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Monday, December 28, 2009

Motivational Monday - "More Holiness Give Me"

It is important for families and individuals to aggressively seek more of the virtues which go beyond this mortal life.

At the conclusion of every general conference, I experience a longing for more—more of the serenity of the occasion, more of the companionship of the Spirit, more of the nurturing that has brightened and blessed my soul.

The current conventional wisdom is that more is better and less is usually undesirable. For some, the pursuit to acquire more of this world’s goods and services has become a passion. For others, more of this world’s wealth is necessary just to sustain life or raise living standards to a minimum level. The unbridled desire for more often has tragic consequences. For example, President Boyd K. Packer reminded us: “We could be like a father determined to provide everything for his family. He devotes every energy to that end and succeeds; only then does he discover that what they needed most, to be together as a family, has been neglected. And he reaps sorrow in place of contentment” (“Parents in Zion,” Liahona, Jan. 1999, 25; Ensign, Nov. 1998, 22).

Parents who have been successful in acquiring more often have a difficult time saying no to the demands of overindulged children. Their children run the risk of not learning important values like hard work, delayed gratification, honesty, and compassion. Affluent parents can and do raise well-adjusted, loving, and value-centered children, but the struggle to set limits, make do with less, and avoid the pitfalls of “more, more, more” has never been more difficult. It is hard to say no to more when you can afford to say yes.

Parents are rightfully anxious about the future. It is difficult to say no to more sports equipment, electronics, lessons, clothes, team participation, et cetera, when parents believe more will help children thrive in an increasingly competitive world.

Fewer and fewer parents ask their children to do chores around the house because they think they are already overwhelmed by social and academic pressures. But children devoid of responsibilities risk never learning that every individual can be of service and that life has meaning beyond their own happiness

We have all heard children, after they have opened many Christmas or birthday gifts, say, “Isn’t there more?” With all the challenges present in this “more generation,” there remains divine counsel to teach our children “to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost, … to pray, and to walk uprightly before the Lord, … [and to] observe the Sabbath day [and] keep it holy” (D&C 68:25, 28–29).

The meaning of more and less is not always crystal clear. There are times when less is in reality more and times when more can be less. For instance, less pursuit of materialism may enable more family togetherness. More indulgence of children may result in less understanding of life’s important values.

Some aspects of life can be significantly enhanced by the notion that more is better. The sacred hymn “More Holiness Give Me” (Hymns, no. 131) brings to our remembrance the virtues worthy of more of our attention. Jesus Himself described what it requires to be “more, Savior, like thee.” He said, “I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect” (3 Ne. 12:48).

The virtues expressed in “More Holiness Give Me” fall into several groups.

Some are personal goals, like more holiness give me; more strivings within; more faith, gratitude, and purity; more fit for the kingdom; more purpose in prayer; and more trust in the Lord.

Others center on adversity. They include patience in suffering, meekness in trial, praise for relief, strength to overcome, freedom from earth stains, and longing for home.

The rest firmly anchor us to our Savior: more sense of His care; more pride in His glory; more hope in His word; more joy in His service; more tears for His sorrows; more pain at His grief; more blessed and holy; and more, Savior, like Thee.

More of these virtues is better. Less is not desirable.

In discussing our various longings for more, I’m not suggesting we adopt Scrooge as a role model for good parenting. I am suggesting that it is important for families and individuals to aggressively seek more of the virtues which go beyond this mortal life. A prayerful, conservative approach is the key to successfully living in an affluent society and building the qualities that come from waiting, sharing, saving, working hard, and making do with what we have.

May we be blessed with the desire and the ability to understand when more is really less and when more is better. In the holy name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Ho Ho Ho! Santa Came to our House!

Christmas Morning came at 7 am. Jason and Sharon stayed the night Christmas Eve. We enjoyed great food and a game of Phase 10 and Brady won - woo hoo! I love being with my family on Christmas Eve. Our tradition is rolls, meat and cheese trays. relish trays, crackers and cheese balls, Christmas goody trays... yum! sooo much food, atmosphere - but most of all family.

One present was opened on Christmas Eve - New pajama's of course. A tradition.

Our Christmas tree on Christmas morning - loaded with presents and stuffed stockings.

Sharon and Jason opening Christmas presents. This year they gave me a long list of what they wanted. I love lists better then trying to come up with something they need or want. I could have spent a bunch of money trying to purchase all their wants - but I made a dent before the budget ran out. I didn't want to go into this Christmas with any debt and I succeeded - cash for everything!

Brady kept in his laying down position - wrapped in a blanket. I just kept handing him presents. This was a lot better then last year. He was happy and cheerful this year. .. last year he was a grumpy teenager who we made get up to early *giggle. I'm glad he wasn't that way this year.

Jason got 3 t-shirts this year. This particular one I didn't want to get him - I didn't like it and told him no.... It was a surprise for him that he got it. I'm just tooooooooo nice!

Jason and Sharon wanted the Beatles Rock Band for their X-box. It was second on their list.

The first item on their list was a computer chair. I found a pretty good deal on a chair that mass-ss-ssages.                  

I think they were happy to get a good chair for their computer. Jason also got an x-box game Halo Wars.

Sharon's items on her list that I was able to get them was:  a hand mixer, baking dishes - muffin pan, cake pan and cookie sheets, a set of matching silverware, mixing bowls. She also wanted a BSU Bronco white hoodie.

Brady's list was the Nickelodeon cartoon Avatar DVD's (there are 3 sets/seasons), an electric razor, Cooking Mama DS game, Gardening Mama DS game, Rockband additional songs game, A Sims game, a sit-up bar that holds your feet and tucks under a door. His Dad got him new shoes and an iTunes gift card.

He was very happy with all of his presents - it was a great Christmas (quoting Brady - you did a good job Mom).

This Christmas I have been blissfully happy. It was a wonderful day!

Oh I didn't put down what I got. My Mom sent me a beautiful picture for my wall. When I get it hung I'll post a picture. My list for Jason and Sharon was new fry pans and a cookie scoop. Brady came up with a great plan all on his own. At the ward Christmas party my friend Trina told me a of a new book set she was reading (vampires) called "The Mortal Instruments" it's a 3 book set, the books are "City of Bones", "City of Ashes" and "City of Glass". Stephanie Meyers review was: "The Mortal Instruments series is a story world that I love to live in. Beautiful!". Trina was loving them.... Brady is very clever to get them for me. I'm excited to dive in and read them.

Christmas is a wonderful time of the year. We have been very blessed! Merry Christmas!

Christmas Decorations

I love decorating my home for holidays and for Christmas I always get carried away. I love the feelings of peace and happiness it brings when our "halls are decked". I love seeing the many nativities around the house as we reflect on our Saviors birth.

Everything is glittery with a bling bling appeal.

The light accents provide a peaceful glow each evening as we light the fire and enjoy our time at home.

My favorite is the Christmas tree. I was excited that Brady helped A LOT this year and it wasn't just a Mom job. Brady was great this year in helping with the decorations. He was filled with the Christmas spirit - Yeah!

Two nativity sets on the piano. Yes...... you will see baby Jesus every where.

In my job I am in lots of houses. I believe only one house out of all my customers put out a nativity set. For me, there is a different feeling in the houses without recognizing the reason for the season - Jesus Christ our Savior and the celebration of his birth.

A large Nativity on the side of the piano and below it is Santa bowing to baby Jesus.

I change pictures on the walls or accent them with Christmas greenery. The Elf, Santa and Reindeer were Christmas presents from Richard and Rhonda - one per year. They cut them out and painted them. They are very cute! Since I don't have a mantel on my fireplace yet - they have to be hung on the side of the rock on the fireplace. (ooooh to dream of a mantel one day).

Here are our advent calendars. Brady didn't put one ornament on the advent Christmas tree. I guess he has out grown it - this year I counted down the advent calendar. One the Santa I put things to do from a church magazine "The Friend" for a count down. I love little extra loving touches these types of count downs bring to the season.

This is the winter scene in my kitchen window. It stays up through January too.

Nutcrackers on top of the fridge. My Primary class loved these.

This is on the end of our island/breakfast bar in the kitchen. I've had that Santa and sled for many many years - before Jason was born and I still love it.

The nativity on my kitchen table.

I put old world Santa's in my plant window with my Snow girl (remember the bride from the temple - yup... I dream about the winter girl).

This is a shelf in my kitchen by the table. I painted all the ornaments on the bottom self... and more Santa's on top of the shelf.

This year I didn't put up my Christmas Village. Maybe next year :-D.

Merry Christmas from our house to yours.

Brady's December Seminary Devotional

To catch up a little, Brady had a seminary devotional on Thursday, December 17th. We used the same devotional from last year which can be found here:

I made star sugar cookies again, reindeer candy canes and a book mark about the candy cane for each classmate.

It was a success. Brady loves giving a fun devotional for his class and I do to! Merry Christmas!

School was out the next day for Christmas vacation. Brady went to one of his friends Christmas parties Friday night. He had lots of fun. This was really his first high school friend party and it was exciting that he was out doing something fun with friends. He was out until 11:45 pm and he loved every minute of it.

Saturday we woke up and packed for Brady's visit with his dad before Christmas. I wanted to be at the airport 2 hours before departure - so that we wouldn't be late getting through baggage check and security. The airport wasn't busy and we quickly moved through each station to the gate. I was surprised that there were not more people at the airport. We ended up being bored for 2 hours... At least we didn't stress out and arrived late.

Brady was gone from the 19th through the 24th. The flight home was delayed because there was a problem with the windshield and it needed to be replaced. They ended up having more problems and missing parts - so they ended up putting them on a different flight. BUT, he returned home safely and was home for Christmas Yeah!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Motivational Monday: Christmastime, The Most Beloved Seasons of the Year

President Ezra Taft Benson taught that "perhaps one of the greatest things about this wonderful Christmas season we celebrate is that it increases our sensitivity to things spiritual, to things of God." Indeed, Christmastime is the most beloved seasons of the year. Through music, service, pageantry, and art, families throughout the world celebrate Christmas.

It prompts us to be more tolerant and giving, more conscious of others, more generous and genuine, more filled with hope and charity and love - all Christlike attributes. No wonder the spirit of Christmas is such that it touches the hearts of people the world over. Because for at least a time, increased attention and devotion is turned toward our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ ...

.....Let us commit to give a most meaningful gift to the Lord. Let us give Him our lives, our sacrifices. Those who do so will discover that He can make a lot more out of their lives than they can. Whosoever will lose his life in the service of God will find eternal life.

Without Christ there would be no Christmas, and without Christ there can be no fullness of joy. It is my testimony that the Babe of Bethlehem, Jesus Christ, is the one perfect guide, the one perfect example. Only by emulating Him and adhering to His eternal truth can we realize peace on earth and good will toward all. There is no other way. He is the way, the Truth, and the Light.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Primary Class Christmas Party

Our Primary Christmas party was a blast. I had to re-arrange my craft room to have a place for all 11 children that came. It was a tight squeeze but we did it. It's hard when you have a small house and can't be outside in wide open spaces.

Things were a little crazy. Trying to keep Collin and Eric on task and in the room was a little hard. They were loud and giggly and trying to escape the room often. I guess they were just trying to have a great time out of Sister Murray's control - LOL!

We ate pizza again because that is what they voted on. It's easy for me - so I like it.

Samantha in the back and Annie in the front. We painted Santa ornaments.

Made beaded candy cane ornaments. This is Broden and Lindsey (sorry it's blurry).

The boys had scouts right after the party - that is why Jonathan is in his scout shirt. This is Broden, Jonathan and Andrew (A.J.). All great boys - behaving themselves and having a great time.

They could also make cards or winter scene's with foam cut-outs. This is Kai all dressed up for cub scouts.

After the crafts and pizza it was almost time to go. I had them go into the living room for a surprise present. We called them one by one to pick a present from under the tree. The green stripped wrapping paper were for the boys and the orange stripped wrapping paper was the girls. They also could grab a candy sack.

Here they are waiting for their turn. Jensyn is holding up her package.

They all had to have their package in hand and then 1...2....3... open your present.

I gave them a journal to replace the "journal binder" we had for the year.

I explained to them the value of a journal and asked them to go home and write down their memory from their baptism this year. I also asked them to start a habit of writing a journal and keeping the memories they have.

It was a wonderful party. We missed a few boys and girls that received their present at church Sunday. It's been a great year and now it's winding down to a few more weeks in Sister Murray's and Sister Pitcher's class. January 3rd they move up to the next class and we will get a new class of precious girls and a smaller class...  I'm sad to see this class go, because we had a lot of fun. But, I am really excited to get a smaller quieter class this next year (If they let me stay with the 7 - soon to be 8 year olds.)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Christmas Season Rush

Sunday night I really enjoyed the First Presidency's Christmas Devotional. I enjoyed the music and taking the time to think about the reason for the season - Our Savior, Lord and the Prince of Peace - Jesus Christ.
It's wonderful to celebrate his birth during this season. 

This morning while Brady and I were reading our scriptures, I read this scripture (or sang it):
2 Nephi 19:6 (Compare to Isaiah 9:6)

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called, Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace."

If you watched the Devotional on Sunday, you will understand why I sang it. I love that I found this while reading my scriptures this morning.

Christmas time is always busy. I wish I had my lights and tree up before Thanksgiving because it has set me really behind this year. Next year - mental note: put up decorations before Thanksgiving so you can relax and enjoy everything.

Friday night we had our ward (church) Christmas party. I signed up to bring Cheesy Potatoes which were yummy. It was a nice party and Santa Claus even came.

Saturday morning 10am was the Meridian Winterland parade. It was toooo could and we left half way through it. Brrrrrrrrr

I worked very hard at getting the final decorations put up and all of the boxes put away on Saturday so I could enjoy Sunday in peace.

Plus, Saturday I had to run over to one of my Primary children who was getting baptized and give him is white towel, memory book and Baptism stories book (from Friend articles).
I attended his baptism at 4pm and he was the last to be baptized so it was after 5pm by the time I got home.

At 5:30pm the festivities started for the lighting of the Meridian Christmas tree. Such a busy day. Plus I prepared my Primary lesson for Sunday during the day.

Sunday we attended church of course. In Primary we had 14 children in our class and some were missing - Wow!

Jason and Sharon came over for Sunday dinner...

At 6pm we watched the Christmas devotional on the BYU Channel.

Monday it snowed!!

This is not the picture of my house this year -- I cheated and used one from last year... The sadness of this picture is that my Christmas lights are up. Unfortunately I don't have them up yet... SHOCK!! This may be the year I don't have time to get them up. Monday I worked then cleaned Compton's that night - on a snowy day.

Tuesday, yesterday... Came home at 3:15 pm and there was a message that Brady's bus was late so he was walking home... Brrrrrr it was like 8 degrees and very cold. I jumped into the car and sent to find him but we missed each other.

Came home and he had piano lessons at 4pm. I did some shopping for the Primary Christmas party I am having on Wednesday night (tonight).

Then I made dinner and baked cookies and frosted them until 10:30 pm.

Tonight is my Primary Christmas party - last one for this class... And then I get a new class in January. I sure hope I get to stay with CTR 8 year olds (Baptism year).

Also tonight Brady is going to the temple to do baptisms for the dead.

Thursday is Stephanie's party - the Cookie exchanged. My favorite party for the year. I have to make more cookies tonight after the party.

Yes it is the Christmas Season rush... I'm really trying to enjoy each moment and keep Jesus Christ Birth in the front of the picture.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Motivational Monday - The Wondrous Gift

The Wondrous Gift
(Spencer W. Kimball)
We set up the evergreen tree with its gleaming, brightly colored lights; we hang wreaths and bells; and we light candles—all to remind us of that wondrous gift, the coming of our Lord into the world of mortality.

We send Christmas cards to numerous friends and relatives, pulling back into happy memories the loved ones who have moved out of our immediate association.

Like the wise men who opened their treasury and presented to Jesus gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh, we present to our loved ones things to eat and wear and enjoy.

Though we make an effort to follow the pattern of gift giving, sometimes our program becomes an exchange—gift given for gift expected. Never did the Savior give in expectation. I know of no case in his life in which there was an exchange. He was always the giver, seldom the recipient.

Never did he give shoes, [socks], or a vehicle; never did he give perfume, a shirt, or a [coat]. His gifts were of such nature that the recipient could hardly exchange or return the value. His gifts were rare ones: eyes to the blind, ears to the deaf, and legs to the lame; cleanliness to the unclean, wholeness to the infirm, and breath to the lifeless. . . . His gifts were . . . light in the darkness, forgiveness to the repentant, hope to the despairing. His friends gave him shelter, food, and love. He gave them of himself, his love, his service, his life.

The wisemen brought him gold and frankincense.
He gave them and all their fellow mortals resurrection, salvation, and eternal life. We should strive to give as he gave.

(The Gifts of Christmas, [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1999], p. 129.)


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