Pink Candles and Presents for Jesus

Yesterday marked Lily’s favorite day of Advent, because we finally lit the pink candle! She has been waiting all of two weeks for this event. She loves pink, and I love this week, too, because in the midst of a penitential season, we get to get excited for the coming of Jesus! The pink candle is for Gaudete, which means a time to rejoice!

It’s also time to get serious about preparing for the coming of Jesus. For Timothy, who’s 4, this is hard. He counts down the days until Christmas, we light the Advent Wreath, we talk about Jesus. And he knows Christmas is supposed to be about Jesus, but all he really wants to do is talk about presents. He already has wrapped many of his own toys and put them under the tree because he is so excited about presents.

In fact, last night, he was complaining about not wanting to eat dinner. Then, all on his own, he motivated himself to eat by telling himself if he ate his dinner then he could open a present under the tree. A present that he wrapped himself, of a toy he already owned. But he ate his dinner!

As parents, we must try to stay focused on the reason for the season. I know many parents do sacrifice beads, or have their kids put straw in the manger when they do good deeds to make a nice soft bed for Jesus. But straw just doesn’t seem that soft to me, and making a bed for Jesus hasn’t been all that exciting of an idea for Timothy.

So, enter presents. We have a video called, “The best present of all is Jesus.” And a book that says we give presents to each other because it’s Jesus’ birthday, and he gave us the gift of himself. And the Magi brought presents for Jesus. And my favorite Veggie Tales of all time, “The Toy that Saved Christmas,” talks about how Christmas isn’t about getting, but about giving. So what can we give to Jesus at Christmas? Timothy thinks He would like a train. And He probably would, right? But what else can we give? We can give our hearts.

Back in high school, I wanted a practical way to give my heart to Jesus as a present. So I cut out a bunch of hearts, and every time I did something good or avoided something bad to love Jesus, I put a heart in a little present box. Then, by Christmas, I had a box full of hearts for him. Since we would get to Mass early, I stopped in the chapel and offered my box of hearts to him. I did this several advents, unbeknownst to anyone else. But now, I would like to share my idea with you, as in these last two weeks of Christmas it could be a great way for you, your children, or your whole family to really get ready for the coming of Jesus by preparing your hearts as a present to Him.

We started yesterday, but Timothy seems pretty excited about it!:

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Anything But Ordinary

I just saw that it’s been 3 months since my last post. And I’ll tell you why. The other week I had a thought while preparing dinner. Quesadilla begins with Q!!!! And I couldn’t believe that I’ve never seen a “q is for quesadilla” in any Alphabet book I have read to my children.

I have strict standards for what I post on here. And unless it’s thoughtful and carefully constructed, it doesn’t get posted. So that’s why there have been no posts. Plus I’ve been pounding away at mounds of to-do lists. And although I should be sorting the recycling to take later this afternoon, all 3 kids are sleeping so I’ll take a moment to sip some warmed-up coffee and write.

Write about what? Christmas. Getting ready for Christmas was so fun this year! Our newly remodeled room accommodated for a 10 foot tree. It was fun to decorate our new house for Christmas for the first time, and we even made a whole night out of hot chocolate and getting our tree at Tree Town. Prayer time around the advent wreath was one of my favorite parts of getting ready for Christmas. The story of Jesus’ birth plus blowing out candles easily lends itself to catechesis for the little ones. And when Advent was over we made a Christmas wreath with red and white candles (3 for the trinity!) and they blew that one out, too. Our simple advent prayer was, “Come, Jesus, Come!”

She only singed her hair twice this year.

She only singed her hair twice this year.

So come, Jesus, come. While it wasn’t in my top 5 of best advents in terms of personal prayer and preparation, Jesus still came. He was born into the world and into our hearts. And now today I have been taking down Christmas decorations, since the Christmas season ends this weekend. And it’s weird, because the house now looks plain. Ordinary, if you will, which I guess is appropriate since we are entering the liturgical season of Ordinary Time. But it seems too empty, like something is missing without the bells and lights and decorations.

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Jesus came. And so, our lives can now be anything but ordinary. And they should be anything but empty because Jesus is here! His incarnation sanctified humanity and the world. It sanctified the family, as his chosen means to come to earth and bring salvation. My ordinary family cannot be so plain anymore. It must be filled with the spirit and with life. But without my wreath and candles and decoration, I’m just not sure how to do that now.

The liturgical color for Ordinary Time is green. “Green is for the growing time,” my 3 year old informed me, having learned that in his Catechesis of the Good Shepherd classes. Jesus came as a baby. And maybe Jesus is still a baby in my heart, and it’s time to grow some roots this season. My youngest baby Luke, has grown up incredibly in these last 6 months (as he is now babbling and rolling and sitting up and eating solids!). So how is Jesus going to grow in my heart and in my household this year, especially during this new season of “ordinary”? That is the question I will keep reflecting on as I go sort my recycling…

Goodbye Christmas tree

Goodbye Christmas tree

Poopy Diapers…and Advent: a quick reflection

Note: I was tempted to use a picture of a poopy diaper as my visual, but I will refrain for all of our sakes…we see enough of ’em as it is.

ImageWe were visiting family a little bit ago and Timothy was playing so happily with his cousins that a few hours went by before realizing he had a poopy diaper. When I went to change him, the poop had hardened around his bum, making it difficult to scrape off and leaving a red sore. He screamed and cried that it hurt, and I told him that’s what happens when you sit in a poopy diaper for too long. I told him even though it hurt I had to clean it off so he could feel better and so his butt could heal.

And as I’m saying this to him, I’m realizing that this is like sin and vice in my own life. I get comfortable sitting in my own c.r.a.p., justifying that I’m just an angry person who yells a lot, or that I can be selfish in my marriage because I already give a lot to my kids.  It hurts to peel off this layer of garbage from our lives that we have grown so used to. But without the hurt that comes with separating ourselves from the poop, we won’t be able to put on the Desitin of healing. Too descriptive? Probably, but it worked for me.

And I’ve been thinking about that analogy a lot these last few days as Advent begins. What a perfect time to clean ourselves off to prepare to receive the King of Kings into our heart at Christmas.  And then I start thinking that maybe it’s time to potty train Timothy…

Happy Advent, and here’s to less poopy diapers!