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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmastime at the Villa

This month we got together with a group of homeschoolers and went caroling to the residents at our local rehab unit, The Villa. We came armed with a slew of homemade Christmas cards to give out.

My girls and I are volunteers at The Villa. We go visit some residents a few times per month. We visit a lady that is 103 years old and she treats us like family.  We also make it a point to see our friend Nicki. She is 30 something- like me- and she has such an infectious happy spirit! 

The Villa was decked out for Christmas with beautiful trees.  We took pictures by our favorite one. Next we took Nicki to her room and helped her put up some decorations and straighten her desk area to make room for all her new Christmas cards. She loved it and it made us happy to be with her.

On our way home we took pictures of some really cool ice formations on the bushes outside.

It was a perfect visit and field trip.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

We had a small gathering at my house this year for Thanksgiving.  Mom and Tom joined us.  Geoff wasn't feeling well, so he stayed home.  Earlier that morning, Lily, Amara, and I bundled up and braved the cold to snip some tall grass sheaves for our centerpiece.  Our table was set so beautifully.




Our gathering may have been small, but the feast was PLENTIFUL!  The star of the meal was the bird!  Mom made a super-delicious, moist, 19-pound turkey and yummy gravy!  We also had baked yams, mashed potatoes, stovetop stuffing, brussel sprouts, string beans, spaghetti squash, acorn squash, cracked wheat rolls, maple butter, veggie tray, krab potato salad, crackers w/ cracked pepper-ranch-cheese-green onion-cheesebrick, spinach dip, and macaroni salad.  Phew!  We ate this feast for days- and froze some for another day! :)
Did I forget anything???

Ah, yes!  The pie.  Steve's favorite part of the meal.  We had a peanut butter creme pie, and a pumpkin dessert with whip cream.  I even got a taste of each of them and I must say- mm-mm-good!  The peanut butter pie was so rich it was like eating a stick of butter, except tasty, and probably 100 calories per bite.



We had dinner around 3:30 and then we talked and played ping pong.  Then we came in for pie before Tom had to leave to get to bed early for the impending Black Friday shoppers.
We had such a lovely Thanksgiving.  I sure love that holiday.  Thanks to Sarah Josepha Hale for campaigning for the creation of the holiday (and for the well-loved nursery rhyme, Mary Had A Little Lamb).  And more importantly thanks be to our Father in Heaven for the blessings of family and for sustaining our lives with hope and happiness!

Christmas Greetings!

I'm so thankful for all our family has been blessed with.  Reflecting back on this year has really allowed me to see just how gracious God has been to us.

Here is our family Christmas e-letter.  If you click on the smilebox you'll get the interactive version.  I'll be sending it out via email and facebook.  And to my 2 grandparents that don't regularly use their computers, they'll be getting a snail mail version.  Merry Christmas everyone!  May your days be merry and bright just as ours have been!
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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Offering My Gifts

During this Christmas season, the Christian world remembers the birth of Jesus Christ.  I’ve always loved this time of year when I can see people about doing good to others, just as Jesus would do.  I’ve always loved the way that people sacrifice time and money to be with their families and spend time together.  Christmas has a warm place in my heart. 

Recently I was reading in Ensign Magazine and I came across a picture that made me stop and read on.  The picture was of a wrapped plate of Christmas cookies, The Book of Mormon Another Testament of Jesus Christ nestled alongside, and a textured tag that read in curly cursive, “Merry Christmas!  To Our Dear Friends!”  



 My attention?  Grabbed.  Curious, I read on, but I didn’t expect what happened next.  As I read the article, I found myself searching for a pen and then underlining phrases and circling words that seemed to speak directly to me.  Needless to say, that article sparked a prompting that I felt I couldn’t ignore.    

The article was called “Family and Friends Forever” by President Henry B. Eyring.  The first phrase I underlined started with, “The blessings you have been given…”  I read it like, “The blessings I have been given…,” and when I read that, my mind was FILLED with all the blessings that I have been given: 
I’ve been blessed to be able to have peace and happiness in my home and family life when these days so many homes are broken, relationships everywhere are severed, and families are torn apart.

 My family is blessed because my husband has a job in this unstable economy and an income that is sufficient to provide for our family’s needs. 

I’ve been blessed to be educated and have the ability to teach my children.

I’ve been blessed the past 2 years having dysautonomia, yet by the grace of God, being able to function and have a mostly normal life (I still miss the chocolate and sugar though J).   

I’ve been the recipient of miracles.  Specifically, I remember a time a few months ago when I laid awake with piercing pain in my head.  I felt ill. I wanted sleep.  I quietly prayed to have the pain relieved so I could sleep, and immediately the pain was taken from me.  Immediately.   
In the middle of my prayer.  I was surprised a little at the abrupt answer, but I was more grateful than anything else and my prayer turned into one of gratitude.  I know God hears and answers prayers in His time and in His own way. This experience testified to me that God is aware of us, loves us, and cares.

I’ve been blessed to have money to spend on gifts for my family and friends this Christmas.

I’ve been blessed with a warm home in a freezing city.  Clean running water, electricity, warm showers, warm meals, warm hugs.  Comfortable transportation, working appliances, technology, medicine…

A moment of pondering brought a flood of blessings to my mind.  I read those words from the magazine article and realized just how good I have it.  God has blessed me abundantly, and I’m not boasting, just realizing that Heavenly Father has given me so much, and I’m grateful.

The sentence continued, “The blessings you have been given have created obligations and wonderful opportunities for you.  Well, that sounds a little like a fortune cookie.  But what the heck does that mean?  What obligations?  What opportunities?  Pausing to think I assumed it meant that because I’ve been blessed, it’s my duty to be a blessing to others.  In that sense, the opportunities are wonderful.  Being in a position to help another person is wonderful and rewarding.

Reading on.  The article then mentioned, “…you are obligated to extend to others an opportunity to find increased happiness, especially to your friends and members of your family.”   All my happiness and all my blessings have come from God and trying to follow Him to the best of my understanding.  I recognize that, but how do I fulfill my obligation of extending to my friends and family the opportunity to find increased happiness?  Share my faith?  Now, I consider myself a responsible person and if I have an obligation, I can be depended on to fulfill my obligations!  But this obligation is new to me.  Different.  It’s daunting for a somewhat shy personality as myself to break out of my comfortable shell and approach subjects that I’d usually avoid.  It involves me sharing my faith with friends, family, and neighbors, one of those subjects most people, including myself, tend to not bring up because of possible difference of opinion.  Something about this obligation makes me nauseous with fear because I’m a non-confrontational-type person.  Yet something about this obligation to share my faith is very driving.  I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it.  Perhaps it’s because I truly love my family and I do desire each of them to have the same happiness that I’ve experienced because of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  

My family is precious to me.  Many of them share my love of the Christ's gospel.  Yet many, to my knowledge, do not even know much about it.  The gospel of Jesus Christ and the blessings that come with it are meant for everyone and it’s meant to be shared.  It is precious to me.  And to keep it to myself would be selfish.  What if when we all have gone the way of the grave and meet each other on the other side, I’m approached by a cousin and asked, “I found out about Jesus’ gospel, but not through you.  Why didn’t you say something?  Didn’t I mean anything to you?  You had it all along, and you didn’t share it.”  Boy, I feel guilty already just thinking about it.  I need to share what I have because it is valuable and my family means the world to me.

There is much hope and happiness in this life that comes in choosing to follow the plan that Jesus set forth.  We choose to follow Him first by learning about Him.  This Christmas season, I am opening my scriptures and learning more about Jesus and His life and plan for me as an individual and I'm going to SHARE it.   

I invite you to join me in welcoming His gospel into your life. 

Merry Christmas!  To My Dear Family!

May God's blessings and inspiration move us to action always.  Offer the gifts you have.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A Miracle!

This was a news story that spoke to me of God's grace. A modern miracle for sure! 

Here's the link.  Man survives 3 days at bottom of Atlantic http://www.ksl.com/index.php?sid=27884138&nid=235