Sunday, November 27, 2011

Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus! (Advent plans and week 1)

We are going on almost ten years now of living the beauty of the liturgical calendar.  Like we have shared before, we celebrate Lent in preparation for Easter.  Very similarly, we celebrate Advent to help us prepare for Christmas, the birth of our Lord. I remember our first two Advent traditions were the Jesse tree and choosing to celebrate Saint Nicholas' feast day rather than having Santa Claus come and take away all the glory from Jesus on His birthday.  We are so thankful and blessed to have continued with those traditions and have kept adding on slowly year by year.  Here some pictures and more explanation on some of the Advent traditions we do with our family....

  • Advent wreath - We light a new candle each week during our mealtime.  Here is a video that shows the song we include as well.  After listening to it, I realized we messed up a word - "all the world" should be "everyone".  Oh well, we'll get it right tomorrow morning at breakfast time!  We learned this song from Elizabeth Foss' blog last year.  Also, as a forewarning, it is dark...  we keep the lights off as we light the candle(s) so that from week to week, we recognize how much brighter it becomes since we are closer and closer to celebrating the birth of the Light of the World. 

  • Jesse tree - I don't even know where I found the ornaments that we use today, because it was over ten years ago that I made them.  I found them online somewhere - all I did was print them (didn't even color them since our only child at the time was a baby and couldn't color), glued them on cardstock, laminated them, and tied a pretty ribbon on them - viola!  You can print out ornaments at many places online, but here are two of my favorite blogs that are graciously sharing their creations....A Holy Experience and Paper Dali.  Also, similar to our Jesus tree that we use in Lent, Shower of Roses has created felt ornaments for her Jesse tree.  What a blessing it is to see the lineage of Jesus and read about all those who were preparing for His birth.   

  •  Family read-aloud - This year, we are changing things up a bit for this one.  The last two years, we read Jotham's Journey as a family.  My children know the story so well, that we thought it was agood idea to try a new story.  So, we surprised them today with a different read-a-loud that has also has a chapter each day to be read until Christmas.  I can tell so far that they are going to love it!  
  • Magnetic advent candles (new this year) - We are blessed to have a giftshop at our church, so we picked up these this year.  However, I did notice that they have different names for the candles from week to week compared to what we've been doing for years.  For example, they have week 1 as "faith", but we've always called the first candle the "hope" candle.  We'll still use it but stick with our old names. 

  • Paper Advent Chain - Here's another very simple printable that includes an action to be done each day during Advent by removing a chain and doing what it says. 

  • Empty manger to fill - For every good deed done, we will put a piece of straw (crinkle paper) into a manger for Jesus.  On Christmas morning, our children will open up the baby Jesus that fits in this manger.  Hopefully by then, it will be nice and soft and filled with all our loving deeds done for Him!  

  • A purple present to open every day - I wrap Advent/Christmas books (either ones that we own or ones we've checked out from the library) for the kids to open a book a day to be read to them on Advent or Christmas.  Saint Nicholas brings books each year, so we are gradually adding to our library. I have always just gone to Jessica or Elizabeth for ideas on which books to check out or buy.  Happy reading!!  
  •  We also have three nativities around the house, where we will wait to place baby Jesus in them until Christmas.

    Wednesday, November 23, 2011

    The Holy Name of Jesus

    "That at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth" 
    (Philippians 2:10)

    I read a book ten plus years ago on the Wonders of His Holy Name and the power that comes along with it.  It was such a meaningful book that still to this day, I often repeat His name quiet in my head (many times in a triple) and it brings such joy and peace almost immediately.  But, last week after my prayer group, we all left with chills in seeing firsthand on how the Holy Name of Jesus brings such power as well, even beyond our own understanding. My prayer group girls and I text/email each other throughout the week any prayer requests that can't wait until our next gathering.  One was sent out last Tuesday and another one of the my friends replied back two times to the original request.  Her first reply was a mess-up and ended up being a blank message.  Her second reply included...  "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus and repeat".  The amazing thing is that since her text was sent, my friend (the receiver of the message) noticed the blank message is not blank anymore - it's now a carbon-copy of the second message.  And, the "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus and repeat" message always is a new message whenever she opens her phone, still to this day - over a week after it happened!!  It's clear that this prayer needs to continue and that it brings about it something truly Divine that we cannot even understand.  Thank you Jesus for amazing signs like this! 

    A little more on the Holy Name of Jesus....

    • St. Alphonsus Ligouri tells us that the name of Jesus:  1)  consoles us, 2) defends us, 3) inflames with holy love all those who pronounce it with devotion.
    • The Wonders of His Holy Name (the book that I had read years ago that first opened up my eyes to this devotion) can be viewed and read from front to back using this link.    
    •  January is devoted to His Holy Name - what an amazing way to start off each new year with a renewed devotion to His Holy Name. 
    Please join me now, with folded hands, bowed heads (or better yet, bended knee)....

    "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus" - and repeat!! 

    Wordless Wednesday - "Uh oh!"

    (Yeah, he takes after his brothers)

    Wednesday, November 9, 2011

    Wordless Wednesday

    Tuesday, November 8, 2011

    I was made to love....

    "To be loved by God, to be united to God, to live in the presence of God, to live for God!  Oh!  How wonderful life is - and death!"
    -St John Vianney

    And what a beautiful special weekend it turned out to be.  I have been sent 16 more daughters in Christ to love and lead and learn from and pray for. Thank you, God, for this calling that continues long after the weekend is over.  I now have "many, many more children".  Love you girls of TEC 282!! 

    I was made to love you....
    I have been given this life.  My gift to God is what I do with it.  Will I love Him in the things I do?  Will I love Him in the things I say?  Will I love Him through obedience and accept my cross or will I choose the easy, comfortable route?  How will I choose to live in love for Him?  I will love you, Lord, and follow you....

    I was made to find you....
    Thank you Lord for speaking to me through your Living Word.  Thank you for your gift of life in the Eucharist.  Thank you Lord for living in my relationships loud and clear with family and friends.  Thank you Lord for the Holy Spirit which guides me every day.  You have come into my life in such an intimate way - I find that you are always there to hold me and to make each and every day special in some way....

    I was made just for you....
    "For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare, not for woe!  plans to give you a future full of hope."  (Jeremiah 29:11)
    "You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother's womb.  I praise you, so wonderfully you made me; wonderful are your works!" (Psalm 139:13-14)
    Lord, you chose me for all eternity, and you died to get me there.  I am someone worth dying for....

    Made to adore you...
    I feel an indescribable peace when I enter into the Real Presence of my Lord in adoration.  Nothing else matters anymore.  It's just my time with Him- to sit, listen, pray, discern, cry, sing, laugh, smile, love, adore.  This is where I am accepted and loved for being "me".  Jesus, I adore you.... 

    I was made to love and be loved by you...
    "But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)
    He knew me, yet He loved me.  He knew I would wrong Him in so many ways.  Knew each of my sins.  Yet chose to love in the ultimate way - He died so that I may rise with Him some day. 
    "In this is love; not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.  Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another."  (1 John 4:  10-11)
    Now it's my turn...  I am called to love.  I am called to live on this Paschal Mystery, where I must die to myself so that others may rise. Lord, you are counting on me to share your love with others.  I want to be love with your heart!

    Don't ever forget how much God 
    loves, Loves, LOVES you!!!  

    Friday, November 4, 2011

    A special weekend....

    ... and a prayer request!  I am going to be making my first TEC experience and serving on the team as well.  I know God has plans for me on the weekend, but I feel like I'm in the middle and still trying to figure out how I fit in and will relate to the teens.... I'm not really a mom of teens yet (Fone, our oldest is only 10) and I am definitely not a teen anymore.  Anyways, I know that I'll be there as their sister-in-Christ and the listening ear and His voice, when needed.  I know He will take over and will even use the teens to lead me closer to Him.  So, get out your knee pads please, and pray, pray, pray that this is an amazing weekend where we will all leave knowing how much we are loved by Him and that we are also "Made to Love"! 

    Thursday, November 3, 2011

    Happy Halloween, Happy All Saints & Happy All Souls - 2011

    A blessed trilogy to all of you!  The last three days have been days of fun and feasting in our house.  For Halloween, the kids were able to trick-or-treat at my grandparents' nursing home (on the Thursday before).  They also attended a Halloween Hustle where they trick-or-treated to the businesses where I grew up, marching in a parade around town with many other kids.  And, of course, they trick-or-treated at both of their grandparents house in the evening. It was a night of fun and the kids received WAY too much candy.  Here's a group picture of the kids....
     from left to right...
    Pookey - frog
    Max - blue dragon
    Ariel - Granny (from Little Red Riding Hood)
    Melody - Little Red Riding Hood
    Fone - Indiana Jones
    Mario - Captain America

    Here's some more pictures of the night they trick-or-treated at my grandparents' nursing home....

    Mario and his cousin were both Captain America!

    All of the cousins on my side of the family (minus my big sister - we missed you, Carie!) 

    the cutest, sweetest frog ever!

    my wonderful grandparents

    We celebrated All Saints Day day by dressing up as saints and having two families over for lunch, play and games.  Everyone had such a good time. I love how with the three families, it ended up being 18 kids (and the oldest child of one families wasn't able to make it because she had to stay home and work on school).  Then, we attended the All Saint's Day Mass at our church - it was a beautiful way to end the day.  Here's some pictures from our All Saint's Day Celebration....

     Saints Candy Walk (to the tune of "When the Saints Go Marching In"

     I couldn't resist sharing this picture of all the shoes...  Too funny! 

    And, here's the whole crew (minus the picture-taker).  Our kids' saint line-up for this year is as follows....  St Padre Pio (Fone), St John the Baptist (Mario),  St Gianna Beretta Molla (Melody), St Lucy (Ariel), St Francisco (Max), and St Isadore (Pookey).  Also in attendance was:  St Maximilian Kolbe (2 of them), another St Padre Pio, St Catherine of Alexandria, St Juan Diego, St Joan of Arc, and others.  It was such a great time!!  :)

    Wednesday was a bit rainy in the afternoon, so we didn't make it to the cemetery for All Souls.  However, we have the whole month of November, so there's still plenty of time to make it. 

    I just recently read a wonderful article that shared how these three days fit perfectly with each other.  It was a great reminder on why we celebrate these days in our own domestic church.  Thanks, Danielle!
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