--1--With the beginning of a new (liturgical) year and almost ending of another (calendar) year, I thought perhaps a few Quick Takes might be in order. For starters, I want to say that I still love blogging as much as ever, and my new year's resolution (one of many) is to blog more in 2019, hopefully at least once a month. I miss so many bloggers who have fallen off the radar. So, what do you say? Start a blog in 2019? Revive a blog in 2019? Who's with me? I would love to have a more active blog roll with a few more blogs listed in the coming year.
--2--It's the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary today and I wanted to share this photo of the bouquet of flowers I bought at our local grocery store. I love to buy flowers, especially in the winter, and put them in my kitchen. I always buy the discounted bouquets that have started to fade, and they usually hold up at least a week. Then, when they are really faded, I move them outside and place them on Francis, Karol and Isaac's graves. Anyhow, when I found this particular bouquet last Saturday, I wasn't a big fan of the blue and white, because it looked so artificial, but it was all they had in the under $5 category, so I bought it. Only after I got home did I realize how appropriate the colors were for today's solemnity. And then last night, just as we were preparing to go to the vigil mass for the holy day, I noticed that during the day, the lilies in the bouquet had opened up and were just gorgeous! The Blessed Mother loves lilies, right? So, I took it as a little sign from her because she's always trying to send us hugs from heaven.
--3--Last night, before the vigil mass, this little guy took a big step in preparing for his First Holy Communion this spring. Meet my newest little penitent! I am so stinking proud of him. He struggles with all things new and unknown, and it was a huge leap for him to enter that confessional alone. He stepped out with a grin on his face from ear-to-ear and wanted to know if he can go to confession again next week. LOL! He celebrated with a big piece of cake leftover from St. Nicholas day, a real treat since we don't usually do desserts on Fridays (days of abstinence). What a wonderful way to start off Advent.
--4--Speaking of St. Nicholas day, here are a few pics from that little celebration. We started celebrating St. Nicholas day four years ago, mostly as a way to move the focus away from the secular Santa Claus and more towards Santa Claus, the saint. It was a good move on our part because our boys now look forward to this saint's feast day almost as much as Christmas, plus they know the story behind the real St. Nick. They got shoes filled with candy, a few gifts, and we made ribs on the grill and a gluten/egg-free pineapple upside-down cake. A little gift from God in the form of a light snow the night before, which surprised us with an enchanted white forest outside our windows, was the cherry on top of the day.
--5--Next week, on the feast of St. Lucy, we will hang the lights on our banisters and tree. I like to add the lights first and then put up the other decorations on Gaudete Sunday. The decorations remain until the Baptism of the Lord but the lights stay up until Candlemas. I love doing our decorating in stages like this (much less pressure to get it all.done.now), and it helps us be more mindful of some of the more notable feasts that occur during Advent and Christmastide.
--6--We still don't have any snow but a good snowstorm is in the forecast for Sunday night. My boys are so excited because we only got to go sledding one time last year, and they haven't seen a really good snowfall in almost a year. Even though we homeschool, we do give them "snow days". The rule is that it has to snow more than 3 inches in order to get a day off of lessons. So, they keep asking if we will get 3 inches this Sunday. It's gonna be close, but I have my order in. Moms like snow days, too!
--7--So really, there isn't much news, which is good news. Life just goes on at a pace that I can barely keep up with. When lighting our first Advent candle this past Sunday, we read about how it is the "hope" candle. I have been thinking about that a lot lately...hope. I thought about it last Saturday while attending a funeral for a longtime friend who died rather unexpectedly. Driving 80 miles to the church through a cold, hard rain, suddenly the rain stopped and the clouds broke and in the distance on the horizon, just barely visible, was a rainbow. A sign of hope. And this past week, when my son visited his therapist, whom he has been seeing for years, and she commented that she was being amazed by his progress, I felt hope. And when I reflect upon this past year, the new relationship that God gave us with my child's birthmother, the healing that has occurred in her, and my children, and in me, in the past several months, I can't help but be filled with hope. None of it has come easy, this healing, the losses, but along every step of the way, God gives us little nudges and signs to keep going. Maybe it's a rainbow on the way to a funeral. Maybe it's a lily in a cheap bouquet. Maybe it's a grin from ear-to-ear after a fear is conquered. Or maybe all our hope is held in just a single snowflake, when God knows that all we need is just a day off from the hard stuff.