Friday, December 24, 2010

Vision of the Nativity

St. Luke's Gospel doesn't give us very many details about what really happened on that Holy Night when Jesus was born.  It's always left me wondering how exactly Mary had Jesus and what her and Joseph felt.  I mean, the birth of a baby with all it's labor, pain, and bodily fluids and not a very picturesque way for God to make His appearance on earth.   And how was Jesus as a baby? Did He know that He was God even as a baby? Was he different than any other baby?  These things have always made me wonder until recently, I read the most beautiful description of that Holy Night from a vision of St. Bridget of Sweden.  This is from an alphabet book of saints called, To See the Little Jesus! To See His Blessed Mother! (Available for purchase here).  When I read aloud this excerpt to my son on the day we did the letter B, for St. Bridget, I had to stop reading because it was so moving. 

The background story is that St. Bridget of Sweden makes a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.  When she reaches the place where Jesus was born, she kneels down to kiss the silver star (a star that marks the spot where Jesus was born).  This is when the room disappears and she has this vision:

"When all things were now ready, the Maiden knelt down with great awe and began to pray.  She turned Her back to the manger, but lifted Her face towards Heaven and looked to the East.  And with hands uplifted and Her eyes towards Heaven she knelt without moving, wrapped in divine sweetness.

While She was thus absorbed in prayer, I saw That which was in Her womb move, and in a moment She gave birth to Her Son.  [on other accounts of her vision, I've read that St. Bridget saw a light pass through her womb at the moment Jesus was born. He lay on the ground pure and clean, free of any soil].

And so much light went from Him that the taper in the stone wall no longer gave any light...

But when the Maiden felt that She delivered, She bent Her head and folded Her hands, and with great awe She adored the Child and said to Him: 'Welcome, my God, my Lord, and my Son!"

Then the boy wept and trembled with cold on the hard floor, and stretched out His little hands to His Mother, and She took Him up and laid His cheek against Hers and Him to her breast with joy and great compassion.

And She sat down on the floor and laid Him on Her knees and began to swathe Him first with the linen cloths and then with the woolen pieces, and at last, wound the whole about His little body, legs and arms in one swaddling cloth, and swathed His head in the two woolen pieces that She had brought with Her.

St. Joseph threw himself upon his knees, adoring the Child and weeping for joy.  And in the Virgin there was no weakness as in other women when they are delivered.  She stood up with the Child in Her arms, and She and Joseph laid Him in the manger and adored Him with great joy.  And then I heard wonderful sweet singing of many Angels. 

There are so many things to ponder in this vision, but the thing that really strikes me the sublime holiness and deep adoration of Mary toward her baby, Jesus.  She has a full understanding of how he can be her God and baby and the same time.  It's an amazing and beautiful thing to behold. 

May God give us the gift of Mary's understanding and faith this Christmas.

Have a Blessed Christmas!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Free Batteries!

Every year, Staples has this promotion right before Christmas and every year, I wonder why more people don't do this.  Who doesn't need a couple packages of free batteries right before their house is stocked with new toys that need batteries??  The deal is that you can buy two 20 packs per week, but then you get that money back in Staples money to use for future Staples purchases (which is always needed!). You have to sign up for their free rewards program, but it is so worth it.  I was just thinking about how I needed to get some new batteries, and here they are.   Thank you, Staples, for supplying my house with free batteries the whole year through!

Free *Gorgeous* Downloadable Creches!

My friend, Mary, posted this on her blog and they are absolutely gorgeous!  The website is Paper Model Kiosk and the store is Crechemania.  This has quickly become a favorite website of mine.  All the things on this website are like those vintage Victorian cards that have ornate pop-outs, but they are all Catholic items.  Some things you have to pay to download, but some things are free like this one:

I just printed it out on card stock paper and had my son help me cut and fold.  I'll definitely be back to this website for future purchases!  

P.S. You have to register to use this website.  They ask who referred you. My user name is clayrosaries.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Our Christmas Card Photo Shoot

This was funny. I knew it would be hard to get a good photo of a four year old, a 21 month old and a one month old, so I didn't try anything fancy.  I dressed them and put them on the bed and started taking pictures. LOTS of pictures.  Almost one hundred pictures. None of the pictures below are going to be on the Christmas card, so this is not going to spoil any surprises in the mail.  Out of all the pictures we took, we only got one *almost* great picture.  After all of that, it was good enough for me!

Poor Jude is probably wondering how he ended up with these crazy siblings! I'm pretty sure he is saying, "Mom, SAVE ME!"

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Pin Pricks of Light

I've had this in my head since Mass on Saturday night. The priest gave an analogy about Christ being the Ultimate Light, and everything else is only a pin prick of light- or maybe I just took it as that.  Anyhow, it has been a good meditation for me.  So many things make me happy- some more redeeming than others- but all in all, they are only pin pricks of light compared to joy the Light of the World brings.  I have to keep my focus on Jesus. 

The Christmas season especially is a joyful time of year. There are so many distracting pin pricks of lights that make me happy- the Christmas lights, Christmas trees, Christmas decorations, Christmas traditions and let's not forget the Christmas gifts!  Even the joy of my children, as wonderful as they are, are only pin pricks of light compared with the Light that Jesus brings.  

This third week of Advent, I am working on getting ready to be blown away by the greatest joy imaginable.  It's Gaudete Sunday (or Joyful Sunday)  because the Light of the world is coming and He's more bright that all the pin pricks in this passing world. "Lord let the light of you face shine us and we shall be saved [and full of joy]." 

Monday, December 13, 2010

NOT Made in China

This adorable sweater was given to me by my husband's mother.   She said it was worn by my husband when he was a baby.  While cleaning out the attic, she found it right before Jude was born.  My husband's grandmother, who passed away last year, knit it from an old sweater that my husband's father owned! Jude's great grandmother was very talented and very thrifty- traits that were definitely passed on to my husband's father.  She never used a pattern or guide, but look at how great this sweater turned out!  I have a few other items that my husband wore when he was a baby and they are so special to use with our children.  I hope I can be that organized to keep a few special items to pass on to my grandchildren.  Maybe this sweater will be worn by the fourth generation of Harkins one day.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

New Fleur de Lis Products

With the new Fleur de Lis bead, I have made some new products.  I have made a rosary, chaplet and bracelet, all featuring the new Fleur de Lis bead.  Follow this link to view the products (link will be available for a limited time).

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Friday, December 10, 2010

Miracles of the St. Andrew Novena

Julie Cragon shares some wonderful stories about how the St. Andrew Novena has worked miracles in her family. 
I was first introduced to the Christmas Novena to Saint Andrew in 1987. After a couple of years of trying to conceive, my husband and I found out we were pregnant early in the year. Along with my two sisters and a sister-in-law, I would have a new baby in November. Unfortunately, we lost our child in late April. By October and November, when the other new little ones were born I was beginning to wonder if we would ever have children.
Go to WIM Catholic Blog to read the full story.

Fleur De Lis Bead

The Fleur De Lis is a very popular symbol all over, but for Catholics, it is a symbol of the Holy Trinity and it can also be a symbol for Mary.  I chose this symbol to add to my collection of beads as a symbol of the Trinity. I've always loved the Fleur De Lis so I was excited to learn it was actually Catholic symbol.  In my design, I put three red bands to connect the three petals on this stylized lily- like a double wammy for the "three in one".  Here is my process of making the fleur de lis bead.

I started with mixing a batch of sandy yellow clay for the background color.   Clay manufacturers are not very creative in their color options, so I like to mix my own colors.

Next, I formed the black fleur de lis.  After this, I put on two more layers- a gold one and then another black black for a distinguished look.  Then I made the three red rings that "hold" together the three parts of the lily.

Here is the large cane after the background was added.  Next to this cane, you can also see the burgundy and gold stripes in formation. 
The canes as they are being reduced (below)
The finished product!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Advent Post (finally!)

After reading all the wonderful ideas that other people are doing for advent this year, I can't go on without writing what my family and I are doing this advent. 

One advent tradition that I grew up with, was the Advent wreath.  To me, Advent just wouldn't be the same with out the wreath.  When I got married, it was the first thing we bought at the start of the Advent season.  There's just something about the lighting of the candles after dinner every night and the gentle flicker of the flames that say, "Christ is near."

This year we are added the St. Andrew Novena to our Advent wreath lighting. The kids join us on the nights we have enough time to pray before their bedtimes.  Although it seems like they don't get anything out of hearing my husband and I pray, they really are soaking it all in.  The other night, as my four year old was bouncing around on the couch, he just started saying the entire St. Andrew prayer by heart! He prayed it twice before he stopped and went back to playing.  This prayer has made me think more how the Blessed Mother felt on that night when Jesus was born.  "In piercing cold, at midnight, in Bethlehem..."  Off topic: my friend read a Christmas book to the coop class and the repeating line in the book was Mary saying to Jesus, "Tomorrow you will be King, but tonight you are my baby."  I think watching my own babies grow up makes me understand Mary's sacrifice more and more.  The mothering instinct to protect and keep your children safe is so strong; it's more strong than I could have imagined before I had my own children.  I can see now how much pain it caused Mary to know that her son would have to suffer so much.

I planned on doing the Jesse Tree this year.  I even started planning how I was going to make the ornaments at the beginning of November! At first, I was trying to set up an ornament swap--that didn't work. Then I came up with an idea to put little pictures of the symbols into brooch settings.  I ordered the settings from a dealer on Etsy about four weeks ago and they haven't arrived yet.  I guess the Jesse Tree just wasn't meant to be this year.

One new thing we are doing this Advent is waiting to put the ornaments on the Christmas tree until Christmas day.  We've always put them on right away along with all the other decorations in the house, but I wanted to save something for Christmas day to make it more special.   I didn't anticipate how hard this would be for my son. He asks almost everyday when we can put the ornaments on the tree.  I keep telling him, "When Jesus comes on Christmas."

These are the major things we do for Advent. Other little things like Christmas books, a Christmas felt board, and Christmas crafts also enhance our Advent season.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Visit From My Mom

My apologies for not posting anything in awhile.  It's not that nothing was happening over here--on the contrary, I haven't had time among all the commotion! My mom just left from a week long visit to see her new grandson and help me out.  It was so nice to have her, but I immediately missed her when she left.  My house turned from tidy to one big mess in about 15 minutes flat and none of the kids were giving me a moments rest.  Analee was a tornado of terror and Jude wasn't letting me put him down for more than 5 five minutes at a time.  I told Liam if we didn't start cleaning it up, I would lose my sanity.  He said, "sanity?? You don't have any sanity, Mom." Don't I know it!

Other than all the help she gave me, we had all great time together while she was here.  We decorated for Christmas, took Christmas pictures of the kids, saw the Nutcracker ballet, went on the White House Christmas tour, watched movies, drank wine and had our first raw oysters together.   

My mom is THE most hard working, ambitious woman I know. Cooking meals, keeping the house clean and helping me with the kids wasn't enough for her.  She also had to PAINT MY KITCHEN!  The mere thought of painting a room with three young kids stresses me out, but not my mom.  She didn't want leave without tackling a big project.  I'm so glad she did it, because it was one of those things I've wanted to do since we moved in last year.   I love the way it turned out. Thanks, Mom! You're the best!