Thursday, December 18, 2014

A {phfr} Quickie...because in case you hadn't heard Christmas is coming

Jumping in for {phfr}, just a quick one today because in case you weren't aware there's this little thing called Christmas that is one week away and someone has got to get her package sending and cookie dough making groove on.

{pretty}
This is a little bit of what my mornings have been lately.  I can't even tell you what a difference it makes to wake up at a ridiculous hour to get that quiet time in.  A few mornings I've even naturally woken up at 4:45 or 5 and since I couldn't sleep anyway, I decided to come down then.  It sounds crazy and yet it is the very thing that keeps me from going crazy.  Most of the time.

{happy}
Luke figured out that the magformers stick to the tub.  I came in the other day to find several of them in here playing happily...for a few moments at least.  These things have been so engaging for all of them.

{funny} 
This is my favorite.
Courtesy John Paul.  Poor guy was half melted a few hours later but in the meantime, he made my afternoon.  We need to get another one on there once it snows again to surprise our favorite John the mailman.

There have been lots of projects going on around here.  This is how The Luke contributes.  
(Can you see the yards and yards of tape???}

{real}
The table is mostly cleared now but it looked like a variation of this for a good couple weeks.  Pics to come...eventually...of at least some of our finished products!

  
Linking with Like Mother, Like Daughter on this fine and early Thursday...



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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Dear Friend Joining Us for Christmas Mass...


Dear friend joining us for Christmas Mass,

Before I say anything else, I just want to say we are so glad you are here at Christmas Mass with us.  Truly.  We are so happy to see you.  I know, I know.  It doesn't always seem like it.  But really!  We are!  Sometimes we're running late or we've wrestled with three or four or more kids to get to the church on time often at a Mass time that is not routine for us.  We may look a bit frazzled or preoccupied and it may even seem like we're not happy you're here.  But it's not true.  At least not for most of us.  We're thrilled you're here and many of us have been hoping you'd come all year long.  So, yay!  Welcome!  But we're also here and come to Mass so much because we know we're kinda messed up ourselves.  So we may not always greet you the way our hearts truly want to because we're absorbed in our own little worlds or have had a rough, stressful day.  And sometimes some of us are just plain cranky because we're tired or sick or have our own little issues going on.  Or because we're sometimes a little petty and lost our favorite pew.  We're sorry about that, truly.  We do want you here.  We're actually thrilled you're here with us to celebrate.  And I think I can speak for most of us when I say that we're going to try to help you see that more this year.

Thank you for coming.
Thank you for taking the time to celebrate with the Church this Christmas.  We've been missing you.  It's kind of like in a big family when someone is not there for Thanksgiving dinner.  It's still good to be together and the turkey and stuffing are still amazing but there is that hole where the absent person is supposed to sit.  When you're here, our joy is fuller and our family feels more complete.  So thank you for being with us today.

Sometimes, I know, the Mass feels a little weird.  All the sitting and standing and the reciting and all.  It feels a little ancient.  That's mostly because, well, it is.  It's the ancient prayer of the Church that has been passed down for two thousand years.  So there's stuff in there that doesn't always feel like it resonates with us modern folk and we use words and language that feels a little funny in our mouths until we're a bit more used to it.  There's loads of reasons why the Church uses those prayers and does Mass the way She does, though.  If you're interested, there are lots of resources out there to understand what the heck is going on.  They might help you get a little bit more out of your time here.  Usually there's a book in the pew that will have most of the Mass parts in it and sometimes even a little explanation so that you can follow along with what is going on. 

The Mass is one of the most sacred moments of the Church and for each of us here.  So our behavior there reflects (or at least should reflect) that.  That's why we try to keep it so quiet in the church before and after Mass.  People are trying to pray and prepare themselves.  And just like you wouldn't be taking selfies or checking your cell phone or texting during a funeral or wedding (I know you wouldn't, right?) it's kinda inappropriate to do that during the Mass as well.  Same goes for eating or gum chewing or chatting in the middle of the service.  It makes it really hard for the rest of us to focus on this really special time for us and when we put aside all those distractions it separates this time from just normal, everyday life.  I know, it's hard if you're bringing kids.  Trust me, I know that well.  But we just ask that you try to do your best.  We're so glad the kids are here, too, and sometimes they surprise us when we teach them and raise our expectations of what they can really understand and how they can participate.  But even when they don't, we promise we won't give you the stink-eye or let out that sigh or get all cranky on you.  (We've probably been right where you are at some point or heck, are doing it right along with you now.)  We're glad you're here and that you're trying.

The one thing we do during Mass that confuses a lot of Catholics and non-Catholics alike is that Eucharist thing.  You know, when we all go up and eat what looks like a little wafer and drink what looks and tastes like wine?  That part.  It seems kind of weird, I know.  Sometimes we call it Holy Communion.  That part for us Catholics, along with the prayers before it (you know, when everyone starts the kneeling/standing thing), is the supreme most sacred important ultra reverent part of the whole Mass.  That is The Moment of the Mass.  The whole Mass should be reverent, of course, but that part is like during the wedding when a man and woman are speaking their vows.  It's the climax of the whole thing.  Because of that, we ask that those joining us stay extremely reverent and respectful during that part.  We also ask, and this is one of the Church rules, that if you are not Catholic or if you are a Catholic who has fallen away from the Faith or haven't been joining us to worship every week (unless you went to Confession before coming in which case, that's awesome!  Come on up!), that you not receive Communion.  That might sound harsh, I know.  But here's the thing:  We Catholics really and truly without nuance believe that that stuff that looks like bread and wine?  We believe that is really and truly Jesus.  Like REALLY.  We believe we are consuming the Body and Blood of Christ hidden under the forms of bread and wine.  No joke.  It sounds crazy but we really do.  So if you don't really believe that or if you're not in a state of communion with the Church either through your own choices or your beliefs, then out of respect for the beliefs of the rest of us there, the Church asks that you don't go up to receive.  And that's okay.  I mean, someday we'd absolutely LOVE for you to come up with us, but in the meantime, we promise that we won't be all judgey if you don't go up.  In fact, we'll respect the  integrity that you're showing.  

We're so happy you are here.  We are so grateful when you sing and participate in the prayers with us.  We're so happy to see you all dressed up in your Christmas best (those kids look adorable, by the way!) and we love that you're including the Person of honor in your Christmas.  I have a feeling He loves it, too, way more than even we do.  Because it's really all about Him anyway.  No matter how distant you feel from the Church or Him, I just know He is thrilled that you are here and He has so much He would love to give you.  No matter what crap you've gone through, what mess your life is in, or how much you've screwed up this past year, you are welcome here.  In fact, you'll fit right in with the rest of us.  We're here not because we're perfect but because we know we're not.

So, dear friend joining us for Christmas Mass, I hope you feel welcome.  I hope here you can enter in a bit to the joy and mystery and profound grace that is Christmas.  I hope you have a beautiful Christmas season.  And I hope we get to see you again on Sunday.

Love,

The Rest of Us


P.S.  In case you really were interested, here's just a few resources on what the Mass is all about anyway:




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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

This Month in Boys - December 2014


-a monthly recap of some of the things I just don't want to forget-

John Paul

on his perch

-refers to the younger brothers as "the kids."  For example, "it's okay, Mama, I'm making sure the kids are behaving."
-has been all about the stick bombs.
-has been growing up so much lately.  I love some of the conversations we've been having.
-made his own Advent chain that hangs by his bed.  He removes one link each morning upon waking up.
-has been so sweet this pregnancy with helping to hold Luke or carry things for me.
-is looking forward this Christmas to "seeing friends and having parties."

Michael


-served for the very first time at the altar!
-has very clearly expressed his desire to be a priest.  His plan now is to be a priest, an artist, and a farmer.  He will live on an island and his parish will be close by but not right on his island so then he can take his jet ski to Mass.
-lost that other front tooth while we were in Chicago for Thanksgiving.
-shoveled half the driveway the other day all by himself to earn a couple dollars.  There was a lot of heavy snow and he worked so hard!  He was disappointed when he woke up the next morning to find that Papa had finished the rest after he went to bed.
-while he was out there it got dark and he was so excited that he got to see his first shooting star!  He now decided he would someday like a telescope.
-loves playing house with his cousin Sarah.
-is still so into all things bright and colorful.  He is especially excited this Christmas to drive around and look at the lights.

David

This is the face I get when I ask him to smile.

-has been very very secretly planning some Christmas gifts.  But do NOT go into the room when he is working on yours.  Ever.
-told me at dinner one evening that he wants to go out on a date with me "where we will get all different types of special foods and try them all together."  Yes, please.
-is now asking every night that he can get a harvesting blade for his tractor.  And that would be a no.
-decided that his cousin Claire is his best friend.  He likes to play house with the others, too.  He and Michael have both decided that this baby needs to be a girl so they can play at our house and have someone to be the Mama.  Apparently that is currently the subject of much dissension when it is time to assign the house playing roles.  I told them they should just pretend the Mama is out helping someone have a baby.
-on the silly scale, is probably the silliest of all our boys.
-is almost half way through Teach Your Child to Read and is doing fabulously!  We're waiting a bit for more formal math as he doesn't seem quite ready for that yet.
-this Christmas is very excited to "have people over on my feast day and have a glow fight."

Luke


-turned three!!
-and may be - may be - turning a corner in the whole driving Mama to the nuthouse thing.  But I don't want to speak too soon.
-speaks in full sentences, uses the big words that we use, repeats sentences back to us, and it is all somehow hysterical.
-while singing Twinkle, Twinkle, "Papa.  If you want MY twinkle, (for him to sing) you have to pay me."
-decided randomly one day that when he grows up he would like to be a police elephant.  When asked what that was he said he would be an elephant that would suck up water with his nose and then squirt it at the bad guys so he could then take them to the police station.  Alrighty then.
-on the drive home from Chicago was intrigued by the toll situation.  "Is this this the EZPass?"  "No."  "Oh.  Is this the hard pass?"
-loves singing at Mass and O Come, O Come, Emmanuel before dinner.  I love hearing him know the words!
-won't tell me what he's looking forward to at Christmas (probably because he doesn't really remember much of it anyway) but he was a pretty big fan of helping Papa test and put the lights on the tree.  And I think the Christmas music will be a favorite.  After almost a year he still has Papa sing O Holy Night every night before he goes to bed.






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Monday, December 15, 2014

Gaudete in the Dark


This post was supposed to go up last night but a certain little doula baby (my last one for quite a while, I think!) decided to make his entrance in the wee hours of this morning so I was otherwise engaged.  So permit the day late post, please :)

We are told this Sunday to rejoice.  The time is near.  It's not here yet but our joyful waiting will soon be fulfilled.  It is a sweet reminder when the waiting can be so hard that this longing is not in vain.  That our God is a faithful God.  A reminder that even when we must collectively wait millennia for our salvation, when it comes it will be beyond our wildest expectations.  

But.
But we are also reminded every single day that the Kingdom has not yet been fulfilled and the longing and waiting continue.  Our hearts ache and break and sometimes it seems like they just might crumble in the waiting.  We see and hear of so much suffering.   

In the midst of the darkness and the pain and suffering, we still rejoice in hope.  We rejoice through it all, knowing that the Lord is at hand.  And in the dark we see the beauty of waiting together, the light that grows when we bear our sufferings together, lifting each other up with prayers, material help and emotional support.  
"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.  Let all men know your forbearance. The Lord is at hand.  Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."  Philippians 4:4-7
So on that note, I have a few things I'd love for you to add to your 'wait list':

First, for a sweet boy named Ethan.  Ethan is the nephew of one of my best friends.  He is five years old, has Down Syndrome, and has had three major surgeries this past week.  He has another this Wednesday.  He has been in an induced coma.  His body is so tired and not responding well.  Please pray for him, his parents, and his whole family.

Second, for a friend who has just lost another baby.  This is her fourth baby that has died.  She is a beautiful faithful soul and my heart hurts for their family.  They could use some prayers, please.

And lastly, a few weeks ago I asked on the FB page for some prayers for Paul.  Paul is technically my stepbrother-in-law.  He is 30 years old, a Franciscan grad, and has been battling a very rare form of cancer called peritoneal  mesothelioma.  He fought and won once but over the summer a tumor came back.  After chemo and treatment, the news we received a few weeks back wasn't good.  Not only did the tumor grow but another one developed.  He will be having more surgery at the beginning of the new year.  Paul and his wife Elizabeth have a four month old baby girl.  Please pray for his healing and if you are able, consider giving financially to help their family.  Paul can no longer work and they are no longer able to pay all their bills.  You can donate online here.  If you are in the area, please consider coming to the in-person fundraiser or donating time, food, or a theme basket.  You can show your support, too, by liking our prayer support page for Paul.

Thank you so much!  We continue to rejoice despite the heartache and suffering and tears shed in this life.  So much of that rejoicing comes from seeing our Lord working in and through His people here and now.

And a few snippets from our Gaudete:








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