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Advent Christmas Ink Slingers Liturgical Year Spiritual Growth Victoria K

The Road to Bethlehem & The Flight to Egypt

Two Incredible Moves

Nothing goes together quite like military life and moving.  The longest my husband and I have ever lived anywhere is one year.  My stuff hasn’t been in one place for more than a year since 2011. The transient life can really get under my skin sometimes.  There are times that I really just want one neighborhood, one set of friends, one parish, one job, one doctor, one grocery store… the list goes on.

Focus on the struggles, and it can be unbearable. Last Advent and Christmas Season, however, I was inspired by another wife who found herself moving a lot: Mama Mary.  Her journey on the road to Bethlehem and her flight to Egypt.

After all my moves, I can’t just skim over these passages anymore – The Journey to Bethlehem and The Flight to Egypt hold a special place in my heart now.  They inspire me with their witness of trust and totally abandonment to God’s will – something that I pray for in my own vocation.

 

The Road to Bethlehem

Oh man, pregnancy.  What a beautiful time – and oh goodness but I was nauseous, sick, sore, the list goes on.  We moved down to Charleston and I was pregnant, navigating all the exhaustion and food aversions of first trimester.  It’s so uncomfortable traveling long distances that pregnant. There was no position I could sit in and be comfortable, and I had motion sickness something fierce.

I can’t help but to be struck by our Mama Mary traveling in third trimester (which was my worst trimester) to Bethlehem.  It’s overwhelming to think about all the facets of this journey. This journey for them was hard.  Physically exhausting.  Emotionally exhausting. 

I think about how hard these journeys must have been on Mary’s body.  How Mary had to deliver her child away from her parents, away from her mom, St. Anne. Yes, she had St. Joseph, but I know if I had to pick between my husband and my mama to be there for labor and delivery, I’d pick my mama.  Every day of the week.

How could she endure such a hard journey at such a critical time?

 

The Flight to Egypt

For our next move, we had baby in tow.  Mamas, I don’t know how y’all move with children. It’s stressful, hectic, and overwhelming. You end up packing up just the thing your baby decides she needs for the trip.  Everything is lost, all over the place, naps are messed up, overnight sleep is messed up, eating patterns are messed up, everything is messed up. We moved up to Norfolk with a baby screaming the whole way there.

Moving with a baby, I connect it with the Holy Family fleeing to Egypt.  How there was no idea of how things would be taken care of. When would they be settled? When would they come home?  Where was home?

How do you make such a dramatic move with a newborn?

 

Radical Trust

The answer to the questions is so simple and clear, but so hard to live out: radical trust.

If we have anything we can learn from the Holy Family, it is total abandonment to God’s call.  Both times they gave everything to God. Just look at St. Joseph’s response to the call to go to Egypt in Matthew 2:13-15.  They just went. They didn’t say anything. They didn’t complain like I always do about having to pack things and leave all my favorite places and people behind.

Finally, as I still encounter moving stickers, unpacked boxes, everything in all its newness, I contemplate  the Holy Family in Egypt. The bible doesn’t say a whole lot about that time. But they would’ve been foreigners in a strange place.  They would’ve started a new life. Worked, raised Jesus, form community.  

Although the bible never explicitly states it, I have to believe that they approached it with peace, with love, with trust.

As my husband starts his new job, and I work to raise my baby girl, and we all work to find our place in this community, meditating on the Holy Family in Egypt is a great solace.  

God has called my family and me to this life.  He has called all of our families to a myriad of crazy situations. For all of us, there are moments that are hectic, stressful, chaotic, difficult, messy.

  

 

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Christmas Ink Slingers Liturgical Year Michelle Spiritual Growth

All I Want for Christmas is my Two Front Teeth

Me, missing all four top teeth and all four bottom teeth!
Me, missing all four top teeth and all four bottom teeth!

Two of my little girls have loose front teeth. They keep wiggling them, hoping they will come out before Christmas. They want to ask Santa for new teeth. Such a sweet request: so simple; so innocent. Truth be told, I would like that too. My favorite kind of smile is one where the front teeth are missing and the child is smiling from ear to ear, joy radiating from their face with an unmatched exuberance for life reflected in their eyes. Yes, if my girls lost their two front teeth at the same time I would be thrilled too.

But, more than likely that isn’t going to happen. The teeth are not ready to come out. The girls don’t seem to quite understand this and I’ve tried to tell them that it’s ok, but they still are holding out hope that it will happen. I don’t dare dash their hopes completely, instead, I tell them to continue to wiggle their teeth and maybe, just maybe, they will loosen up enough to fall out by Christmas.

The innocence and the hope that children possess are simply beautiful. They can be told that something is not possible and yet they still try and they still hope. They have a spirit about them that pushes them to go further, try harder, and believe even when there is little reason to believe. What happens to us as we get older? Where does that innocence go and how do we get it back?

Many of us have been exposed to many hardships and struggles and have been wounded in this journey we call life. Often this makes us calloused and hard. We lose hope in our fellow man and we close off our hearts to others. We worry about what is going to happen with our world and we can’t see it ever getting better. We know that man has fallen so far away from God that it will take a tremendous amount of work to get back to being a nation that puts God first. Many of us don’t see that ever happening as we know that often people don’t want to do the hard work. That joy that once radiated in our smiles is extinguished as we contemplate our troubles and the troubles of our world.

But does it have to be this way? Can we get back to feeling joy once again? How do we do this?

God knew we would feel this way. He foresaw the troubles we would have and He provided a way for us to regain our happiness and our love for life. He provided us with a gift that, once opened, would insure that we could always feel hope even in a world that is plagued by violence, heartache, and despair. He wrapped that gift in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a humble manger in Bethlehem. He awaits us. He longs for us. He is our gift from our loving Father.

manger-baby

I look at the babe Jesus and know that there is nothing more I want out of life than the hope, the love, and the peace that He brings. He is the ultimate gift. He is the gift that restores the joy and the exuberance for life that we lost as we grew up. He brings a smile to our faces that spread from ear to ear. When we open the gift that God so wonderfully gave us, we find that Christ’s love radiates out from us to others. We can’t help but become those hopeful young children who know that even though the odds are against them there is still a chance that they will still get what they want. The difference is that we know we have not only what we want, but also what we need.

Christmas is just days away. We look forward to celebrating the day that God gave us the gift of hope and unconditional love. If you haven’t unwrapped the gift of the Savior yet, I encourage you to do so. If you have unwrapped the gift but you just set it aside, I encourage you to take another look at it once again. You may be surprised at how beautiful, how wonderful, and how utterly perfect this gift is. Allow Christ to bring joy, hope, and peace into your life. Let His love radiate from you.

My children are hoping to lose their two front teeth in hopes that they will get two new ones for Christmas. I am hoping to lose my lack of faith, my anger, and my despair and through the gift of Jesus I know I will find hope, peace, and a joy that my heart cannot contain. I am excited to open my gift. I hope you are too.

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Advent Catechism Christmas Crafts Domestic Church Faith Formation Homeschool Ink Slingers It Worked For Me Liturgical Year Mary Motherhood Parenting Raising Saints

Ten Liturgical Activities for Advent

This article would actually apply for any Catholic family, not just home educators as it deals with liturgical activities for Advent.  

Today in the United States of America we celebrate Thanksgiving.  As I thought and thought about what I could possibly write about without boring you (and really, who is online on Thanksgiving?), I thought the one thing I am most thankful for is being Roman Catholic. With that came to mind the thought that we are beginning a brand new Liturgical Year!  This time of year is SO BUSY and our lives seem to go on overdrive.  It is rather exhausting at times and reminds me of when we used to do “vacations” to theme parks- wake up, go, go, go, crazy, repeat!

A couple of years ago we decided to END the craziness in our lives during Advent and refocus on the birth of Christ. For starters, we don’t decorate for Christmas until the 24th.  It is rather convenient that my family lives in Florida and my husband’s lives in Virginia, so we do not need to leave the house for anything on the 24th and love it!  One of the things I did was create activities which were meaningful for my small children.  I think at the time they were 12, 6, 5, 3, and 1 when I made this.  This little kit is free and available to anyone with this link. I hope it will bring peace and calm to your Advent! Please make sure that you share this Catholic Sistas link if you want to share the files with others (versus sharing the files directly with them).  Thank you.

LOGO Advent

Here is what is included in this printable liturgical kit:

1. REFLECT: A form letter to Baby Jesus, listing things the child will be thankful for and what they plan on working on during Advent:

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2. WORKS OF MERCY. This page is a Christkindl activity, they get to do random acts of kindness (anonymously) for someone else in the family:

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3.  ENJOYMENT: Some fun coloring pages. One of the Holy Family and one to learn about the Advent Wreath.

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4. CRAFT & SHARE the FAITH: Here is a craft activity to share the faith by making big Advent candles that get “lit” when they weeks continue.

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5. PRAYER. Make an Advent Prayer chain to pray for a different person or thing each day of Advent.

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6. CALENDAR: Learn about the Advent season by creating your own calendar.

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7.  VOCABULARY: Have the children learn some Advent vocabulary words.

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8.  PUZZLES. Help the Holy Family get to Bethlehem.

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9. RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS:  When “caught being good”, your child adds more “hay” into the manger for Baby Jesus.

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10. MATH PUZZLES.  In addition to vocabulary, why not add some Math into the activities?  Here the children make “puzzles” out of the pictures of the Blessed Mother, Saint Joseph, and the Holy Family then glue them down on the right order or sequence to remake the picture.
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To access the entire file, please click on this link:

Advent – Liturgical Activities for Catholic Children