We are but a week away from Advent 2014 and I have just found a post I began writing on November 30, 2013. Oh my!
As I reread my thoughts on Advent 2013: Discipline and Delight as We Await the Light of the World I could not help but to inwardly chastise myself. Looking around at my my messy home and busy calendar right now leads me to think that Advent 2013 and subsequent days unfolded here with less discipline and delight than I felt I was being called to focus upon.
However, I also smile as I reflect further, flipping through pictures from last December. Advent 2013 had its own merits and beauty and did, in some ways, continue to prepare us for our Lord's coming - past, present and future. See..
Advent 2013 Plans for Discipline and Delight as We Await the Light of the World (Which Were Not Fully Realized)
|Nina was delighted on Christmas morning 2013, putting baby Jesus in one of our nativity sets.|
For the past two weeks, I have been praying and thinking about our family’s Advent plans for this year. Sitting down with our 2011 Alphabet of Plans for a Literature-Based Family Advent Rich in Sensory Input and Special Activities and our 2012 Literature-Rich Advent Alphabet of Faith, Others, then Selves Including Ideas for Montessori, Workboxing, Sensory, Motor Skills and Traditional Activities made me smile with memories. However, it did not stir my heart this year... nor bring my Advent 2013 planning any closer to its conclusion.
In fact, every time I sat down to write out our Advent 2013 plans, I got side-tracked. Day-to-day duties, children’s needs, distracting health concerns... These things and more worked against me wrapping up our family Advent planning prior to Thanksgiving as I had hoped to do.
Now I know why.
I needed Thanksgiving to unfold so that I would recognize that an ABC Advent may not be the “right” framework for us this year. In fact, it might not even be the best starting point.
|The middle of a Thanksgiving that was filled with so much literal thanks giving...|
I needed to listen to the homily at Mass on Thanksgiving morning while my husband graciously stayed home to take care of two awake children and one sleeping one. Yes, I needed too get a fuller message of “Give!”.
|Making ornaments for others and sharing love and service through our annual Advent chain was a part of our Advent 2013, but there certainly could have been more giving.|
I also needed to look up at the stained glass image of Jesus above the altar. To understand, “Focus on me. Focus on beauty.”
|Time in Adoration, at Mass, with devotionals and engaging the children in impromptu Nativity Story play helped focus us on the Lord last Advent.|
I needed to cry with unexpected, grateful silent tears after sharing in the Eucharist. To be grateful to be His child and to be the mother of my own children.
|How could I not be so grateful for my silly children as they celebrated the new liturgical year?|
I needed to come home to see my husband and children playing with a toy that the kids had been begging me to bring upstairs for them, but that I had not wanted to be “bothered” with due to its many small pieces. Yes, I needed to recognize that we are blessed with abundant “stuff” and those blessings become exponentially magnified when we take the time to share enjoyment with that stuff together. Too often, I busy my children with one thing so I can go do another. My presence should be their present more often.
|They may not remember simple sled rides when they grow up, but I sue hope they remember Mom enjoying everyday time with them!|
Still further, I needed to click through a number of years worth of snapshots looking for a good one for my niece’s birthday card, but instead bumping into many forgotten images of Mike, mine and our children’s past. Images that made me cry – with thanksgiving and with sorrow. Thanksgiving for challenges overcome and blessings enjoyed. Sorrow at photos that evidenced how purposefully and fully I began our homeschooling adventures and how distracted I have become at times since then. It is time to dispel distraction and to sharpen focus once more.
|Jack loved working with me on these Montessori-inspired phonics sound boxes I made him last Advent. Why did we not continue to learn with such materials? Distractions!|
Still further, I needed to bake up the cod that my children had requested and that my husband had run out to get... to pack that cod with asked-for corn, squash, GFCF pumpkin pie filling and organic cranberry sauce into a laundry basket to bring to our extended family’s Thanksgiving table. Happy to accommodate our children and to provide them with healthy options for eating, grateful to be able to tailor simple things to their needs and desires.
|Someone liked his turkey leg, too!|
Then, as I departed for the extended family Thanksgiving, I needed to glance at the rooms of my home with an “ugh”, unable to overlook what disarray the house was in before I departed for a family feast at my parent’s house, which my mother has always kept in homey order. Yes, I needed be honest with myself: The need to prepare our home is ever-present.
|When messes like this blanket for from Advent 2013 happen, I am okay with that. It's the disaster the rest of my house is that makes me continue to recognize the need to prepare our home.|
I also needed to spend time together with extended family. To share boisterous conversation and feasting balanced by a quiet game of checkers with my son and some special one-on-one time with a niece that I don’t see often anymore. Yes, I needed to have the afternoon and evening reiterate a message I have heard more and more often lately – Pause! Pause is good. Breathing in space is vital.
|I am so thankful I made room in our schedule for pause some days last Advent and that weatehr brought more. Moments like this when Nina beamed as we tracked animal prints were so simple, yet so powerfully joy-filled!|
Finally, I needed to sit, quietly, after putting away leftovers and tidying up a bit at home, reflecting, praying and letting the blessings of the day – and the messages of it – sink in:
Discipline. Delight. Giving. Purpose. Prayer. Pause. Balance. One-on-one time. Preparing our home. Opening our hearts. Listening to our Lord and being moved to better accept and express love.
These things are what this year’s Advent must include for our family this year..."
How is the Spirit working in you to direct your Advent this year? I do believe I am being called once again toward Discipline and Delight.