Snow, Sickness, Ugly Sweaters, and Prayer–It’s Advent time.

Snow, Sickness, Ugly Sweaters, and Prayer–It’s Advent time. December 9, 2013

Good Morning Readers!

Last week was a wild one around here.  Sick kids, a husband recovering from knee surgery, a car accident with an uninsured driver, and a sick babysitter –all worked together to cause utter chaos!  My 4 year old daughter had pneumonia, but she is doing much, much better this week.  And my poor husband had to have his knee drained (which I hear is extremely painful), and then he was rear-ended on the highway the next day (he is doing ok from that too).  I’ll admit that I did whine a bit to the other builders before choosing a few glasses of wine to ease my suffering.

I’m on the left. Kelly is second from the right, in blue. And the dots on her sweater were also 3D. She had people photographing her sweater, it was that awesome.

Utterly exhausted from the week, I still managed to show up to a fundraiser ugly sweater run early Saturday morning.  Read Kelly’s blog for more details about 35K for SMA.  And please affirm that my sweater is indeed ugly!  It was all they had at the thrift shop and I thought it was hideous.  I’ll admit that it did not hold a candle to Kelly’s ugly cow sweater (cows with 3D wreath necklaces, a true e-bay treasure), but I can’t expect to keep up with Kelly.  She was a finalist in the ugly sweater competition.  I was just there for running moral support.

My plans to write a post yesterday were quickly changed by an unexpected 8 inches of snow.  I’ve never seen the weather forecasters predict a mere inch or less and then change their forecast an hour into a blizzard — after 4 inches of snow had already fallen!  I spent my day of rest shoveling, and, thankfully, watching my Philadelphia Eagles win their snow bowl.  But writing a post didn’t happen, and I was in bed a little after 9pm last night.  So I’m winging it this morning 😉

This weekend, as I looked at my Christmas Prep to do list, I started to feel a little overwhelmed.  I am usually a master of pre-Christmas prep and this year I am just behind.  We had a very busy fall, and then there was last week.  Saturday, my brain started buzzing with all the things I needed to do.  I felt some stress creeping in.  Large families are so dependent on the logistics working out and things were not breaking in our favor.  And then I saw a little nativity cartoon on Facebook and it made me think — “What am I doing to prepare MY OWN heart for Christmas?”  (We can have a future discussion about why I was on FaceBook when I clearly didn’t have the time.)

I think as busy moms we can get very caught up in getting our family ready for Christmas.  After all, we have to to do the cooking, shopping, decorating, and prepping.  We work hard to create a spiritual atmosphere for the season.  I set up the Advent wreath, the Advent Calendar, and the Jesse Tree.  I teach my children Christmas hymns, Advent hymns, and read them Christmas books.  I work hard to set the tone for my children and family.  I try to keep my kids focused on preparing for Christ and the real meaning of the season.  But what am I doing for my own heart?

The fact is, when things get busy and people are sick and the logistics just stink, I do nothing for my own heart.  That needs to change starting today.  I am making a mid-Advent commitment to set aside an extra 10 minutes each day to pray in quiet.  This will probably be in the evenings or early mornings, but with all the insanity we are experiencing, I need it.  I am also going to set aside some time to go to adoration–alone–and confession.  I am going to schedule these things, and I may have to cancel some traditional family activities to make it happen.  That’s ok.  My heart needs to be ready too.

And I am also going to challenge all of you today.  On this Feast of the Immaculate Conception, more than 1/3 of the way through Advent, is there something extra you can do to prepare your heart for Christ’s coming?  Maybe it will only take 5 minutes a day, or maybe it will only be one extra trip to Mass alone or Adoration, but can it be something?  Can you schedule something spiritual just for you?

Please feel free to share any ideas in the comments.  And if you are already on top of this extra something spiritual for mom thing, please share that too!




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  • Bethany

    I am really trying to commit to a regular prayer and scripture reading time at night before bed. It’s amazing how all-too-often my head hits the pillow and I’m done. I’m trying to fight that temptation this Advent and really connect with my Lord! GG and I were lamenting the other day that thank goodness for prayer with our kids because sometimes that’s all we’re talking to God in a day. We are works in progress, as always.

  • Kelly Mantoan

    You forgot to mention how you provided me with moral support during the run by threatening to drag me across the finish line by the arm at a sprint.

    Despite striking terror into my heart, you helped make it the most fun run yet! And it capped off a great fundraising week. Your readers can also check out my fundraising page to read about my other runs (which were all hilarious in their own ways), donate and learn about SMA (or Spinal Muscular Atrophy).

  • Jen Minson

    A couple of years ago I made all the family members bracelets with St. Andrew and 15 beads for the St. Andrew Novena. Several of them quickly fell apart and they were a PAIN in the neck to make. It was not in my skill set, but felt I HAD to make them (see here for details on how and the prayer

    I never expected the males in my family to wear them (I figured they would keep them in a pocket), but that having them, they would be reminded during the day to say the prayers.

    That has helped me to keep some focus during Advent the last couple of years. I must say, this Advent, I have been blessed to be able to attend daily Mass almost every day this Advent. Though it’s a bit of a mixed blessing because I partially have that freedom because for the first time all my kids are in school and I really have nothing else to do. But I did attend most of last Advent with them.

    Our Priest has suggested that a great way to prepare our hearts this Advent is to read the daily scripture readings and to attend confession more than once. I know this group is torn on the smartphone discussion, but there is a great free Catholic app called Laudate that has the daily scriptures, saint of the day, and tons of prayers and interactive rosaries and chaplets. For those stolen moments with young children around.

  • The St. Andrew bracelets are a wonderful idea. I have a hard time remembering to say that prayer every day, throughout the day. The bracelet would be a lovely reminder.

  • Do check out the fundraising page! And I would not have had to drag you. You had a lot left 😉

  • Katrina

    Can I just say that I love how, out if all of the fun aspects of Kellie’s post, we have been focusing on the daily prayer aspect? That is beautiful and so encouraging to me!
    Bethany, I hear you on the realization that some days, our prayer consists of praying with the children. I feel like I make lots of small prayers throughout the day as well, like a constant conversation with Our Lord, but sometimes forget to take the time to pray quietly and listen!!

  • But really, do you think my sweater is ugly? lol.

  • Katrina

    Well, let’s just say that I may have worn something like this 20 years ago, but I would now consider it ugly!

  • Karen

    A good reminder at such a busy time! I am having a lot of trouble that this year with the busyness of an already full life + the extras of the holidays.