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.

Advertisements

Food = Love

Food = Love

An appropriate topic with Valentine’s Day looming this week. All about some LOVE! ❤ I’ve spent several days watching Food Network while I’ve been sick and confined to the house. I enjoy watching all the cooking because I like to cook. As I was watching a particular episode of Chopped, I was reminded why I love cooking so much. For me it’s a way to show my family and friends how important they are to me by feeding them.

Food = Love 

Creating a meal is my way of nurturing and feeling like I’m meeting a need at the same time. I’m sure there is some psychology behind why, but really I don’t need to know why because I’ll just continue to cook because I can.

Cooking is a skill that I’ve developed over the years. I can remember some beginning meals that make me cringe. I’m pretty sure there were some things that should’ve gone straight to the trashcan. Can’t even tell you how many years it took me to figure out gravy from scratch and not the package variety. It was my Achilles for years. I mean really I’m a southern woman,  holy crap, I should be able to make gravy. I was beyond proud when it all finally came together. I made breakfast for just about every meal for a solid month!

Over the years I’ve tackled all kinds of styles and flavors of food. If I ate something in a restaurant that I loved but knew I’d never be able to get that where I lived, I’d figure out how to make it myself. Helps that have a pretty decent palate. Despite having this ability my son is a picky eater. Lord help me. Slowly but surely he’s coming along. I love it when he tries something new and he loves it. When he’s home I fix his favorites. Chicken and dumplings are top of his list followed by homemade fish fingers. At Christmas I made chocolate cheesecake with a chocolate ganache topping for the first time. He loves chocolate cheesecake so I made it. I’m sure I’ll make it again and again. A mother’s love knows no bounds when it comes to school projects. My son and I took on some Greek recipes for an English class. We made Tiropitakia. If you like feta you’ll like these. And gyros – he loves those. Plus it makes me feel good when he tells me I’m spoiling him by cooking his favorites and spending time teaching him how to cook some of them as well.

I’ve learned to cook a lot of things in the name of love. Italian…the amount of pasta I’ve made is ridiculous! I can whip out a homemade Alfredo sauce like nobodies business. Tex-Mex….well that was mostly for myself and so was the Indian. I learned to grill for my little carnivore baby. Oh the burned meat I served was outrageous, but now I’m skilled with a gas grill, charcoal or even over an open fire. I’m the official grill master for Father’s Day. I get teased by my grandfather but he still eats my food. It’s an opportunity for me to do the work and for the men to kick back and enjoy. Except it never fails that dad’s gas grill runs out of propane. No lie. Two years in a row this has happened to me.

If you don’t have a crockpot you need one. It’s so awesome to walk into my home at the end of the work day and smell the yummiest scents emanating from that crockpot. Pulled pork is divine but I can do an amazing barbacoa just as easily. Talk about feeding the soul and some folks good food! Makes my mouth water thinking about it and really I haven’t felt like eating anything except soup for DAYS!

I learned to home can food for the love of family tradition. It’s something that transcends the generations and connects me to the women and the men that gardened and canned the fruits of their labor. Really a labor of love because the food was stored up for a whole family or families. I love eating fresh food and staying away from overly processed, so I do a mixture of canning and freezing. I’m grateful to have family that provides me with home grown veggies and a fantastic farmers market to shop for all the rest. Before too long it will be time to order strawberries and blueberries…yummy deliciousness!

I’ve taken on gluten free and vegan as well. All for the love of friends and family. Can’t say I’ve always been successful at everything I’ve tried but I think it’s the effort that counts. I definitely put a lot of love and caring into the food I prepare. There have been a few less than deserving individuals that I’ve poured time and energy into cooking for in the past. There were the blueberry white chocolate scones – that was a mistake. The man not the scones. Oh Lord how about the pie…let’s skip that part not worth the time.

Really it’s a bit disturbing now that I think about how important cooking is for me. Good thing I don’t freak when a dish isn’t loved. It’s more about the satisfaction of fixing the meal and the care that goes into tasty goodness. If I think back to Gary Chapman’s book ‘The 5 Love Languages’ it would probably fall under service or maybe quality time. I do enjoy gabbing while I’m in the kitchen or standing over a grill.

Valentine’s Day is one time a year, but showing the people you love how much you care can be done everyday in many ways. For me, one way is through cooking. I know there are more dishes to try, more cuisine to share, and lots of fun and love to spread around.

-G.

*Photos are from Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, AR.

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.