Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Uncovering My Eyes to See

I've been thinking a LOT lately about accepting grace and allowing God to actually do what we ask of Him, and then? Then being free to acknowledge that He has. I'm not sure if this will make sense or not but this past year I've felt a change and saw some little tendencies where I have a hard time letting go of my ideas of who I am and what my struggles are. I see the same reflected in other women during conversations as well. I don't know whether it's just that there is a comfort in the familiarity (even the negative stuff) or if there is something that scares us about being better. Maybe it feels like pride to admit when we no longer struggle with something. Maybe it's that we have made this sin or wound or fault or weakness so much a part of our identity that we don't know how to let it go. I don't know, perhaps there is something different behind it. But I've been coming around in the last year to the idea that God is not honored by that. (And someone else, of course, would love for us to stay clinging to our dark and less than ideal parts.) Clutching the old - whether it is sin, sickness, wounds, ugly or destructive attitudes, or even just ideas about ourselves - that God has touched and brought healing and hope to (even if not completely) is...well, it's kinda rude.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

lately :: Christmas remnants ::

Catching up on just a few little memories over Christmas and up through Epiphany...

A trip to the five and dime - where nothing is either five or a dime.

I was so excited to take the kids to a local cafe just down the street that features table-made s'mores. Alas, they were 'all out,' my surprise for the kids a bust, and I left feeling dejected. (But seriously, how can you be all out of s'more ingredients over Christmas break when that's your thing advertised everywhere? Especially when there's a grocery store like 1/2 a mile away? But I digress.)
We decided to just go home and do it on our own with stuff we already had! I guessed that saved a chunk of change and let the baby get his nap in so we won.

New Year's Eve was celebrate with kids in bed, Benedict Cumberbatch jonesing on my homemade wings, and the husband and me in bed by ten. Party ANIMALS.

There was (mediocre) fondue. The boys loved it.

And we did our now traditional dinner out and trip to the shrine to see the light show.

Possibly the only light display in existence that portrays a giant monstrance?

True story: I have a crippling fear of heights but challenged myself to climb to the top of the shrine. But this is as near to the edge as I would get. The pond below is surrounded by a giant light rosary.

Another night was ice cream for dinner.

I got a better picture of the peg family David made for Ben for Christmas. I love it so much! (Despite the fact that my cumulative postpartum hair losses are clearly as evident as I feared.)

Christmas is good but real life still. The van died and the man of the house figured out how to fix it spending his whole Saturday off doing just that. We will need a new van very very soon but are trying to put it off as long as possible. This van is rusted and "quirky" and I still have to hit it in the right spot in order to get it to start BUT it has been paid for for a long time and every day we can eke out of it is means one less day before we have figure out something new and shell out the moolah. 

The boys served at the cathedral again for Epiphany.

On a whim, I decided to hide the boys' Epiphany gifts and sent them on a search to find them which they loved. I normally buy them a schoolbook or something educational to help them grow in "wisdom." (Get it?)

And we blessed the house at night. We got some new incense from the cathedral and now the whole house smells divine.

Even (especially) the basement gets blessed!

There are so many moments I didn't capture: dinner parties, precious time with friends, cookies, serving, game nights, snuggling, candlelit evenings, finding lights in the car, evenings of prayer, and time for rest. There were overflowing heart moments, heavy moments, fun moments and bitter ones, too. God is good and the moments and time He gives us so important. May the graces He provided this Christmas bear good fruit in all of us.

Today I'm beginning the deChristmasing process and as usual, it feels time. Another Christmas is passed and these moments and years are so fleeting. We are so blessed to have these times and seasons and I feel like our little family is getting a little bit better at being thankful and allowing Him to fill our hearts with the graces of each and every moment. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The Beginning of Christmas 2016

Merry Christmas and happy new year! 

Finally jumping on to record some of the beginning of our Christmas. It's been good...more relaxed than I expected. I overestimated how much we had planned to do so there's been much more downtime than I thought there would be. Which is...nice? But I totally admit that it leaves me feeling antsy. I do like playing games and puzzles and easy meals but I'm not as good with not knowing in the morning what the goals are for the day. Even if the goal is just to relax and have a cozy day with leftovers for dinner, it needs to be a part of The Plan or all day long I have that nagging feeling like I'm forgetting something. Anyone else? But on the very bright side, I think God's been giving me this unexpected extra time to work on a few big projects and I'm trying to use the time well. I also took a break from doulaing for a couple months and it's been a welcome break from being on call 24/7, especially over Christmas! 

We decided to repeat last year and go to the Cathedral for Christmas Eve Mass. It's hard to believe but it's only about half full and I find it a little bit easier to enter into worship than at our home parish on Christmas Eve. The older boys were even able to serve! What a gift. 

I haven't taken many pictures over Christmas. Or over this whole year, really. My phone has now become my main camera, the pictures it takes being pretty much equivalent to the ones my old big camera were taking anyway - subpar and grainy as I do ;) But I'm not sure I'll ever be someone who absolutely loves carrying a phone around and I don't at all like pulling it out constantly to check it (plus phone typing, to me, is still the worst). I find the constant connectedness a bit draining, I think. And I think that makes me much less inclined to pull it out even if for just picture taking. Whether that's good or bad, I don't know. ANYHOW, I did manage a few of our first day of Christmas and I'm glad for it.

I promise I did not at all realize that his ornament was hanging there so perfectly positioned as all that. Minus, you know, the blurry picture taking and phone camera, I could totally be a professional.

Stealthy pew snapping.

They insisted they needed to take a picture with Baby Jesus for His birthday. These boys humble me and make my heart so burst.

Post dinner feast first Christmas cookies. All the sweeter.

I think they were up around 6:30 or so. Michael wanted to be the one to read The Story before gift time.

It's kind of a pain getting these ready the night before but I never regret it the next morning...or all week after.

Heart shot. Michael spent the last few weeks of Advent knitting hats for his brothers using a round loom. I need to get a picture of the four of them in them! But this was Luke's reaction <3

Gifts from us were very simple this year. Even so, I really love picking out that gift that speaks right to them and shows that you know their hearts.

A weaving loom and yarn for Michael

A gemstone digging kit for David (loved it.)

John Paul just got a few circuit boards and an Amazon gift card to use for electronics supplies. I tried to find a kit or something but he knows way better than I do the components he needs! The boy has been teaching himself electronics building and binary code. I barely understand a word but it's pretty awesome. He spent the last few weeks figuring out and then building a lasertag set from scratch for his brothers. 

I know I know I know I've said it before but I just love how much joy they get from giving gifts to each other. Luke bought each of his brothers something from the dollar store and was so excited to give John Paul a screwdriver set, Michael a glow wand, and David a big pack of stickers.

David made a peg family for Ben. I had no idea. He and the husband also cut some monkey bars to hang down in the gym which have been getting lots of use the last week!

This boy slept until like 8 or something! So he missed out on the first opening and got his own little time to open gifts. He had absolutely no idea why we were doing these strange things in the morning and was a bit confused but went with it. Life to babies and toddlers must be so weird.

After telling myself why I had every reason not to make any gifts this year, I decided it made sense to put together a little homemade play Nativity set for him.

Cost was zero which is my favorite. We had everything on hand (some old blocks that were in the donation pile and the 'stable' pieces were cut from scrap wood we had). The hardest part was sizing and printing the images to modpodge on to the pieces.

For being free, not all that shabby? I'm faaairly certain I've spent more time setting it up than he has, though.

Thank you, sweet Jesus, for Your coming. May each day of this season draw us deeper into the mystery of Christmas.

I hope you're all having a blessed and grace-filled season!

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