Thursday, December 26, 2013

ADVENT: WHAT WORKED: WHAT DIDN'T

DSC_0068-001

DSC_0104-001


DSC_0099-001


DSC_0094-001

DSC_0090-001

DSC_0081-001

DSC_0077-001

DSC_0075-001

DSC_0071-001

DSC_0066-001

DSC_0065-001

DSC_0062-001

DSC_0061-001

DSC_0055-001

DSC_0052-001

DSC_0051-001


I started this Advent a little behind.  Every year I have the same sort of "shocked" feeling after Thanksgiving. how did this most wonderful season spring itself on me?  My attachment to Advent is special.  It was during my first Advent here in Sitka that I fell in love with my beautiful Catholic faith.. To say my heart was on fire for our Lord is putting it mild.  I have never been able to recapture that intense fire since that wonderful season.  I don't usually speak for Pete...but I think he would agree.  We both became smitten that Advent in 2004.

This year I went in with low expectations.  And now that I am on the other side of the blessed season I think I may have set them too low.  I'm not beating myself up here...or even comparing myself to the mega Catholic mama bloggers (I wish I had time to read what amazing things they did this year).  I really aimed low and I hit my target.  I might be tempted to list some excuses.  The first excuse being I was in Seattle over spending for the first Sunday of Advent.  I could not set the tone.  Plus I had no candles and my wreath was crushed from the move.....

And while I am tempted to list excuses I will just add that the first year of living in a new place always throws me.  And I have been thrown....

But anyway I'm not here to list excuses.  I'm here to keep a record for me to go back and read next year.  Here I go:

What Worked This Advent:

#1  Pete signed us up to cook and host our church's soup kitchen.  That was probably the most redeeming part of our Advent.  Having all of us serving and cooking for the needy in this community felt exactly right.

#2  We did not buy our kids any electronic devices.  This was a big deal here in this house.  Each of my school age kids asked for an I-Pod mini and each were sad when I told them a firm no prior to any Christmas List making. Telling them this early helped with expectations. Now...this is where I write what I think about these kids in this house....not your kids in your house...
I hate everywhere I go kids are playing on those things.  We have I-Touches and each has the screen cracked.  We rarely let them on it to do anything but make movies...I have never been a big fan of electronics and more and more I see them becoming just another temptation kids have to fight against.

When we are here together I want to really be here together...not plugged in...or wishing they were.

#3 I personally prayed a lot this advent.  My prayer life has been getting better lately and I'm not sure if it has anything to do with Advent but I'm going to list it because I feel sad that my what worked list could really only have been 2 points!!

What Did Not Work:

#1 Being too busy.  This is really hard for me to admit because I like a party, or 2, or 3.  And for whatever reason we got invited to a lot of events this season.  We all had fun at each one, but the times we were not engaged in an event we were all recovering and I never felt like I seized the moment here at home.  How could I have done this better...that is what I hope to figure out .

#2  Buying way too many gifts for our kids.  I bought a lot. Mostly clothes and "gear" for living up here..but I did it big (big for us...6 kids makes a lot look like we do it big...but I really feel like I did).  When I went to Seattle I bought so much stuff.  I was overwhelmed with the possibility of buying things from a store instead of the computer that I got carried away.  It took me 2 full days of wrapping and I felt sick the entire time..how did I do that?  We are a cash family and all was bought with cash...so I knew we were spending more than planned...but we just did. Pete and I have been talking over point 2 for the last few days and I just want to blame it on #2 from the above list...it's hard to adjust the first year???...maybe???

#3  I made absolutely nothing for anybody.  Nobody realized it but me.  I did not slow down at all to hand- make gifts and nobody even noticed....

#4  Some how I don't feel like we focused on Christ enough.  We were in the Christmas pageant.  We actually all made it to confession the weekend before Christmas.  But I always felt like we sandwiched "advent"   in between so we could do the more important task of having fun and being busy.

#5  I felt tired this Advent.  So I feel like I usually choose the easy way out...movie instead of Advent book....keeping a clean kitchen instead of baking....


So...come Christmas morning Pete and I felt kinda empty.  We looked around and felt a little sad.  We kinda blew it.

But...we do have the Christmas season to try and make things right.  I'm sitting here writing after we took a family hike and had a cold and rainy picnic .  The little kids are out with Pete riding bikes and scooters.  Dinner will be Chili and I will light a Christmas candle.  I can't take back the toys, clothes and time I wasted....but I can move forward.


ONE MORE THING RIGHT

Our priest passed away a few weeks ago and we witnessed a beautiful death.  That was a gift to our family.  Until we get a permanent priest we have different priests coming and going.  On Gaudete Sunday a priest gave a homily that has served us and will continue to bless us.

He spoke of joy coming from serving Jesus, Others, You.  The kids all heard that and they felt a connection to those words.  We all used JOY through advent as a reminder of what brings true joy.  It helped! Praise God!!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Hope

DSC_1355

DSC_1356

DSC_1357

DSC_1358

DSC_1359

DSC_1363

DSC_1366

DSC_1367

DSC_1368

DSC_1377


DSC_1380

DSC_1382

DSC_1391

DSC_1394

DSC_1395


I used to feel so much more confident when I wrote here.  I remember writing a post about all of our "policies".  I imagine I made some more experienced moms chuckle.  When all my kids were living in the land of little and their greatest need was me, I thought I knew what I was doing...and if only people would do it like me then all would be well in the world.

And there is some truth to that...in a perfect world if all went perfect and we could take our emotions, mistakes, feelings and past out of the equation, things may go a bit more perfectly.  But since my kids are getting a little older I find it more and more difficult to take my emotions, mistakes and feelings out of the equation.

These days I don't have much in the way of sharing how things should be done.  I'm learning what it mean to be "on your knees for you kids" .  I pray throughout the day ...all day...in my mind and in my heart...."Please Lord...help me do this right.  Help me know God."

Not that things are going awful or that the kids and I are in a particularly difficult space.  I love the space we are in.  I love being a mama to these wonderful kids.  I love getting up and seeing them every day.  I love getting to try harder each day.  I love knowing that it is in each moment I can choose to do better.  What hope I get to live every day.  In this third week of Advent I know that God is calling me to live with hope and joy.

Some days the hope is as simple as:
I hope to see the sun today...even for a minute.
I hope to smile when I really want to criticize.
I hope to see the good in each person I interact with today.
I hope I remember to thank God when I do choose to talk kindly instead of harshly.


And some days the hope feels more difficult....

But today...the sun did come out.  I have smiled. I choose kind words.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Another Orange Knit - A Reflection

DSC_1184

DSC_1185

DSC_1187

DSC_1192

DSC_1203

DSC_1204

DSC_1208

DSC_1210

DSC_1215

DSC_1220

DSC_1229

I may have gone a little overboard with the orange knits this fall.  I think 3 of the 3 cowls I knit were orange.  I kinda don't want to own 3 orange cowls...but I really love them in their own way.

I have a hard time giving my knitting away.  I make mistakes and I feel like I would be giving away a product not worthy of being a gift because of those mistakes.  When I knit for me I don't mind the mistakes.  Its a liberating way to create...just make what I love and leave the mistakes.

That is where I am at these days.  I know I do certain things right and even well...but there is plenty that I don't do right and far from well but I am a work in progress. I like getting up each day and try to work harder at getting better.

I want to try harder every day....I want the people in my family to try harder every day and the only way I can expect that from them is if I do it myself.

I want them to see God's glory in me.  I want them to love Christ because He promises Hid grace is sufficient.  We do not have to do all things all the time on our own...we have God.  God did not promise that my love for my children was sufficient...but HIS.  It's not all up to me.

This past weekend the Gospel reading was about John the Baptist preparing the way for Jesus.  People were happy enough with what he had to say but John knew there was so much more.  I left mass thinking..."I am John the Baptist".  I am preparing my kids to receive Jesus when He comes to them.  He is, of course, with them right now...but they are not ready for what that truly means.  He has a story for them.  Their story is apart from me.  God is working on them.  He has my back.  It is not all me...it is Him and I am working with Him.  I am preparing my kids to live life God has for them.

.... And as I prepare them for this great future walking with God...we all can wear orange, hand knit, imperfect cowls.....

Monday, December 2, 2013

These People

DSC_1270

DSC_1257

DSC_1253

DSC_1251

DSC_1250

DSC_1249

DSC_1247

DSC_1246

DSC_1244


The one thing that stands out about living here in AK is the people.  The people here are the most generous I have ever encountered.

One afternoon a friend and I were talking.  I mentioned that I was dying to visit this great little yarn store outside of Seattle..Churchmouse Yarn.  My local yarn store carries their patterns and I have become a little obsessed with their stuff.  I gathered my gear, said my goodbye's and went about my night.

The next morning she calls me and says.."I looked up that store you were talking about and you HAVE to go.  I'm heading to Seattle in December and I want you to come with me. "  Her husband works for Alaska Airlines and he was willing to share a free pass with me....

With me....

To see yarn....

Could their be any more generous thing to do????

I am leaving Wednesday night until Sunday...

I will shop, knit, and eat all because somebody wanted me to have this wonderful weekend.  Pete was thrilled that I could go.  And I don't know if I have ever been more touched.

How can I repay something so generous?  It humbles me and makes me see God's love comes in many forms from many different people.

*********************************************************

And those pictures above????

All taken by Emily  this weekend.  Pete and the oldest kids got invited to hunt for Christmas trees...in this most beautiful place.  They grab a riffle (that we now own), bundle up, hop on a boat and drive to an island to cut down a tree.

The people...this place...all beautiful.

Being in a place so far from family, no shopping, not attached to any other place...it can be hard.  But it feels more like home here than anywhere I have ever lived.  It's because of the people....

************************************************************

And just in case you were wondering what was on the top of my shopping list...

UNDERWEAR....

For some reason I have a hard time ordering underwear .. I just want to pick up a pack for the kids and actually get my hands on them before I commit to buying them.  The grocery store will have a pack or 2 now and then but sizes are not always what I need for the person I need it for.

I may also be super excited to get  crayons for less than $3 a pack...we can go through some crayons.....
And I may get a box or 2 of Christmas lights ...they are pricey here too.

I'll let you know....
BLOG TEMPLATE BY DESIGNER BLOGS