Archives for December 2012

The Best Christmas Books: What Is Your Favorite?

I was visiting the New York Times website recently, something that I try not to do too much. Anyway I found an article I actually thought was interesting and worth reading. It was titled, “What’s Your Favorite Holiday Christmas Book?”, and talked about many great Christmas that have stood the test of time. There were some that I knew on the list like “The Polar Express” and “Santa Mouse”. There were some that I had never heard of like “Merry Christmas Maisy” and “Gingerbread Baby”. Also the author of this article spoke about “Letters From Father Christmas”, which is by J.R.R. Tolkien and sounds very personal. I’m interested to read that book!

Christmas stories are one of my favorite parts of the tradition and holiday. From the religious stories about the birth of Christ to “The Night Before Christmas” and everything in between, I really do love them all. “Andrew’s Christmas” is a very good Christmas book for kids, and we were also fortunate enough to interview Brendan Barth the author on our site! Anyways, just wanted to spread the holiday spirit by talking about Christmas books.

What’s your favorite Christmas book?

Keeping Christ in Christmas: How You Can Help

I have posted a pretty good amount recently about keeping Christmas based on the birth of Jesus. Keeping the Christ in Christmas is an important thing to focus on obviously. I have had some conversations with my fellow blogger Janet, who writes the more parenting centered posts here. Her and I agree that when you have young children it is even harder to keep the focus of Christmas on Christ. This is because they probably go to school and have friends whose parents don’t keep that as the focus. The idea of Santa Claus and presents is much more enticing to a six year old than Jesus and the story of his birth. If you can get your children to focus on Jesus for even a little bit during the Advent and Christmas season, then you are doing a good job.

I read a story yesterday that I thought was really cool, and totally in line with the keeping Christ in Christmas line of thought. A mom bought a tree topper ornament that was Santa and turned it into Saint Nicholas instead. This decoration makeover was simple and easy, you should read about it! It was a thoughtful and really cool idea that I felt was worth sharing.

Developing Patience is Difficult: Nobody Likes to Wait

One of the most difficult things for me to deal with in life is waiting. I’m probably not alone in this, but waiting for basically anything just puts me into a bad mood. I find it helps sometimes to take a step back from what is going on, and ask myself, “Why are you getting upset?”. I tend to realize that whatever is upsetting me is usually trivial and mostly meaningless when put into the larger picture. Sometimes I get upset even after asking that though depending on what has been going on that particular day.

I read a post recently titled, “Surviving the Wait”, and I thought it was a good post for people who hate waiting (like me). If you have a hard time coping with waiting, I highly recommend reading this article. Keep in mind a quote that you may have heard before, “God has perfect timing; never early, never late. It takes a little patience and it takes a lot of faith. but it’s worth the wait.”

Faith, Humility, and Trust are Reoccurring Themes in Biblical Stories

It seems like in nearly every Biblical story where an angel appears to a human, the first thing they say is, “Do not be afraid!”. The more I thought about that, the more it made sense that I would totally need some reassuring in a situation like that. The angel has a message to pass along in most instances as well. Often the message is something that the individual at first finds crazy, but shows faith in. Their faith is later rewarded obviously because that tends to be how God does things.

I share this thought because I read a post this morning titled, “Speaking With an Angel Requires Faith, Humility, Trust”. The post spoke about instances where angels have appeared to humans. It is a truly humbling experience because of the sheer magnitude of what is occurring. Often faith and trust are big elements of these stories too because of the message being sent through these angels by God. The post talks about Mary, Joseph, and Zechariah and their own personal experiences with angels and God. The post is beautiful and you should check it out.

Is Reading the Bible a Requirement to Go To Heaven?

I read a post today from Just a Catholic called, “Do You Have to Read the Bible to Go to Heaven?”. When I read the titled I thought to myself, wow did somebody really ask that question? I thought about it a little more though and realized that’s just how some people think. They think there is some checklist of good deeds and actions they must do to go to heaven one day. This checklist does not exist though, as we all know quite well. I thought it was an interesting thought none the less.

There is nothing that forces you to read the Bible. However there are some definite benefits to be found in doing so. First and foremost, God would not have had the Bible created if he did not want us to read it. The Bible is there for us to read and learn from. You can learn from the lessons Jesus taught, and therefore live a life more like Christ. Cherish the words that God has give us in the Bible and make the most out of them.

How to Get Your Baby to Sleep While Traveling for the Holidays

A big concern for many parents with a toddler or baby around this time of the year is keeping their sleep pattern regular throughout the holidays. Traveling or having family over for the holidays can definitely disrupt your babies sleep schedule. Whether they miss their afternoon nap or just can’t seem to fall asleep at night, it can make for some serious problems. Strive for normalcy, as that is what they are used to, but if all else fails just go with your instincts. If a typical nap time is missed, substitute a different one later.

A post titled, “Holidays, Travel, and Baby’s Sleep” had some great pointers for just this issue. The last thing anybody wants is to spend all night up with a baby, and then deal with a travel day the next day with a cranky baby. One of their best bits of advice was to bring a dark towel or sheet with you when you travel. Babies used light and dark cues often in their sleeping patterns, and turning an otherwise bright room dark with a sheet or towel could mean a successful nap.

Keeping Your Spiritual Tools Sharp: Saint Anthony and His Lesson

We all know a little bit about Saint Anthony of Padua, like if you need help finding something you pray to him. His patronage is indeed of lost things, but there is another Saint Anthony too. Saint Anthony the Great or Saint Anthony of the Desert is not as well known as Saint Anthony of Padua, but he was just as impressive a person.  Anthony was from a privileged family, but he gave all that up to lead an aesthetic lifestyle. He spent most of his years living in a desert. So much can be learned about Saint Anthony through the writings of Saint Athanasius. Saint Athanasius wrote a book called The Life of Saint Anthony of the Desert and it explains what Saint Anthony learned throughout his long life (105 years).

A post on the Catholic Writers Guild site brought this title and the life of Saint Anthony to my attention. It seems that Saint Anthony learned how the devil tricks humans into losing their faith. He banks on the human imperfection and flaw to come through, and this is where we must not give in. Anthony discovered the best defense against this was to keep your ways of judging things sharp. Be able to discern between reality and perception, and have faith in God.

Parenting Tip: How to Talk to Your Child About Tragedy

Sometimes parents are reminded that we can not always protect our children. The recent tragedy in Newtown is an example of that. It is the harsh reality of life that sometimes, we are helpless and cannot do anything for our kids. The violence is not going to stop unfortunately, and that means the worrying will never truly stop either for parents. Even when your kids have grown up and are living on their own, you will worry about their well being. You will worry for them and your grandchildren, it’s like a never-ending line of worry. One thing that is certain is that we have opportunities every single day to show people how much we care about them.

A post I read titled, “Sheltering, Protecting, and Talking with Our Children: Parenting for Sanity in a Seemingly Insane World”, summed up this mindset perfectly. The author offers advice on how you might deal with talking to your son or daughter about last week’s tragedy depending on what their age is. Coming up with the right thing to say to your child at a time like this might be difficult, so read this post and gather some ideas.

The History of Advent: Raising Awareness for the Season

We have been in the Advent season for quite some time now. Christmas is almost upon us, however in all the excitement to buy Christmas presents I think people forget to appreciate Advent. It is a time where we await the birth of Christ. I think learning a little bit about the history of Advent would help people to appreciate it more.

I found a post called the 10 things you should know about Advent. It has a lot of information that most people have probably never known about the season. Advent traces its roots back to 380 AD. Saint Gregory the Great gave one of the oldest known Advent sermons. Pope Saint Gregory VII shaped Advent into the four week season that we know now. There is really so much more you can learn from this post as well, so if Advent interests you then check it out!

Catholic Messages You Can Find in The Hobbit

Since Peter Jackson’s version of The Hobbit is now out in theaters I figured I would remind everybody that J.R.R. Tolkien was devout Catholic. Tolkien has always been remembered as such, and repeatedly told people that his books namely the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy are chocked full of Catholic morals and lessons. I’ve always been a big fan of The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings, and also find Tolkien’s devotion to his religion to be inspiring.

I came across a post this week titled, “5 Ways to Watch the Hobbit like a Catholic”, and thought to myself that it seemed like a cool concept. The post is awesome! It draws comparisons between different aspects of the Hobbit and lessons that Catholics should hopefully find familiar. This guide is pretty cool to somebody who read the book, however it would also make for a great read after seeing the movie. It really helps tie everything together, and clarifies the message Tolkien tried to send in his work.