Sunday, November 29, 2015

1st Day of Advent... success!

I feel really good about Advent this year. Aside from the fact that I failed to get something to hang the ornaments ON for our first day, it has come together nicely. While I shared the Names of God Ornaments we are doing HERE, I wanted to share what we are doing as a whole.

The advent wreath we have been doing for a few years now. This year, not unlike other years, I forgot till the last minute that Purple and pink candles are hard to find in our area. Ribbon to the rescue. I love how they turned out actually, we will just have to watch when the flame gets lower so we don't start it on fire. 

Although it does not start until Dec 1. We will also be doing the Jesse Tree using the ornaments from Ann Voskamp. 

I got her book, The Greatest Gift, downloaded and printed the ornaments that go with the book/readings for each day till Christmas. You can see her page at
A Holy Experience. She really does to invite you to a stronger more intimate relationship with God. In so many ways. 
I admit I really do LOVE the resin ornaments, but will have to wait a while before splurging on THIS beautiful set. Seriously... they are beautiful. And Unwraping the Greatest Gift geared more towards the kids is something I WILL have next year.
We have done the Jesse Tree for several years, and used The Greatest Gift two years. 
For this year I have put an ornament along with a "kindness" card in an envelope that I decorated with an old Christmas card. 

Next, I put together a makeshift manger. Yes, I know it's not pretty, but then I figured the real manger was not exactly posh either and I am going to make it work as well.
I cut some yarn that I already had from previous years crafts (hence the color choice) and sat them side by side. Remember that "kindness" card I mentioned earlier? This is where it comes into play. I read Matthew 25:40 to them:  
And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.’ And explained that they are to put a piece of straw (yarn) into the manger each time they do a kindness for someone else, because the straw will make the manger more comfortable for Jesus.  As you can see they are working on it. Even though we ran out of time to do today's "kindness" they got the idea and took it upon themselves to work it with each other here at home. I really hope this one takes root. 

Reading List. We are going to attempt to read one Christmas book each evening. We don't have 27 Christmas books in the house, but we have several and will take a trip or two to the library to get others. Tonight we read Bear Stays Up for Christmas. Yes, I had an audience of 5 for this, the 19 year old is not home often since he is busy with school and work and volunteering with the fire department, but he was home tonight so he joined in, and listened as I read this short story. 

The kids here at home are 5, 9, 12, 15, and 19. I've got to keep things fairly simple. It sounds like a lot, but really these things all together take just a little time. Memories in the making. We have added things through the years so it isn't like I had to run out and buy a bunch of stuff. And I am a cheapskate. I don't like to spend a lot of money. The wreath I got at Michaels for 3.00 one year after Christmas. I think the most I've spent was this year when I spent .49 cents each for 116 plastic ornaments to put the Names of God in. Most everything is either made (with love of course) or I wait for a sale. Don't be scared to jump into the Advent spirit with what you have. If  you don't have a wreath... color one. The idea is to get the family thinking about the Christ Child and to still your life a bit. All of the above is work, no doubt, to prepare so it goes smoothly BUT this time of year is my favorite because the kids make a special effort to sit quietly and listen and learn.

That said, even through this we have some fun. Like when I said "Amen" for one of God's names and my 12 yr old who wasn't paying particular attention right then, looked up and said "amen" a little confused because he thought he'd missed a whole prayer. Kids will be kids, but they try, and they watch you. So have fun and quiet your heart when it doesn't go JUST so.

Happy Advent! 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Names of God Advent Ornaments

It started with a single sentence said somewhat as a side note in my Catholic Biblical Studies class. We were discussing Exodus where God reveals his name to Moses. I AM. And the side thing was that to study the names of God is something everyone should do. I put a note in the side margin. Looked it up.
32 names of God. 73 names of God. 108 names of God. WHAT? Yup there are lists out there with the names of God. I had no idea. The most complete list I found used a King James Version of the bible, so I decided to look and see if the names matched what was in my Catholic version of the bible and for the most part - they did.

Off I went, finding names with verses to show where those names were revealed, and did the math... this year for Advent if I took all 108  names I could divide them into 4 names per day 27 days PERFECT! Then I realized that some years we have 29 days of advent. I searched, and of course I found 8 more names.

No matter what year it is we have an ornament with 4 names in it to study on each day of Advent then hang it.  Ahhhh. Done. Right? Of course not! As I searched for the names of God revealed I found something else there are many many verses that also command us to praise this name or that name or any name. And also verses that show us HOW to praise the name of God.
On each day we also have a verse to ponder on the importance for us to KNOW God. And if I have learned nothing in the first book and a little of the bible, I have learned that names are very significant and to know someones name is to have a deeper relationship with them.

Of course I want to know Gods names. All of them. And I want my children to know them. So this is what I came up with.  The list is probably not complete. However for our purposes it is sufficient.

What started as a simple statement ended up with 118 Names of God in beautiful ornaments and a booklet to make it all easy as can be to grab and study each day. God is so good!

I'm not a professional, I'm a homeschooling, stay at home mom fumbling through this. It was suggested that I sell this project. I declined. A kind-hearted fellow mom wanted to give me something in return anyway. She was right, it took time and effort, regardless of the reasons. I do not have the time at this point to set up a "shop" for things like this.

Here was my compromise. I have a paypal account ( If you feel lead to compensate me for your use of this material, God bless you. I will use the funds to make up hard copies and kits for next year. 

If you are struggling as it is and would like to use the files I have provided, God bless you too. I ask that you share my blog post here if others ask you "where'd you get that?", instead of just sharing the files person to person. Fair enough?

As far as the files go... this was what I learned about embedding - it's not just "zip zip" and you're done. If anyone has a suggestion to make this easier/better I'm ready to learn. Advent is just a few days away. YEIKS!  BTW, I got the plastic ornaments for this project at Michaels, on sale for about .49 each. Glass, does not do well in my crazy home and they look beautiful. win win.

Monday, November 9, 2015

So Much...

So much for writing every day in November. Busy lives. Kids. New adventures.

So much joy. 
So much ambition. 
So much desire.
So much stress. Gotta take the bad with the good.

So much (many) wants. 
So much energy. Thrive by Le-Vel rocks.
So much pain. Separated ribs hurt. A lot.
So much going on in the brain. Then shut down.

So much laughter. Little boys. Church. *Snort*. Ooops. So much to be thankful for. Busy lives. Kids. New adventures.

That was my week in a nutshell.
I missed a few days of writing, but I did quite a bit of living instead so I will accept that. It gives me great joy to do some of the things I have been doing this week. But each thing added has to take time away from something.
Biblical School is so fulfilling, and I love the people I am with there.
Religious Education for the kids, on the other hand, has brought some stress.
The things we are doing at home for RE are wonderful, I think I am seeing progress. Even Emma is starting to memorize the things Jesse and Jake need for their sacraments. Sometimes to my surprise even. She is hearing all that we do.
Watching littles in church gives me so much joy! But this week, maybe a little too much joy. I laughed, I hurt my rib, I tried to suck in my breath slowly and deeply, and the little boy in front of us chose THAT moment to slap his newly bared foot on the pew in front of us... deadly combination... I snorted... in church... God help me and all those around me who were scoffing at me or scolding me silently. Yes, I need more self control. On the other hand little boys are so cute and wiggly and come up with some of the darnedest things to be proud of.
I am trying out a new system to curb my "wants" into manageable lists and ways to find out if it's really something I should spend money on OR if I'm wasting... Managing money. UGG!
A new adventure. 33 Days to Morning Glory. Just WOW! I will have to renew this "retreat" several times before I fully understand it.

So, there you have it the good the bad and the ugly of why I have not written in a while. This one will make me smile every time I read it again. And really, THIS is why I write. To remember. To have something to come back to.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Renew Your Inner Nature...

2 Corinthians 4:15-18                                     November 3, 2015

For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed every day.

For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,

because we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

How is it that no matter what season we are in life or what we might be going through at the time, we can find answers and HOPE in God's word. These verses are not random. I got the idea HERE. But they are random in that I had nothing to do with picking WHICH verses were in that plan.

This has been a stress-full week. Raising kids, including teens will do that for ya. Who am I kidding? Sometimes LIFE will do that to ya. I stress much less than I use to, Praise God, but no life is perfect and no product will absorb ALL the stress life has to offer. So we deal with it the best we can and the Bible is my go to source these days.

THAT is what THIS verse is about. We are to be thankful and fill ourselves up with the spiritual food we need to get through this life with more then just a few memories. God knows you, HE LOVES you, every imperfect, scary dark corner of YOU. He begs you to trust Him, to have faith in HIM, so that when this life with a few memories is done we have a better life with so much more to offer us AFTER.

God is good. He is good ALL the time even when we forget about Him, because we are in the midst of stress and life and "oh shiny" things. HE NEVER FORGETS about us. NEVER!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Mom Guilt and the Faithfulness of God

1 Corinthians 1: 4-9                                                             November 2, 2015
I give thanks to God always for you because of the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus,
that in every way you were enriched in Him with all speech and all knowledge-
even as the testimony to Christ was confirmed among you-
so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ;
who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Wow! Today's verse from: Here.
I think that moms are just prone to feel guilt. I don't think we even deserve to feel all of the guilt we do feel. But, at least in my experience, mom = feeling guilty.

The kids are doing bad in a subject in school. Mom guilt.
And I think that is true if you send your kids to school or keep them home.
Oh and that decision = guilt.
Kids are unhappy = mom guilt. 

Kids are selfish = mom guilt.
Kids don't act appropriately in public = mom guilt.
Kids don't act appropriately at home = mom guilt.

You get my point, or maybe you don't... in which case I'd like your secret.

So why is it so easy to fall into the mom guilt pity party but not so easy to pat ourselves on the back when something goes right? I have patted myself on the back. It does not come as naturally as the guilt.

Today's verse tells us that we will be sustained by Jesus TILL THE END, and then we will stand in front of God guiltless. And I wondered to myself, what does that mean. Does that mean that we will have a conversation with God first and THEN we will be guiltless? Or does it mean that when we finally get to stand in front of God all our guilt (earned or not) will fall away. How will that work exactly?

Honestly, today I do not have an answer... it didn't "hit me upside the head" so to speak. And so then a line jumped at me. Funny since it is a line I used myself yesterday in connection with God, our Father.  GOD IS FAITHFUL... and so I will have some faith myself, and I will trust that the answer will come when I need it or I will find it in the end. Because, if nothing else makes sense... WHEN nothing else makes sense. I do KNOW THIS: God is faithful. God's love is perfect. God will speak to me, and if I'm not getting it just because I'm not listening enough... God WILL smack me upside the head with it. Because I am a stubborn, imperfect, and often defiant, child of God. BUT GOD IS FAITHFUL!

BE Joyful! Message Received.

Pslam 95: 1-7                                                               Nov. 1, 2015

Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into His presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to Him with songs of praise!
For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods.
In His hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are His also.
The sea is His, for He made it; for His hands formed the dry land.
O come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!
For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand. O that today you would hearken to His voice!

This is the  verse that was put in front of me today. Right now I do not feel joyful, therefore it is difficult to "make joyful noise" but then the verse did not ask me how I felt, it simply stated that I should make joyful noise.

I am thankful in this day, even though I don't feel joyful. I am thankful for the family I have been given. I am thankful that I have been trusted to homeschool them. I am thankful for each of their character traits and the opportunity to fine tune them. I am thankful that I am not in this alone.

God is good, always! I know this, even when I don't FEEL joyful. And I am glad in this. My day will not end the same way it started and by the end I may FEEL joyful, so in the meantime maybe the verse is telling me to BE joyful, even when I don't FEEL joyful. This is what I HEARD as I read and meditated over this verse... and so I WILL hearken to HIS voice and I will BE joyful.

Attitude adjustment given and received. Thank you, Father, for being faithful in my lessons. Where I got it.