Well, dear friends…where do I begin?  It’s been many months since I’ve visited this little space and many more life events that have crowded out the little bits of free time that exist amidst the work, suffering and joy (yes, joy!).

We have been through it all…a child dealing with health issues, a frightening fire that destroyed our garage…a spouse restructured out of what had always seemed a secure career…another child reeling in the midst of all the uncertainty…a family member facing a serious health crisis and now…Advent.

Advent.  The season of wait.  Last year, our “wait” centered on Roger’s recovery from a heart attack and quadruple bypass surgery.  Yet in the midst of a dark time, Love’s pure light transformed sorrow to joy…fear to hope.  Surrounded by friends and family…bolstered by our holy faith, we found much to celebrate.

This year is no different.  Unemployment is a new kind of heartache, yet our good God often uses these “severe mercies” to bring about new and better things in the lives of those who love and serve Him.  We are in the middle of a brand new adventure, a little scary, to be sure, but with God all things are possible.  Without Him…nothing is possible.

Abigail reminded me this morning that we forgot to begin our “Nativity Advent-ure” this year.  We usually begin on the first day of Advent, but somehow I just completely forgot it.  And we need it!  We need to grow in virtue during the Season of Wait, particularly during such trying times.

If you’re not familiar with our little tradition, here is an excerpt from a post from years past…and this year’s “pick:”

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For many, many years now our family has engaged in a lovely tradition. I don’t think it’s an original concept, and I’m not really sure just where we picked it up. We call it our Holy Advent-ure…

BTW…a couple years ago, a holy priest revealed to another Catholic blogger friend that this tradition has very old roots in the monasteries of Europe. We were delighted to discover this…it certainly adds depth to the tradition! For those of you who’ve been readers for many years, you know how this works…for those of you with questions, here’s what we do:

Every year, for the past several years, our family has endeavored to emulate the virtues displayed by the various “characters” of the Nativity of our Lord. Slips of paper containing the names and virtues of each are folded and placed in a hat.

This year’s selections were hardly a surprise.  We have all acknowledged and affirmed that the slips chosen reflect the areas we are each being called to embrace.  No one was at all surprised that Roger, my poor suffering guy, chose the slip bearing the image of the Blessed Mother…he always seems to receive his sufferings on Marian feast days…this year is no different.

Here are the slips as they were drawn:

The Christmas Star: Joseph.  Time for this big guy to step up to the plate and SHINE!

Virtues: Provide a steady light to guide the weary pilgrims. A source of guidance and illumination.

The Angel: Zachary.  Remember what happened to the proud angels, my son…joyful service is the key!

Virtues: Proclaims the “tidings of great joy”. A source of inspiration. Obedient to the will of God.

Blessed Virgin: Dad (we all acknowledge that the one who chooses the “Mary slip” has a tough job ahead! God bless my good man…”

Virtues: Meek, humble, modest and pure. Full and complete obedience to God. Holiness.

St. Joseph: Maximilian (my good young man has been working so hard lately…humility and obedience are next!)

Virtues: Humility, leadership and humble trust in God. Chastity and patience

The Shepherd: Abigail (Be kind to that “lamb,” my girl…)

Virtues: Leadership. Listens to God. Kindness to the “lambs.” Goodness.

The Lamb: Rylee (Let yourself be led, little girl!  Trust those older than you!)

Virtues: Docility, innocence, obedience and trust.

The Ox: Mom (Yes.  I must stay the course…)

Virtues: Hardwork and diligence. Patience and sacrifice.

The Donkey: Michael (Your first time, my son…time to grow in patience and docility!)

Virtues: Humility and docility. Patiently bears all burdens.

We’re on our way, journeying towards Bethlehem…we hope to meet you there!