An Intentional Advent

November 24, 2020

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In 2020, it feels like we need Advent now more than ever. Come discover the two invitations you’ll receive this December. Which invitation will you choose to answer?

Lorissa will share how you can have an intentional advent that leads you closer to the Lord as well as her own goals for this Advent season.

She also shares a very special tradition that she does with her own family that she loves!


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Hello, mamas. Welcome to episode two of Made For Greatness. I am your host Lorissa and I am so excited that you are here in today’s episode. We’re going to be talking about all things advent and how we can truly enter into this advent season and make it the most exceptional one we’ve ever had. But before I dive into this, I need to just pause for a second because I am sitting here and my children are sound asleep in their beds. And I am speaking into this microphone and I have to say, this is a bit surreal. What I mean by that is that the dream of doing this podcast has been on my heart for at least three years. This dream has kept me awake at night. It has been a dream that I’ve journaled about countless times thought about. And even moments wondered, gosh, you know, even in my prayer time, God, is this ever going to really happen?

And now here I am right now, speaking to you in episode two of this podcast, like that dream that has been on my heart for three years is literally becoming a reality right now in this moment. And as I sit here and kind of choke bacteria is a little bit I just am in awe and I can look back and, and see the ways in which God has been working in my life to prepare me to get to this moment. I can see all these little, little things that he was doing and, and things that he was showing me and teaching me to get me here. And then really ultimately teaming me up and kind of bringing me together with Sterling who also shares the same dream, same vision. And I just, I see God’s hand in all of that and together to have to have a teammate, to have a person that is, this is Lorissa, let’s do this.

Let’s make this dream a reality. It’s so exciting. So thank you for letting me have this little moment. I just kind of want to pause and freeze just in this moment. And I think it’s important when, when we have dreams and we think, gosh, you know, how is this ever really going to happen to know that, that we keep trusting in God and we keep allowing him to show us the way in his timing and in his ways. And as we know, he does, he does great things when we, when we trust in him. So thank you for that. Here we are. I can’t wait. I hope a year from now we’re looking back and are able to see so many beautiful episodes that have taken place within this podcast. And I can’t wait to pour into you today and many more days into the future.

So let’s do this. Let’s talk about advent. Now. I don’t know about you, but this has been such an interesting year to say the least, and I am just kind of blown away and ah, at the wisdom of, of God, the wisdom of the church to give us a liturgical year electrical year, where we can count on these moments throughout the year, that draw us closer to God. Even when everything else in the world seems crazy and chaotic this liturgical year. And the different liturgical seasons give us something that we can hold onto. Something that is comfortable and safe. And we know is going to redirect our focus, not from on the things of the world, but on the things that God wants to reveal to us. And so I don’t know about you, but I am so incredibly excited to enter in to the new liturgical year at the kickoff of the new year, as we enter into advent.

And I have some tips for us on how we can get the most out of it. But before I dive into this, I want us to imagine for a moment, this idea that we’re being offered right now, two major invitations, the first invitation is being offered to us by God. And I want you to imagine like, God literally handing you an invitation, like an envelope with an invitation in it. And this invitation is his way of saying, I want you to make room for me because I have this incredible gift that I want to give to you. And I need you to make space in your life so that I can give you this gift. And with this invitation also comes my peace, my extraordinary peace and my joy that I want to give to you. And I want it to bring calm and quiet into your life.

And I want to pour out my graces upon you. And so with this invitation comes these opportunities to make room for God and to enter into silence and to declutter our lives to some degree so that we can really be aware and attentive to what it is that he wants to give to us. And then the next invitation, the second invitation is the invitation that the world wants to give to us. And this, the world offers us. This invitation is in a bright Blinky envelope and it’s big and it’s Gotti and it’s heavy. And this invitation is like the stark complete opposite of what God wants to give to us. And I think that we see this in the world, like right now, like no other time throughout the year, do we see such stark contrast between what God wants to offer us and what the world is literally trying to push on us?

And what the world wants to tell us is it gives us this invitation to try to be at all the things and try to do all the things and go a million miles an hour in 15 different directions. And the world is offering us consumption and materialism and just buy more and have more. And this is the answer to happiness and it’s about noise and hustle and going and going and consuming more in the things we buy and the things we eat and how can we possibly fill up our minds and our space and our, and our lives with more and more and more, I don’t know about you, but it’s in this type of moment. When I think about the stress and the anxiety and all of the things that the world wants to throw on us. And it’s like that it’s in that place that I just literally, like, I want to just run away.

I want to run away to some convent and join in with cloistered sisters and just spend four weeks praying and in prayer and contemplation and trying to make room for our Lord. And yet mama you. And I know that that’s not our vocation. That was not the life that we were called to. This is the life we are called to and in a very interesting and fascinating way. We are actually very much living in this world. We are called to live in this world, but we are, we’re called to not be of this world. And so how do we do that? How do we, how do we balance that? How do we have kind of how do we make room? Like how do we be in this world, but not be of it? And how do we take the invitation that God wants to give us and put that front and center, even though we are very much living in this world and very much being a part of the things that this world is calling us to as well.

That’s really what I want to dive into in this episode and give, you know, some tips or ideas, suggestions of how we can really embrace the invitation that God is giving us and cultivate that space so that he can show up in those extraordinary ways. So my first tip for this is to be intentional. What do I mean by this? Like, whenever we want to do something, we want to do something really well. We have to be intentional about it. We have to go into it with a plan and we have to know where we are and how we’re going to get from point a to point B. And we have to like really put a plan into place. And sometimes what I like to do when I’m trying to be intentional about a goal or intentional about something I want to accomplish, or a way that I want to feel or show up is I think about the end result and how I want to look back at my journey.

So for example, for Adam, we could literally try to imagine for a second on Christmas Eve, you know, how do we want to fill on Christmas Eve, looking back at the previous four weeks of advent, we want to look back and say, gosh, like those four weeks just blew by and I didn’t really create any space for our Lord. Or do we want to look back and say yes, like this advent was amazing for me, this advent, I really experienced the calm and the joy and the peace of God wanted to give to me and I may room for him. And so we want to be intentional about getting to that place on Christmas Eve, what do we need to do now to set things into place, into emotion so that we can accomplish that. And so one of the things that I’m just encouraging all of us to do is if you have a few minutes today, maybe after this podcast is over or later this evening, before you go to bed, if you could just take five minutes, that’s all I’m asking is five minutes to sit down with a note pad and piece of paper and write down a couple of things.

Like, how do you want to feel during this advent? How do you want to show up? How do you intentionally want to be present to other people throughout, through your, you know, to your children, to your husbands, your family, your friends, your coworkers, what type of emotions do you want to exude during this, these next few weeks, I already did this activity. I did this a couple of nights ago. I really sat down and I said, I want to experience this advent peace and calm. I want to experience the joy that God wants to give to me. And I want to show up in that way. I want to create like an atmosphere in my home that feels peaceful. I want to create an atmosphere in my classroom, at school, where I teach that is joyful and peaceful. And I want to show up with the people that matter most in my life, my students, my children, my family in a way that exudes that joy in that piece.

And so if you want to create those emotions, you also have to work on creating the thoughts that generate those. And so if we’re sitting around during these few weeks going, Oh my gosh, I’m so stressed out. I’ve got so much to do. I’ve got this and this and all of these, you know, to do less than it’s, I’m so overwhelmed. I can’t do it all. And I’m crazy. And everything’s busy and all of this, like if those are your thoughts, then you can imagine the emotions that are going to be generated from those types of thoughts. No wonder like we, when we think those thoughts all the time, that’s why we always feel so stressed and overwhelmed. But if we can think to ourselves like, Oh my goodness, like, man, I am so blessed and I am so grateful for all that I have in my life.

And I know that I have a lot on my plate and I know that I’m being pulled in all these different directions, but I’m so excited too, about the ways in which God is revealing himself to me and the ways in which God is using me and my gifts and my talents to make an impact in this world, or to be able to love my children in the way that I do to be able to generously give them myself in these ways. Like there’s different thoughts that we can have that will generate emotions of gratitude and peacefulness as opposed to stress and overwhelm. So again, just maybe make a list of a couple of things, four or five emotions that you want to feel over the next few weeks, and then maybe two or three things that you’re going to do to allow like to make room for God, to come in and to dwell within your life, within your home, within your heart.

For me, one of those things that I’m going to be doing is every weekday during advent, I am going to set my alarm for 15 minutes earlier. I’m going to wake up before anybody else does. And I’m going to come into, I have a little prayer closet in my office and I am going to listen to the daily gospel reading. Now I have this app it’s called hallow H A L L O W. I would strongly recommend if you don’t already have it to take a look at it. It’s an, it’s an amazing Catholic prayer and meditation app. And it has so many beautiful prayers and meditations within it. And it also has the daily gospel readings. And so I love just listening to that, it takes about five minutes to listen. There’s like ambient kind of soft music playing in the background.

And every time I listen to the God daily gospel reading on Hallow,  it’s crazy, but God just speaks to my heart in such a profound way. So I’m really excited to do this every weekday during an event to create that space, to let God’s word pour out upon me. As I start my day. And I know without a doubt, like to be really intentional about doing those types of things like this just five minutes, but it will absolutely change my advent. I know that it will. And I’m so excited about that. So one of the other things that my family that we do in advent is at dinner time, we turn out all the lights and we have dinner by candlelight. And we’ve done this, you know, I know some of you that maybe have really little ones, you’re thinking, Oh my gosh, that just sounds like a nightmare, but it’s not.

It’s really beautiful. And you don’t necessarily have to turn out all the lights in your house, but just put some kind of light, dim the lights, maybe burn a candle, you know, a candle that smells like frankincense or something. I also will sometimes put on soft instrumental music or monastic chant in the background just to kind of set a mood and to kind of create this realization with my, with my children, with my family, that this like weren’t as special time that this time is set apart, that from the rest of the year, and it kind of calms everybody down, we end up usually having longer more meaningful dinners and conversations. And it’s just a beautiful thing that we love to do. So that’s one, one way that we are intentional at dinner time when it comes to advent. So that’s my first tip.

Be intentional, be intentional about the thoughts you want to think, how you want to feel, how you want to show up, and then also be intentional about maybe what are a couple of things that you maybe could put on pause or set aside this advent season two to really make room for those things that you want to do. So for me, for example, one of the things that I have already started doing is I’ve put a timer on my social media of 15 minutes and I’m really gonna try to stay true to that. I’ve also turned off all news source notifications on my phone. I’ve talked to my husband. I am not going to be watching any news. I’m basically doing a fast from any news media during advent, and I’ve already started this and I am, Oh my gosh, I’m already seen much more peace in my life.

So those are just a couple easy, simple suggestions of ways we can say, okay, what do I need to declutter? What are some things maybe I need to let go of? And in order to make room for putting Christ the center of my life, the second suggestion that I have is to enter into the season, knowing that it’s going to be perfectly imperfect. Now, I don’t know about you, but I struggle with perfectionism. And I think that probably 99% of the women listening to this do as well. This is an area in my life that robs me of a lot of peace and joy. And I don’t know why we as women in particular struggle, struggle with this, but I think so often we have these beautiful desires in our minds to want to breathe, to be the best that we can be, which is good.

That’s a good desire. But we oftentimes will just set the expectations so high that not only is it unrealistic and unreachable, but it always like, it’s just, it’s kind of like a Mirage. Like we never can quite attain it. And because those expectations for things can get so high we’re often left with just with, with no peace and wanting to do better or to be better and, or feeling like, gosh, if, if something doesn’t turn out the way we want it to, or the way we think it should, then we’re disappointed and things like that. But what if I just want to present this idea, but what if we entered into advent this year, just anticipating that it’s not going to be perfect. We know that. And what if it could just be perfectly imperfect? I can’t think of really a more ideal analogy to this, or not even an analogy, but a reality that like God wants to show us in regards to this in the fact that the incarnation that the Christ himself, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords came into this world, was born into this world in the most, perfectly imperfect way.

And I think there’s such a profound insight into what God wants to tell us through this, that God could have come into this world. He could have been born into a palace as a King should have been. And yet he was born in a stable, in a manger on a dirt floor with dirty filthy animals surrounding him, because there was no room for him anywhere else to be born like this. It just blows my mind. And I think it is such a profound reminder to us that God is saying, watch me show up in the perfectly imperfect moments I’ve been doing it from the beginning and I keep doing it over and over. And so we can allow ourselves to have grace if we can lower the expectations for ourselves a little bit, that the house and the meals and the food and the gifts and the everything doesn’t have to be perfect, but we can show up and things can sometimes be messy and the dishes can pile up.

And, you know, I don’t know about you, but I always, for many years had this romantic idea of what Christmas Eve would look like at Christmas, mass, Christmas Eve, mass. And then we would, you know, I think it might be kids all dressed up in their Christmas outfits and sitting nicely in the Pew. And then the reality of it is that like their Christmas clothes, like they’re all messed up. They’ve spilled food on them. Their hair’s all fringy and, and mainly, and I’ve got a toddler screaming and crying and I’m back in the cryo room and I’m thinking, Oh my gosh, this is just a mess. But then I could just like, I’ve always like in those moments, heard God whisper to me like Larissa, no, I am here in this moment and this perfectly imperfect moment and just be aware of what I want to show to you in this.

And so this is my, my second tip to just like, what if we enter into advent knowing that it’s not going to be perfect and that we can be totally not only okay with it, but almost in some ways to be excited about the ways in which we are going to be in awe of those perfectly imperfect moments. And then my third tip ladies for all of us is to be aware of the sacrament of the present moment. I don’t know about you. Maybe you haven’t heard that term before. I hadn’t heard it. I heard it a number of years ago. I went I was kind of going through a difficult time phase in my life. And my husband took me to Utah to meet and visit with an amazing priest, father, Patrick, a monastic priest, truly a living Saint. And we, you know, I was going to him for some, for confession and spiritual direction.

And I was sitting there with him and I was telling him, father, you know, I’m so stressed out. And I have, I just don’t have any peace in my life. And he looked at me and he said, Lorissa, if you don’t have peace, it’s because you’re not living in the sacrament of the present moment. And I looked at him, I’m like, what the sacrament of the present moment? What is that? What does that mean? And he said this, he said, so oftentimes when the reason we don’t have pieces, because we’re either too worried about our past or we’re too, like, like our mind is thinking about things in the past, or we’re too anxious and worried about the future. And he said, he looked at me and he took my, my hand in his hand and he said, Larissa, what I want you to do is I want you to entrust your past to God’s mercy and interest your future to his divine Providence, and just be aware of how God is showing up in the present moment.

And this makes sense, because we think about like, if you think about what a sacrament is, a sacrament is like an outward sign of an inward grace of God, literally showing up God, coming, crashing into our world, through the sacraments, why to give us his grace, to give us his love and to fill us up with his love. That is what a sacrament is. And so this notion, this idea of the sacrament of the present moment is really this profound understanding that God is coming into our world. He’s crashing into our world. He wants to make himself known right now, not in our past, not in our future, but right now there are things in which he wants to show us. He wants to rebuild to us right now. And if we can be attentive and aware in this moment, then we won’t miss what he wants to give to us.

And so how are we being present to God? How are you being present to the people that matter most in our lives to our spouses, to our children, to our coworkers, our friends, even sometimes to the stranger that needs us most, or maybe the stranger that is there to show us a glimpse of God and my sisters in Christ, when we can really enter into the sacrament of the present moment, when we can let the past go to God’s mercy. And when we can just trust our future into his Providence, then this is where miracles happen. This is where we see, we start seeing the face of God throughout our day throughout the moments of our day. And I believe that if we can do this over the next four weeks, God is going to show up in some incredibly profound ways.

And he’s going to do some work in our lives and in our hearts to prepare us for Christmas day, for when, when our Lord comes into, into our world, as we celebrate Christmas. And so my sisters in Christ, these are my three tips to be intentional, to realize that everything can be perfectly imperfect and to be aware of the sacrament of the present moment. I also have a couple more traditions that I want to share with you that my family and I do during advent one is the Jesse tree. We I have some really great and dear friends that a couple of years ago gave us a Jesse tree and handmade, beautiful little ornaments. And so what we do every night during advent as a family, we will read you know, one of the stories leading up from, from Genesis leading up kind of through salvation history, up to the birth of Christ.

And we’ll read one of the stories. There’s usually some reflection questions. We’ll ask the kids a couple of questions. And then one of the children gets to pick an ornament and put it on the tree that matches with that story. Many of you I’m sure are already doing this tradition, but if you’re not, I would strongly encourage you to look into it. There’s so many great resources online, free resources, things you can print off, you can make your own ornaments at home. And it’s just a beautiful tradition. What one of my other favorite things that we do as a family is the st Andrew’s Christmas novena. Now st. Andrew’s feast day is on November 30th and this novena starts on his feast day and goes up until Christmas Eve. And basically it’s just a simple, beautiful little prayer that you’re supposed to pray 15 times a day each day leading up to Christmas Eve.

And so what we do as a family on the first night is before we start the prayer, we write down each one of us has like one or two special intentions that we’re going to, they’ll be offer up during the course of the novena. So we write those down on a piece of paper, and we put that by. We have a statue of the Holy family. We keep that there, so that every night we read through those intentions and we offer it before we do the prayer and then the way we do the prayer, as we turn out all the lights and we have a candle, a battery operated candle, and 15 times during the throughout, or this prayer time. And really, it only takes us maybe five to 10 minutes to do this because of the prayer is really so short.

But what we do is one of the oldest child will go first and he’ll walk from our kitchen through our dining room, into our living room. And he’ll say the first half of the prayer, like the first sentence. And then we all join in with the second half. And then he places the candle by the family, the Holy family statue, and then the next child goes and does the same thing. And we just do that 15 times. So each of our children go, it goes through each of our children twice, and even our littlest ones do it, our two-year-old we’ll do it. And you know, one of the kids will kind of help her out, but it is a beautiful and fun and meaningful tradition that we do. I have to tell you, I’m going to close this podcast out with praying that prayer.

So if you’re not familiar with it, you can hear it. And it’s just so beautiful. But I have to say this, we had done this tradition, my husband and I did this the very beginning of our marriage. So we’ve been, we’ve done it like the children have done this every year and we’ve written down our intentions and we can look back and see literally many of those intentions, how God answered those prayers. And some of those, I have to say some of those intentions were pretty major intentions. And like we’ve been kind of blown away really how God has answered some of those prayers. And so I just would like to just share that with you, invite you, if you haven’t, haven’t done this novena to, to check it out. And then finally, one more tradition that I want to share with you.

It is so incredibly special and I hope and pray that you will start this tradition with your family. This is a more recent tradition that my family has done. We’ve only done it for three years. A really dear friend of mine, her name’s Linda Morris shared this tradition with me a couple of years ago. And, Oh my goodness. It is so profound. I don’t even know if there’s a name for it. There probably is. I’ve never heard of this before. Maybe in certain parts of the country, families are doing this. I don’t know. But basically this is what we do. We start off this tradition is for the first Sunday of advent. So the, on the very first day of advent, basically what you do is you get, you, you have to make sure that you have an advent wreath. So if you don’t have an advent wreath, get an advent wreath.

And you know, we always, we put our advent wreath on our, on our kitchen table. And basically what you do is you turn off all the lights in your house and you make sure every person in the family has a candle. So we give the, the little ones, a battery operated candle, the older ones, we all have the like a regular candle. And what you do is you start in the youngest child’s bedroom. So it’s completely dark. Everybody’s standing in the youngest child’s bedroom and you light their first candle. And everyone in the family takes a turn going around telling that child how they see Christ light in them. And then on, we go to the second child now for my, my two youngest children, they share a bedroom together. So then we would do the second child, light his candle, and then go around and everybody tells him how they see Christ’s light.

And then as you’re moving to the next child’s bedroom, as a family, you seeing the first verse of Oklahoma coming manual, as you’re walking to the next bedroom, and then you go to the next bedroom and you just keep doing that. You light the candle, you, everyone shares how they see Christ’s light in that person. And then they move, you move to, you know, eventually you get to the parents’ room. That would be our, obviously like our room. And we let our candles and our children tell us how they see Christ’s light in us. And then once all, once we’ve gotten to everyone’s rooms, we walk as a family singing O, Come O Come Emanuel. And we walk to the dining room where our advent wreath is, and we light the first advent candle. And then we take a couple moments. We maybe say a little prayer, and then we spend a few minutes talking about how before Christ came, before he was born into this world, there was a great darkness.

And then he was the light. Like he brought this great light into the world and how here we are today, how, you know, given the responsibility through our baptism and through our call to be disciples, to really bring Christ’s light into this world and to be his light shining in the darkness. And I have to tell you, my sisters in Christ, this has undoubtedly been one of the most beautiful traditions that we’ve had as a family, as you can imagine. And every time we do it, there are tears. Like I’m in tears. My children have been moved to tears. And it’s so life-giving, it’s so beautiful. And it’s also, I have to say there have been moments of great healing through this tradition. And what I mean by that is that I think sometimes like things go unsaid and not, not intentionally, but just, you know, life happens and sometimes things go unsaid.

And so when we create moments like this, these beautiful prayer moments where we allow ourselves to become vulnerable and we, we really take these moments to tell one another, like with words like how we see Christ light each other, man, I just, something like those words can be so incredibly healing and beautiful and life-giving, and my children cannot wait for the first advent, you know, for a Sunday of advent because of this. And they look so forward to it. And so, so do we as parents. And so I hope that you will embrace this tradition, even if you have little ones. I know sometimes again we have to be aware of the perfectly imperfect moments. Like sometimes you might do this tradition and I know we’ve done it. And sometimes kids will say a little goofy things and everybody starts laughing. And I think that’s just part of the moment.

Sometimes somebody will say something that’s very, very serious and meaningful, and then other times kids will say, you know, silly things, but it’s all beautiful and God shows up in those moments. So how can we be intentional about creating these moments of encounter with them? How can we be intentional about allowing our children to have these moments of encounter? I think that’s what this is about. And I hope and pray that there was something in this podcast that spoke to your heart and just know my sisters in Christ. I am praying for you that I love you. And I want nothing but the very best for you this advent season. I want to say this before I close, you are going to want to check out Sterling’s podcast. Podcast, episode, number three, it’s on the three big lies that a lot of times we as moms on kind of like fall into and it’s so powerful, the, her podcast you’ve, you’ve got to listen to it and check it out.

And also, I just want to say, I want to close right now with the St Andrew’s novena. So wherever you are right now, if you’re driving, keep your eyes open. But if you are at a place where you can close your eyes, I would like to invite you suggested you. So now, as we pray in the name of the father and the son and the Holy spirit, amen,

Hail and blessed to be the hour and the moment in which the son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary at midnight in Bethlehem, in piercing cold in that hour about safe. Oh my God, to hear our prayers and grant our desires through the merits of our savior, Jesus Christ and of his blessing mother, amen. In the name of the father and the son and the Holy spirit. Amen. And with that, I wish you the most amazing week ahead and remember mama, you are made for greatness. God bless.




Lorissa Horn & Sterling Jaquith

Sterling and Lorissa are very different moms. Lorissa lives in town, her family loves playing baseball, and she’s proud to send them to Catholic school. Sterling lives in the country, her family loves camping, and she unschools the kids.

The thing these women have in common, an unyielding devotion to Christ. Seriously, if you hang out with either of them, they’re gonna talk about Jesus, a lot. He’s the center of their life.


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