A Message For the 2011 Twelve Holy Nights

This is such a special time of year for me.  As a Christian, the season of Christmas starts on Christmas Day and extends through January 5th, and then we move into the season of Epiphany.  This time of year, for me, is one of the major times of the year when I am off the computer, I spend more time thinking and dreaming and planning.  I spend time connecting with what vision I want to create for the coming year, and spend lots of time with family and friends and being outside in nature.  It is lovely.

In the past, I have chosen a focus of inner work personal to me, much like what Lynn Jericho does, to work really work off an inspiration for these twelve holy days. In the past I have worked with being easy with myself, one year I worked with “letting go”, one year I worked with love, one year I worked with “no comment”.   This year, I have been feeling especially inspired by this passage from Brother Victor-Antoine D’avila-LaTourrette in the book, “A Monastery Journey to Christmas”, which runs through Candlemas on February 2nd: “We can only find peace and calmness within the confines of our own selves.  Inner peace is a gift from the Lord.  Let us beseech him day and night for his gift.  And let us help him by cultivating actively all those things that lead to inner peace.  Like the angels on that first Christmas night, let us pray and work for peace on earth.”  How can I be a part of peace this year – peace in my heart, peace in my home, peace in my community, peace in the world?

There are some resources out there to help you celebrate the Holy Nights. Continue reading

Guest Post: A Gentle Santa Lucia Story by Tiziana Boccaletti

There was a gentle Santa Lucia story by Tiziana Boccaletti on the Our Little Nature Nest blog.  Since that blog has been taken private, I asked Tiziana if she would be willing to share this sweet Santa Lucia story here so families could find and share it with their own loved ones.  Tiziana generously agreed, and here is her story: Continue reading

Plans For The First Week of Advent

Some of you have asked for very simple plans regarding Advent.  I thought I would share the very simple things my family and I are doing each week.  Some things are geared toward the youngest members of the family, and some are not.   You can just pick and choose and take what resonates with you out of this as a good match for your family!

Throughout Advent, I will be using this book for my own meditation:http://www.amazon.com/Monastery-Journey-Christmas-Victor-Antoine-DAvila-Latourrette/dp/0764820818   and for the children we will read the Gospel portion of the day’s lectionary out loud.  I am also working through the Book of Isaiah on my own.

I think the main thing to keep in mind is that Advent is a time to slow down, and just enjoy each other, to pray, to fast, to repent, to prepare – so if having a list like the following pressures you or makes you feel not happy inside, then don’t do it or  again, pick and choose for your own family what is best.

These are some of my ideas for this week; we may not do them all at all! Continue reading

An Attitude of Gratitude

It is Thanksgiving today in the United States.  Instead of ringing in Thanksgiving in my nice cozy bed, I find myself awake and contemplating gratitude.  How can I bring an attitude of gratitude to my family and my home today and every day?

I was thinking about words…sometimes in the heat of the moment, in a time of tension or even just in a time of minor irritation, words come out that no one really means.  Adults apologize, and yet those words can enter the soul and wound.  I have met many emotionally wounded people in this past month and so much of it caused by words…I was thinking today how I would like to step up the vigilance I place on the words I choose and use.  This thought of being present with a smile, a nod, a reassuring pat, of not offering advice unless asked, the thought of always having an encouraging word to say…and showing my gratitude through the words I do choose.

You are wonderful.  I love you.

You are terrific.

Thank you.

I couldn’t do this without you!

I love this moment with you.

I am thankful to have you in my life.

I was thinking about showing gratitude through warmth…the emotional warmth that comes from being loved. Continue reading

Holiday Gifts For Children

Many families are starting to think about holiday gifts (and perhaps panicking a bit as the holidays seem a bit closer than one realizes!)

I wanted to reiterate my plea for having a very healthy, fun, beautiful and peaceful holiday with a limited focus on the external trappings of gifts, consumerism and commercialism.  I don’t know if any of you remember the lovely guest that Christine Natale did last year for The Parenting Passageway and talked about some of her traditions that were not centered on the materialistic things, but on joyous fun and generosity spread out throughout a season:   http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/12/06/christine-natales-musings-on-saint-nicholas-day-and-starting-new-holiday-traditions/

My number one suggestion would be to see if you can extend a generous attitude of giving to both your children and those outside your family for the whole season. Continue reading

Planning for Advent…

Today my oldest child noted, “I don’t know why, but I feel like its Christmas!”  Well, it is the beginning of Advent for some Christians, and I am thinking about Advent myself.  The Orthodox Christian churches start their Nativity Fast today (forty days before The Feast of the Nativity or Christmas), and in the West, the Church of France actually also held the same tradition.  I think children hold these innate truths more clearly than we as adults do; they just KNOW.

I am starting my own inner Advent work today and am starting to make plans for slowly focusing on the things that are important to me as I slow down, pray, be quiet and still and just reflect and think.

There can be so much “busyness” around the holiday season, that I think it is easy to get very caught up and frantic rather than quietly anticipation and demonstrating our own peacefulness with a holding of truly what this season means unless we make plans for these small pockets of stillness.

I have some plans for handcrafting….I am making two wool pictures of Saint Francis for both of my girls’ rooms, and will be making a few small sewn items for a stocking stuffer swap taking place over on www.homespunwaldorf.com.  I also have plans for baking and for making a beeswax salve for gifts.

But most of all, I have plans for gathering up extended family and just having a joyous time together.  I have plans for doing things at church.  I have plans for doing something small each day to help my children draw still and quiet and reflect in a reverent way on this time.

I would love to hear your plans for holiday crafting, baking or Advent ideas.    If you are celebrating Hanukah or another holiday, I would love to hear from you as well.

Many blessings,
Carrie

Paring Down

This is the time of year where I always start to just withdraw a bit…the colder air, the darkness, the holidays coming and needing time to prepare….it always causes this shift in me.  Does it in you?

I think about…

Clothing for myself and the children:  what do we really need, what do we really wear?  How much is enough?  If I have just a few outfits, I especially like skirts, and some tops, I am fairly happy.  I find the more clothes my children have, the more overwhelmed they are.  I love paring down clothes.

Clutter.  This is such a good time of year to really go through closets, drawers, and really get things to be neater and simpler before the holidays.

The garden.  What needs pruning, what needs fertilizing, what needs mulching?

The kitchen.   What can I pare down and give away and what will I really need for holiday baking and cooking?

Our schedules.  We often are much better at cleaning up our homes than we are to say no to things in our schedule.  (At least I am!)  But, almost every winter we take breaks from things and honor our need to be home and together, to celebrate that inward journey of Advent.  This year I am making my way through this little book for Advent:  http://www.amazon.com/Monastery-Journey-Christmas-Victor-Antoine-DAvila-Latourrette/dp/0764820818/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1320292679&sr=8-1  and want to have the space and time to just be.

It feels good to let go of things, to pare down, to relax and slow down.  Where are you these days?  How are you feeling?

Many blessings,

Carrie

Links To Give You Courage This Michaelmas Day!

I hope everyone is celebrating a wonderful Michaelmas today!  May all of our dragons be slayed, may our courage and clarity carry us forth!

There are so many of you whom I turn to for inspiration and with such gratitude, and today I wanted to mention a few posts that really give me courage.  These posts are authentic and real!  I love that!

Homeschooling and parenting is NOT for the faint of heart, not if you are involved and immersed in it.  Sometimes mothers will tell me they feel so much better knowing I have my days where I cry or get angry or have a rotten day.  Not because they want that for me, but because I think we all feel better knowing we are not alone and that we are all striving!  Me too!

So here are some inspiring reads for you!  Continue reading

Musings On The Feast Of Pentecost: Whitsunday

One Anglican resource that is made for children, The Sunday Papers, always has a little note for parents on the back to help families garner a deeper understanding of the festivals of the year.

I especially loved this quote:

We do not have clear and emotionally affecting mental images of the Spirit, because the Spirit is the very power working within us that enable us to image and love the Father and the Son.  The Spirit is the voice of prayer, prayer through us when we turn with love and longing to our Creator and beg to be made new in the image of Jesus…..the Spirit is what connects us to each other and to God, so that a movement of atoms in my brain becomes living speech, understandable to you.  The Pentecostal images of fire, wind, and speech are all forces that move, invisibly, to animate and set in motion.

I love Pentecost. My favorite part in the whole Mass is the simultaneous speaking of The Gospel in many languages.  It is astonishing, confusing perhaps even, a most surprising liturgy.

Continue reading