Advent is Waiting

This phrase makes me think of the animated movie Atlantis. In order to convince Milo, the scrawny bookworm to take the plunge and go on an expedition to discover the lost city, the financial backer Preston Whitmore says to him, “Atlantis is waiting.” This phrase always gets me, the excitement and anticipation. I wish someone would come around to each of us before a big decision and whisper with that same enthusiasm, “_____ is waiting.”

Friends, Advent is waiting. It’s only a few days away. Are you ready? Am I ready? It’s too bad we don’t have a Preston Whitmore who organizes our whole life ahead of our decisions so that the answer is obvious. What we can do, however, is take these opportunities the Church regularly builds into the liturgical year. Advent is the perfect time to step back, slow down and build momentum in our spiritual life.

This year’s Advent Journals are officially here! There are two different journals, both in pdf format. One narrows your focus to the 4 Sundays of Advent. Each day of the week you read one of the readings, and at the end of the week there are a few reflections. On Fridays, I’ve offered a few key themes and images found in the readings and expanded on their importance. On Saturday, inspired by the overall themes of the Sunday, there is a reflection on one of the aspects of Jesus. The Homily Notes space from last year is still there and can be used for additional note taking. Also, and this is so exciting, I figured out the booklet printing issue from last year so there are 2 versions of this journal, one in Booklet Format and one that is A5 size. If you print the A5 size at home you will need to cut the pages down after printing. If you choose the booklet be sure you select “booklet” or “book fold” in your printer’s settings.

Keep in mind that this journal is preparing for the upcoming Sunday of Advent, so it starts this coming Monday Nov. 25!

The second journal is a repeat from last year. I love using Lectio Divina for Advent. I’ve updated the dates and Scripture verses but the rest of the journal is much the same from last year. The last page is still blank if you would rather select your own Scripture verses. I did not do a booklet format for this journal because of all the writing space so there is only one version of the Lectio journal.

Remember, these journals are totally FREE for you to print, so you can grab both and see which works best for you. Or maybe you will find both inspirational. I’d love to hear which you chose and why. Feel free to share this post with anyone and everyone. It is my Advent gift to all of you.

Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com

Seizing Opportunity

For those of us planners out there, spontaneity may be a challenge. As Ben and I look forward to our 5 year wedding anniversary, I can gladly look back and say that I have relaxed into a more spontaneous person because of our relationship. Nothing puts this better on display than our recent vacation to Disneyland.

Ben had just returned from deployment and we had been blessed with a gift of a 3-day hopper pass from a family member. Military life being what it is, we were not able to plan out months in advance when we would use this pass. Not wanting to let the time slip away or bank on an opportunity down the road, we decided to go for it. Within 10 days or so of deciding to go to Disney, we were there. Crazy – but perfect. Looking back, I’m so glad that we did not overthink the decision. We talked, reasoned both sides and made a decision.

We were so excited to go, we even broke one of our cardinal parenting rules: telling the kids about something before it’s imminent arrival. They had no concept of “Disney” or what was in store for them. We didn’t want them to go in completely unprepared for the massive, overwhelming experience we were going to be throwing them into. So, we started talking about going to visit Mickey Mouse, seeing Sleeping Beauty’s castle, Lightening McQueen’s racetrack, etc. Once they got the idea of vacation in their head, it was all they could do to keep their shoes off.

20150824_102026Finally, when Ben could take no more, he got out a calendar and put it up in John and Rosie’s room. It happened to be 3 days before we were leaving. Ben brought John and Rosie in and sat them down in front of the calendar. He put a sticker on the present day. Then, another one on the day we were leaving. Together, they counted the spaces between. “We have to wait 3 days,” Ben told them. “John, do you remember anyone else who had to wait 3 days for something to happen?” Ben asked. John thought for a bit, and after some prompting, remembered from school that the disciples had to wait 3 days for Jesus to rise.

John was so proud he remembered this connection. I was not in the room so didn’t know the incredible theology lesson Ben was conducting. John came running to the kitchen to tell me how he had to wait for vacation, just like the disciples had to wait for Jesus. I was so proud of him and so impressed with Ben. Ben saw an opportunity to connect faith and life in such a practical way that John could understand.

20150824_114039Disney provided us another such opportunity. John had a less then wonderful Disney experience. John struggles with some anxiety and fear of the unknown. He was doing great with the rides and thrills until he rode on a rather fast race car ride that included a dark tunnel. After this, unless he could see exactly what happened the whole time on a ride beforehand, he was more than reluctant to try it out.

We were so lucky to have my mom be able to come with us on our spontaneous Disney adventure. She was such a help, especially with John’s meltdowns and irrational behavior. At one point, she pulled John aside and they talked quietly for a bit. When they were done, she said that John was going to try hard to make a sacrifice for the family. Though he really wanted to go back to the hotel, he would stay with the family since everyone else wanted to be at the park. We talked about how sacrifices are hard and there were many times that he didn’t want to make the sacrifice. But, we were able to help him through it. His knowledge of Jesus’ sacrifice for us, even though limited, helped him to connect with what he was attempting to do for the family.

These are the moments that I cherish. Moments that God gives us to feel His presence and honor His working in our lives. I’m sure there were other ways for us to help John deal with waiting for vacation and then deal with the vacation itself. I am inspired by the witness and demonstration of faith that both Ben and my mom gave to John and Rosie. They saw an opportunity to share a piece of faith in the everyday ordinary and instead of shying away, they chose to bring God into the kids’ lives. Mine as well.0824151754