Friday, December 19, 2014

We are His Hands


The other day, Jewel's song HANDS came on.  It made me think of the following story:

A story is told that during the bombing of a city in World War II, a large statue of Jesus Christ was severely damaged. When the townspeople found the statue among the rubble, they mourned because it had been a beloved symbol of their faith and of God’s presence in their lives.
Experts were able to repair most of the statue, but its hands had been damaged so severely that they could not be restored. Some suggested that they hire a sculptor to make new hands, but others wanted to leave it as it was—a permanent reminder of the tragedy of war. Ultimately, the statue remained without hands. However, the people of the city added on the base of the statue of Jesus Christ a sign with these words: “You are my hands.”
"When I think of the Savior, I often picture Him with hands outstretched, reaching out to comfort, heal, bless, and love. And He always talked with, never down to, people. He loved the humble and the meek and walked among them, ministering to them and offering hope and salvation.  That is what He did during His mortal life; it is what He would be doing if He were living among us today; and it is what we should be doing as His disciples."
"As we extend our hands and hearts toward others in Christlike love, something wonderful happens to us. Our own spirits become healed, more refined, and stronger. We become happier, more peaceful, and more receptive to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit."
This made me think, What am I doing to extend my hands toward others?  How am I serving them?  Am I serving others?
I recently found the blog of a beautiful, Christ-like girl who bakes a cake daily/weekly? and then goes out searching for "those less fortunate, for those who've been dealt a raw deal in life, and for those who just deserve some more love" to give it away to.  She gives them the cake, visits with them and then records their amazing story on her blog.   This is not a huge grand service project.  This is a simple easy act of love.  She's doing something she loves to do, bake, and she's using it to bless and serve others.  This sweet girl woman has truly inspired me. 
Since it's Christmas time, I want to share with you a tradition my friend and neighbor does with her family.  At her house, instead of having an "Elf on the Shelf" that gets into trouble and tattles on the children (you know my feelings about the Elf on the Shelf), she has her children become "ELVES OFF THE SHELF" that go out and do nice things for others--taking in their garbage cans, delivering treats anonymously, or randomly handing out small treat bags at the mall--all with a note wishing a Merry Christmas from "Elves off the Shelf."   Last year these little elves brought in our garbage can each week, and this year they are hosting a Christmas Gift Wrapping party, where we've been invited to drop off our unwrapped gifts to their house and the Elves will wrap them for us.  I love this idea.
Can I be honest with you?  Serving others is hard for me.  Not because I don't want to do it.  I totally do.  I think I just over-think things-  Do they really want/need my help?  Will this embarrass them?  What if they don't like what I do?  Then my other problem is I don't give myself "Service Credit" for the little things I do - taking cookies to a neighbor, making dinner for someone who is sick, opening the door for someone, giving someone a smile.  I seem to forget that service does not have to be a huge 'collecting blankets and delivering them to the homeless' project.  Christ did not serve this way.  He served others by bringing His time, comfort, and love.
One of my goals for the new year is to serve more, praying daily for opportunities to be His hands and for guidance from the Spirit to know what, where, whom, and how to serve-  To stop being so worried about what others think, to give myself credit for the small things, and to just serve. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Randomness

 1.  We've been having some totally awesome sunsets lately.  
We have not lately been having much snow.  There's a little on the ground from the last snow storm but not much.  I WANT A WHITE CHRISTMAS GOSH DANGIT!!!!!  
I guess if we can't have snow, I'll take the painted skies.
They are really beautiful.
2.   Yesterday morning this tiny thing woke up with a headache.  I let her lay in my bed, hoping a little more sleep would cure her.  She never slept, but played with her My Little Ponies instead.  Then she decided she was hungry, so out to the kitchen we went.  I poured her a bowl of Rice Krispies.  Before she even took a bite, she accidentally spilled it because she was doing her Barbie Stylin' -Head's hair while eating her cereal.  UGH!  After cleaning up the mess and pouring yet another bowl of cereal, she decided her tummy hurt and back to my bed she went.  Right as I sat down to my yummy breakfast of latkes and applesauce (Hey!  It is Hanukkah) I hear crying coming from the bedroom along with barfing sounds.  Whenever you hear that combination you know it's NOT GOING TO BE GOOD!  Yep, throw-up - on my pillow.  Why oh why couldn't she have been on Clint's side?  I rush her off to the bathroom but of course she was all done vomiting by then.  Did I mention all over my pillow?  Into the bath she went.  I had 5 minutes to bathe her, get her dressed, and run #5 to school.  It was a miracle we made it.  I think I even set a new world record.  -NO LIE-
 Once I called the school to excuse her because she was sick, a miraculous healing took place and she's been fine ever since.  No more headache, no more stomach ache.  (It's a Miracle!)
"So, Mom, what do you want to do today?"
"Aren't you so glad I'm home with you today so you don't have to be all alone?" 
"Let's bake something."
"Can we make rainbow flower cookies?"
Sure thing!  But only because you're my baby and I like to spoil you and coddle you.
And that's the end of that.
3.  A boy Clint and I teach at church brought us a Christmas gift .  I think it's one of the sweetest things ever.  It made my day!
4.  Did I ever tell you about the time Clint was a human Christmas tree and all the kids at church got to decorate him?  That's the most handsome Christmas tree I've ever seen.  He even smelled like pine for the rest of the day (okay, no, not really, but that would have been really cool!)

5.  Christmas is in a week!  7 days!!!!  I had planned to finish wrapping my gifts today but that didn't happen (See #2), and  I'm starting to feel the crunch.

Spiritual Enlightenment HERE

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Family Pictures 2014

Wordless Wednesday (more or less)
Hurray!  We FINALLY got the proofs from our family photos.
They turned out so good for not being edited yet!
There are 100's to choose from.  Here's a little sneak peak. . . .








Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Christmas Tradition

 Last night for FHE, we drove through our communities Festival of Lights, a tradition we've been doing for what seems like FOREVER.  Last night as I looked at all the beautiful lights, I couldn't help but think of THE LIGHT, our Savior Jesus Christ.
I feel His light in my life everyday.  His light brings me peace and joy.  It gives me a desire to keep trying.  It makes me want to be better.
After the lights, we took the kids shopping for their "Secret-Santa" gift.  Each Christmas season, our children draw names.  Throughout the month, they do secret acts of service for that person.  They also give a small gift to that person on Christmas morning.  The kids love sneaking around trying to make a bed or pick up a room without getting caught.  Most are even more excited to open their "Secret Santa" gift than they are any other present on Christmas morning.

This year instead of taking the kids one at a time or two at a time, we decided to just go for it, and take everyone (except for our oldest who was working).  The older kids went off by themselves, while Clint and I took around the younger ones.  We felt like spies as we sneaked around the store trying to not let anyone see what we gift we had picked out.  It was a blast!  This is becoming one of my favorite traditions.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Cookie Day 2014

Last Monday we held our 15th annual Cookie Day.  Fifteen years ago, we started this tradition of getting together to bake cookies and make candy for our Christmas neighbor gifts.
 I love spending time with my sister(s) my mom, and my daughters.
We listen to Christmas music and while we bake and make, we talk, and laugh, and reminisce for hours.  It's the perfect "Girl's Day Out In".
 Once we're all done, we have quite the spread to give away to our neighbors and friends.
This year we collectively made:
Chocolate-dipped PB Crackers
White Chocolate Peppermint Bark
Peanut Clusters
Peppermint Red Velvet Cookies
On Tuesday, my girls and I dropped off and delivered all our goody plates while the boys were at work and basketball practice. It's so nice to have my neighbor gifts done and delivered.
Can't wait for next year!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Loving Others and Living With Differences

Elder Dallin H. Oaks

True to Elder Oaks' style, this talk was divided into six sections.  I like his style.  I think it makes his teachings easier to digest and apply.

I.
LOVE OTHERS AS CHRIST DID (and does)

In his talk, Elder Oaks shares many examples of Christ's example and commandment to love:  
"Love one another" (John 15:12). . . . . .
"Love thy neighbor" (Matthew 22:39). . . . . . .
"Love your enemies" (Matthew 5:44). . . . . . . 

If we know what we are suppose to do then "Why is it so difficult to have Christlike love for one another?"

My answer to this question is:  Because people are stupid, mean, and unlovable.  Elder Oaks answer is much more refined than mine.  He said,
"It is difficult because we must live among those who do not share our beliefs and values and covenant obligations."

"We are to live in the world but not be of the world." and it is our duty, as taught by Jesus in a parable, to "raise the whole mass (world) by its (our) influence."
"His followers cannot do that if they associate only with those who share their beliefs and practices."

II.
ELIMINATE TENDENCIES TO BE AND FEELINGS OF CONTENTION

There are times when people get on my nerves so bad I'd like to give them a high-five . . . to the face with a chair.  Or times when I know I'm right and the other person is wrong, and I not so nicely let them know this.  Yep-  this is what Elder Oaks is talking about here- Causing contention.

Elder Oaks reminds us of Jesus' teaching:
"There shall be no disputations among you, as there have hitherto been. . .For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another. . ." (3 Nephi 11:28-29)

Do not contend with anger.  Remember:
"wise men turn away wrath" (Proverbs 29:8)
"follow after the things that make for peace" (Romans 14:19)
"[speak] the truth in (with) love" (Ephesians 4:15)

After reading this talk, this is something I'm striving to do.  I'm trying to do like the popular movie Frozen says, "LET IT GO!"  Stop getting annoyed and wanting to pick a fight, and just let it go!  

III.
SHOW LOVING-KINDNESS WHILE STILL BEING FIRM IN YOUR BELIEFS

"We must not compromise or dilute our commitment to the truths we understand.  We must not surrender our positions or our values."

"Loving-kindness is required, but a follower of Christ. . . will be firm in the truth."

Don't drop your values and side with others just because you're trying to be nice.  

IV.
TEACH THE TRUTH AND BE CIVIL

It is okay to share our beliefs with others, but we need to be civil about it.

"Followers of Christ should be examples of civility.  We should love all people, be good listeners, and show concern for their sincere beliefs.  Though we may disagree, we should not be disagreeable.  Our stands and communications on controversial topics should not be contentious."

This is the quote that really stood out to me.  I thought of how many times I may not be as Christ-like and kind as I should be.  Even though I may not agree with someone, I should always show kindness and Christ-like love - NO MATTER WHAT!

"When our positions do not prevail, we should accept unfavorable results graciously and practice civility with our adversaries.  In any event, we should be persons of goodwill toward all. . . ."

V.
"KINDNESS IS POWERFUL"

"The most important setting to forgo contention and practice respect for differences is in our homes and family relationships."

". . .Keep doing all the right things and. . .be patient and kind. . . "

"Kindness is powerful, especially in a family setting."

In this section, Elder Oaks share a story about a woman who's non-member husband had been accompanying her to church for 12 years but had never joined.  She asked for counsel from Elder Oaks who told her to "keep doing all the right things and to be patient and kind with her husband."  About a month later, the woman wrote to Elder Oaks saying she thought she had been pretty patient during those 12 years but she probably wasn't being very kind about it.  She practiced real hard for over a month and her husband was baptized.

There is power in being kind.

Just like this woman, I have friends and family members that I am frustrated with.  Elder Oaks counsel to be patient and kind applies to me too.  I can quit being annoyed, quit complaining, quit nagging, and instead be kind.  Showing forth an increase of love (D&C 121:43) by doing something incredibly nice and unexpected for them.  Man, I have a lot to work on.

VI.
PRESS FORWARD HAVING "A LOVE OF GOD AND OF ALL MEN"

". . .As followers of Christ we should live peacefully with others who do not share our values or accept the teachings upon which they are based."


This talk really opened my eyes and gave me some things to work on and change in my life.  What did you get out of this talk?

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Sing Choirs of Angels

Last Saturday, we went Temple Square in Salt Lake City,  UT.
It was a family affair.  We were so grateful to have my parents, my Gram, and my sister and her family there with us.
 #2 performed in a beautiful Christmas concert with her school choir in the Joseph Smith Memorial building, and also the Assembly Hall.
Can you spy her?  She spies you.
 Have you ever been inside the Assembly Hall on Temple Square?  It is one of the most gorgeous buildings ever.  Built by the Mormon pioneers in the late 1800's, the craftsmanship is to die for.  
Look at that spiral staircase and all the handcrafted molding. 
Including this on the center of the ceiling.
Not to mention the organ, and all the stained-glass windows.
It's definitely a must see.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

"Not the Gumdrop Buttons!"

Yesterday my mom, and sister, and I got together for Cookie Day at my house.  We baked all day, and I mean all day.  We started at 9:00 am and the last person didn't leave until 5:30- we didn't even finish wrapping all the goodie plates.  I'll post more about our cookie day later.
So, after a long (but fun) day, my kids reminded me that I had promised them we would bake and decorate gingerbread men for FHE.  AHHHH!  The last thing I wanted to do was bake more cookies, but a promise is a promise.  Despite my aching tired body, I put my apron back on and along with making dinner, I (with the help- thankfully) made 8 (and only 8) gingerbread shaped sugar cookies.
 We had a blast decorating them, which made the effort totally worth it. 





 This is the face I got when I said "smile!".
This man, created by #3, compete with mustache, sombrero, and burrito, made me laugh.

 This little girl gets the reward for most diligent.  She spent over an hour on her cookie. 
 By the time she was finished, there was not one part of her cookie that was not covered in candy.
We ended the night by watching THIS VIDEO and talking about the true meaning of Christmas.