This year - I've tried to get my Christmas shopping done in a timely manner so I am not stressed and buying random presents without putting a lot of thought into it. I'm proud to say I am ALL DONE with my Christmas shopping, with one tiny exception... my new cutest niece that was born on Thanksgiving! I was talking to my sister the other day and asking her what the baby wanted for Christmas. She jokingly responded, "Oh, let me go ask her..." I know babies can't tell you want they want!
But! It started a train of thought. What would my niece actually want? What gift do you get for a brand-new baby? Given the season, I then started to think about another baby who was given gifts around this time of year... you know where I am going with this :)
What can we give to people who are essentially (or literally) perfect? My baby niece or to the Christ child? The only answer I have been able to come up with is love. I can show love for my niece by taking care of her. I can also show love by taking care of her sister so that her mom can feed her, or so that her mom and dad can get some rest. In fact, a lot of the ways that I can show love to my niece, indirectly benefit someone else. (I'm perhaps the biggest beneficiary since I get to love on such a perfect, good-smelling, cutie baby :) )
As with my niece, oftentimes the way that we can show love to Christ is by helping others. In fact, there are multiple scriptures that state this - a few examples:
"Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."
"When ye are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are only in the service of your God."
This December, in addition to trying to finish my Christmas shopping early ;), I have also been trying to keep myself more service centered. My church has started a wonderful campaign to do 25 acts of service in the 25 days leading up to Christmas. You may have seen it on social media with the hashtag #LIGHTtheWORLD. I have been extremely grateful to have a plan given to me on how I can serve others daily. Something I've noticed is that it seems I have been presented with ways to serve every day that coincide with that day's theme. Or more likely, I have been more apt to notice opportunities for service.
One day last week, there was a "snowstorm" in Seattle. Granted, this amount of snow would not have garnered a second-look by anyone used to snow, but it was a lot for this area :) That morning, I went out to move my car to make sure my roommate could get out of the driveway to get to work (I'm not a morning person... and when I have the chance, I always go to work last out of anyone at my house :) ). While doing this - I had the sudden urge to scrape the windows of all my roommates cars. I'd like to say that I am always that naturally inclined to serve, but I don't think that I am. I think that the consistent daily effort of looking to help others for the past couple weeks was finally starting to take hold. Instead of solely focusing on myself, I was feeling more of the true spirit of the season, and loving and serving people like Christ would have. Funny part of the story is, by the time any of my roommates left the house, it had warmed up enough that the snow had melted completely off their cars anyway! Initially I thought, "Well - that was a waste." But with further contemplation, I was so grateful that a small change of heart had occured within me, and even if no one else saw or knew about it, I did.
I want to be more like more Savior each day. I am grateful for a time of year when so many people are directing their thoughts toward Him. We love and serve and give more at Christmas, because of Him. I am hopeful that we can all give freely to others as our gift to the Savior this Christmas!
I've had this song on my mind all day at work. I remember the first time I heard the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing this song and how beautiful it sounded to me. I also love the video that was made to accompany it. I am not a huge crier - but I cry every time I watch it. I definitely invite you to give it a watch :)
Love you too much!!! - Sara
It may be too early to call it, but I think 2016 may already be my favorite Christmas ever. I have always loved Christmas but this year something has transformed my Christmas and I want to share it with you. A couple of weeks ago at work we published a piece by one of our contributors, Brooke Romney, called “My grown-up advent: Putting Christ back into Christmas.” Similar to the candy advents where you get to open a piece a day, this advent invites you to open to a new scripture each day and then ask questions relating to the scripture. On Dec. 1, feeling that I had become pretty apathetic with my scripture study, I decided to give it a try. I roped my sister into reading along with me and each day we have sent our responses to the questions back and forth.
Over the past six days we have read scriptures about Mary, Joseph, Zacharias and Elisabeth and in the process the characters of the Christmas story have become very real to me.
First, I was introduced to a girl named Mary who we really don’t know anything about until the angel shows up and tells her that she is “highly favored.” I imagine this was because Mary was not only pure but she was good and kind. Heavenly Father knew that she would be a good mother and that nothing in her life would prevent the Savior from fulfilling his earthly mission. I couldn’t help but imagine that Mary must have felt overwhelmed by the responsibility and probably immediately began reevaluating her life and yet, I began to hope, as I read, that Heavenly Father might someday have the same kind of trust in me that he had in Mary.
On day four, I read about Joseph. I googled what the scriptures mean when they say, Joseph was “not willing to make her a publick example” and “intended to put her away privily.” I found a pastor’s sermon that explained this particular scripture and found out that apparently in their time there was no such thing as a secret end of an engagement but Joseph intended to keep the reason for the end of their engagement secret. This meant that Joseph intended to take the heat because people would soon find out that Mary was pregnant and instead of her being accused of cheating on Joseph or even being physically punished, Joseph would instead look like the bad guy. This would not only reflect poorly on Joseph because he got Mary pregnant out of wedlock but also because he left her. This article pointed out that this could have jeopardized Joseph’s entire future because no one would want their daughter to marry someone with that history. But Joseph was ready to do that. He was kind, merciful and loyal. And as I read, it made total sense to me that this would be the man that Heavenly Father would want to act as the earthly father for his perfect son. I found myself longing to be more like Joseph: more selfless, more forgiving and slower to anger.
Most recently, I read about Zacharias and Elisabeth and at first, I didn’t feel like we had a lot in common. But then I realized that they were waiting for something and felt that they were running out of time and sometimes I feel the same way. Still, they remained righteous and we see that the Lord blessed them. When they thought they had run out of time, Heavenly Father showed them that the only time that really matters is his time. He gave them exactly what they wanted: a son. Sure, they got it a little later than expected but it makes total sense to us now reading their story that if they were supposed to raise the cousin of Christ, the timing had to be just right. And I realized that maybe in retrospect I’ll be able to understand this waiting period of my life too.
Tonight, I was at a Christmas party and one of my previous church leaders (probably one of my favorite people on the face of the planet) shared a message. He talked about how we feel this need to really make a difference in the world and we think that the way to do this is by being a CEO or having positions of influence. But then he told us about last year’s December issue of National Geographic which said “Mary, The Most Powerful Woman in the World.”
He then explained that we don’t need to be CEOs or celebrities to make a difference in the world. We just have to be good. And I guess that is what I have found over the last week: I just want to be good. I want to trust God and his plan for me. I want to be ready when he needs me.
I’m grateful for these people who welcomed the Savior into the world…people who were just good.
Do you ever feel that the perfect day would be one were you accomplished all of your plans? The days that I have meticulously planned for us are often remarkable failures, yet this doesn't mean I should stop planning altogether. What are the metrics to measure a life well-lived? What are the metrics to measure a day with accomplishment?
While looking at my husband's resume we worked on adding specific metrics to each of his "accomplishments". That is what people want to see. That is what shows progress and it makes sense. I don't think we should stop doing that.
But on a day like today when it's raining outside and when I know that there are things that need to get done like the laundry that's been sitting in the dryer for 2 days or the dishes sitting clean in the dishwasher but not in the cupboards ready to go, or when my son just wants me to sit on the floor and make car sounds with him-- I don't know the metrics of this, I don't know the accomplishment.
What would Jesus have on his resume.
-Made a blind man see.
Or would it have been the quietest moments
When he was kneeling and great drops of blood fell from every pore
the one where he did everything that we couldn't do for ourselves
the one that means more than anything that ever will happen in the universe or eternity.
When I think about that accomplishment, and how quiet it was, it helps me to see the importance of the accomplishments that can't be measured. The importance of something that doesn't belong on a resume, the accomplishments without the metrics.
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