No Thanksgiving? No Advent? Just Christmas!


NO!

If someone posts another pic of their Christmas tree, I am going to to freak out. And do something crazy.

I don't know what. But, something not good.  Maybe. Well, probably not.

BUT STILL! a;jhfoweuabfnsld,fmnoawe... that's how I feel about that.  I am uber annoyed with the amount of Christmas things that I have seen SO EARLY this year. With all the Christmas trees, and carols and stockings and lights and, and, and...



Exactly.

I know up north where it's been snowing and freezing for weeks, maybe it feels more Christmasy and what not. But, no! It's not. Even if it feels like it outside. (And, oh, how I miss that feeling!)

We are so quick to put up our decorations, skip right through the holiday that makes us slow down and give thanks for our many blessings, and have it be Christmas. And then, be all sad when it's December 26th and we have to take down all of the cheer.

That's not what it's supposed to be. That's not the intention for the season. The season of Advent OR of Christmas. Because, let's all remember that Christmas is a SEASON not just a day. If the Vatican can leave their decorations up until February 2nd, then so can I! Oh, and I will.

I joined up with the Blessed is She chat on Twitter this past week where we were talking about preparing for Advent. It was so fun (and overwhelming... lots going on with those Twitter chats!)! It was also really encouraging to see how other women were getting ready for Advent, and how they were going to be intentional about preparing their hearts, souls and families for Jesus' birth. It was beautiful!

As a side note... you know what else was beautiful about that chat?? The fact that we as WOMEN were connecting. We are married, single, with and without kids, young and older (not old!!), all connecting because of our shared faith. Shared love for the Lord. And our desire to grow closer to Him. #beautiful #BISchat  ;) 

And then, at my young adults meeting the other day we also talked about Advent. And, I was a little disappointed and surprised by how so many people have no qualms about decorating early, listening to Christmas music, etc. What?! It's so hard for me to understand. Is this one of those times where my super traditional/conservative side comes out??

Maybe.

But, I like it. I don't want to rush Christmas. I already cannot BELIEVE Thanksgiving is in 5 days. FIVE DAYS. Why would I want to rush and get to Christmas already?

Our Church is beautiful in it's liturgical seasons. She recognizes our ability to speed through life. Yet she makes us slow down, think, reflect and pray. With our new year upon us, and our Advent season juuuuust about to start, it's a great time to make some resolutions about our faith/prayer life! And, life in general.

Here is what I am going to work on this Advent season:

  • Journal everyday with the Blessed is She Advent journal
  • Go to adoration twice a week
  • Put out a new decoration every day of Advent (it was really fun last year!)
  • Continue reading Scott Hahn's latest book, Joy to the World  (and review it)
And some liturgical new year resolutions, that will probably change, but for now:
  • Continue to go to confession weekly
  • Go on at leasts two retreats in the next year
  • Pray more fervently about God's will in my life.
  • Well, pray more, in general.

What about you?! Does all of this Christmas-really-early-business drive you crazy, too? And how will you be preparing for Christmas during Advent this year?

Please share so I don't feel alone in my efforts. :) :)



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NAS: How do you pray at home?


How do you pray at home? Do you have a special place in your house? How do you make that area special? Comfy chair? Prayer cards? What suggestions do you have to make a home altar? If you don't do this, in what ways can you begin?
Thanks, Danny, for the suggestion!



Hello there! Ok, I am really looking forward to what you all have to say about this. Danny emailed me this topic suggestion... and I think it's a great one! We all pray in our house at some point, right?  Do you do anything special to mark that time?

Me? Well... I mean... I don't do much honestly.

I have a crucifix/cross in every room of my house... so that when I do say my quick prayers, I have something to focus on.


And when I'm really journaling/praying, I am out on my porch, with coffee, writing away.

But, I don't have a dedicated spot. For those of you who have a dedicated spot, how did you choose it? What things do you have there?? Seriously... I would LOVE to know! :)

And so would everyone else. Link up below!!



**NEED INPUT!**
Remember when we had accountability/prayer partners?! That seems like a lifetime ago. :)
Well! It was suggested that we do it again for our little break. What do you think?!
If you are interested in having an accountability/prayer partner, please email both Morgan and I!
This is not a huge deal, just some communication with your partner through email, text, phone, etc. about things you need prayers for, encouragement and areas you need some extra accountability!
Anything, really!! It's really an awesome thing, I promise.


Next Week!
November 25
The obvious and probably expected: Thanksgiving Post!! :)
In what ways are you thankful? Talk about anything you want here, folks!


December 2
Preparing the Way! {NAS Advent Post}
Happy Advent! How do you prepare you heart, home, etc. for the coming of the Lord? Are there specific recipes or traditions you partake in? Share with us how you are making way for our newborn King!

IMPORTANT!
We will be taking a break for Christmas now and resume with regular posts January 6, 2015!
If you have any suggestions for topics, pleeeeeeease let us know! :)


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Grace Center

I know I have been heavy on the heavy posts lately. I need more pictures around here, don't you think?! I will! Soon!

Buuuuuut, not yet. :)

First, I want to bring your attention to a wonderful organization that was started by a friend of a friend, Marcie (who I have met, so maybe she could be my friend, too!). When she was a teenager she visited Ethiopia and fell in love with the people and knew she had to help in some way.

And in some way she did! :)

If I have gotten the story correct, Marcie left her home of Naples, FL and moved to Ethiopia and began her new life caring for children, which quickly led to what is known today as Grace Center for Children and Families in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia.


Through a holistic approach, Grace Center works hard to "love and nurture impoverished and vulnerable children and women while striving to keep families together. Provide a safe and loving haven to children that have been abandoned and orphaned. Show the love of Christ to all who meet us."

Guh! How amazing, right??? First... Marcie and her story is so inspiring and incredible and I just want to stop what I am doing with everything and go there to help. Right now.

Grace Center seriously does SO MUCH for the people of Bahir Dar. In addition to the 24 children (ages 2 weeks to 13 years) that live at the home, here are some of the other amazing things going on:
  • G.C. has reunited over 90 children to their birth families!
  • Over 100 families have graduated from the programs and are now self sufficient!
  • Through their Feeding Program, over 2,000 people are fed daily. A DAY!
  • To help parents work, G.C. provides day care, after school care and tutoring.
  • There is a special needs program for those children with disabilities.
  • Medical care is provided to the community through Hope Memorial Medical Clinic.
One of the coolest things Grace Center is doing is reaching out to the children that are living in prison. Yes... you read that correctly. 
A mom and her child in the Bahir Dar prison.
In Ethiopia, children often have to grow up in prison when their parent is sentenced. Grace Center is the first and only organization reaching out to the children growing up in prison in Bahir Dar. Grace provided a playground as well as sponsorship so that these children have uniforms and can attend school. Grace Center visits these children and takes them out to play at the playground every week.

What?? Can you imagine living your entire childhood in prison?? Never leaving the walls. Thinking your life wasn't worth anything. Gosh. It's so heartbreaking. Thank God for Grace Center. Thank God they are giving these children (and their moms) hope! Helping them to realize that there IS in fact more to life than just prison.


Each child that lives in the home, part of the after school program or gets food through the feeding program all have their own, unique story. Like this little boy:
Living on the street



First day at Grace.
Almost 2 years old and living on the streets. His mom doing the best she could to care for her child, but it just wasn't enough. He is now living at Grace Center. His first day at his new home was big! A warm meal, a bath, new clothes and playing with toys (which all could have been first time experiences!). Before, his story could have included more pain and death and fear and hunger. Now his new life will be full of hope, love, joy and faith! All thanks to the hard work of Grace Center!


I won't keep going on and on. You can find out more by checking on the website and on Facebook. You can also watch the many videos that gives a wonderful view into the lives of the Bahir Dar people and the life of Grace Center. I will share one with you here:



Thank you for taking the time to read about this amazing organization. All I ask is that you please pray and please spread of the word about Grace Center! Please pray for the children and families: for their health and safety. For Marcie and all of the people that work their tails off providing for the Bahir Dar community! And for those considering donating their time/money, they will choose Grace Center!

Hey, who knows... maybe one day I will be able to share of my experience in Bahir Dar, too! :) God willing.

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All photos and stories are shared with permission from Grace Center Foundation.

To sponsor a child, click here.
To donate, click here.
For any questions, comments or inquiries about volunteering please visit the website or message Grace Center on Facebook

Not Alone Series: Feeling Down?


What ways do you run to implore the Lord's help when you are struggling? Do you always spend time in Adoration? Do you dive into the bible? Automatically go to Confession? Could you be better? And what about those times when things are good and you are joyous? Do you still give the Lord your time?


Hmmm... I am not sure I have much to say on this topic. I feel like I do not do a great job in either scenario.

When I'm struggling.

Or when things are good.

I should be better. I need to be better.

Why? Why don't I surrender more to prayer? Time with the Lord.

Mass. Adoration. LOH.

ALL THE THINGS.

Part of it is a pride thing... part of it is a trust thing... part of it is a lazy thing.

But, all of me knows that things need to change. I need the Lord. I need to rely on Him more. I need to turn to him, even if its for the insignificant things. Because he wants all of us... just as we desire all of Him.

Remember that time I sought you all out to go to Adoration with me?? Yea... about that. I need to get back on that train. Er, just on the train. No getting back on, juuuuust getting on.

So, when I am struggling or when things are good, I think I need to just turn to Him. Close my eyes and reach out. Nothing too extravagant. The more I reach out, the more I will realize His presence in my life, and the easier it will be to rely on His strength and grace.

We have to start somewhere.

What about you?? What do you do when you are struggling?  Link up over at Morgan's! :):)




Next Week!
Prayer Altar/Corner
How do you pray at home? Do you have a special place in your house? How do you make that area special? Comfy chair? Prayer cards? What suggestions do you have to make a home altar? If you don't do this, in what ways can you begin?
Thanks, Danny, for the suggestion!

November 25
The obvious and probably expected: Thanksgiving Post!! :)
In what ways are you thankful? Talk about anything you want here, folks!

December 2
Preparing the Way! {NAS Advent Post}
Happy Advent! How do you prepare you heart, home, etc. for the coming of the Lord? Are there specific recipes or traditions you partake in? Share with us how you are making way for our newborn King!

IMPORTANT!
We will be taking a break for Christmas now and resume with regular posts January 6, 2015!
If you have any suggestions for topics, pleeeeeeease let us know! :)



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OK, stop talking.


hahaha

No, but seriously.

Ever have those moments when you start talking with your new friends about things that maybe should wait until you've been friends for a little longer?

Your relationship with God.

Your worries.

Fears.

Discernment.

But, once you've opened up the can of worms you just have to keep going.


No? This only happens to me?

Hmm... well, what I found with this most recent occurrence is that by talking some things out, I was able to work through some of the crazy that was going on in my head.  I had a sense of clarity about a few things, which is always so good.

AND my new friends didn't seem too weirded out! :) ha. They were interested in what I had to say and didn't go running for the door because this crazy girl started talking about some deep and intimate deets of her life.

And for someone who struggles with feeling like she is worth being loved a lot of times, it was a great reminder, yet again, that I am indeed loved. I have so many wonderful people in my life that love me. That care for and about me. All reminding me of the One who loves me the most.

God is so good with his gentle reminders.


“God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.”
--St Augustine



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