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Posts Tagged ‘Holidays’

I know the Christmas season is past, but I wanted to share this anyway.  I wrote this for the December edition of our ward newsletter.  I think it’s a great message, regardless of the time of year. 

      I love the Christmas season!  People are generally more cheery, and friendlier and more caring towards their fellow man. There’s always this feeling of love and warmth in the air.  But, why is that?  I’m sure some of it comes from a sense of obligation to act that way this time of year.  But, I would submit that much of that “Christmas Spirit” comes from a renewed focus on Jesus Christ.  After all, Christmas is the celebration of Hischrist3 birth.  What a glorious event that was!  On that night, the birth of a tiny newborn baby forever changed the course of humanity.  In a stable, so lowly, our Lord and Savior was born.  We all know the events and story.  I’d like to speak to you about another aspect of Christmas that we may often overlook, especially in this season. 

      The mere event of Christ’s birth is wondrous and miraculous.  The Son of God was born upon this earth.  What a blessed event!  And, we celebrate it accordingly.  But why?  (I know it seems like an odd question, but bear with me for a moment.)  If Christ had grown up, and been an ordinary man, would we still celebrate His birth over 2000 years later?  No, of course not.  We celebrate His birth because of His life.  We celebrate His birth because of His death and resurrection.  We celebrate His birth because He was no ordinary man. 

Think about it for a moment.  Christ was born into this world to be our Savior.  In what is probably the most quoted Christmas scripture of all time, Luke 2:11, we are told just that.  “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”  He was our Savior from the beginning, and for that Heavenly hosts praised Him and rejoiced at His birth.  Christ’s role in this earthly life was to be our redeemer; to make it possible for us to return home. 

The Lord, Himself, told the Nephites of this, proclaiming, “…and this is the gospel with I have given unto you—that I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me (3 Nephi 27:13).”  He came into this world because it was the will of Heavenly Father.  The scriptures go on to say that the will of the Father was for the Atonement, death, and resurrection to occur.  So, while Jesus lived an amazing life, and taught the Gospel, and established His church here, His main purpose for coming was the Atonement. 

The Atonement is something that most of us can’t properly comprehend.    It is the ultimate act of love and mercy.  We often think of the Atonement as something just for sins.  Because of the Atonement, we can be forgiven of our sins.  However, the Atonement isn’t just about sin.  It is so all encompassing.  In Alma 7:11 we read this about the Atonement, “And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.”  Simply put, the Atonement is for everyone! 

So, this Christmas season, remember that were it not for the atonement of Christ, we wouldn’t really have reason to celebrate His birth.  Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love us so much, and because of that, they were willing to give us the ultimate gift.  Let us never forget that or take it for granted. 

I bear my testimony to you that the Atonement is real and that the Savior loves each and every one of us.  Through the Atonement of Christ we can all return to our Heavenly Father.  And, because of the Atonement, our lives can be blessed and changed, if we will only apply it.  I love this truth and I am so grateful to have the Gospel in my life!  In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. 

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Another Christmas gone by, and I feel bit strange about it this year. We really didn’t have much in the bank for presents, and made the smart decision not to use the credit card this year. We got the kids 2 things each, which is less than we’ve ever done. Oddly, though, they were all just thrilled with those 2 things, and couldn’t care less that there weren’t more. At first it was hard for me; I wanted to get them so much. But, I soon came to realize that the amount of presents doesn’t matter. Santa still came. The kids were ecstatic Christmas morning, and quantity didn’t matter. It was really very touching to me, and the big slap in the face I needed.
I’ve always loved Christmas! As a kid, I just knew it meant presents and a big dinner. But, my parents always taught me about the real meaning of Christmas. As I grew, I learned to appreciate it more and more. After I joined the Church, my testimony of the Savior and the glorious events of His birth grew even more. Over the last year and a half, I’ve gained an amazing testimony of the Atonement, and my appreciation of and love for Christ has grown to levels previously unimaginable for me. I have such gratitude in my heart for Christ and ALL He gave to me, and all of us!
Sadly, I’ve lost sight of all that over the last couple Christmases. Not my conscious decision, but by getting carried away in all the gift business. I’ve commented to a few people that this year and last year, it just hasn’t “felt like Christmas.” I’ve had this longing for something that has been missing out of the holiday. At first, I thought it was missing those family members that aren’t with us. While that may be part of it, I realized that my problem was I was focusing most of my attention and energy on things that really didn’t matter. What I needed to do was focus on the Savior, not just His birth, but His whole life, death, and resurrection. What magnificent events!
Once I re-focused on what mattered: Christ and my family, I felt at peace again. I had no stress, no worry, no sadness about Christmas. I felt joy in my heart, and wanted to shout from the roof tops, “Glory to God in the highest!”

“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
~Luke 2:8-14

To learn more about the Savior, please click here.

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A lot has been happening the last week or so. First of all, to address my last post: that horrible immigration bill was defeated! (At least for now.) Hooray!! I’m so glad. Now we shouldn’t see a revisit of that until 2008, so we’ve got a little bit of time anyway.
Next, on Monday night, our sweet little baby puppy died. He just stopped breathing. Adam tried CPR and mouth to mouth to get him breathing again, but it just wasn’t meant to be. We buried him in the backyard Tuesday morning. We were all upset about it, but I think I took it the hardest. I’m feeling better now, but I really miss him.
Here he is with Adam, just 2 days old.

Ok, what else? Saturday, we started laying the new flooring in our house. I’m so excited about it! It looks great! I am so very grateful to our wonderful friends who came to help us! It took 7 hours on Saturday just to do the one room. I’ll have to find some way to repay them all! Then, Tuesday, my dad and Adam got another room done, which took about 4 hours. So now, I think we are about half way done. Oh, I will be so excited when it’s all done.
So, yesterday was Independence Day. I love this holiday! It’s so wonderful to celebrate our nation and the freedoms we all enjoy. I think we often take for granted what we have been so blessed with. There is no better country on the face of this earth. There is no other country where the people are free in thought, religion, work, school, where they live, everything. It is amazing. I know that the Lord had a hand in establishing this nation, and that the founding fathers were truly inspired by Him. It is remarkable to be here, and I wish more people would realize that.

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Memorial Day

A lot has been said the last few days about Memorial Day. John Edwards is calling for protests against the war in Iraq to take place that day, totally dishonoring the memory of fallen soldiers. Others, though, are trying to remind the American public what Memorial Day is really suppose to be about. I wanted to share part of an e-mail I got today. The message was written by LtCol Oliver L. North, USMC (Ret.):

Heroes aren’t athletes who set new sports records or Hollywood actors who make “daring” films, or politicians who make bold promises. Heroes are people who place themselves at risk for the benefit of others.

America enjoys freedom today because true heroes – the men and women of the United States Armed Forces – our courageous soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Guardsmen – sacrifice their tomorrows for us.

Memorial Day is an opportunity for Americans to say “Thank You” to our brave defenders of freedom and their families, especially the children they have left behind. In declaring a day of memorial to those who had died in service to our country, General John Logan, then Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, proclaimed on May 5, 1868:

“…let us in this solemn preserve renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us as sacred charges upon the Nation’s gratitude – the soldier’s widow and orphan.”

I really love that last quote. Let’s remember what this day is really suppose to be about!

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I love Easter! It is one of my favorite holidays! Not because of all the chocolate and jelly beans (which I definitely enjoy), but because of the glorious meaning of Easter.
On Easter we celebrate that Jesus Christ broke the bands of death, and was resurrected. We celebrate that because of Christ, we too can have Eternal Life and Exaltation. Because of His glorious sacrifice for us, and then His resurrection, we can be made whole. This is a wondrous time for me. I love to think about what it must have been like to be there, looking for the Savior’s body, and then told by angels that He wasn’t there; that He had risen! Can you imagine? It must have been a wonderful thing! I just love the story of Easter!
It’s been said that without Easter there would be no Christmas. I believe this is absolutely true. If Christ hadn’t died and been resurrected, we would have no reason to celebrate His birth. It would have been for naught. But, because he did, we can be resurrected too. We can return to live with Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father again, in a beautiful and glorified state. What could be more spectacular than that?!

I wish everyone a very happy Easter!

I want to include the Easter story, found in the last chapter of Matthew, verses 1-10.
1 In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.
2 And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.
3 His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:
4 And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.
5 And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.
6 He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.
7 And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.
8 And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.
9 And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.
10 Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.

Also, I have a favorite Easter song, taken from the Primary Songbook – Did Jesus Really Live Again? Check it out.
Here is a picture of us ready to go to Church this morning. Adam was behind the camera.

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The time has come again for a new year. Usually the new year brings with it a host of “resolutions.” My belief, though, is that these resolutions, while being quite well-intentioned, are misguided. People make resolutions like “This year I will lose weight” or “This year I will be healthier” or “This year I will do better in my Church service.” While these are all great goals, they are not going to be effective, and will be forgotten by the third week of January. It’s great to have goals and to strive to be better – we should all do that. However, these resolutions are not going to work because they are not specific enough. They don’t address the issue of “how.” How are these things going to happen? In order for a goal to be effective, it needs to be specific and address how it will be accomplished. For example: “I want to be healthier, so I’m going to plan my meals ahead of time, instead of eating fast food.” This is much more specific, and tells how the goal will be accomplished. I just think that these vague resolutions are just set-ups for failure.
I also believe, though, that New Year’s resolutions are quite overrated! What is going to be different on Jan 1 than Dec 31? What magically changes? Unless you are willing to make actual lifestyle changes, nothing is really going to be different. I think people make New Year’s resolutions because it’s the thing to do, or because they have unrealistic hopes. People that want to make real changes in their lives aren’t going to do so just because it is a new year, and they won’t wait for the new year to do it.
With all that in mind, I’m not going to make any New Year’s resolutions. I’m just going to keep on working on improving myself by drawing closer to the Savior. This is an ongoing process that has absolutely nothing to do with the New Year. But then again, real life changes don’t have anything to do with the date!

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