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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Is this the right path?

Is this the right path?

Geez don’t know about you but I’ve been asking myself that question A LOT lately. Actually I’m thinking I’ve wandered off the path and I’m in the briers all tangled up and getting stabbed with the thorns. I feel a little scratched up and possibly bruised from the struggle. I start struggling even though its futile and I should just go straight to some prayer and ask for help right then…BUT that would be a big no because my pride is a bit extreme and wants to figure out a plan first. I’m telling you this does NOT help me at all because eventually I have to recognize, that I have absolutely no control over what is happening in my life. What I do have control over is how I’m going to react to it. Do I continue to struggle? Do I not seek some heavenly help and admit I need God to take the load? Do I welcome help when it comes to light and allow my pride to fall to the wayside? Pride is the root of my evil. It gets me every time!!!!

I will freely admit that I struggled for a day this time before I admitted to God that I was not in control, and could he please take the wheel of this out of control life I’ve got going on right now. Not only has he taken control but I was given some insights into why I’m in this situation. DO I LIKE IT? Yeah I’m screaming….that would be no but I recognize why it’s happening and that there is a plan. It’s not my plan, it’s God’s plan. Will I be Job and put my faith in God’s plan for me and those I care for, or do I really think I’m better and can come up with something even greater….just saying now that I don’t.

He has a purpose and maybe I don’t see all the parts of the plan, but my responsibility is to humbly accept it and know the results will be exactly what they should be. Maybe God has to make little changes for the big change to fall into place or maybe it’s a test and I need to fall in line. If you aren’t a believer I’m sure this all sounds strange, but my faith has sustained me since the day I accepted Christ when I was 8 years old. A big commitment that equals only one thing – Grace. Hard to image that I made such a momentous decision at an early age, but it has been a rock in my life even when it’s been a roller coaster. I’ve been on lots of strange paths and narrow winding ways that have felt dark and lonely in the beginning and then I remember I have Grace….I know Jesus. Is it an easy path…I would like to say yes, but the first part of this blog will attest to a big fat no. I always struggle and it’s because my pride gets in my way. Each day I don’t have a struggle is a day that feels blessed and like the burdens are weightless – if only I could remember that when I start to build the walls and make my own plans and design my own path – ugh I make it tough on myself.

To quote Forrest Gump ‘Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.’

You feel like you have things going in the right direction and then BAM! Life smacks you right up side the head. So my reaction is to hold tight to my faith and know that there is a plan. That doesn’t mean I standby and let life bowl me over, but I do acknowledge my reality and move on. Perseverance seems to be my middle name anymore. I’m just going to reach into that box of chocolates and see what other tasty bite I can get out of this life. Enjoy the little things – Rule #32

My goal is to be a role model that my son can look up to and know that being responsible and accountable are expected and should be embedded into your life. It’s not an after thought or an option when it feels good or people might be watching. Even when you’re the only one, stand-up for what is right. It’s not always easy or the popular choice but then I have never taken either so why start now. Makes me want to do a ‘Twanda’ yell!!!

-G.

 

 

 

Finding the right acorn

Finding the right acorn

Recently I was re-reading a book that I enjoy. It’s real life practicality stands out to me. This is my second time to read it and new items stand out like never before. Probably due to where I am in my life and what I want from it. Expectations! They play a huge part in our lives. We expect one thing and get something completely different. It can be good, bad, ugly or indifferent. 

I read a line that compared our lives to a weekend. An eternity is a significant amount of time but when you stack up a lifetime it’s a weekend. I’d like to say my weekend is sunny and bright. Full of love and fun….oh please you know there’s a thunderstorm up in the middle of that day along with a big freaking fight somewhere. That’s real life or the reality of “the weekend”. 

How do you weather the storms? How do you come back from a fight, especially with someone you love? If you read my last blog you know I talk about my thoughts on a Proverbs 31 woman. As I study and mature in the word I’ve realized that you have to love that person more than yourself. That’s a big deal because self likes to pop up in a fight and win! 

I’m the competitive sort and that goes for about anything. A fight with words…oh I got this. Got it so well that the other person walks away wounded and annihilated. I’m talking about people I care about! Just think how I deal with those I don’t. Not pretty but true. God says I’m supposed to treat everyone with love. Ep 3:17 being rooted and established in love. This is an area for me to work on obviously and I have been for a long time. I’ve struggled through dealing with anger since I was a kid. Although it took until I was an adult to get a true grip on it. Not saying I don’t get mad because I do. Many times what we mistake as anger is really disappointment. Got to be able to recognize the difference. 

One of the things I decided for myself after my divorce was to make the decision to get back in church. Partly for myself but also for my son. I had not been raising him with any of the fundamental knowledge that I grew up knowing. I felt like I was failing in my duty as a parent to raise my child to know God and to know the word. Finding a church is like finding a prized acorn in the middle of the forest! 

Some may think I’m odd or maybe you’ve never had this kind of experience, but I listen with my inner self to know when I’m in the right place. I’m talking about church still. We attended my grandparents church for awhile but it wasn’t the one God was calling me to. Finally after a series of events I came to be in my current church one Sunday morning. The pastor was on a mission trip, the person preaching wasn’t really my style but you know what that’s where I was called. I came back the next weekend and heard the pastor. My son loved the church AND this wasn’t his idea of fun – we kept attending. Finally I prayed ‘if I’m supposed to join this church God just make it clear so I know’…fyi I can be slow to pick up his clues. Preacher starts preaching and it’s about being a part of the church – hello got the message loud and clear. 

What I didn’t expect was that when I went to join that my son would decide that he would too. I was saved and baptized at 8 years old, but I had neglected my duties as a parent. I didn’t think my son was saved. I got a surprise that day because he was making a public profession of faith, because he’d asked God into his heart well before that day. My feelings of failing fell by the wayside. I was ecstatic that somehow God had taken care of my son even when I felt like a failure. Even when I felt like the crappiest parent in the world! To some this may not even rank on your list of bad parenting but to me it was huge. Fortunately he grants me Grace and mercy even when I don’t deserve it. Romans 10:9 

Now that I ponder on this: finding a church, the person to have a lasting relationship with, meaning to life, satisfying career – it’s all like finding that one prized acorn. The odds of getting it right are staggering! Especially if you think you can do it all on your own. I know for a fact I need my posse, friends, family and faith if I’m ever going to get anything right. That could be a depressing thought but I swing the other way – full of positivity! I’d rather have people alongside me supporting and cheering me on than to have nothing. They can also act as a voice of reason if I get a little too crazy! Just keepin’ it real.

-G.

*Photo by Tim Ernst