Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Get Excited about the Ordinary

Christmas is over, Now What?
Christmas is over.  What's next?

We've celebrated Epiphany and the Baptism of our Lord so we're done with Christmas until next time.  Now everyone is talking about Lent.  Everywhere I look I see Lent this and Lent that, but my thoughts are on what’s actually next because I think it’s pretty great.  But it's not Lent.  And no, it's not Mardi Gras or Carnival season either (for all of you already whipping up your King Cake).

I’m excited about….drumroll ... Ordinary Time!  

I know, you're thinking, "Seriously?  Ordinary Time is great?"  

Yes!  It is! 

Get Excited about the Ordinary - Ordinary Time
Ordinary time is not at all "ordinary."  You’re saying, but Lisa – ordinary is normal, not special. Yes! Ordinary time is when we get to know Jesus during his public ministry.  It is normal for us to have time to grow in relationship with Him. We just celebrated his birth and now we have a few precious weeks of Ordinary Time before Lent to get a taste of who He grows to become.  We get a preview for the months of ordinary green in the church that will come in summer and fall.

Look at what we have right now; four weeks of readings filled with God Calling Us!  I took the time to read through the Sunday Mass readings for these weeks and discovered we will spend the next month hearing God call His disciples and each one of us to be loved by Him.  This weekend we start with God calling to Samuel and then Jesus calling his disciples by name.  What could be better after Christmas season than God calling us by name to follow him into the Lenten season?

Ordinary time allows us to hear Jesus call us, to watch Him maybe cautiously, maybe eagerly.  Having normal time is what makes the special celebrations meaningful.

1 Samuel 3:10

This year, don’t rush straight from Christmas into Lent. Use this time to understand what it means to be called to relationship with Jesus.  Will you hear God's call and answer as Samuel?  "Speak, for your servant is listening." 1 Samuel 3:10

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

A Downton Abbey Season 5 Tea Party!

Downton Abbey Season 5 is HERE!  Woo Hoo!  During the almost year long hiatus between seasons I introduced my oldest daughter to Downton Abbey.  We binged watched the first four seasons in a matter of weeks over the summer on Amazon.  She was hooked!

For Halloween, Ashley wore a Downton Abbey Ladies Maid costume we assembled, even making the maid headpiece herself.

Downton Abbey Tea Party
For the premiere of Season 5 of Downton Abbey, we decided to have a Premiere Tea Party.  What fun!  First things first, we searched Pinterest.  Cause that is the place to be when planning any type of party.  We found free, printable Downton Abbey Season 5 premiere watch party invitations and hand delivered them.

For decorations, we dug out my great-grandmother's handmade doilies to place on tabletops around the house and added a batten berg lace tablecloth to my dining room.  Printable quips from the Dowager Countess of Grantham sat framed in the dining room for inspiration.  Isn't Cousin Violet always an inspiration?

Tea was a must for a Downton Abbey Tea Party and it was an easy one.  Ashley received this package of Downton Abbey Teas for Christmas along with a new tea service from her nana.  Mrs. Patmore's Pudding Tea was the overwhelming favorite with our guests.

Downton Abbey Tea

But what about food?  We've never been to an English tea, so it was back to Pinterest for ideas and then some time wandering through our HEB grocery store for final decisions.

What we served:
Finger sandwiches in 3 varieties - cucumber with allouette herb cheese, egg salad, and sliced chicken with pear slices and harvati cheese.  We cheated a bit by buying thin white bread with the crust already cut off, and it was very worth it!
Bread Pudding - made in the bakery of our HEB.  Score!
Scones - Ashley made cranberry orange scones from a mix and served them with blueberry scones from HEB.  We purchased orange blossom honey for the table to make the scones even more yummy.
Water crackers and cheese

Downton Abbey Tea Party

Overall it was pretty simple, but when served in the dining room with my china and crystal and lit candles it looked amazing. My two little nieces (ages 4 and 6) came and along with my 8 year old daughter they had a blast being included in a real tea party.  And yes, they wore princess dresses to the tea party.

Downton Abbey WineOnce tea was over, we went through to the den to watch the Downton Abbey recap and then the season 5 premiere.  We also printed up a few Downton Abbey Bingo cards to make the watching more enjoyable.  The cards were from season 3, but we just crossed out Matthew (yes, there were tears) and wrote Lord Gillingham instead.

During the episode, the adults enjoyed a glass of Downton Abbey Bordeaux and pretended Carson was pouring the Claret into our glasses.

Watching it together was a lot of fun.  There were times when Lord Grantham made his usual sour face and we all snickered or someone had to break out with a "Poor Edith" comment cause, you know, poor Edith.  Some things never change.

If you need to catch up on Downton Abbey or want to re-watch the previous seasons, Amazon Prime is the best way to do it.  Join Amazon Prime with a free trial to become addicted to all the perks of Prime.  All four seasons of Downton Abbey are free to watch with their Prime streaming service. (Sorry for the little advertisement for Amazon Prime, but it is a GREAT service. We are an affiliate, so if you sign up with the link above we receive a small token from Amazon. Thank you!)

Did you watch the Season 5 premiere?  What do you think of Branson's friend and her outspoken behavior?  Where you cheering or booing when Thomas saved the day again?  Poor Mr. Mosley... need I say more?  Who do you think will be cast out from the Abbey?

So much intrigue ahead of us for this season.

Downton Abbey Season 5 Premiere Tea Party

Monday, January 5, 2015

Leading Us Out of the Darkness


On this day of the Epiphany, I find myself thinking how dark the World must have been back then.  Today, with electricity, we really don’t know true darkness; we take the ability to easily light our homes completely for granted.

Have you ever been on a cave tour before? While fascinating, caves are damp, cold, and dark. Inevitably at some point on the tour, the guide will have everyone either sit or stand still while he (or she) turns out the lights, plunging everyone into complete darkness, our eyes straining to see something, anything, but seeing nothing. 

I hate being in the dark. Some of my worst nightmares involve being unable to see, shadows, blurry vision, stumbling and confused in the black.  It’s suffocating. To me, this is what our hearts are like without Christ. Suffocated, dark, nothingness. 

Have you ever stood in your driveway, looking up at the night sky, seeing only a few stars or the moon. To me, this is the world with Christ around us, but not within us. Have you been camping in a place away from the cities and light pollution? The night sky reveals so many thousands more stars than we can see in our neighborhoods. Star light illuminates so much more than you might realize, but the light pollution prevents us from seeing it.

Epiphany Leading us out of the Darkness
The message of the Wise Men seeking and finding the Christ child completes our Christmas story.  To find the babe, they follow the light emanating from a star in the heavens. Not just any star, but THE STAR, that leads them to Christ, to God, to His Incarnate Word.  

This starlight illuminates the way - then and now - because His truth is the Light of the World.

Today many of us struggle in the darkness of this world. We fill our lives with an artificial light that pollutes the brilliance of starlight. How many times does our gaze look to the starlight and we want to follow, but aren't willing to commit to the journey. We aren't willing to change our lives, leave our old lives behind, and follow that star in search of God.

But we need to know the light of Christ. We desperately need to know that God is with us, within us.  This knowledge is what keeps us from being suffocated by the darkness or blinded by the world's artificial light.

This year, at the end of Christmastime, let the Star of Bethlehem lead you to Christ today, to seek Him, His truth and His light.

Friday, January 2, 2015

NY Eve Conversation: Amazon Link

Lisa and I were talking about the blog on New Year’s Eve, looking back at the year, planning some future posts. At one point the conversation took this turn - 

Lisa: Did you know we’re an affiliate with Amazon but we've never promoted it, so no one has ever used the link to order anything?

Me: UH.....  (thinking....) Oh no.. How much money have I spent in the last six weeks on Amazon?   

Ordering Christmas gifts? 

Ordering company party gifts?  

And all this time I could have been “gifting” myself with a kickback!?  It doesn't cost us anything to post the Amazon affiliate link.  Oh geez – our mother probably ordered every last minute gift from Amazon.  Did she use the link?  Did she KNOW ABOUT the link?

Probably not.

Now, I don't even know how much the affiliate link kicks back, but it might have been enough for Lisa & I to meet at and share a Dunkin Donuts coffee together!  (shameless plug for #DunkinDonuts.  :) 

I suppose we should promote the affiliate link on the blog!  Maybe then we will remember to use it ourselves. Here it is - if you like to order things from Amazon and think we do a good job, please click on the link before placing your order. 

New Year Resolution 2015:  

Use our Amazon affiliate link for ordering everything!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Teaching Waiting during Advent

For seven simple ways to help kids understand the season of waiting during Advent, check out my latest post over at Catechist's Journey -  Waiting is a Lesson in Advent.  

May you have a blessed Advent.

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