Advent · Christmas · faith · Nativity · Orthodoxy · saints · winter

The Advent of Hope Comes in Darkness

blue and purple cosmic sky

In dark times we pray desperate prayers.  To be desperate is to be right on the knife’s edge of death and a miracle.  In our darkest moments it is a wonder how much faith we can muster- in our hopelessness there is so much hope.

Advent is a dark time- a winter of discontent, a black hole, a dark night.  Wise men know what to do when a star appears in a desperate sky.

If we are truth tellers we know that advent is for the hopeless, the desperate, the poor, the blind, the laborer. The sinner. Christ comes in the cave of our hearts, right in the midst of the wild beasts.  Our only hope- to welcome him as best we can- as we are- in fear. The light will penetrate the dark.  The black.  And it will hurt.

This is an advent of the soul waiting in hopeless hope.

He is the Tradition.  A light shining in the darkness.  A constant. Permanent. A star that appears as an absolute sign.  Christ is our Tradition- our Star- our Hope.

Christmas is miraculous.  And miracles come to the hurting, the dying, the desperate, the broken, the poor, the hopeless.

The advent of hope comes in darkness.

I have passed my life ever in night, for the night of sin has
been to me thick fog and darkness; but make me, O Savior,
a son of the day.
-The Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete

 

 

Christmas · cooking · family · food · homemaking · Nativity · winter

Christmas Dinner

I made a centerpiece for the Christmas table.  Just a simple arrangement of greenery in a vintage camping coffee pot.  This afternoon I am going shopping to purchase a new tablecloth.  My dining room doubles as our schoolroom which makes decorating and creating ambiance a bit of a challenge.  However, after some cleaning and rearranging I think I have it ready for feasting.  Looking forward to cooking and eating together around the table.

Dinner
Rosemary Roasted Chicken
Creamy Mashed Potatoes
Gravy
Almond Green Beans
Wilted Spinach Salad
Yeast Rolls
Desserts
Chess Pie
Christmas Candy
Cookies
Christmas · faith · family · Nativity · Orthodoxy · winter

Christ is Born

*A little late, but wanted to share.

Well, it is not the Christmas I had planned, but maybe it’s even better. My girls are cooking everything! I am sick, along with the babies, and am not able to get in the kitchen. Addy and Caroline have taken charge, and let me say I am more than impressed. In the lineup we have roast, mashed potatoes, almond green beans, two buttermilk pies, peanut butter bars, banana nut bread, and a green salad. Also they are making a Greek tray with the stuffing for dolmades I made two days ago. They are rolling away. Also making tzatziki with pita chips. I cannot believe it actually…it really is something to watch. It is the best Christmas present ever watching my girls cook like women! Christmas does not happen when we get everything done or everything perfect…Christmas is what we do together…what we share. Christ is born! He is in our midst! He is and ever shall be.

Christmas · cooking · family · food · fun · http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post · kids · Nativity · parenting

A Country Christmas

We celebrated the Butler Christmas at a ranch in Abilene. My sister-in-law’s family invited us for a weekend in the country, and it was perfect.  I cannot remember when I have had a better time.  It was relaxing and hearty…good for the soul and senses.  Country folk really do have the most fun…especially if those country folk are from Texas!

Simple gifts…nothing extravagant.

Rustic ambiance. 
A warm and cozy bunkhouse.  My oldest brother Josh said, “This feels like church camp.”

We gather in the kitchen.  Lots of great conversation.
Tamales and our parents!  Two of my favorite things.
Lots of cooking.

More cooking.

A porch swing.

Cheese and wine.
The best food.  Featuring a prime rib with horseradish sauce and au jus. 

Outdoor fun!  We also took a Christmas carol hayride underneath the Abilene starlit sky.

Four wheelin’ on trails.  Throwing rocks in the pond.  Looking for wildlife.  Kickin’up dirt! 

A large covered porch for outdoor fun.

A spirited game of spoons!

Cousins are the best!

Amma brought a bag of Christmas books to read to the grands!

 Christmas dishes with red solo cups…what’s more country than that?  

 The girls made blankets together!

The smiles come easy.
The dogs are in heaven.
Christmas · family · fun · Nativity · play · winter

Fort Worth Christmas

Christmas in the City of Cowboys and Culture.
books · faith · family · kids · learning · Nativity · Orthodoxy · parenting · seasons · winter

A Few Nativity Pictures

A collection of Christmas books.

Wrapped up to be a sweet surprise for the evenings of December as we prepare for Jesus to be born.

Our Jesse tree.  We have since abandoned the hanging of the ornaments.  Brother Bear seems to have decided that all paper products should be torn to shreds.  We are reading, praying, and lighting a candle.  However, I often find myself praying this prayer, “Lord please accept this very imperfect prayer.”  Evening prayers are interesting with a toddler and baby.  The interruptions and noise make me feel like we are just scraping by sometimes.  But, we keep practicing.  Glory to God for all things.

books · faith · family · Nativity · saints · winter

A Journey to Nativity

I mentioned in my last post that I was working on a Journey to Nativity calendar.  Well, I finished it! Can you believe it is only 6 weeks until Christmas?  Approximately.

Every year I try to get ahead of the busyness of the season by making a loose plan for the holidays.  The Nativity fast begins on the 15th of this month, and it would be nice to be a bit more organized and intentional this year.  When I say loose, I mean that my plan is just a spine.  I am sure that I will add to it, and not get to some of the activities on my calendar.

I divided my days into four categories:

Cleaning/Organizing
Cooking
Caring
Sharing

I do not have activities planned for each category for every day. That would be impossible.  I tried to schedule things with peace and good will in mind.  I love Thanksgiving and Christmas.  We have so many cultural and spiritual traditions that make this season the highlight of the year. I love to ready my home, cook, and enjoy all the music and treats.  The calendar I made does not include spiritual readings.  However, I am using a little book entitled Daily Meditations and Prayers for the Christmas, Advent Fast and Epiphany.  

If you would like to see my calendar just click on the link:

Below I have included just a few things we are planing to include on our Journey to Nativity.
I plan on doing this with the books I have on hand.  I am going to wrap them up, put them under the tree, and let the littles open them once a week for a new Christmas story treat!
I wrote this little story for my kids last year.  I read it aloud while they made leaf rubbed vellum lanterns.  Feel free to print and share.  This is also a great time to clean out the coat closet and replenish coats, hats. gloves, and scarves.  Donate gently used items to a shelter.

On this day the kids and I are going to go to church and then drop off all of our baby items as a donation to a local pregnancy outreach center.  The troparion of the feast can be sung at meals and prayer times. 
Troparion:
Today is the preview of the good will of God,

Of the preaching of the salvation of mankind.
The Virgin appears in the temple of God,
In anticipation proclaiming Christ to all.
Let us rejoice and sing to her: Rejoice,
0 Divine Fulfillment of the Creator’s dispensation.

 http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0689846819/ref=ox_sc_act_title_1?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER
Shoes left by the front door filled with chocolate coins and a small gift.  We love reading the stories of Saint Nicholas.  Click the image for the link.
  Click on the image for the link.  
  
After Saint Barbara was martyred by her own father he was struck by lightening.  It is tradition to celebrate this day with fire…maybe some fireworks/sparklers.  Serve some spiced cider and read the story of this great saint. Don’t forget s’mores!

   A few things to think about as the Nativity Fast approaches and we prepare for Christ’s birth:

  • A lenten menu.
  • When will you confess?
  • Gifts for priests and their families.
  • Making room in the budget for charitable giving.
  • Readings, inspirational books, and prayers!
Well, I hope this little post is as helpful to you as it is me.  Happy planning!  
O Come, O Come Emmanuel