Saturday, December 15, 2012

Bethlehem is in Newtown Connecticut

Yesterdays horror still has me shaky. It has really rocked our whole family and so many of you as well, I know. And I don't even watch the news. I do read it, but am being selective even there. All those little ones. Parents, with Christmas around the corner and empty arms and hearts. I can't stop myself thinking how they will get through it- how possibly can you get through it?

And then I remember that this is the real meaning of Christmas. This is why He came. It isn't about the boxes and presents- its about so much more. Jesus who is love, and desires all men to be saved, saw our desperate human state. And we really are desperate, aren't we?Yesterday proves we have lost our way entirely. And so He came. To save us from ourselves. To save us from each other.To save us from ambushes, and war, and innocent killings, and even the guilty ones. And Jesus doesn't do things in half measure. Historians tell us the three wise men likely didn't arrive in adoration for a few years after he was born and thus he was hunted by Herod as a small child like those little ones yesterday. If this is true then surely He was a comfort to them  as they passed into His arms. 

 2000 years ago we had no room for Him in an Inn. Today we exile from public places and classrooms. But it is not possible to shake Him from humanity as He became one of us. There will always be a Bethlehem and a  dirty stable to welcome his warm body to the cold night air, so long as even one of us have a little faith left in our hearts. Yes, just a mustard's seeds worth. He will show up, because He loves us. And He understands our desperation.

This year He will have to make His Bethlehem in Newtown Connecticut, since he always hears the cries of his children. Amidst the tragedy He will appear, humbly, quietly, and dressed in poor rags. He will show up in the million stories we will hear of heroism, and unselfish love. Stories of teachers shielding children and hiding them in closets. Stories of policemen and women who will stand guard and protect. Stories of neighbors who will reach out to comfort. Stories of a nation that will flood this small town with love and prayers. He will pour himself into every crack and crevice of the bleeding, broken hearts in parents, and family, and friends in that quiet little town, and He will begin to heal them. But it will take time. He will be with them in a million small ways- and they will need Him to be.

Vicki Soto died a hero yesterday protect her class
Anne Marie Murphy special Ed teacher, used her body as a shield to save her students.
 It may not feel like it tonight. It may seem sheer foolishness on my part to think it, but that is what faith is about. Believing. Believing we are not forsaken. Believing things can be better than this. Believing for all these broken parents that this is not the last time they will see their little ones.There is something more.

This is the meaning of Christmas. That hope has not died, despite humanity's penchant for trying to kill it. It rises again in all those who believe in Him, and will make room for Him in their hearts. 

Come Lord Jesus!

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Tree

Yesterday we decorated our Christmas tree. Its awful purty.  We usually make a big feast of all sorts of goodies, and spend the afternoon gobbling, listening to music, and applying ornaments. This has been a really good Advent for us so far. It doesn't feel harried to me. We are lighting our advent wreath nightly, and moving our wise men one room at a time through the house, we are putting straw in the manger to prepare for the babe. Mostly we are trying to find places inside each of us that we've left him no room. You know those dusty corners of our hearts.The ones  that claim ownership and refuse to acknowledge God while clinging tenaciously to a perceived good like daffy Duck with that pearl  "Its Mine I tell you, mine, all Mine!!!"

Yeah we all have those nasty places. Places so chock full within ourselves there simply isn't any room at all for God to maneuver  let alone sleep for the night. Goodness, we could make that no-good-Inn in Bethlehem look like a welcome respite with the way we turn Him out at times.That's what we're working on at our house this year. But of course at Christmas its so much easier to do the work since joy is peeking through everything.  Even denying yourself ( since all Advent is actually a penitential season) feels sort of  'happy'.

I have found I am so grateful lately. Grateful for so many small things, health, work, a house,family, good-wholesome- healthy food, loving relationships with my kids ( the big as well as the small!), a husband who is simply wonderful, friends that grow dearer to me daily- God blesses us continually and we know it and feel thankful. So, yes Advent is great and we are happy!
getting the lights on the tree 
Sarah places the star ( she was terrified)
I added tinsel later that would make my Uncle Dave proud
The little ones got more excited as each decoration came out

Saturday, December 8, 2012


My brother Paul got me thinking about German food last night. He was asking trivia about German Christmas traditions, and likely thinking back on his trip to Germany years ago. He told me all about that trip and how much he simply loved Germany. For some reason the story of him visiting a salt mine was the one that stuck with me the most. Strange.

Anyway, we went food shopping today and I spied some spaetzle. I have never eaten it before, but decided it was as good a time as any to try it out.We got our tree today also, but we won't decorate it til tomorrow, once the branches fall open. So while Fred set it up, I got cooking.  I paired it with what 'felt' like  good German combinations- but I could be completely wrong: a cream sauce, and fresh sausage from the butcher, and lastly brussel sprouts. I love brussel sprouts, they are a totally awesome vegetable. About half of my kids love them too, and the other half do not. More for the good half.

 The dinner made me happy as it reminded me of my wonderful brother and how many times he has made me smile over a lifetime. The kids thought it was fine. Just fine- nothing awesome, but neither was it bad. Then we moved our wise men as we do all through Advent, to show the journey of them to find the King of Kings. Tonight the poor things made it into the stinky,smelly, older boys room where they will stay for this leg of the journey. Sophia is so honored to carry one! She calls them the Three Mise Wen. We're all looking forward to tomorrow when we decorate and have a family party as we go. Hope you all had a beautiful Saturday too!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Matthew has had a great science course so far this year over at Sacred Heart Tutorials. The first half of the year was devoted to Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day. Matt had to pick out  a chapter and present to his class. He built a diorama on Cephalopods ( i.e. octopus, cuttlefish,squid) and made some cupcakes complete with goldfish swimming along to hand out. He had a blast making it. It nice when learning goes this way.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Christmas Tree Lighting

Tonight was our towns Christmas Tree Lighting. It was a perfect night weather wise, warm enough to wear a simple sweater and feel comfortable. We really enjoy going every year, I have to admit. It always surprises me what a strange mix our town is between locals, and the college crowd from the  Mount with their families, along  with an undercurrent of Catholicism streaming in from the seminary and  local shrines. I think the diversity is most pronounced to me at this particular event, though I'm not sure why. It may have something to do with the overheard conversations while waiting on long lines for hayrides, or to see Santa, or grab a hot dog. For instance I heard two colleagues chatting about a book one has just written, while directly behind me a woman was putting the kibosh on the idea of needing to know how to use the different sized utensils in the The Carriage House restaurant   that is hosting the event by handing out free hot dogs, cocoa, and Christmas cookies to one and all. "Who needs all them forks anyway, shoot I just need one and a spoon . No one really uses all that etiquette!" (I swear to you I heard this tonight.) Its a strange and wonderful little place I live, filled with lively characters of all sorts. It has a special kind of charm, all its own. Here are some photos of the night.

Carriage House for hot dogs and caroling
On the Hayride
riding around town to look at lights
finally we met Santa!

Sunday, December 2, 2012


Laundry is a four letter word in my house. But my wonderful husband changed all that this past week. He managed to pull together a few days to spend working on our house. Fred had been wanting to re-do the little girls room for ages. The room had belonged to the little boys before our addition went up, and we never quite finished the work. Then we moved Mike and Tom downstairs and soon after wound up moving the three girls into that room. We hadn't planned it, it just sort of happened and we still hadn't finished the ugly room. It had a combination of blue paint, pink paint, and drywall in some spots. So this week Fred moved the girls into a presentable room and transformed the eye sore into a laundry room. I'll let the before and after pictures speak for themselves. I am super happy!

a mix of old and new house that never got finished
old closet
new floor, plumbing, lighting, and a bit of paint!
folding table and shelving to organize
 new built in look- in that old yucky closet
storage space above- laundry separators below