Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas and the Epiphany

IMG_8458 Our Christmas was wonderful, I hope yours was as well. We celebrated by going to mass and eating lots of yummy foods during the four days my husband was home.  It was just my little family, as our relatives live at least 9 hours away.  Even though we miss all our relatives, we kind of like our cozy little Christmases. It gives us plenty of time to enjoy each other, relax,  and really concentrate on the reason for the holiday.

And the exciting part is it is not over! My Christmas decorations are still up and will be for at least another week, until we celebrate the Epiphany.  It wasn’t until adulthood that I realized not all faiths celebrate the Epiphany, so I thought I could share some traditions that surround this feast day with you.

First of all, the Epiphany is when we celebrate the arrival of the Magi to the Christ Child.  Most have heard of the 12 days of Christmas, or at least you’ve heard the song. Well, the Epiphany falls on the 12th day of Christmas, Jan. 6th.  For us Catholics, Epiphany is celebrated on the Sunday between the 2nd and the 6th. So we are still celebrating Christmas at my house as we patiently await the arrival of the Magi.

9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

-Matthew 2: 9-12

Some fun ways to celebrate the Epiphany is by waiting to place the Magi in the nativity scene until this day. At the end of the day the family can formally put the nativity away for the next year. Of course at our house any excuse to cook and eat  is celebrated. Traditionally a lamb roast is served . A Texas Epiphany celebration includes a smoked brisket. I’m not sure how traditional that is, but for my family it works wonderfully. Many serve a 3 Kings cake, which we have never done, but I’m thinking this year we will try it.  So stay tuned, I’ll try to share our 3 King cake with you next week:)

After the arrival of the Magi, we can take down our Christmas decorations and put them away for another year. But the story of Christ’s birth will stay with us throughout the year.

Do you have any traditions in your family that you celebrate after Christmas to continue to reflect on the birth of Jesus?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Story – We All Have One


Last year as WB and I were driving around finishing up our Christmas shopping this song by Capital Lights came on the radio. It was a song that stopped our conversation and had us listening to hear what the ending would be.  It was a song that made you sigh and one that has a writer’s heart envisioning the story in novel form.

We all have a Christmas story to share. Doesn’t matter if you sing it, write it, or act it out, as long as you share it.  You can even share it here if you want. 

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Raising Eyebrows To Raise Awareness

*This post contains  adult subject matter.


This weekend I stepped outside of my comfort zone, really more like a leap.  I posted the above picture as a  profile picture of myself on Facebook. My husband will be the first to say nothing is wrong with that picture, but it’s not something I would normally share.  It wasn’t profane, or ugly, or weird. Some would say it was beautiful, some would say it was immodest, and others would say it was a bit inappropriate for a Christian mother of 3.  But whatever people would say, it definitely got some eyebrows raising.  And THAT was my point. Actually, it was my hook. Because I wanted your attention:

  • 1 out of 4 women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime.
  • Approximately 1.3 million women are physically assaulted by an intimate partner annually in the United States.
  • And every day an average of 3 women will be killed in an act of domestic violence.

A few months ago 2 women in my town lost their lives due to domestic violence. I didn’t know them well, but I knew who they were. One was a friend and assistant of photographer Amber Wallace, who took the above photo. One was a woman that lived in my neighborhood. She walked down my street daily, her kids used to go to school with mine, we ran in the same circles.  I looked at their smiling faces and had no idea of the inner turmoil they must have been suffering. 

I’ve tried to put myself in their shoes. To feel the pain, embarrassment, and shame they must have suffered at their partners hands. To feel afraid and vulnerable.  But it is difficult.

My home is my haven, and my husband is my protector. I have never been afraid to be in my house.  Never feared for my safety or that of my children from the man I love. He cherishes us as gifts given to him by God, just as every woman deserves. Just as these women deserved.

I wish I could turn back the clocks of time and offer understanding and a place of safety for these women. I mourn for the children they have left behind.  I mourn for all the women that we, as a society, can so easily turn a blind eye upon, because it is none of our business.

So sharing my picture with the world makes me a little uncomfortable.  What if we all took one step out of our comfort zone and extended a hand to a woman who needs our support? Can we demand an end to domestic violence?  What do you say to Raising  Eyebrows so we can Raise Awareness?

For more information on domestic violence and what you can do to help check out these links:

USDA Domestic Violence Awareness Handbook

Domestic Violence Resource Center

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Red In The Flower Bed by Andrea Nepa- Book Review


red in the flower bed cover

Red in the Flower Bed is a sweet children’s book about a seed that finally finds its home in a garden far away.  The colorful illustrations and rhyming verses make this book not only fun to read, but capture the audiences of both young and old.

The simplicity of the story opens up the door to discussions on how the seed felt being so far from home, but so loved by its new garden family. Which can then lead to the topic of Interracial adoption, which is what the author Andrea Nepa wrote the story about.

Andrea Nepa is the mother of an adopted Vietnamese daughter named Leah. In 2001, Adoptions from the Heart assisted with the international adoption. Andrea dedicated her book to her daughter: "For my dear Leah, whose journey in her young life has already taken her to far away and unexpected places." In 2006, Leah was diagnosed with cancer. She is currently in remission. Andrea lives with Leah and her husband, David, in Haddonfield, New Jersey. She is a registered dietitian for the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

Theirs is a beautiful story, one that is shared by many families across the country. I believe the story of  Red in the Flower Bed is a beautiful way to introduce children to adoption, as well as a meaningful story for those families who find themselves like the garden in the story.

It would also make a great Christmas gift! You can look here to see about purchasing it.

Thank you to Andrea Nepa and Tribute Books for giving me the opportunity to read and review this book!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Little Star by Anthony DeStefano Review

I was recently contacted by Anthony DeStefano about reviewing his children’s book titled Little Star.  I was thrilled to have the opportunity because sometimes I feel Christmas books with a Christian theme are in short supply. I was anxious to read it and see if my children would like it.

When it arrived my 10 year old daughter Em carried it off immediately and read it. She came back a few minutes later with a smile on her face and said she loved it. So later that day I sat down with all three of my girls and we read about Little Star.  The littlest star in the sky, unnoticed by all, until Baby Jesus is born. Then boy, does he shine.  It is a beautiful story of faith and sacrifice. Not to mention the illustrations are wonderful!

A little back story on Anthony DeStefano, that as a writer I found inspiring. He wrote this book when he was 15 years old and a student in Frank McCourt’s class.  Thirty years later it was published. How’s that for perseverance?

The following picture is from his blog:


If you have children, or children to give gifts to, I highly recommend this sweet Christmas story!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Some Changes In The Wind

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! We travelled many miles of roads, saw all of our Texas family, and ate way too much. But that is what the holidays are for.IMG_6101

I haven’t posted recently because I’ve been reflecting on my blog. I feel change in the wind.  You’ll remember a while back I divided my blog up into three different blogs. One to cover writing, one to cover my homeschooling and one to cover life at Cotton-Top Hills. Well, I’ve come to realize that I can’t keep up with all three.  I’ve done a lot of praying about the direction of my blog and I’ve come to the conclusion that I am ready for my own domain. In doing this, all my blogs will be in one place.  The details are still in the working, but I realize that my blog needs to represent my entire life. Not just parts of it.  So soon you will get the whole kit and caboodle.  I know many of you that read here are writers and I plan to continue discussing my writing  journey, but my writing is influenced by my faith, family, and passions.  And I want to share all of that.

So stay tuned for my new blog, coming soon. And in the meantime I will continue to post here. Hope I don’t scare any of you away!

Happy December 1st.