Advent PhotoChallenge – Week 2

During Advent, The Zelie Group is hosting a photo-challenge, encouraging a “picture a day” on a set topic.  I posted the weekly pictures last week, for my followers and readers who don’t follow me on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.  Now, I present this week’s pictures!

The prompt for Day 7 was “Gold.”  The lead-up to St. Nikolaus Day (6 December) saw me preparing a couple weeks in advance, secreting various shoe-fillers into the grocery cart.  Little Miss has been fired from St. Nikolaus duty after waving these gold chocolate coins around the cart, throughout the store, and smiling at me as I tried to put them out of her brother’s sight.  Needless to say, this is probably the best collection of gold I have ever laid eyes upon!
Day 8’s prompt was “Wreath.”  A couple years back, I went to a Pauline Books & Media Store – there are only a few throughout the country.  While there, I stumbled upon this child-friendly Advent wreath, which obviously came home with us that day.  The first year we owned it, my then-two-year-old would take the candles, run away with them, hide them, and then giggle as I frantically tried to find the candles the next week.  The following year I got wiser, and now two years later, only the candles that correspond to the week we are on, are set out.  And, thankfully, my son is understanding the concept of “one new candle a week,” and has other things to play with, to keep his mind off this wreath this year!  
One of my favorite family pictures ever doesn’t involve our faces at all.  Instead, it’s this picture of Day 9, with the prompt of “Hands.”  Within a family or even simply community, multiple hands make for light work.  As a social worker, I realize hands can convey a myriad of messages – comfort, love, scared, and anger.  Hands also have the ability to create, and to nurture.  The song, “He’s got the whole world in His hands,” is something I thought about, as I thought about my hands, as a mother, creating and nurturing; I ultimately draw my strength from the Ultimate Creator and Nurturer – God.  And, He truly has the whole world in His hands. 
St. Nicholas (Nikolas/Nikolaus) was the prompt for Day 10.  I went pretty traditional and old-school, and decided against gifting anything outside of the traditional gifts.  The chocolate gold coins and orange denote the riches the real St. Nikolaus gave of his inheritance, so as to assist in keeping women out of destitution and servitude.  St. Nikolaus became bishop of Myra, and the candy cane designates the Shepherd’s Crook that you see a bishop (or the Pope) using when he walks into churches.  I couldn’t figure out “why” behind the chocolate Santa, but I knew that was also a customary inclusion.  Within seconds, all oranges from everyone’s shoes were given to the baby and myself, since my preschooler dislikes oranges.  He graciously helped himself to everyone’s shoes filled with gold coins and a chocolate santa.  And, he thoroughly enjoyed hanging the candy canes on the Christmas tree.  This year’s St. Nikolaus visit was a success! 
The prompt for Day 11 was “Quiet.”  When I saw this prompt, I chuckled to myself, “What is that?”  Then, I realized the one place I routinely find quiet in my life – when I can attend Adoration without my children.  Sans children, I can sink to my knees in deep reverence, or sit in the pew and just stare at Him.  I can take a moment to reflect on His sacrifice, on His love and mercy, on Him, and on my relationship with Him.  And, while I encourage all mamas to take their children to Adoration, there are times where I need that quiet with Him.  And, this is where I find it!  I’m working on trying to find “quiet with Him” during my daily life, but the place I know I can find it for sure is at His feet during Adoration; even if someone else brings their kids to Adoration – it doesn’t interrupt my quiet, since I don’t have to respond to the children if I don’t desire.  
Day 12’s prompt was “Promise.”  I could think of nothing more fit than a picture that would designate the following promises – the promise my husband and I made to each other a few years back, and the promise we made together with God.  God’s love and mercy is endless, and He waits for all of us to return love.  Within all sacramental marriages, we find a foretaste of God’s love – it may be a mere glimpse, but it is a foretaste of what awaits us in heaven!  In fact, every love we have for others is but a small foretaste of what we will experience when we see God, Our Father – that is behind St. Pope John Paul II’s teaching on “Theology of the Body,” which I encourage everyone to study about at some point during their faith journey!
The prompt for Day 13 was “Renew.”  Throughout this past week, I’ve been struggling to figure out a picture for this particular challenge.  Yesterday, I began reading a book on Ignation spirituality, entitled, The Examen Prayer: Ignatian Wisdom for Our Lives Today by Timothy M. Gallagher, OMV.  As I read his outline of the Examen (Transition, Step 1: Gratitude, Step 2: Petition, Step 3: Review, Step 4: Forgiveness, Step 5: Renewal, Transition), I stopped.  Under Step 5, the explanation is written, “I look to the following day and, with God, plan concretely how to live it in accord with God’s loving desire for my life.”  I realized that I renew my spiritual batteries (in which batteries was an idea I was floating for this challenge) most effectively when I am sitting right here – in front of Our Lord.  Even in the midst of family chaos, when we are the only ones present, this is where I renew myself.  However, my challenge to myself is to find a way to “RENEW” every day of my life, and to be able to do it no matter where I am – in church, in the car, at home, wherever the needs of the Lord takes me!  And, I encourage everyone to take some time to “RENEW” their relationship with the Lord, and seek His will, as we continue to prepare our hearts for the Christmas season, which begins on 25 December!  


It’s never too late to join The Zelie Group’s photo-challenge!  You can simply enjoy these pictures and the thought and meaning captured in them; or, you can join us on any social media platform.  If you join in, be sure to tag our challenge with one of the tags (or all of them):




We’d love for you to join our photo-challenge as we head into the third and final weeks of Advent 2016!


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