I find myself:
::noticing God's glory
It's cold. It's finally feeling a bit like winter. I love the look of frost on the ground while I'm inside under a quilt sipping something hot.
L'Angelus O Night Divine. I love, love, love this music. What a great family, great ministry and truly great music.
::clothing myself in
Jeans and a sweater, but not a Christmas sweater. I pulled some old Christmas sweaters out of the storage room yesterday. Mary Beth was supposed to wear a tacky Christmas sweater to a party. They don't have sequins or bells or anything on them, but they're decidedly Christmas sweaters. She said they weren't tacky; they were just old lady sweaters. Either way, we'll not be wearing those again.
::giving thanks for
a good night's sleep. It's been awhile, but last night was solid and I'm grateful.
Listen: First ,have peace in thy own breast, then thou wilt be qualified to restore peace to others. Peacefulness is a more useful acquisition than learning.
-- Thomas a Kempis (The Imitation of Christ)
Pray: Jesus, you had such a heart for the littlest child. Help me to remember today that the frenzy preceding Christmas can be stressful for a small child. Open my heart to your grace and your peace so that I can bring that peace to my children.
Act: Take your time with the bedtime wind-down tonight. Before you even begin, pray for your own peace of heart. Then, take time with baths and bedtime stories and prayers and pillow talk. If your children are all older, share a cup of something hot and give them your undivided attention before bedtime. Bring peacefulness into their dreams--and yours.
from Small Steps, December 10. I love it when I talk to myself and say just what I needed to hear;-)
::clicking around these links
Here are some of the places I've visited recently:
Little lights for dark days (simple, beautiful craft with children)
::turning the pages of this book
Grace for the Good Girl by Emily Freeman. Still. Again. What can I say? I've got a lot of reprogramming to do. It doesn't come on the first read.
::thinking thoughts as I go about my daily round
I struggle between wanting to throw open my doors and welcome people in anytime and the very deliberately taught notion that my house must be perfect for visitors. I struggle between fully embracing the lifestyle that comes with openness to life and hating the inevitable messes that ensue. I struggle between being embarrassed by mismatched dining room chairs and not enough storage space for anything and wanting to angrily explain to people who are clearly critical that they have no idea the sacrifice that daily goes into the order and beauty we do have. I struggle with the whole Good Girl thing and I have long held that having nine children will either cure me of it (because, really, it's impossible to wear those masks when you live with so many people) or kill me (because, really, it's impossible to wear those masks when you live with so many people). I'd rather be cured.
::creating by hand
Finish the quilt or make nightgowns for the girls? I can't decide.
::learning lessons in
I'm learning lots of lessons, but I can't write about them just yet.
The troops have been informed that Christmas vacation doesn't begin until December 21st. Noses to grindstones. Seriously.
::carefully cultivating rhythm
I am determined to take those words of Thomas a Kempis to heart and let my spirit be at peace. With Jesus, where it wants to be.
Gosh, would y'all just whisper a real quick prayer for real big deal I can't write about right now? I promise to fill you in later. Promise. Still asking prayers for this one (actually it's two, but God already knew that). December looks to be very exciting this year.
I have told my children that not one new thing is going to be brought into this house unless all messes of old things are completely obliterated. We'll see how that goes.
::crafting in the kitchen
Today, for dinner, we'll have a Mexican feast to celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe. Oh, and we've begun to talk a bit about some points raised in the comments of this post. While feasting is certainly an integral part to rhythm of the liturgical year, Advent isn't really a season of feasting and celebration; it's a season of preparation. So often, we come away from Advent blogs with the idea the it's all a huge sugar-fest. Actually, it's not supposed to be. The Eastern Catholics (in communion with Rome) observe this season this way:
The pre-Nativity fast is often called "Phillip's Fast" because it begins on the day after the feast of St. Phillip. The fast was introduced to prepare the Church for a worthy celebration of the great and holy day of the Birth of Christ. The regulations for the fast were far more lenient than the Great Fast before Pascha. Only Monday, Wednesday, and Friday were days of strict fasting without meat, dairy products or oil (in Slavic countries). On Sundays fish was permitted. Laymen were at first permitted to eat fish on other days, too, until the monastic rigoristic influence prevailed. It is interesting to observe that the famous 12th century Byzantine canonist Balsamon expressed the opinion that it would be enough if laymen fasted only one week before Christmas. In 1958 a modern Greek author, Christos M. Enislides, welcomes Balsamon's suggestion and believes that the best solution would be for the Church at large to abstain from meat and dairy products for 33 days. During the last seven days of the fast everybody should observe the strict fast.
To worthily meet our Lord and Savior, we should sanctify this pre-Nativity season of the Phillipian Fast. Sanctifying means spending our time in faith and in the service of God and in kindness towards our neighbor, especially those who are in need of our assistance. And we should think of what we would have been had Christ not come to our lowliness and poverty. Together with the whole of the Byzantine Church we should try to meet Christ as he deserves to be met and as it will, in His mercy, best serve our spiritual benefit! (Read more here)
In the Roman Catholic tradition, we need to guard not to lose sight of these days as a time for spiritual preparation and strengthening. Perhaps we have fallen prey to our own bit of religion-sprinkled secularism when we outdo ourselves with festive baking and crafting and present advent to cyberspace as one feast day after another. It's true; there are lots of meaningful December feasts, but in the words of my five-year-old "It's a purple season, Mama." How can we best ensure that the season does indeed remain purple?
::loving the moments
when he says, "I'm here. Don't worry. It's going to be fine." And I believe him.
::living the liturgy
Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe (tacos for dinner)
The O Antiphons begin on December 17th
::planning for the week ahead
Tomorrow, after cinnamon rolls and before we drive around and look at lights, I'm taking four children for their initial braces appointments. Did I mention that I was looking for ways to focus on the penitential?
There are basketball and soccer this weekend.
Pretty sure we're going to Charlottesville some time this week, but I also know Mike is traveling to Florida this week. And I'm sort of waiting for someone to tell me the plan.
So, I guess I can't really speak intelligently at all about planning for the week ahead.
::capturing the images of my days