What Would Chile Do?

Depending on how old the children in your life are, you may not have heard of the sensational kids show, Bluey. It is an Australian show that Disney has picked up and it is, in a word, phenomenal.

Bluey is approximately 6 years old and is, coincidentally, a blue dog. She has a little sister named Bingo, age 4, and parents, mom Chile and dad Bandit. The foursome make up the core cast of the shows which run only 7-10 minutes.

I love this show for many reasons. The music is great, the messages of each episode are excellent, and the show is intentional about speaking to both its young and adult audience.

For example, a favorite episode in our house is called, “Grannies.” Bingo and Bluey are pretending to be grannies (little kid Australian accents while pretending to be old ladies is hysterical!). Bingo keeps doing the floss dance and Bluey insists grannies can’t floss. Eventually, Bingo becomes tired of being told she is wrong and stops playing. Bluey can’t understand why. She’s right after all. They even FaceTimed with their real Granny and she couldn’t do the dance.

Bluey asks her mom what to do and Chile asks a fantastic question back, “Do you want to be right, or do you want Bingo to play with you?” Such a deep question! Which is more important, harmony or winning the argument? Bluey decides on a 3rd option. She calls her granny back and teaches her how to do the dance. She shows Bingo that grannies actually CAN floss and Bingo decides to play again. Bluey sacrificed her original rightness and created a new situation where Bingo was right. Then they celebrated the change together.

Amazing! All in a 10 minute episode!

I could go on. What prompted this post, however, was a specific episode I watched with our little boys one day when I had a stomach bug and couldn’t do much that morning except sit and watch Bluey. The episode is called, “Neighbors.” Chile, the mom, comes into the living room looking for the couch cushions. Bluey has a number of them set up as a pretend house and asks if Chile want to play a game called Neighbors. In most kids tv shows, the mom would either immediately say Yes or No. “Yes, I am a perfect mom who can drop whatever I’m doing to play with you for hours on end.” Or “No, sorry kid, I’m doing whatever is more important and the lesson of this episode is to learn about imaginative or solo play.” Both overgeneralized statements but both things I’ve seen and felt as a viewing adult.

But not Chile. Chile says, “Umm.” Then she looks back to where she came from in a distinct moment of choice. Ultimately, she says yes. That pause is what caught me. The show provided all the adults in the room to watch another “adult” consider the choice in front of them and choose play. Each time my kids ask me to play, there’s a choice there. I can choose to continue what I was doing, or I can choose to join in their game. There are, of course, legitimate times when I do have to say no. But realistically, there are many times I could have said yes and didn’t.

Bluey has been challenging for me as a mom but in such a good way. It takes a light hearted approach to life while instilling good choices and behavior. It makes you stop and think, like the “Ice Cream” episode that causes everyone to wonder what fair actually is and what lengths are worth going to in order to ensure “fairness.” Or in “Take Away” when Bandit, the dad, doesn’t want the girls to get wet in an outdoor faucet while they wait for their take away (in the US we say take out). They have to wait longer than expected (so you can imagine there are antics and spills with the girls) and the owner brings out fortune cookies to apologize for the delay. Bandit’s fortune says, “A flower may bloom again but a person never has the chance to be young again.” Bandit then let’s the girls play as much as they want in the faucet because it’s just water, they will dry, and they will never have the chance to be young again.

Bluey fully embraces the little things in life and the little happinesses of children. The sheer joy a blanket tucked over your head as you make believe you’re a granny. The silliness of your dad-patient while you pretend to be a doctor. It’s not just about kids imagining but also about how their parents join in the play and fully embrace the game.

I could go on and on. From what we’ve watched, I highly recommend you take the time to watch a couple episodes, even if you don’t have kids. It’s that good. I didn’t even talk about “Camping” here but it might be my all-time favorite.

Lots of Bluey love in this house and lots of appreciation for the writers and creators who have made a show so thoughtful for its full range of viewers.

Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com

A Ticket to Heaven

“Putting up with others is a work of mercy: enduring their behavior, awkward manner or perhaps their nagging; in other words, to lovingly disregard what really amounts to minor shortcomings. Similar to feeding the hungry and visiting the sick, this is one of the works that will be asked of us at our final examination.”

Chiara Lubich, Heaven on Earth, pg 47

I have been receiving these daily little snippets of wisdom for a while now. They are mostly the reflections of Chiara Lubich, founder of the Focolare Movement, but there have also been many words of wisdom from Pope Francis’ writings. They range in topic and I never know what the next one will be about. Some hit me square between the eyes (like this one), others are insightful and good to chew on throughout the day.

This one has stayed with me even beyond the day I received it. At first glance, I felt so justified and self-righteous (not exactly the response Chiara intended I’m sure). Look at me, I do this every day! I am home with small children, I “endure their behavior” and their incessant “Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!” cries. Honestly, I’m so good at this, even though the big 4 kids are in full time school now instead of homeschool, I’m still at home with a 3 year old and a 19 month old who, let’s face it, clearly have many shortcomings to grow out of. And let’s not get started on those 4 big kids who come clamoring home every day practically shouting all the things they did at the same time so I can’t think or hear straight. Kids, so much to learn. Thank goodness they have a mom like me who can put up with them. These kids are my ticket to heaven, stamped and ready to go.

If I could see your face right now, dear reader, I imagine I’d see some version of the nervous or anxious emoji. And you’d probably be silently stepping back from me as the lightening from on high was surely coming swiftly.

Wow! Just, wow. What an arrogant string of thoughts! I have many, many reasons to be thankful for our faith and here is but one of them. If I didn’t have a faith lens to check myself with, the above reaction probably would have been the end of that particular string of thoughts. Yikes! Taking the same words of Chiara with a lens of faith offers a radically different journey that, surprisingly perhaps, comes to a similar conclusion.

Do I have to put up with others. Absolutely. Do they also have to put up with me? Absolutely. Here’s the thing, none of us are perfect. We all have shortcomings. Focusing on the shortcomings of others does not diminish our own. We all have areas of grow, to improve, to become holy. It doesn’t matter who we are or what we have done. Jesus loves each one of us with perfect love. He is the one who “lovingly disregards” our shortcomings, minor or otherwise, while drawing us closer to Himself. This means that even while we were unworthy of salvation, Jesus freely gave Himself for us. Nothing we did or will do can earn that kind of love or sacrifice.

Jesus is the one who shows us how to “put up” with others. It is to love them for who they are, not because they check all the boxes, but because He loves them. Jesus does not wait for us to be cleaned up before He draws us close to Himself. He reaches out with open arms, and challenges us to do the same with those whose shortcomings we find the least desirable (even if they poop in the bathtub. Because, yes, that happened in our house. Twice now).

At first, I had put myself in the role of the one “putting up” with other people, especially my children. On a second, and more humble, scan, I saw in myself my own shortcomings that my kids have to put up with. I can lose my temper, I am impatient, I make impulsive choices that aren’t well thought out or are selfish. I have room to grow in all the areas of my life.

I’m their ticket to heaven just as much as they are mine.

Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com

It’s That Time Again – Advent Journals 2022!

Can you believe it’s already one month to Advent. Again!? I always thought adults were so silly in their comments about how “quickly time flies” and “don’t grow up too quickly” but boy were they right! I cannot believe we are already bringing 2022 to a close. Funny side story. I had to fill out the usual paperwork and releases that come with going to the dentist for our kids the other day. I had to re-fill out about half of the papers because I dated them all 2023! Time goes fast enough and there I was jumping a whole calendar year.

Time may fly, but there are things that stay constant. I love how our liturgical cycle moves in a predictable manner throughout the year, gently bringing us along as the seasons shift. The world has its own method of transitioning from one season to another, but it feels more jarring. Each year, holiday decorations seem to appear in the stores earlier and earlier. “Back to school season” was already in full swing by mid-June with Halloween candy on the shelves as the first day of school arrived. So much time is spent in anticipation of the next season that we don’t really get the opportunity to celebrate the present one.

Seasons of preparation are important. We prepare for a big trip, prepare for a school year, prepare for a new baby. The Church recognized the need to take time to adequately prepare ourselves for the coming of Christ at Christmas as well as in anticipation of His Passion, Death and Resurrection. Then, when the Christmas and Easter seasons arrive, we are ready to fully participate in the joyful tidings. Our two seasons of preparation have their own markers, symbols and flair that help us settle into their particular moods and themes.

One of Advent’s big symbols is the Advent Wreath. Thinking back on my own celebrations of Advent, the wreath is always a part of this season of preparation. We had a wreath growing up that sat on the dining table. As our kids have grown, we have mostly made homemade wreaths thanks to The Mass Box‘s Advent box. This year, we have a new wooden wreath I am excited about from Shining Light Dolls (no affiliation with either company, just love the stuff!).

As I was beginning to discern what this year’s Advent journal would be about, I found myself drawn to the wreath. I realized that while each year we light the candles, I don’t actually know that much about what the candles symbolize. As I began to explore, the deeper I was drawn. Around the same time, I was so blessed to be able to review a Gregorian chant CD featuring Advent hymns from the monks at Clear Creek Abby. In the introduction, I was struck by this statement regarding the music:

Out of simplicity there can come music worthy to proclaim the holiness of God.

Rorate Coeli CD – The Monks of Clear Creek

I don’t know if you know my brain, but it likes to take a small idea and blow it up really quickly, usually overcomplicating things. My small idea about an Advent wreath based journal had already become overworked and complex within 30 seconds of conceiving it. This quote pulled me back and God used it as a means of refinement. What follows is a very simple journal, but I hope one that helps you to recognize God’s abundant love and mercy in your life.

As every year, this is a completely free resource. This year, it is not tied to the cycle of readings in any substantial way, so it could be used for any Advent from here forward. While there is space for journaling each day, there are only a few specific writing prompts. Instead, there are carefully selected Scripture passages, saint quotes, catechism references and even a song from which you can draw inspiration to spark your conversation with God. The Advent Candles provide the overarching theme for each week – did you know each candle represents something different to guide our thoughts and prayers during that week?! I knew this someplace in the back of my mind but never really let the candles provide any kind of framework to my Advent season. I am excited to continue my meditations on them as Advent draws near.

There are 2 versions, identical in content, different in layout. There is the 8.5×11 print copy which totals 35 pages. You can of course double side that and cut it in half. There is also the booklet layout which needs only 9 pages. Be sure to check your printer’s settings for printing double sided regardless of layout you select.

Due to the small amount of cited Biblical text in this particular journal, you may print copies to share with friends and family (this is different from other Advent journals on the site. Please be aware of any copyright notices on other downloadable resources). With permission from your pastor, you may share this journal in print form with your wider parish community. As always, you are free to link this post in your bulletin, newsletter, personal social media, etc. so anyone can download and print their own copy.

I hope that this journal offers you some space for peace and rest with God during the Advent season.