Welcome to a new year and another ENCOUNTER Newsletter!
While I am hopeful 2021 allows for an in-person ENCOUNTER meeting, I pray this newsletter finds you well and offers some fun January Activities.

Before we dive into our theme for this month... Let us not forget that it is still the Christmas Season (those 12 days of Christmas are still going!)

It all culminates in the
Feast of the Epiphany on January 6th!

What is Epiphany?
It is the day we celebrate the arrival of the 3 Wise Men as they finally meet the Holy Family.

As the Holy Family welcomed the Magi into their home, Epiphany has become a traditional time to bless our own homes, writing 20 + C + M + B + 21 on the lintel of your front door. Packed with symbolism, I can’t think of a better way to remind ourselves of the importance of bringing Christ into our homes in 2021.

What do you need for this house blessing?
NOT MUCH!
Generally, blessed chalk is used - however, much like 2020, not all goes according to plan! If you do not have blessed chalk lying around, no fret, unblessed chalk works just as well.

Grab some holy water, your chalk, and write 20+C+M+B+21 on your door and say the following blessing by clicking on this link from the usccb or by reading the images below.

Blessing your home and creating a space for Christ to truly enter into your family's everyday life and heart is a beautiful way to begin 2021. If you have any questions, feel free to ask!
This month, we will focus on
THE BIBLE!
Diving into the Bible can seem like a daunting task for anyone, let alone trying to encourage our children to read it. As we begin this new year, let's make a commitment to try! There is no time like the present to bring the word of God into our (newly blessed..) homes through Scripture!
But How?
Below are some simple ideas to get everyone excited and help us all learn something new!
For starters - START LISTENING TO THIS PODCAST!

I am a big fan of Father Mike Schmitz. He is really accessible and compassionate. He has committed to going through the Bible in a year by coming out with a 20-30 minute podcast EVERY DAY OF 2021!

He is on day 4 - but you have not missed much! It isn't too late to catch up.

I have been listening to this with my 5-year-old daughter as she colors, or we are in the car. While a lot of it is over her little head, she still understands that he is talking about God and how much we are loved. What is more important than that?
Father Mike is starting with creation.

I have included a creation coloring sheet to help guide your conversation! After you listen to the first few days of the podcast, I encourage you to go over Genesis 1. Maybe read from a children's Bible and ask the following questions!

What did God create on each day? How was day 6 different?

How are humans special?

What is your favorite thing about nature? What is your favorite creation?
These are two very simple ideas, but they will make an impression on your family. Carving out intentional time to sit with God and listen to his word is a wonderful family activity that will drench you all with graces.
Lastly: I know that this newsletter does not make up for what ENCOUNTER was prior to COVID. I constantly feel guilty that I am not doing more to help everyone grow and keep the faith alive in our homes. I have a few ideas up my sleeve of how to make ENCOUNTER more interactive and engaging than a simple newsletter every month. 2020 was hard on all of us, but I have high hopes (and aspirations!) for 2021.

Please know that all of you are in my prayers - if there is one thing that I can actually do, it is to pray for you all.

I hope you have entered 2021 as hopeful as I am (albeit tired and overwhelmed) and ready to make faith a sincere priority!

If you ever need anything, are frustrated with how things are going, or have a special prayer intention - never hesitate to ask me.