The Mass Box – It’s Official People

For those of you who have been around the blog for a while you will know that we LOVE our Mass Box subscription. The kids so look forward to the videos, crafts, and now the bonus Superbook DVDs. Recently, the Mass Box has teamed with the Christian Broadcasting Network and every monthly box includes a Superbook DVD. Anyone remember Superbook from growing up? They’ve updated the animation and characters but still encourage your kids to dive into the Bible stories.

I’ve been toying with the idea of branching out into the world of affiliate programs, but don’t want to get caught up in it. Do you know what I mean? So, starting slowly, I’m so pleased to share that I am officially a promoter and affiliate for the Mass Box.

We were one of the first families to try out this subscription box. Back in Lent 2016 Ashley and Raymond (founders of the Mass Box) sought out 100 families to do a trial run and give feedback for their idea. The response was overwhelmingly positive from us and from others, as you may have guessed since they are still going strong! We have loved growing with the Mass Box family. I have seen how attentive they are to the needs of families as they continue to ask for feedback, solicit reviews and ideas and engage in encouraging and supportive conversations with their subscribers.

The Mass Box is, for those who don’t know or need a refresher, is a monthly subscription box that helps prepare the whole family for Sunday Mass. The crafts are best for, in my opinion, ages 4 – 8 or 9, but they can definitely be done younger (with help) or older for craft loving kids. Each week there is a short Youtube video where Ashley and Raymond’s children do the weekly craft, explain the readings and how everything is connected. These videos are completely free for anyone – check them out! In the box comes everything you need to complete the crafts for the month. They also include a weekly magazine that has the directions for the craft, the readings and some activities that relate to the readings (word searches, colorings, Q&A, games, etc.). These magazines are perfect to bring to Mass for busy hands that need something to focus on. And on top of all that, as I mentioned earlier, now they are also including a new Superbook DVD each month.

Every single Sunday has a craft, magazine and video. Plus, because these people are totally legit and this is what sold me on the whole thing in the first place – they also include crafts, videos and magazines for all the Holy Days of Obligation as well!! You can also opt to skip a month or two if you know you are going to be on vacation or for some other reason know you will be missing the opportunity to do the crafts for a period of time.

The makers of the Mass Box have done a really nice job trying to offer a wide variety of options to fit families of all sizes. You can subscribe for the box with craft supplies for 1-4 children. You can also get a box for just a single month to try it out. There is also something called the Mass Box Lite which includes the craft materials for one Sunday, but the magazines for all the Sundays and Holy Days. You can also order just the magazines if the craft element isn’t totally up your alley. You can also opt to skip a month or two if you know you are going to be on vacation or for some other reason know you will be missing the opportunity to do the crafts for a period of time.

If this sounds like something your family needs, or you know a family that would benefit from this kind of preparation for Mass, please click on any of the links here. You will go straight to the Mass Box website and sign up. Click “Subscribe” at the top of the Mass Box homepage for the subscriptions, or click “One Time Shop” for the single order boxes. As an affiliate, I will receive a 10% kickback on any order you make (subscription or one time) when you use the links here.

If you need more evidence of the enthusiasm for the Mass Box, check out this video my kids took while unboxing the August Box.

This month, our favorite craft was using our Mass Box boxes to make sandals. Jesus sent the disciples out in pairs, directing them to take along for the journey nothing but sandals and a walking stick. Our walking sticks have since turned into fairy wands, but the sandals are still intact and used for spreading the Good News.

As I keep working on my Philippians 2 book, I’m beginning to hope for some more opportunities for this blog. But as all things, finances are part of the equation. My husband and I both appreciate this small way you can support these writing dreams of mine. Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com

 

Celebrating God’s Presence

The past few months I’ve felt like I’ve had to force my writing. Each time I have sat down to write, or even thought about writing, all my premises have been negative. Stories that were more on the down side of things, pessimistic, challenging moments or general mayhem that goes on in any household. It has been so frustrating, which just perpetuates the my negative Nancy attitude.

Last night as I was putting Eliza to bed I found myself going through the same old stories and feeling less than inspired. Then, something I can only describe as a God idea finally broke through my negative Nancy writers block. I finally stopped and asked myself what the whole point of this blog is. In case you need a refresher like I did, it is

Finding God in the everyday ordinary

And guess what? While yes, God can surely be found in the more challenging parts of life, that’s not all! God is in the giggles, the smiles, the jobs well done and the simple bedtime kisses. God is a God of joy, delight, simplicity and beauty.

The other night we decided to go out to dinner as a family because we wanted to celebrate the kids and some marked growth in their behavior and development.

Clare has been obsessed with what she calls “cutting projects.” Basically, she creates some kind of drawing, cuts it to smithereens, then presents it to a lucky recipient. Sometimes even before breakfast. At the start of this phase I mentioned (only once mind you) that she needed to clean up the scraps from her projects. I assumed this would be a recurring conversation. But it hasn’t been. In fact, she proudly tells me each time she finishes that she made sure to clean up all the scraps. She is 3!

Over the past 2 weeks there have been at least 2, maybe 3 instances where Rosie has demonstrated a remarkable about of patience and flexibility for a 5 year old. In each situation, she was the one with the last turn for something (like a turn on the iPad or playing a computer learning game) and the timing was such that she wasn’t going to get to have her turn. We had somewhere to go or something needed to happen that prevented her from taking her turn right then. Each time I explained the situation and asked if she would be ok to have her turn later in the day. Each time I braced for some kind of dramatic, throw down, probably going to be terrible reaction. And each time I found myself looking at a graceful, accepting and generally cheerful little girl who was willing to make the sacrifice of time for her family.

When John turned 6 it became his job to unload the silverware from the dishwasher. Just this week, he decided all on his own to unload the whole dishwasher. He can’t reach the cabinets where things are kept, so he made tidy piles of the plates, bowls and cups. He even did his best to match up the tupperware with their lids. When I came into the kitchen, he said to me, “Look Mommy, I did all the dishes so you won’t have to!” He has done this every day since. When did my little boy get so big and so generous? He is just 6 years old.

My kids have shown me what patience, self-sacrifice, obedience, duty, responsibility and empathy look like. What a gift! I’m not sure I ever thought as a mom of small kids I would say, “I wish I had John’s sense of responsibility,” or “I want to be more patient like Rosie,” or “I need to work on being more like Clare, taking care of my mess right away.” These everyday ordinary moments are what I want to focus on. They bring me joy, and I hope they brought you some joy as well.

I want to spend my time celebrating these God-given children. And I want to spend my writing uncovering the beautiful surprises God has in store for my day. Is He in the challenges, of course! But they don’t need to be the only places.

Haircut Day
The three big kids got their hair cut. My babies are so big!

Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com

The Front Row

Let me begin by saying that we very much like our new parish. We will only be in San Antonio a few months but we felt it was important to find one church and quickly re-establish our Sunday morning/going to Mass routine. After being on the road for 2 months visiting family yes we of course went to Mass every Sunday. However, often it was a different church and time from one week to the next. We wanted to regain the stability of routine for our kids after so much transition in as many ways as possible. Going to Mass at the same time and place is one of those critical weekly routines.

That being said, I witnessed something interesting at our new parish this past week. This is a large parish. Large in both the physical space and number of people. You can easily fit 300 or so people in the pews, maybe 350 or even 400 if everyone actually moved all the way to the middle (#Catholicproblems haha). There is also standing room in the gathering space and along the walls. They actually keep folding chairs permanently set up along the walls knowing people will need them. There is also a Blessed Sacrament Chapel that is in the back and can be used for overflow seating.

This Sunday we arrived approximately 10 minutes early. Typically early enough to find a pew for 5 at most churches. At this parish, however, we were cutting it close (again, if people would only move to the middle….). Ben went to park the car and I walked in with the kids. As we walked in I noticed a large group of families with small children hovering in the back by the Blessed Sacrament Chapel (doors closed). There were still plenty of seats available if you smiled nice and negotiated space. As I walked by with my 3 little ducklings (or elephant sea lions depending on the day) an usher stopped me. She asked me if I wanted to wait with the others, they would be opening the doors (to the Blessed Sacrament Chapel/overflow seating) in just a minute. She questioned whether I would be able to find a seat. I looked around, assured her we would be fine, and moved on. We did find a seat. Front and center (and in the middle no less).

During Mass I sneaked a peek at the back and saw that all those families were in the overflow seating instead of being with the larger community.

Now I know you can argue that they were still sitting with the community, they are just an aisle away. And I do agree, they were still worshipping with all of us. My big issue, especially in light of the Gospel reading, is how they got there.

For as welcoming as this parish is, somewhere there is an undercurrent that pulls families with small children to the back. No matter how or when it happened, there is now a culture that exists which tells families that their place is in the back, away from the larger community (even if it is just separated by an aisle).

Now think about the Gospel. Zacchaeus is a tax collector who happens to be short. Due to his stature, Zacchaeus can’t see Jesus and the crowd isn’t making it any easier for him. So, he climbs a tree to see Jesus better. There are many theological and scriptural lessons that can be pulled from this passage. I would like to think about the most basic point, the height difference. Zacchaeus was short and the tall people wouldn’t let him through to the front. He took matters into his own hands and climbed a tree.

Let’s apply this to our children. They are short. When you stick them in the back, they can’t see. All they experience is a disembodied voice, some music and they get to go for a walk close to the end. Since there aren’t any trees around, they take matters into their own hands in any number of ways.

I’m not saying that children are angels in the front row and demons in the back row (mine proved this very well in our front row experience for All Saints’ Day). However, I do notice an overall improvement in behavior and most importantly, interest, when we sit up front. John asks me more questions and participates in the songs he knows much more when we sit up front compared to when we are in the back. Clare, only 2 years old remember, is much more likely to go into the aisle and try to run away when we sit in the back than when we sit in the front. Again, it’s not perfect and we have had some very hard Masses in the front row. But they are fewer and farther between than when we sit in the back.

Jesus told his disciples “let the children come to me, do not prevent them” (Matthew 19:14). This means, to me at least, let the children come all the way to me, not just to the cry room or the designated overflow seating that is in the back and out of the way. Tall people, stand aside! Let the children come all the way up!

So what to do about this? I have a proposition that I would love to have opinions on.

The Front Row by Daily Graces at dailygraces.net
CC Public Domain

Many churches reserve one of the front rows for a handicap row. This way, persons in wheelchairs and their families will have a place to sit where they can see and feel comfortable. Why don’t we take the first 3 rows of one section of the church to reserve for families with small children? What if we went even farther and created a new ministry for high schoolers and adults with older children or grown children? These individuals could sit in the middle (yes, the middle!) of the pew to be helpers for these families.

Well, what do you think? Let’s make a new culture. If we insist on designating a space for families, let’s at least offer them what should be the prime place where their children can see and engage in the drama of the liturgy. And, let’s offer them the help that they need so that when their youngest unloads in their diaper or someone needs some extra space to calm down on the day that their spouse had to work, is sick or is deployed, they have an extra set of hands who is willing and wanting to be of service.

It’s not rocket science folks. After all, how many times have you taken a group photo and heard the photographer call out “Short people in the front. Tall people in the back!”

****Don’t forget about The Mass Box coupon opportunity and GIVEAWAY! Raffle for the giveaway is open until November 11, 2016.Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com