Celebrating the Advent season with a child a state away – it can be done 

Celebrating the Advent season with a child a state away – it can be done 

Advent season is approaching like a freight train. How quickly this year has zoomed by and we are entering into December. I feel like I was run over a few times on the way to this month, but we’ve arrived. Advent is a season that I’d never really participated in until I joined the Christian Church, but it has become part of our Christmas traditions. To me it puts Christ at the forefront because each week of advent we are celebrating the promise of Christ’s birth. In our house we follow the pattern of the church with candle lighting, scripture reading and a prayer maybe not in that order though.

Since my son went to live with his dad three years ago this makes advent a bit more challenging for us as a family. This blog is about how we do advent long distance. It’s meaningful and it’s still Christ centered. 

What guide do I follow? My favorite and the one I keep stored in my bible all year long is an insert that was sent to parents called teachable moments. It gives each week, what it means, what candle color and a scripture to read. Makes it easy for me. 

Teachable moments

In other years I’ve used different material but this year I decided to go back to my favorite. I let my son know on Friday that he would need to set aside a little time for me. Teenagers are busy creatures! I shopped for my last candle on Saturday, so I was ready to go for our Sunday afternoon time via the phone. I assigned him the verse to read, and I read the week one info as given on the sheet. Once I got to the scripture I had him read it. Then we finished off with ways that we are filled with hope because we know Jesus. That kid brought tears to my eyes with what he said. He knows even during the hard times that Jesus will be his hope and strength. Since the candles are here I light the first purple one. At the end I offered up a prayer for our time together in celebration of advent and how Christ represents hope to each of us.

Some other ideas that I’ve used can be found on Pinterest, and I’m including the links here➡ Advent Wreatha fresh Advent wreath, and new verse ideas. I’m sharing this example because finding purple candles that aren’t tapers is hard as heck! I don’t have a taper holder, so I use purple tea lights. I have enough for one more year. This is my plan once I finish them off. 

My twist on an advent wreath – eclectic

How does long distance work? You have two options phone call where you put them on speaker so you can manage the tasks. I will normally ask my son to read the bible verse, since I’ll be lighting the candle and normally he’ll want me to pray. Divide up those tasks so they are being in the moment and not doing something else. The other option is facetime. This is awesome because you can see each other, they can see the candle lighting and it makes the family time feel more like you’re together. Sometimes the connection isn’t so good, so then we fall back on a phone call. Again even with facetime divide up the duties. 

Today he actually had a friend over, but he took time out to spend it participating in our family tradition. I could hear his buddy about the time we were coming to a close. He was shouting tell your mom ”hi”, so I was returning the the greeting. Not our first exchange. Hopefully I’ll finally get to meet him when my son graduates.

I think it’s important for a child or children to understand the who, what, how, and when of certain celebrations. He’s experienced prepping communion during my first year as deacon, we’ve practiced Lent together, and both of us had challenging tasks. I felt for a long time that I was failing him with his christian walk. As he becomes an adult I want him to know the religious celebrations, as well as, having that relationship with Christ. I’m trying to make sure he has all the tools and support I can give him to grow into a strong christian man. He took care of finding Christ all on his own bless him.

As we go into the following weeks remember that distance doesn’t have to be a barrier to traditions or family. It’s taking the time and being purposeful that you can share in them together. Photos, calls, facetime, and even texting can all be ways to bring you closer to the ones you love that are far away.

Week 1 of Advent

Many blessings – G.

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Friendship

I saw a picture yesterday that reminded me of so many things – beauty, survival, adaption, friendship, beginnings and endings. A lot for one picture I know. 

The dandelion is a symbol to me of survival, overcoming the elements and thriving despite whatever comes your way. So much so I have it as a tattoo. 

A permanent reminder of where I’ve been and that through sheer perseverance I will go forward by the Grace of God. 

Some days I forget it’s even on my wrist and then others I keep looking at it thinking I can do this, I’ve been through other stuff, and I’m not going to allow my will to be broken or worn down to nothing. Sometimes it’s close because life is hard and there are challenges that can be overwhelming. Anyway they seem so at the time and then later maybe even years later you think ‘wow’ I’ve survived so much more than that one instance, heartbreak, or roadblock in life. I wasn’t promised a life without trials. Accepting that sooner rather than later helps although it doesn’t necessarily make it easier.

Something that does make life easier is family and I talk about mine quite a bit. I love them and they support me wholeheartedly, but for this blog I’m going to focus on friendship. I’ve had friends come and go. Lifelong. Some of my close friends I’ve gained later in my life. Friends are a treasure of support, love and laughter. Got to have some laughs! Maybe even be a bad influence.

Facebook has allowed me to stay connected because some live far away and when we are together you would never guess the time apart or distance. I have a friend that went to great effort to support my need for petty revenge. Bless her because I(we) reveled in that shit when it was over. I know I should’ve left it to God but my will was weak and I wanted to do it myself. Anger is ugly, exhausting business!

Last week I was traveling and had an opportunity to see a friend that I don’t get to see very often. He’s also someone that I connected to later in life. We have so many things in common and he totally gets my connection to the dandelion. We bonded last year over a discussion of tattoos. He didn’t realize mine was a dandelion and was telling his plans for a new one…you got it…a dandelion. We are of like mind and it was awesome to realize there was a guy me. Strange and maybe frightening for some.

I may struggle but I’m not alone. My network is full of family and some really awesome friends. They make the struggle bearable. The loneliness tolerable. They put sunshine in a rotten day. When they call and make you laugh or talk for hours about anything. Some have drug me home and tucked me in when needed – now that’s a real good friend. Or talk for hours about your favorite book or tv show. Really GOT is vital to my life.

Friendship can be found in many places and I’ve noticed in my life where I’ve picked them up along the way.

Change – when big changes were happening like job or moves

Sheer luck – don’t be surprised we just found each other

Time and opportunity – sometimes trust and interactions over a period time have to occur

I’m sure I’ve missed something but I read an article once that said friendship comes down to chemistry and proximity. If it’s truly proximity I’m screwed because a good portion of my closest friends live far away. 

You know that quote is the absolute truth! I have a high maintenance friend that does the same shit and I return the favor. That’s some serious love. ✌😍 

Just remember when times are tough, you’re having a bad day, you want to be the pick-me-up to someone else’s crappy day, share in some serious laughter, sarcasm or gossip reach out to your friend. If you don’t have a close confidant then you need to get out of your comfort zone. Those friendships sustain us during the good and the bad times. 

Proverbs 17:17 A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. 

Addition:

My bestie sent me this meme, and we both thought it would be a great addition to the blog. ☺

Amen! I love the funny memories and definitely getting some priceless lessons.

-G.

Solid rock

Solid rock

Solid rock woman – that’s how the preacher described my grandmother. He passed out stones to my grandfather, mom, and aunt as a reminder to the kind of woman she was…you know a Proverbs 31:10-31 kind of woman. 

This is something I can only aspire to since I’ve already failed once in a marriage. How do you come back from failure? I’m sure I’m not the only one that wonders if you can be successful at another relationship or marriage. 

As a type A personality I want to be successful in all things: relationships involve more than one person. More than hearts and flowers….there is a bunch of stuff that is just hard. When there are two people it’s supposed to be easier to survive what life throws at you, but you’ve got to be working in sync together. 

I read a book a couple of years ago about finding a Boaz not a Bozo. A good read that holds true for when you’re searching for the right man. Ruth was like my Granny – solid rock material. Fortunately for me and my failings it says in Ephesians 5:25, 27 that God’s grace covers what we are not and makes us what we are in Christ. This is good for me because I FAIL ALL THE TIME!!!! As a type A it takes a lot for me to admit that but that’s a step in the right direction…admission.

Later in the evening after the funeral I was sitting at my grandparents table in the seat I always sat in for meals. Laying in front of me was the stone that had been given to my grandfather. I couldn’t help but pick it up. It was so smooth just like a skipping stone would be if I were looking along the creek bed. It fit in my hand perfectly, and I could picture all the ripples my grandmother had made in my life. She had a significant impact from beginning to end.

My hope is that I can create ripples that are  impactful to the lives around me or to those that I come in contact with from day to day. I may never see the fruit bear from my efforts, but I have an opportunity to plant a seed. 

As I read Proverbs 31 and thought about what it took to be a woman of noble character I realized that it takes maturity. Mental maturity not necessarily age. Recognizing your own value and what you bring to the relationship…again it’s two people not one. Being in the word. How can I attain this aspiration if I’m not learning and growing spiritually? Can’t because I would be all about myself. Self is lonely and tiring. Self gets old pretty quick and then you seek something to fill the empty spaces. I don’t want a Bozo to fill those spaces I want a Boaz. Waiting is the tough part because I’m not the most patient person…an understatement lol

I’m talking about relationships but it could easily be that you’re waiting on something else. WAITING bites! Maybe other things need to fall into place or trust needs to build. Whatever it is the waiting is just as valuable an experience. Hunters know this – waiting silently for the right moment is essential and it might take days or even weeks to get the right animal. OK I just compared a relationship to hunting that’s funny stuff right there. “As the lioness stalks her prey”… please use a British or Aussie accent as you read that for the best sound effects! Still laughing!!!

Enough! You get the point and hopefully you’ve been educated and entertained. 

-G.

Waiting on the beginning

Waiting on the beginning

We don’t spend a lot of time dwelling on death, anyway I don’t. I’m more of pursue happiness and live life to the fullest kind of chick. It’s a theme in my family cause I’m not the only one…you know the odd ball. 

At this moment in my family we are coming to terms with the approaching death of my grandmother. It feels like a marathon, but I know when the moment arrives I will be winded and feel like I’ve sprinted the entire time. 

Life is precious and oh so fleeting. It’s obviously more apparent when you’re right in the middle of dealing with it. All the love you have for the individual and the love you have for friends and family make it more bearable. One of the interesting things I’ve realized with my grandmother is the extent of her impact on other people.

Despite her Alzheimer’s she has welcomed in a whole family of caregivers that love her dearly. They have made their way either to the hospital or to her room at the nursing home where she is in hospice. It’s so touching it brings tears to my eyes every time. Even though I may never get their name I know that we both love this woman to the bottom of our hearts…it bonds us.

My grandmother is a strong Christian woman that has instilled those same beliefs in Jesus in her children and especially this grandchild. She was my influencer. She was never ashamed to share her testament, pray or ask for prayer. She willingly offered comfort and support. Drug my sisters and I to church plenty…not that it was a hardship. I loved sitting next to her on the pew as we sang and listened to the sermon. She wouldn’t let me wear her ring, but I could mess with it while I held her hand. 

Even when she didn’t always know me she knew scripture and we could talk about our faith. It was a connection that we share and will always share. For my grandmother this time between the stroke and her passing is time for family and friends to say goodbye. I know she is ready to hit the streets of gold! Hopefully she’ll confirm there are rivers of chocolate. It’s not the end for her because our bodies are temporary and she will soon be stepping into her eternal home – it’s the beginning with her heavenly body and in a place that she will never feel pain, anxiety, loss or any other emotion that isn’t joyful.

I love her dearly and she WILL be missed but I know from my faith that we will meet again.

-G.

My Southern Family

My Southern Family

I grew up gathering on the porch to listen to stories, share in conversation, and in the summer eat watermelon. Every once in awhile we might have homemade ice cream…yum. Even though my great-grandparents have long since passed we still continue the tradition. Doesn’t matter whose home we’re gathered at if the weather is nice enough you’ll find us on a porch, patio, or deck.

It’s from those days on a porch that I dreamed big and knew I had family that would support those dreams. I still have big dreams, and I still sit on the porch despite the fact I’m in my forties. You can always dream! My great-grandparents had a swing on their porch and it’s something that I love! Even after I moved off and had a home of my own I had a swing. I’m on my third swing. It’s a big cedar monstrosity and I love it. It sits near the firepit, so when it’s cool enough for a fire I lay on the swing and watch the fire burn. On sunny days it’s the place I go to read a book or watch the clouds move across the sky…sometimes I take a nap.

Today we celebrated my grandmother’s 89th birthday. She is the epitome of a southern woman. Fine manners, gracious, Godly, hospitable and always put together. We couldn’t go feed cows until she had her make-up on and hair done. I’m not quite living up to that standard since I love my yoga pants. One thing she did was set the precedence that women are equal early on in our family. When she married my grandfather, the ladies in the family had to wait until the men had eaten before they could sit down to eat, because they served the men and children first. My Granny wasn’t having that she was sitting down at the same time to share a meal with my grandfather…you know that must’ve been a shocker when she bucked that tradition. I respect her gumption because in those days that wasn’t the norm, so I say thank you for paving the way and being the southern woman you are! Think ‘tawanda‘ from Fried Green Tomatoes…my Granny is a feisty one! I think I must’ve got a double dose of feisty from her but it serves me well.

This evening as I sat  enjoying the conversation around me I couldn’t help but think of the past, and how all those experiences shaped me as a person. My values, love of family, friends that become your family, respect for a hard days work, love of siblings and cousins, and my faith that was nurtured by the family around me. I needed my village and fortunately I grew up in a rural area where I could run wild…well as wild as my parents let me. We had the screen door and I did hear ‘don’t come back in until I say you can‘. It’s funny now but we had so much freedom. I try to give my son freedom to learn and grow, but goodness it’s nothing like what I had. That’s probably due to the world we live in today in comparison to way back when…geez now I feel freaking old.

I’ve enjoyed my Labor Day weekend of family and friends, which is how it should be! Phones down and conversation flowing. Sharing of our lives and how we can find time to put some culture in it. Opera or ballet is in our future. Might be like the Beverly hillbillies come to town but we look pretty good all slicked up. It will be an adventure.

Enjoy the rest of the holiday…I’m planning to hit the lake for some fun in the sun!!

-G.

Purge…Purge…

Purge…Purge…

This isn’t a blog about throwing up or killing folks…I’m sure a few of you went there. It’s about purging people or situations we get ourselves into out of our lives. I’ve purged a few times. It’s sad when you come to that point in a friendship or a relationship, where you know this is what is best and it’s going to hurt doing it. Of course there are those times when purging is quite refreshing and you find the change frees you from a weight you didn’t even know was holding you down. I’ve experienced both types and maybe a few things in between.

Purging personal relationships…ugh those are a beast on your emotions. Sometimes I feel I have a sign that’s inviting narcissistic assholes into my life…they are like a moth to a flame on a positive person. Probably because they are miserable to their soul and want to siphon off your positive energy…purge that vampire! I’ve known women that are the same way…I’ll offend equally here.

Let’s talk friendships. I had a friend that I absolutely loved and we did everything together, but there came a point when her choices conflicted with my values. I’m good with kicking back and having a drink or two but drugs…peace out sister. She didn’t want to give those up so I gave our friendship the boot. I still wonder how’s she doing every now and then, but I don’t regret my decision. Might seem harsh to some but there are things I’m cut and dried about in life. I’m not going to wallow in the same pit because it comes down to an individual making a personal decision to drag themselves out. You have to do it for yourself any way you can but no one can make you do it. I couldn’t make her, and I wasn’t going to remain in the pit because she might need an enabler. I’m all about making my way and standing on my own two feet….if you had the thought she might need help refer to ‘you have to drag yourself out any way you can’. Maybe that’s rehab, God, jail, a program…but it’s a personal decision that nobody can make for an addict. It’s possible you’ve had a different experience this is mine.

“When we throw out the physical clutter we clear our minds. When we throw out the mental clutter we clear our souls.” -Gail Blanke

Alright I was on my soapbox so back to more purging….any hoarders…purge what you don’t use or haven’t used in eons. I’m not talking about the family treasures, but gobs of things that creep in and pile up. Do you have a catch all kitchen table or a chair? What about a whole room that catches all the stuff? I try to recycle like a champ; donate every year at least once but normally multiple times to a local charity…clothing, etc.; compost…I might have a healthy squirrel population because of that habit. I have the circle of life going on in the backyard. I compost, squirrels chow down, and the hawks prey on the squirrels…ummm not a circle but a pyramid, I think, cause I’m not eating the hawk.

Maybe you’re good with the clutter and purging isn’t necessary. Honestly it’s a personal decision to purge physically and  mentally. Just think you could commence with the annual purge in your life!

-G.