Tuesday, December 06, 2016
From Come, Let Us Adore Him, by Elder Patrick Kearon:
"In the well-known verses from Luke 2, we learn significant facts about those first witnesses of Christ's birth, the shepherds in the fields near Bethlehem. When 'the angel of the Lord came upon them, ... they were sore afraid' (verse 9). But they heard 'good tidings of great joy' that the long-foretold Savior, the Messiah, the Christ, had been born (verse 10). They listened to know the sign by which they could recognize the Savior, that He would be 'wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger' (verse 12). When the heavenly host had concluded their joyful proclamation, the shepherds responded immediately, saying, 'Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass' (verse 15). They came 'with haste' and found the Christ child just as the angel had said, and then they 'returned, glorifying and praising God' (verse 20). Wanting to share the glorious news of the Savior's birth, 'they made [it] known abroad' (verse 17).
"Like the shepherds, we must respond immediately, with haste, whenever the Spirit speaks to us. In the words of President Thomas S. Monson, we must 'never, never, never postpone following a prompting.' Sometimes after heeding a prompting, we cannot clearly see why we have been guided by the Spirit to act in a certain way. But often, like the shepherds, we see miracles occur, and our faithful response to a prompting is confirmed. We can then take opportunities to share our joy and our witness with others. Doing so can strengthen others' faith and hope, further confirming our own testimonies and bringing us closer to the Savior and His ways."
The shepherds at Jesus's birth hold a special place in my heart. They listened and obeyed. They were so full of faith, never doubting the things they had seen and heard. I love to think about these humble men, the first to bear witness of the birth of the Savior.
painting by Carl Heinrich Bloch.
posted by stephanie at 8:55 AM
Friday, December 02, 2016
Kittens, kittens everywhere! You can't sit down at our house without a kitten climbing onto our lap (or back). This is perhaps my favorite picture of Mike ever. You can't really tell, but he is totally in his element. Ha!
We have a happy day planned today. First, Elliot is getting his stitches out and will hopefully be out of his knee brace. Then we'll pick up my parents from the airport. And tonight we are attending Mabel's MCO concert, Good Will Toward Men. These concerts are always the highlight of the Christmas season for me. They are so powerful. I am really looking forward to it.
Have you put up your Christmas tree? We haven't gotten ours yet, but maybe we can swing by the tree lot (I mean Home Depot) tomorrow.
I love the ideas for today's 25 days of service. I think "Tell your parents they were right. Be specific!" is my favorite. Good thing my parents are coming into town today. It is a small but good way to #LIGHTtheWORLD.
Have a happy weekend!
posted by stephanie at 6:59 AM
Thursday, December 01, 2016
I love to think about the night Jesus was born. In the middle of Christmas season busy-ness, thinking about this quiet story brings me peace and gives me proper perspective. I'd like to share some of my favorite pieces of the story this month, as we get ready to celebrate this miraculous night.
My friend, Reachel, reminded me of this quote about the star from Neal A. Maxwell: "Recall the new star that announced the birth at Bethlehem? It was in its precise orbit long before it so shone. We are likewise placed in human orbits to illuminate. Divine correlation functions not only in the cosmos but on this planet, too."
What a wonderful idea! The star was placed in its proper position before it was ready to shine. Just as Heavenly Father was aware of where the star needed to be, He is aware of us, and has helped us find our own personal orbit. With the same care that He placed that star over the stable in Bethlehem, He has placed me here, and that thought fills me with purpose and gratitude.
posted by stephanie at 1:56 PM
Wednesday, November 30, 2016
I try to go to the temple once a week, but because of illness or Thanksgiving or other things, I haven't been able to go for the last few weeks and I've missed it. I am thankful that this morning, I made it happen. When I go to the temple, I feel peace and an overwhelming love from my Heavenly Father. I think going to the temple makes me a better mother and wife and friend. And I always, always leave feeling lighter and more optimistic. I am thankful to live so close to a temple, and I am thankful that my schedule allows me to visit often. The time I spend there is the best of my week.
To learn more about mormon temples, go here.
And this concludes another month of Thanksgiving. Thank you for following along! I really believe in the power of gratitude. Recognizing my blessings and expressing gratitude for them makes me a happier and more content and more generous person, I hope. I look forward to this month all year long and I am thankful to have been able to post here each day. And now, welcome December!
Don't forget the Worldwide Day of Service to kick off the 25 Days of Service tomorrow!
posted by stephanie at 12:11 PM
Tuesday, November 29, 2016
Mike finished up our Christmas shopping late last night. Even with his busy school schedule, he wanted to do the shopping this year, and I am so grateful. He is much more thoughtful about it than I would be, and I know that because of his efforts, our kids are going to have a really wonderful Christmas. I am thankful that we are able to provide a happy Christmas for our children. I am thankful that Mike is smart with our money and creative with our gifts. And I am really thankful that we don't have to step foot inside another store until next year. That really is the greatest gift of all!
posted by stephanie at 12:39 PM
Monday, November 28, 2016
Tonight's Family Home Evening was sort of a bust. That happens sometimes. We went all over town looking for ornaments for our tree. Every year, the kids pick out a new ornament, and then when they are grown and have a tree of their own, they will have a box full of memories to add to their decorations. It's one of my favorite traditions. We'll have to try again this weekend. When we got home, we watched the video I posted yesterday for the #LighttheWorld campaign. I think the 25 days of service are just what our family needs this Christmas season. I bore my testimony to my children about the importance of serving like Jesus Christ did. And then we had family prayer and sent the little kids to bed.
I am thankful for Family Home Evening, even when it's not as successful as I would like it to be. I love that one night a week is specifically set aside for our family to be together. It is the best place to teach the gospel to my children, and a good time to have fun as a family. I love this family of mine and putting away housework and homework and everything else for a little while to be with them fills my heart with gratitude.
posted by stephanie at 7:50 PM
Sunday, November 27, 2016
I never intended to talk about my faith so often on the internet, but here I am, doing it again. My membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has formed every bit of my life. I was raised by faithful parents who sought the truth on their own as teenagers. They found it in this church, which I believe most closely resembles the church Jesus Christ organized when He was on the earth, and I am forever grateful for their dedication to it.
This Christmas season, the church is spreading the message that Jesus Christ is the Light of the world, and through acts of service, big or small, we can help spread that light. I love this short video that shows people like me serving like Him:
Each day for the month of December, we are encouraged to get out and serve. There are even ideas for each day provided here. Things like writing letters to parents or donating blood or praying for a friend who is going through something challenging. These are simple, easy things that can help us come closer to Jesus Christ and spread His light. I can't think of a more wonderful way to celebrate the Christmas season. I know I'll be checking in each day at mormon.org to see what I can do. I hope you'll come along.
I am thankful for my membership in this church. I am thankful for the things it teaches, that it inspires me to be better, and for the way it makes me feel. I believe that it contains the truth, and through that truth, I can be with my family after this life is over and live with Heavenly Father again.
posted by stephanie at 1:10 PM
Saturday, November 26, 2016
I was going to put up our Christmas decorations today. But then I didn't feel like it. And then I decided to do it anyway, and I'm so glad I did. Stella and Elliot had the best time setting up all of the nativity sets on our bookcase while I arranged the little winter village houses in the kitchen. It seems like every year I put up fewer decorations, so I am just down to our absolute favorites. And because there aren't many things to arrange, it took almost no time at all. Even so, tonight the house feels sparkly and cozy and I am so thankful.
posted by stephanie at 6:38 PM
Friday, November 25, 2016
This morning, Stella and Elliot were complaining that they were bored so I sent them downstairs and told them them to play a game. Next thing I knew, extreme giggling was coming from the basement family room. I am so grateful that my children are friends with each other. I've never been good at setting up playdates for them, and I am thankful that they have learned to play so well with each other instead. I especially love it when Oliver joins in.
We had a really relaxing day at home filled with leftovers and pajamas and naps. I hope you did, too!
posted by stephanie at 4:16 PM
Thursday, November 24, 2016
Tonight I am grateful for the nice men and women who missed their own Thanksgiving dinners to show up for work at the Emergency Room, so that when Elliot gashed his leg open at Nana's house, they were able to clean him up and stitch him up. I am ashamed to admit that when I saw Elliot's wound, I freaked out a little bit. It was so big and gape-y and my brain didn't know how to handle what I was seeing. If you need help in an emergency, find Mike. He's your guy. He was calm and patient and helped Elliot (and me) process what was happening. I am so grateful that he was there with us.
After a few hours at the hospital, a couple of popsicles, and 18 stitches, we were back at Nana's for a second round of pie.
Elliot was a trooper through it all, from the moment he quietly walked in the house with his leg hanging open all the way through to the end of the stitches. What a day! I am feeling extra grateful for my little family and our safety tonight.
I hope your Thanksgiving was less eventful but equally pie-filled. :)
posted by stephanie at 8:09 PM
Wednesday, November 23, 2016
Have a happy Thanksgiving!
posted by stephanie at 10:54 AM
Tuesday, November 22, 2016
Mike caught me at a weak moment on Saturday when I was just coming down with strep throat. He brought home two kittens from the pet store. (Mike has a humongous soft spot in his heart for kittens and he just couldn't choose between the two.) That brings the total number of cats living in our house to three, which is just too many. We've officially crossed the line. We are now the people with all of the cats. But the thing is, I see how much joy these kittens bring to my family (real, pure joy!), and I don't even mind. They are sweet and sort of stinky, but they'll cuddle right up on your lap and start purring and I'd have to be a monster to not let that affect me. And so today, I am thankful for these little kittens (even though they make my eyes itch and my nose run). I am thankful for the joy they bring my family and for the tenderness they bring out in all of us.
posted by stephanie at 3:17 PM
Monday, November 21, 2016
Stella and I took a sick day today. And so, in no particular order, I am thankful for: the walk-in clinic at Walgreens, the really kind, patient doctor in the walk-in clinic, modern medicine in the form of antibiotics, and sweet pharmacy employees, a nice sister-in-law who made us soup, and the sound of the rushing wind and unexpected rain outside my open bedroom window. Despite the positive strep test and terrible sore throat, this day has been really beautiful, and I am thankful for the kind people and wonderful weather that made it so exceptional.
posted by stephanie at 3:13 PM
Sunday, November 20, 2016
The Sunday school lesson curriculum always references recent General Conference talks. I think if you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that I love General Conference. Today's lesson (which I didn't end up giving, as I was home sick with a monster sore throat) referred to Elder Vern P. Stanfill's talk, Choose the Light, and Elder L. Whitney Clayton's talk, Choose to Believe, which I summarized here. Both talks were meant to help my students learn to overcome doubt with faith. I love hearing the words of our leaders. I am thankful for the guidance they give us, for the things they teach, and for the love I feel from them. I am thankful to belong to a church that believes in modern day prophets. I can't imagine trying to navigate this life without their direction. I believe it comes from a loving God who wants to help us, and I am thankful for the words they speak, and for the opportunity to read their words again and again.
posted by stephanie at 7:11 PM
Saturday, November 19, 2016
Mike and I spent the whole day together today, which hasn't happened in a long time. We went Christmas shopping and kitten shopping and finished the day with Taco Bell at our kitchen table. (Mike is really good at ordering Taco Bell.) I am grateful for Mike's influence in our home. He is strong where I am weak, and together we make a really great team.
posted by stephanie at 8:40 PM