Think about those times in your life when you have felt inspired to something really great. Where does that inspiration come from?
The Holy Spirit. God inspires us to do great things with our lives.
----Matthew Kelly

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Disclaimer: I am not a theologian, just a Catholic empty-nester trying to figure it all out. The views on this blog are my own.

Finding Joy before Christmas Day


Usually, before Advent, I have a "dry season". Then, while I am reflecting on the Daily Readings or using a Bible Study, something clicks and I exit that season. This usually happens somewhere in the middle of Advent. This year was different. I didn't "snap out of it" until the week before December 25. Last year, I used Bishop Baron's Advent Reflections and Fr. Mark Toups Rejoice! Advent Meditations with Joseph. This year I again used the reflections from Bishop Baron and used the Rejoice! Advent Meditations with the Holy Family. Last year's meditations grabbed me from the get-go so I was expecting the same thing this year. Only it didn't happen. Maybe I pushed myself into expecting to be instantly transformed into the glow of Advent. I just couldn't get into the Holy Family. As I reflected, I realized why: it was making me take a hard look at my marriage and to see where I'm failing in my relationship. On the flip-side, it also made me see how I can make my marriage better. I realized I'm not giving myself as I should. Wouldn't we all love to have a marriage like Mary & Joseph's? 

The closer we got to Christmas, the more joy I felt. I played my flute for the 5:00 pm Christmas Eve Mass. When I arrived, snow was falling and just beginning to stick. (This is East Tennessee...a white Christmas is virtually unheard of!) The snow fell all during Mass and I left to this beautiful scene:
Church at night with Christmas Snow
It was 6:00 pm, so the Angelus Bells were ringing, it was still snowing, and most of the people were gone so it was quiet. I was reminded of a Christmas of my youth when it snowed on Christmas Eve. The excitement of the snow and Christmas was incredible. I don't know how else to describe it...pretty indescribable. I felt joy that I hadn't felt in years...not since my mother passed away. I felt such comfort thinking about that Christmas. 
On my way home, I drove past the tree in the park next to our house. We don't get to see this very often (because...East TN!)
I made my way home and this sight greeted me:
Candles on a wall in front of a house in snow
My youngest son (who is 26) had no idea I hadn't felt joy during Advent. I came home to these candles on the wall and dinner ready (except for 1 thing that I had to do). My heart was exploding at that point! My middle son ended up surprising us by flying in from Louisiana later that evening. I was able to see all 3 of my boys on Christmas Day. I can't believe I didn't take a single picture of them, though!

 My mother passed away 6 1/2 years ago. Her birthday was on Christmas Day and she spent a good part of her life as the organist at church, so our Advents & Christmases were filled with music and the hustle and bustle of the liturgical season. My father passed away almost 4 years ago. It's only been the past couple of years that I even wanted to acknowledge Christmas. This Christmas will definitely go down in my book as one of, if not the best, ever. I definitely felt the joy of Christmas this year!

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