christmas season I’m still pondering the things God has shown me. Still praying that I will decrease so that His love will increase in me and flow through me to others.

I hope you’re having a peaceful Christmas season and you have a blessed new year. For those who check in periodically keep dropping by. It’s always my goal to write and post more often. We’ll see if that happens in 2009.


Christmas, Florida Style

December 16, 2007

scott on beach

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After weeks of what seems like record heat it’s finally cooling down here in the sunshine state. It’s a “cold” 60 degrees and dropping as I type. Woo Hoo!

We are true Floridians down here (well, at least I am. I’m second generation!). If you were to peek in the window of our home you’d have a good laugh.  We have the fire place going, the back patio doors wide open, my girls are on the patio drinking hot cocoa (they were in the pool earlier this afternoon) and I’m in the kitchen cooking a pot of shrimp corn chowder.

I admit it. I’m desperate for some weather that signals winter and makes one think the traditional Christmas scenes from up north aren’t entirely make believe.  It sure would be nice if the temperature would drop for Christmas day and I could break out the one winter sweater I own.

On the other hand, I do like the fact that everyday last week that I could take my girls to the park without having to bundle them up in snow suits. And the truth is, I’m a Florida girl through and through. I don’t think I could handle a cold weather state for very long. But I still woudn’t mind a good stretch of cold weather every now and then.

Last week our neighborhood had a Christmas block party. As we left the park a Christmas song was blaring through someone’s speakers: “the weather outside is frightful….let it snow, let it snow, let is snow.” Scott turned to me, wiped the sweat from his brow and said “you wanna’ go get some ice cream?”

Sounded good to me.

Yep, it’s Christmas time in Florida.

sunset


‘Tis the Season…for my favorite tradition

November 28, 2007

Advent Wreat  

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With Christmas decorations and advertisements arriving earlier and earlier each year [this year I saw them going up before Halloween decorations even came down, yikes!] it seems like we can’t escape the “commercilization” of the  Christimas “hol-y-days.” Escape is what I wish I could do when this season comes upon us.  I can’t stand the consumerism and materialism.

Before you write me off as a grinch let me tell you that I do like certain aspects of the Christmas season. I love  time spent with friends and family celebrating our faith in Christ and love for one another. I like Christmas cards and family letters that bring news about the lives of distant friends and family we rarely see.  I like Christmas trees and lights.  I even like Christmas music. But…

More than anything, I like the season of Advent that prepares us for celebrating the birth of Christ.

***

Advent is the beginning of the liturgical calendar year and it’s one of my favorite seasons.  It’s a season of repentance as we acknowledge we are a people in need of a Savior and prepare for the celebration of the advent/coming of our Messiah. It’s a season of joy and expectation as celebrate the fulfillment of God’s promise to send the Messiah and it’s a season of anticipation and hope as we cling to the promise that He will one day come again.  

The season of Advent, as celebrated in Church and at home, is what makes this time of the year so meaninglful to me. That it is why during the four weeks before Christimas we practice one of my favorite family traditions: lighting the candles in the Advent Wreath at home every night. This tradition was something my parents practiced while I was growing up. If you’re not familiar with the Advent Wreath here’s the basics: The Advent Wreath is traditionally a circular evergreen wreath with five candles, four around the wreath and one in the center. Each candle has a name and tells part of the Christmas story. [That’s Ella and Claire with our Advent wreath in the picture above.]

***

When I was growing up we’d light the candles each night at dinner and my dad would ask us the name of each candle and quiz us about the Bible story or history behind the candle. “What’s the first candle? Who was the Prophet? What did Isaiah prophesy?” Such a simple thing and yet it meant so much. Scott and I love sharing this tradition with the girls but we even practiced it before they were born; it kept us focused on Christ when the world is so focused on consumerism.

I like this tradition so much that I’ve been known to hand out wreaths and candles to my friends. A few years ago I created a document from various sources that talks about this tradition and how we practice it in our home. If you’re interested here’s the link: Advent Wreath Document.

So, that’s my favorite tradition.  

Thanksgiving is over and the hectic ways of the world’s holiday celebration are in full force.  Don’t let it suck you in. Take time during this season to examine your heart before celebrating the “coming” of Christ our King into this world. Focus on what the incarnation of God in the flesh means in your life and  prepare the way of the Lord in your heart during Advent.