Tuesday, December 17, 2013

O Christmas Tree: Rejoice the 3rd week of Advent Dec 17, 2013

Sometimes the chaos of the season seems to steamroll any source of peace you try to schedule in. Despite the craziness last week we were able to enjoy and laugh at a few moments.

The Hunt: Last Sunday we went to get our tree. It is our tradition to cut our tree out of the pasture behind my in-laws house as we did this year. Each year it is challenging to fit it in because of other events and it is actually hunting season, deer hunting. So after church we bundled up and added our hunters orange and headed out for the tree. We were on a time schedule due to a Christmas party our daughter had that afternoon. To help us stay on the schedule we were hurried by the entrance of a couple hunters coming into the pasture next to ours. This of course made me a little nervous, even though they were well aware of our loud family of 7 a couple hundred feet from them. We decided we better make a decision between the trees we had found so far, which was an easy one since one of the two choices, and unfortunately the favorite of the kids, was about 6foot in diameter. A little too big for our house thought they had creative ways in mind to make it fit. So the boys cut down the tree and we packed it up and all loaded back into the truck all while my husband tried to keep our noise down out of respect for the hunters. Only to find we had lost the dog. So we had to drive circles around calling and whistling for her. He worried that she followed the hunters, me worried that our 12yr old dog had a heart attack in the woods following the truck. As it turns out she found my in-laws dog and they were by the gate running energetically around. So we headed out and not long after so did the hunters, probably figured we scared any deer within a mile away.

Clustered ornaments
 Decorating Party: That evening we brought the tree into the house and began decorating. The kids of course were crazy, Dad and all. Getting all the wrestling out of their system before it was no longer allowed in the living room with the fully decorated tree. Back when we just had 2 kids a wrestling match knocked our tree to the ground. Christmas music on and me trying to keep the little ones form tearing through the ornaments box it felt a little out of control. I then made a conscience effort to try to relax and not be so controlling while decorating. I still helped hand out ornaments and made sure the correct kids got to hang their special ornaments, but I actually let the kids get one out of the box after that. That is a big step for me. After the decorating was done, I only moved ornaments that I hung personally to fill in the holes, also very hard for me. You know though some of the crazy hangings really made the tree look great. For some reason the kids hung many ornaments tight to the trunk which at first I wanted to spread them out, but at the end I liked it. There was also the competition of who could hand the highest and lowest ornaments. The highest besides the topper was hung with a roll of wrapping paper and the lowest, by our 3 year old by accident. Her big brother was impressed it was so low it sits on the ground. Later I had a flash back to my days growing up and decorating the tree. My dad had made for our first Christmas a cardboard star wrapped in aluminum foil for a tree topper. As years passed my mom wanted to put angels or fancier stars atop. We kids just wanted that star. Our first Christmas my mom bought an angel for our tree topper so we would have our own. I myself would have that star as I have yet to see a star I liked as much. As it seems though I am now in my mom’s shoes as my youngest said her favorite ornament on the whole tree is our pretty angel on top. I am afraid it will be there for the long haul. 
Highest Ornament
Lowest Ornament
Final Product

Rejoice the 3rd Week in Advent: So as I wrap this up and am on the home stretch for the shopping that has been haunting me. I listen to a short Christmas song from the clock my Mom bought us last year, which I owe her a thank you. It has many times been a breath of Christmas calm as the clock reaches each hour of each day and plays a short traditional Christmas carol. With three advent candles lit, the pink one symbolizing REJOICE as we are in the homestretch and final preparations for the celebration of Christmas. An appropriate theme as I rejoice to finish shopping and having the chance to enjoy things like our beautiful tree, Christmas shows, Christmas lights,  baking& eating, time with my children and husband, parties with family and friend, and final preparations. Rejoice to feel the Christmas spirits grow in the celebration of an amazing gift from God, the birth of Jesus.

Below are the readings for the week, which I have strayed from. Sorry for not posting them last week:
Monday Nm24:2-7, 15-17a/Mt21:23-27
Tuesday: Gn 492, 8-10/Mt 1:1-17
Weds: Jer 23:5-8/Mt 1:18-25
Thurs: Jgs 13:2-7, 24-25a/Lk 1:5-25
Fri: Is 7:10-14/Lk 1:26-38
Sat: Sg2:8-14 or Zep 3:14-18a/Lk 1:39-45
Sun: Is 7:10-14/Rom 1:1-7/Mt 1:18-24

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Stay Awake! - Advent the 1st week 2013

 We had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend with the chance to visit with both sides of the family. All were present at both dinners, 27 on each side. So much to be thankful for, time with family and friends, all the safe travels, and the continual blessing in our lives! As Thanksgiving falls into the past we start preparing for Christmas, the season of Advent is upon us.  There is so much craziness in the preparations, Black Friday chaos, Christmas lists, decorations we can go on and on. Just as last year I am hoping to bring in a little more of what Advent is really about, balancing the excitement and the peace of the season in our house. We ended our weekend before traveling home with Sunday mass in my home town and the homily really got me thinking.  This was part of the Gospel reading for Sunday.

Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. Be sure of this: if the master of the house had know the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into. So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.  Matthew 24: 42-44

The Priest began his homily speaking of how hard it is to make a long drive when tired. This caught my attention immediately as I have driven many late nights and early mornings. We just drove early morning 2 days earlier to get to my parents for Thanksgiving. He asked us to think of all the things we do to stay awake. I know just the things that work for me and I am prepared with them each time just in case.  This morning I think of all the late night shoppers for Black Friday and the effort put forth to stay awake to save some money.  For all of these worldly things we work so hard to be awake for we give ourselves the tools to make it happen; caffeine, sunflower seeds, cold air, music or just plain excitement of the event. As the priest continued he spoke of how Advent is the season of preparing. I prepared for the normal explanation of preparing for the celebration of the birth of Jesus. Instead though he gave me a new look at these preparations.  Think of it as preparing for the next coming of Christ. Use the season to work on staying awake in our faith and living our life as Christ would want.

What tools do we have to help with this? Unfortunately it isn’t accomplished by a large cup of coffee. Of course we all think of the normal things, helping others by donating, working at food pantries, Christmas adoptions, the priest mentioned these but there was more than this in his challenge.  He spoke of the small everyday things to keep us awake in Christ.   

…But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the desires of the flesh. Romans 13:14

“Put on the Lord Jesus Christ.” Wow that is a big task. I often think of the love Jesus radiates. Can you imagine if each person in our world showed a fraction of his love what a beautiful place it would be? The priest spoke of three ideas for the season; spending time reading scripture, praying, and giving of yourself to others.  As it is worth the effort to find ways to stay awake to make it to my desired destination when driving it is also worth the effort to stay awake spiritually to get to the most desired destination, Heaven.   So for Advent I am going to work on finding more ways to put on Jesus as I start each day as Paul stated in Romans above and would encourage you to try to also.

Read Scripture: One suggestion was to read the daily readings. This is what I plan to do as a family this year for Advent, starting 4 days behind, not surprising for me.  The daily readings can be found in most church bulletins or if you do not have that at your church you can find a list for this week below. I’ll try to remember to include them on my blog each week of advent.  There are also many Advent Family Studies, which we used last year that give readings and discussion for each day or just open your bible and read.  

Prayer:  Praying for the people you know and people you don’t. Not only those in trouble but for all. If you participated in a Christmas adoption add them to your prayers.  Maybe you see someone who looks to be having a pretty rough day. Say a quick prayer.  Tiny prayers are important too. God wants to be in every aspect in our life, he has time to help us with even the smallest tasks.  I recently started using a jar to put my prayer intentions in. As I think of a need however small I add it to the jar. Then once a day I light a candle next to it. Each time I walk by it is a visual reminder to say a prayer for all the intentions in the jar. Sometimes I say the Our Father and other times it is more specific. I have opened the opportunity to my family to add to the jar.  The priest gave another suggestion for a prayer reminder. Carry something like a cross or prayer card in your pocket. Each time you felt it you would be reminded of God and say a little prayer of thanks or of need as it feels fit for the moment.

Give of yourself:  Look past the obvious list from above. Think of ways to continuously give of your time throughout the day. Consider how we treat others in our life, close to us and those we may share just short moments with as we cross each other’s paths. Use kind words and a smile. Show your understanding to the Mom with the screaming baby at the grocery store; we have all been that Mom. Take time to truly listen to what someone has to say. Avoid the need to rush to the next destination so you have time for a 2 minute conversation. Maybe with someone who lives alone from church or another Mom to help each other breath in the business of life? Both are a good use of 2 minutes. Listen to the elderly women who starts a conversation with you in Wal-Mart. Listen when your daughter sings her Christmas song from music for the 100th time, and maybe sing along. Take time to hear your son’s aches and pains that appear only at bedtime each night and give him comfort. Be aware of those around you. Invite someone to church or to your house this season. Make a phone call to say hello. In our busy lives this is the hardest thing to give, our time.
Keep your eyes open for the opportunity to share Gods love. This opportunity presents itself more often than we think and many times just in our own home and in very simple ways.  Add more scripture, prayer and giving this Advent and STAY AWAKE as you drive through life!  

Scripture readings for Dec 1-7:

Sunday: Is 2:1-5, Rom13:11-14, Gospel Mt24:37-44

Monday: Is 4:2-6, Mt 8:5-11

Tuesday Is 11:1-10, Lk 10:21-24

Wednesday Is 25:6-10a/ Mt 15:29-37

Thursday Is 26:1-6/Mt 7:21, 24-27

Friday Is 29:17-24/Mt 9:27-31

Saturday Is 30:19-21, 23-26/Mt9:35, 10:1, 5a, 6-8

Monday, November 18, 2013

Chiefs vs Broncos

Many may know that yesterday the Kansas City Chiefs played the Denver Broncos.  This is not the topic I expected to be writing about this morning but it strangely had quit an impact on me yesterday. I spent much of the day wondering which team to cheer for. I know this may sound silly but I had more than just a football game on my mind. You may have read before in my post Family Time talking about our household K-State family. I have no trouble cheering for Kansas State and wear my purple proudly it was my school my alma mater.  But the Chiefs were a different story; they were the rival, my KU when I was growing up.  As I mentioned before my first football team was the Denver Broncos. It has been a going joke in our family to tease me about liking the Broncos. My husband and boys are Chiefs fans. My oldest daughter a Bronco fan mostly just to annoy her brothers and Dad, and the younger girls cheer for whoever is doing better at the moment.

In the past I had no hesitation cheering for the Broncos with my daughter. The boys knew there was a good chance the Chiefs would lose since last year at this time they were 1-9 not 9-1. This game for some reason was hard. With the Chiefs on the edge of their undefeated record they had a good shot to win. This game meant so much for the Chiefs and more importantly MY BOYS. They so badly wanted them to win especially my oldest. He has been a diehard fan regardless of the season. Every year he’d say this is going to be the year the Chiefs go to the Super bowl.  I knew if they lost he would be so disappointed. So how could I cheer against his team, he cared much more about the outcome of the game than I did. The hard part came when I wondered does that mean I was considering cheering against the Broncos? I have been routing for the Chiefs along with my boys, they have grown on me a little since I have lived in Kansas now for 15 years. I do not have a Chiefs shirt or anything but it is good to see them do well. But I have yet to cheer for them against the Broncos. How was I even considering this?

Now you may be thinking how silly, it’s a football game. As I was pondering my options it felt like so much more. If I cheered against the Broncos it felt like I was letting go of a part of me. I was a Bronco fan, I am from Colorado, that is my home and they are my home team. If any of you live away from where you grew up you likely understand. Especially if your family is still there. It’s an internal battle of allowing yourself to settle in and embracing your new location and feeling like that means you are giving up where you came from as your “home”. That is what cheering against the Broncos felt like. I already worry of the day I will have lived in Kansas longer than in Colorado. I am quickly approaching that time. I lived in Colorado 16 years, in Kansas/Colorado for 5, and now in Kansas for 15. When I hit 17 what did that mean?

So what did I do? I cheated. I only half watched the game and actually dozed off at half time. I tried to not to care either way.  I didn’t want my son to be disappointed but I didn’t want to not cheer for my home team. I even threatened to turn off the game if they kept not so nicely teasing each other.

I know my Broncos are not the same team after all it is hard for me to imagine Peyton Manning as a Bronco?  Elway and the 3 amigos are the players of my day and they are long gone. I hardly knew any of the players by name it wasn’t the same football team. Things change just like the players on the team. That doesn’t mean I am not me. Though I am living in a different state and I am the only one in my house that wasn’t born in Kansas I feel at home in our town with my family. My home town and my parent’s house have changed. But I still feel at home when I walk into the house and get excited to see the welcome to Greeley sign when drive into town. Do I have to cheer for either team? Can’t I just be neutral and have 2 homes?  After all home is where the heart is and my heart has room for both places.

 So though a tie would have been perfect, my younger son informed me that wasn’t an option. The Broncos came out ahead, and my daughter wore her Peyton Manning shirt to school proudly this morning. My boys were disappointed but already talking about how the Chiefs will win when they play in KC and went to school smiling this morning too. The world went on and I was still me when I woke up this morning.  So as it turns out it was just a football game and I made it through without giving up my past and still embracing the present. For now it is over and I have a few weeks break before I have to decide who to cheer for again. This weekend we can just embrace our purple and white and cheer together for the Wildcats!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

One Year of Blogging – Focus Goals Week of Nov 3, 2013

On Oct 31, I had been blogging for 1 year on Scratch Paper Essays. People always say the older you get the faster time passes. Isn’t that the truth? So I decided to look back over the year the goods and bad.  

The good, it was fun to see the record of events and thoughts I have that maybe my kids will have to read someday. It is nice read and re-focus! To see the progress I have made. The bad was I have a record of events and thoughts that sometimes when I re-read I realize I lack focus and in many areas and I haven’t come very far in a year. I plan to go back through and evaluate where I am at, what needs more time, what worked, what didn’t, my end of year job evaluation.

I debated if my blog was worth the time and I think it is. I have so much left to do in organizing my Home and House and my blog helps keep on track. If I can make little improvement each year, each month and each day to my chaos while doing it I can’t go wrong.

Thank you to all who have been reading and following. I leave blogger open for the day when I post to see how many page views there are and when I receive an email there is a comment it is very exciting. It feels good to know people actually read what you have to say, what can I say I am human. It is motivation to me. Please never hesitate to share good and bad comments or email me if you would rather not share with all, mom2five@scratchpaperessays.com

Here is a list of my Top Ten Posts from Oct 31, 2012 – Oct 31, 2013

FOCUS Goals for week of Nov 3, 2013
New Goals, comments, and excuses are in purple below.
Goals for a Better Home
1. Personal Focus to better my relationship with God.
·         Start and end each day with prayer & read two chapters in the Bible. I am going to try to read the passages laid out in our video series. So far he has talked about books that I have read, but this week he will jump ahead of me and I am not sure I will understand as well if I haven’t read them before.
·         Attend Catholic Video Series 2 Salvation History. This video series is so exciting I am learning and understanding so much. I want to share it all! There is so much information, if you are interest here is the link you can read the written version.Salvation History   

2. Remove distractions at key times.
·        No computer 6:30-8:00am and 3:00-5:00pm. (I have really been trying to lesson my computer time, and as it has in the past it helps)   
·        Continue to value and eliminate extras in my life that take away from my family.   
3. Add something to give more of me to my family.
·         Share pieces of what I learn about faith in my study with my family. (This is fun; the kids seem to really enjoy talking about it and get as excited as I do. My Dad bought us “The Bible” miniseries. I am hoping to start watching it one night per week it seemed like good timing since their interest is so high.
·         Do something this week with each person that is an activity of their choice. (I like this. The things are small and sometimes just involve conversation.

Goals for a Better House
1. Daily Check Points: GET IT DONE!!! This week I am getting back there finally!
2. Weekly: Continue working on my tomorrow list. I made a new list this week, with just one set of rollover items, so doing better!
3. Monthly: Project List. My list is partially done. I need to sit down with my husband and finalize our plans. This is our “off season” or non soccer season and each year we talk about how much we will get done during our slow time and it slips through our fingers each year. I am hoping this is not the cause this year.