Advent Prayer
Bethlehem Walk
December 10, 2014
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MemorableAdventBethlehemWalk

Tonight was our annual “Bethlehem Walk,” (I know this isn’t the best picture), but the experience was so sweet. In years past it’s just been the older boys and me, but this time Daddy and the littles joined in. We bundled up and went out for an evening stroll with our trusty lantern. The aim is to step away from the noise and lights of the world, and quietly contemplate the footsteps of the Holy Family from Nazareth to Bethlehem. I love the questions the kids ask along the way (did they catch fish? What kind of food did they eat? How/where did they find water, etc)? This year I wanted to do some research before we headed out, and in doing so, I found some wonderful resources I wanted to share with you. This blog offers some context about their journey and the customs of the time. I would like to go back and read it again!

There’s also a very in-depth account of the journey, birth, and much more as told by mystic Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich (also a source that Mel Gibson used when making The Passion of the Christ). Here’s a snippet about actual moment Christ was born:

 “I saw Mary raised a certain height from the ground; she had her hands crossed upon her breast. The light kept increasing around her; everything seemed to feel a joyful emotion, even things inanimate. The rock which formed the floor and the wall of the grotto were, as it were, alive with light. But soon I saw no more of the roof; a luminous path, whose bright ness continually increased, went from Mary to the highest heaven. Then was there a marvellous movement of the celestial glories, which, approaching nearer and nearer, appeared distinctly under the form of the angelic choirs. The Blessed Virgin, raised from the earth in her ecstasy, prayed and turned her eyes to her God, of whom she had become the mother, and who, a feeble new-born infant, was lying on the ground before her.

I saw Our Saviour like a little shining infant, whose brilliance eclipsed all the surrounding splendour, lying upon the rug before the knees of the Blessed Virgin. He seemed to me very small, and to grow larger before my eyes; but this was only the radiance of a light so dazzling that I can scarcely say how I could see it.”

Wow! It’s pretty deep (and long) reading, but definitely rich in imagery and beauty! You can find the full text, here.

So far, Advent is zipping by (as usual) but I’m grateful to be home with the family. This is the first Christmas since I’ve been a mom that I haven’t worked.  Looking back now, I don’t know how I ever did it!:)  And at the moment it’s been a tremendous blessing to be home full-time, but also have the opportunity to “work,” through speaking engagements and little events here and there. Speaking of which, I’m still floating from Sunday when I had the opportunity to speak at St Michael’s Church in Cleveland.  It was just SO NICE to connect with people again and see some listeners and meet new friends too. My Mom and my priest, Fr. Jay (and by handsome boys) were also there for moral support!

BethlehemWalkPreparetheWayBrookeTaylorSo grateful for these two beautiful examples in my life!:) Just another reminder that the best gifts in life aren’t the kind that need to be wrapped.

Advent
Preparing for Advent
December 2, 2014
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PreparingforAdvent

Happy December to you! Advent, 2014 is HERE friends! I’m still busily preparing our home with little touches here and there, but I think (for the most part) we are ready. This year  we did something different to demonstrate the coming of Jesus; we made Mary “Great with Child!” I am the least crafty person in the world, so I really didn’t know if (or how) we could pull it off. As we began to put our Nativity out and little Gus was asking questions about baby Jesus, my mind was racing for a way to help him more fully understand the journey of the Holy Family and the birth of Jesus. I showed him a picture of me when I was pregnant with him (at 3, I’m not sure how much he understood, but he smiled and nodded and it was very cute). So, we decided to take the baby Jesus and also put him in Mary’s tummy until it was “time” for him to be born.

The belly is made with a tiny Christ child wrapped in lots of teddy bear stuffing to form the belly:) We then placed it in a plastic bag and “shaped” it, and wrapped her in a white dress (the bed skirt from the crib) and tied it with a ribbon. It was nice because we just improvised with the things we had on hand. The best kind of projects are free!:) The kids have all commented on Mary’s new “look” several times, so I feel grateful that has made an impact in a visual way. I also can’t stop singing “Labor of Love” from the Nativity Story. “But the baby in her womb, he was the maker of the moon. He was the author of the faith, that could make the mountains move.”  I love that!

In the place of the Christ child in the manger, we’ve replaced it with shepherds and a purple candle crown that I found at JoAnn’s:

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Everything has been blessed (it’s raining Holy Water and prayers)!:) The Christmas tree, Advent wreath, and the Nativity. Here’s the prayer we used for the Blessing of the Christmas Crib:
A reading from the prophet Isaiah: (Isaiah 9: 1-2, 5)

Let us pray in silence for the coming of peace into the world and into our home.

Lord, as we pray before this our Christmas crib-shrine and await the feast of the Birth of the Holy Child, call forth the dormant child from within each of us; cause us to wonder and to rejoice again in this most ancient feast.

As the magi came bearing gifts, may we, this Christmas, gift one another with the gold of charity, the myrrh of kindness, and the incense of prayer. 

With the shepherds, we come to the birth of Christ seeking a simple celebration, where the greatest gift will be ourselves, given to You, our God, and to each other.

May the star of Bethlehem which shone brightly over the first crib stand guard over our home, filling it and all the earth with light and peace.

(sing Silent Night or another carol)

We adore You, O Christ, and we bless You because by Your holy birth You give hope to all the world.

Amen+

(Fr. Edward Hays)

The Advent wreath is also up with nightly devotions as we gather and light the candle. It might seem weird, but I truly love the darkened house with nothing but a single flame lighting the room. The kids listen more intently, the mood becomes quiet and contemplative (Hallelujah! Ha ha!)  and there is a peace that sets in. For the last several years we’ve used “O Radiant Dawn” by Lisa Hendey for our devotion time.

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Each week, each candle has a special symbol and meaning. For more information, please check out my post from last Advent with a detailed explanation. We also plan to do our annual “Bethlehem Lantern Walk” around the neighborhood which I will (hopefully) post! These days, I usually post most everything on Instagram (find me at BrookeTaylor955) or on Facebook. I hope you’ll “Like” the brand new Sacred Sink Facebook page if you haven’t already (and if you have, thank you)!

I wish you a wonderful, holy and happy Advent season. The reminder that no one can outdo God in gifts! And may you experience pure joy and peace this Christmas season. God bless you!

Autism Uncategorized
SUCCESS for Autism + Jamberry Joy!
November 19, 2014
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Happy, almost Thanksgiving! I should really be making the Turkey Day menu right now, but it’s tough to teach an old procrastinator new tricks.:) A recent event is on my heart so I thought it would be more fun to share that instead. Last Friday I had the joy of attending the SUCCESS for Autism Benefit Gala. It really was a beautiful evening. Inspiring, uplifting, and very relaxing to be in the company of friends on a common journey. Relaxing… except for the total discomfort of my shapewear, that is! I’ll just say that as a stay-home mom I’m not used to wearing spandex anymore. Plus, being home 24/7 to make homemade meals, desserts, and after school snacks clearly has caught up with me! But I digress.;)

The evening itself was absolutely wonderful. I had the privilege of attending with my friend Gretchen. She is one of the most amazing women I know.

IMG_2456She and her husband Pat have eight children, most of which are adopted. Their daughter Maria is 27 and has autism. Thanks to Gretchen’s wisdom and experience, she has illuminated the path and inspired my own walk with my beautiful daughter. It was truly a gift to spend a few hours with her! It was also incredible to witness the stories and work of SUCCESS for Autism. For more information, click here. 

And now for the really fun part! My friend Jen has set up a Jamberry fundraiser to help raise funds for Autism Awareness and is selling these fabulous custom nail designs (and more!) on her site!

Jamberry Autism AwarenessI was so excited to receive this treat in the mail! I am notoriously disastrous with traditional nail polish and since my nails are short anyway, it’s just not an area I invest much in. But these were super easy to apply (once I got the hang of it).:) And after washing dishes, giving the babies a bath and making soup tonight, they are still looking good! Jen has loads of different designs (for hands and feet). I love the fact that this “spectrum” design makes a statement. Not only do they look cute, but a portion of every set purchased goes to autism awareness! I was just thinking this would be a great gift for Karolina’s teachers and aides! If you are interested in supporting Jen, please click here and spread the good word. Thanks again, Jen!

 

Sending you lots of love and grateful blessings.

As we lead up to Thanksgiving 2014,  here is a prayer I hope will bring you peace and replace any stress as you prepare.

(based on Luke 10:27, 38-42)

Lord, you know all the things
that still need to be done—
the cooking and cleaning,
the preparation and anticipation,
the anxiety and worry
that everything will be just right.
As I prepare this meal, help me also to prepare myself
that I may not be distracted by all these concerns.
And when you enter this home and sit at this table,
may I sit beside you and remember
that only one thing is needed:
to love you with all my heart, with all my being,
with all my strength, and with all my mind,
and to love my neighbor as myself.

Amen.

-Diana Macalintal.

God bless you. xoxo.

Oh, and Karolina says “thanks for stopping by!:” Love this beautiful smile!:)

SUCCESSFORAUTISMandJamberryJoy

 

Contest Uncategorized
Thank You!
November 10, 2014
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Thank you to everyone who entered the Juniper Plum Giveaway! The winner of the contest is:

 Beth Backer!

Congratulations, Beth! A heartfelt thanks again to all of you who entered to win!

Also, Katheryn has generously offered a discount at her Etsy shop to the first 10 Sacred Sink readers who order type in “Nov10″ at her Juniper Plum store.

How cute is this felt mass set?

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I ordered one for Gus for Christmas and it’s absolutely adorable! Thanks again Katheryn!

Within the next week of so, I also have another fun discount opportunity, so stay tuned.:)

I’m gearing up for a busy time of speaking events and excited about a special Gala coming up this Friday. For my autism/spectrum mom friends and families, this one is going to be amazing! Praying for all the details.

You can find out more at the SGM website under “events.”

 

SGM

Hope to see you there! With all of the daily busyness, I know time will get away from me if I’m not careful. So, I’ve been trying to plan ahead for Advent where/when I can (mostly at night). I’ve started a routine of bringing the laptop in bed at night to do my “work” there. The days are so full though, that I often find myself running out of steam as soon as I sit on that mattress! Ha ha. Still, I’m determined to post a few Advent themed prayers and plans over the next few weeks. God bless you on this Monday, and every moment of your week ahead. May God’s great grace find you!

It’s there on the mountain top
There in the everyday and the mundane
There in the sorrow and the dancing
Your great grace
Oh such grace

From the creation to the cross
There from the cross into eternity
Your grace finds me, yes your grace finds me

-Your Grace Finds Me by Matt Redman

Have a wonderful, blessed Monday!

Giveaway Uncategorized
Juniper Plum Giveaway!
November 3, 2014
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Welcome to November! I’m excited to kick off the new month with some goodies for you! First, is the newly minted Facebook page for The Sacred Sink. Please pop over and “Like” the page, and I will do my best to give you little prayer starters, treats, and tips! To help celebrate the kick-off, I have teamed up with Juniper Plum for a giveaway and promotion for you! She has generously offered to bless a beautiful reader with a set of Catholic Icon Lacing Cards:

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Here’s a description from her Etsy store: “As a Catholic Mommy of three kiddos ages 4 and under, I am always looking for ways to keep them quiet, entertained, and as focused on Jesus as possible during Mass. When I started making these lacing cards for them, they were jumping up and down they were so excited to use them. They are great for rosary and family prayer time as well. Children love the bright colors and have fun weaving different patterns. While having fun, they are introduced to the beautiful world of iconography. To top it all off, lacing cards are known for helping children develop hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. Lightweight and measuring roughly between 4×6 – 5×7 inches, they are wonderful for keeping in a diaper bag or purse, ready to pull out when needed in the car or while waiting in line at the store.”

I ordered a set of these for the babies, as well as a few other things from her store. I love everything she makes! Not to mention her wonderful customer service. In addition to the giveaway, she has also generously offered 10% off to the first 10 Sacred Sink readers who place an order! Thank you so much Katheryn! To enter the contest, simple follow the link, (below).
a Rafflecopter giveaway