Celebrating Epiphany

We’re weird. And we stick with that for how we celebrate Christmas, too.

First, we’re not Catholic. Second, we sometimes celebrate Catholic holidays. It makes sense.

So we celebrate the 12 days of Christmas, and that ends on January 6, Epiphany, the day that celebrates the magi’s visit to Jesus.

Little lesson here. Bill is insanely particular that the wise men are at a distance from the manger instead of in the scene. As in they’re on their way but not there. That’s because most likely Jesus was around two by the time they got there, not in a manger anymore. Hence Harod commanding the death of all boys two and under instead of just infant boys. So Epiphany is 12 days after Christmas to try to depict that.

We don’t open any presents on Christmas morning, only stockings. Then the kids open presents every day leading up to Epiphany, reflecting the gifts the magi brought. Not every kid every day, but at least one present every day.

Then for Epiphany, we save up so that everyone gets one last gift to open, and I bake a king’s cake, complete with a plastic baby hidden inside. The finder of the baby gets an additional small gift. This is to show that the real gift, the best of them all, is Jesus himself.

Our family has enjoyed this holiday for years, a simple way to continue the celebration of God come down with us.

Oh, and it’s very important that all Christmas decorations come down January 7th, cause this mama can only take Christmasy things in the time period of the day after Thanksgiving until Epiphany. It’s a law. And all members of my household who attempt to violate this law give up all rights and provisions of my household, you know, things like food. At this point the kids begin referring to Christmas as the C-word, because it’s pretty much cussing outside these times. We’re a split household with this law. The man believes every day is Christmas. He’s a lawbreaker, so don’t do as he does.

 

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New Year’s Time Capsule

Several years ago, we started having everyone fill out a time capsule at the end of the year. I cannot tell you how glad I am we did! Those memories, seeing how the kids (and us!) have changed through the years, going back to the little years to read together, all brings much laughter and tears when it comes time for it again. This is one of the kids’ favorite activities.

Here’s a copy of the form Bill made if you want to print it or use it as an idea to make your own:

Happy 2017, Everyone! We’re so thankful for each of you who take the time to read our mumblings on here. We pray your year is blessed.

HT: kcparent

Harry Potter Birthday Party

Our kids get a friend themed birthday party when they turn 5 and 10. This was Ariana’s year as she turned the big 1-0. She has recently finished the Harry Potter books, so this was the theme she went with. Which made this mom and dad swell up with pride. *sniff*

14 awesome girls were part of this special day, and I’m never sure if I have more fun or if they do. Here are the party details, and as usual, many things aren’t pictured because we’re terrible at taking pictures during events like this!

Decorations:20161105_130242000_ios20161105_130310000_ios20161105_130424000_ios20161105_130518000_ios20161105_130604000_ios20161105_130630000_ios20161105_130656000_ios20161105_130739000_ios20161105_130908000_ios

Pictures of our guests. Four came late, and I completely forgot to get this shot of them, but oh, these faces were epic!20161105_190015033_ios20161105_190037483_ios20161105_190127019_ios20161105_190154754_ios20161105_190226877_ios20161105_190305172_ios20161105_190341631_ios20161105_190409452_ios20161105_190440741_ios20161105_190519369_ios

Food in the Great Hall. We almost forgot to get photos of this, but there was still some left by the time we remembered.20161105_192302974_ios20161105_192313507_ios20161105_192321624_ios20161105_192330274_ios20161105_192334623_ios20161105_192339340_ios20161105_192354791_ios

Before the “students” began school, they took a trip to Diagon Alley to get supplies, beginning with Gringotts to withdraw some Galleons.20161105_192404159_ios20161105_192412198_iosThe wand chooses the witch! We made these with dowel rods, hot glue, beads, and spray paint. We were super pleased with the results!20161105_192427443_ios

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Our sweet little witch running Honeydukes!20161105_194237332_ios20161105_194649122_ios

Of course you can’t start classes until you’re sorted into houses20161105_193732317_ios

The activities were in the form of classes. Mainly real Hogwarts classes mixed with a few grammar level ones for the sake of having enough.
Care of Magical Creatures where they designed dragons20161105_210536423_ios20161105_210527144_iosHistory of Magic where they studied Harry’s scar by trying to pin it in the right place20161105_130539000_iosHerbology where they painted planter pots20161105_200032254_iosQuidditch! Bill made these hoops and they were fantastic!!! We had the girls bounce a ping pong ball on the table, trying to get them through the hoop.20161105_203256570_iosFlying Lessons where we did several broom relays. Many of our awesome neighbors let us borrow their brooms for this!20161105_215602382_ios20161105_215723008_iosGrammar, complete with Mad Lib20161106_141220649_iosGeography as a Horcrux scavenger hunt. I printed the clues on the back. Bill made these maps, too! This man is creative, ya’ll!!!20161111_211358098_ios20161111_211408844_iosPotions where we mixed baking soda, dish soap, food coloring, and vinegar. The girls had more fun with this than anything else! They could have stayed with this activity for an hour, I’m sure. I got these adorable little cauldrons on Amazon, and they made cute party favors.20161111_211825993_iosOther activities we forgot to photograph:

  • Dueling in the form of freeze tag
  • Charms using Wingardium Leviosa to keep balloons in the air with their wands
  • Defense Against the Dark Arts where the girls fought a dementor (black tablecloth pinned to the wall) with wands (shooting q-tips from straws)
  • Vocabulary as Harry Potter Bingo

The birthday girl’s ice cream cake20161105_212642215_ios

Sillie selfies!!20161105_192255399_ios

Goals for 2015

GoalsIf you ever sit down with me to ask for advice on prioritizing areas of your life, I’ll tell you two things. One, simplify everything. Two, set no more than three goals to work toward at a time.

So for 2015 I thought I’d try something amazing, out of this world, life changing! I decided to actually try that out for myself.

I’m a prideful, impatient woman who believes I’m far more capable on my own than I actually am. I’m a project finisher who likes to get ‘er done, so any time I see a need for change, I reorganize my entire life by coming up with something like 30 things I’m going to change starting tomorrow. Perfect.

This time I started by listing all the roles I now have. I came up with 13 major roles and 57 sub-roles. Simplification is long overdue, can I get an amen!? So I got rid of as many roles as possible and took notes on what was left to see if patterns emerged. Three things popped out at me–I consistently rely on me instead of Jesus, I’m always distracted, and my house is NOT set up for the amount of people who live in it. Looky at that. No more than three things to work on.

As a result, my 2015 goals and sub-goals are as follows:

Gospel Centrality–I’ve lost this. I can talk the talk like nobody’s business, but my heart has forgotten truth. By God’s grace, I’m part of the most gospel-centered church I’ve ever known, which means my friends soak me with the good news of King Jesus. But in the times they aren’t in my face I easily lose my way and drift off into the horrible news of Queen Courtney. By the mercies of God, I want to immerse my mind and heart with Christ’s work, not mine. Most of the following sub-categories have all but disappeared in my life.

  • Regularly study scripture
  • Pray so I can more clearly see God at work
  • Memorize gospel-rich scripture
  • Read gospel-centered books (Bill’s helping me make a good list, and I’ll ask him to post it here in case the list would be beneficial to your soul)
  • Listen to gospel-centered sermons and music

Listen Well–My mind is busy, and I talk far too much. While I’ve tried to crucify my mouth and busyness on many crosses instead of resting in the grace that’s mine, my thoughts and tongue need a break. My ears, however, are flabby and need strength training.

  • One thing at a time when it matters–putting my phone down if the kids are talking to me, stopping school if a neighbor knocks on the door, or cheering with my man (and blessing the heck out of him!) for the Colts instead of knitting and half-watching–the point is to minimize multitasking to help my mind slow down and focus on what’s important
  • Ask questions followed by more questions in most conversations–in other words, be more interested in what others have to say than my own voice
  • Make time for intentional conversations–through both deliberate times (like a coffee date with a friend to just chat) and fun activities/events (like a craft or outing with my kids)

Set Up Home to Work Well for 10+ People–We have an OK size house, but there are many overhauls that need to happen to help it work well for a family our size. In addition to the ten of us, we plan to open our home to a young mom and her baby soon. Plus, we desire to adopt more children if the Lord wills.

  • Follow 52 Weeks to an Organized Home with my amazing friend, Lawana.
  • Use most of our “home improvement” budget on organization rather than beautification
  • Intentionally train the children to help more in this area

 

 

 

 

Why All the Lent Haters?

Growing up in a church in the restoration movement, there was no liturgical calendar to follow. No Advent, no Epiphany, no Lent, no Good Friday. In fact, we didn’t even really acknowledge Christmas and Easter. “Them dern Catholics makin’ up special days and seasons that ain’t in the Bible…”

But in years since, I’ve found some benefit from the liturgical patterns. Not as ritual or sacrament, but as a way to focus on important historical/redemptive events in our home. The seasons and holidays serve as a great way to talk about what God has done and rejoice over it together. This seems to take the spirit of Old Testament celebrations and remembrances of God’s mighty acts (like the Passover) as a family event–without the law-driven requirement to do so.

One season we’ve found particular joy in using as an annual reminder of God’s intervention in history is Advent heading into Christmas. We use the Advent season as a time to learn the story leading up to the birth of Jesus. And then Christmas is a day where we celebrate and sing and dance and praise Jesus. All day. It’s pretty great.

Lent3But I find myself disappointed as we enter Lent (which starts today, if you’re not up on these things) because in scouring the internet I can find a gazillion books and resources and traditions on Advent for families, but a search for Lent ideas brings up…pretty much nothing. I find it disturbing because Easter is far more important than Christmas. I don’t mean the days themselves, but the events commemorated on those days–Christmas as the celebration of God-with-us, Easter of our Lord’s resurrection. Of course, you can’t have Easter without Christmas (theologically speaking), but Christmas without Easter is just a nice story with a cute baby, cuddly animals, and a pretty star.

And it bothers me that my kids can tell me far more about the shepherds and the angels and the magi and the manger than they can about the guards and the garden and the thieves and the tomb. “If Christ has not been raised, then our faith is in vain.” I want my kids seeing Easter as far more thrilling and celebratory than Christmas.

So with a lack of good resources out there, I’ve been pushed more into doing my own thing with Lent. But I really don’t have the time (nor the discipline!) to create something from scratch. And I’ve found that something daily, pre-written, and that has some hands-on portions for the kids go best for us.

So, here’s the great Lent/Easter experiment for 2014. We’re going to use this (free!) daily reading and devotional from NT Wright. Over the next 53 days, we’ll read through the entire gospel according to Matthew. Wright follows each reading with short devotionals which are insightful and engaging. We’ll also use blank 3 x 5 notecards and take turns drawing pictures of the events we just read about. Then we’ll tape those to the wall in order, a visual representation of the life of Jesus for the kids to see and reference throughout Lent. On Sundays, we’ll use six candles that will all be lit on the first Sunday of Lent and each following week will have one less candle lit (kind of an anti-Advent wreath) until Good Friday, when they’ll all be out. Then, as you probably guessed, they’ll all be lit (with even more candles all around too) the entire day of Easter to celebrate that the Light of World has burst forth from the grave.

I’m kinda thrilled.

So, that’s what we’re gonna do. I’ll keep you all updated on how it’s going and post some pictures of our magnificent artwork.

What do you do for Lent, if anything?