Monday, December 26, 2016

It is of God

Good morning. Happy bloated-after-the-holidays day!

Queen of procrastination here. I promised myself I would have the Book of Mormon at the top of my read list this year on my lovely book-packed Goodreads 2016 Reading Challenge. Guess what. A week ago, with only two weeks left in the year, I realized I better get started with reading the Book of Mormon. Don’t get me wrong, I read sporadically during the year, but not the whole thing. So I popped in the BOM on CD and got started. I am up to Mosiah. But it will be at the top of my challenge by the New Year.

As I listened to Joseph Smith’s testimony of how the angel Moroni appeared to him, I reached the part where Joseph tries to work after a night of interviews with the angel. Joseph collapses in the field and receives another vision where the angel tells him to go back and tell his father about his heavenly visitations.

I’m cleaning in my kitchen, and before the next paragraph starts, I mutter to myself, “It is of God,” meaning the whole thing, the heavenly visits and the testimony of Joseph and the subsequent translation of the Book of Mormon. As soon as I said those words, on the CD, Joseph’s father tells Joseph the same thing. “That it (the heavenly message) was of God.”

A warmth flooded my body then as the Holy Spirit washed over me, confirming the truth of the words I whispered aloud and the words of Joseph’s Father. Even with all my procrastination of my goals, I will always know the Book of Mormon is of God and that it is true.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Christmas Time

It’s that time of year with the hustle and bustle of Christmas. Is it commercialized? Yes. Is there too much attention to the lights, shopping, baking, wrapping, and such? Absolutely.
            Do we have to shun all such frills? I say no, not if we keep the true spirit of Christmas in our hearts.
            I’m going to expand on something our bishop (if you aren’t LDS—he’s the equivalent of a pastor or priest) mentioned last Sunday. He came to realize that although the busyness, Santa, and such don’t directly have anything to do with that sacred birth, it’s okay. Those things still bring attention to Christ in the secular world. People who may not have heard of Him any other way notice the blinking lights and good cheer.
            It’s a time for giving. Charities gain much needed funds due to the generous feelings this season brings. Families are drawn together. The lights can represent the light of Christ within every person on earth. Santa can teach children about giving anonymously. The list goes on. I would ask the reader to look for themselves and discover how the secular trappings of the season point back to Christ.  
The center of this celebration is and always should be the birth of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. He did what no other person could do. He suffered for us. Without him all would be lost. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Light. His birth brought angels to the earth singing to shepherds. Kings from the east traveled from afar. I’m quite certain they didn’t arrive the night of His birth as depicted in manger scenes. That too is okay—it’s part of the story.
What’s important is that he was born, showed mankind how to live, and ultimately suffered and died that we might live back with our Heavenly Father when this life of testing is over. 

Thursday, December 15, 2016


This is something I wish was going around at my house more often this Christmas. Gratitude. 

Lately, I've noticed my oldest acting "entitled." How did this happen? It's an attribute I've striven as a parent for my child NOT to cultivate. A enormous list of wants for presents under the tree from this non-believer who has Santa's cell phone number and can text him at will and whim. 

Where is the gratitude for what is already in her possession? Where is the willingness to share? Does she not know there are people without homes, food, and no hope of ever having a cell phone? That there are places in the world where instead of wanting their two front teeth, they'd rather have clean water in their town/village instead of hiking miles to get it, sometimes mulitiple times a day. How does she not see the bigger global picture? 

More importantly, how do I get her to see it? 

The other day she threw such a fit, the third in a series this week, that I was ready to tell Santa to unwrap the presents and send them back. No gifts this year. Perhaps that would shake her back to reality. But then, how do we explain that to the Believer in the house? Your older sibling was so naughty she didn't even rate coal, instead she got nothing? That wouldn't go over well and I have no wish to spend Christmas Day with a ticked off tween on the rant. 

Image result for images Simplify Christmas

I bought a sign a few years ago, it reads, "Simplify Christmas. Celebrate Christ." HE is what Christmas is supposed to be about. Not a jolly red man in a suit, or a castout reindeer with a shiny red nose, or even the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future. (I really don't have any complaints with a Christmas Carol. Dickens message about caring for your fellowman is in line with Christ's teachings.) 

The season is about gratitude for God's Plan of Happiness and for Christ being born. It is about reflecting on HIS example and how we can make changes to become more like him. It is about sharing the joyful message, sharing HIS light, sharing what we have with those who are without. 

Yes, yes, you nod. That is all very well and good but you have nearly thirty years experience and maturity to draw on for your bigger picture perpsective. Your oldest child doesn't. 

True. And though I tell her about the sacrifices made on my behalf by my single mom and how I was aware of how much I learned about the cost and value of things which made me appreciate them, she doesn't get it. 

So, my question to you is, How do you help your child to cultivate gratitude and see the bigger picture, not just at this time of year, but all year long? What do you do to put HIM at the center of your life and your child's/children's lives? 

'Cause I'm all ears.

Otherwise, we might simplify Christmas next year to the point of no presents under the tree. 

Happy Holidays! May they be merry, bright, and full of light...and gratitude.  

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Great Christmas Race

by H. Linn Murphy

Every Christmas we join the mad rush to buy just the right Christmas presents around oh...Christmas Eve if you're my husband. It drives me nuts. I try to start doing things much earlier in the year, but it comes to no avail.  He's very rigid about what he wants for gifts (that is such a foreign concept to me. It should be a PRESENT, not an order) and won't make a list until about three days before Christmas Eve. The years I've bought things not on his list have been tough. You should have seen what happened the year I bought him a used row boat. A few weeks ago he almost sold it to some guy from the street.

One year I'd gone  to garage sales and gotten things for everyone I knew they'd like. The Hubs looked at what I'd gotten them and began what has become his new tradition. We have to do what seems like a spread sheet. There are rows for music, games, clothing, movies, books and miscellaneous. I plug stuff I've bought into its little slot and write down the price of that thing. Then he totals the line until we've spent basically the same amount on everyone.

It sounds all neat and democratic. It actually means that all those things I bought at garage sales or made don't fit neatly into any slot, and thus frustration. It means that he goes out to try and make his sheet total up. It means that after the beautiful dinner and the live nativity scene and the watching Santa on NORAD and taking Crazy Mary home, that we spend the rest of the night 'til around 5:30am wrapping presents. Which also means I'm stone dead for the whole of Christmas day.

And I hate it.

We're talking zombie apocalypse here. And the kids, until last year insisted on coming to get us up and the crack of freaking dawn. Last year was the first time ever that they decided to sleep in. Which gave me around three hours of sleep. Unfortunately now I have a new child--the dog, who wakes me up about 5:30am to play countless games of Keep-the-dog-ball-away-from-Heidi-while-still-making-her-stay-outside-to-throw-it. 

Last year I did one small change. I made the kids help me wrap presents (not their own, of course). It helped immensely. Then we were only up until about three am. So that's my dream for this year--early wrapping.

This is what I'd actually like to do:

*We start early. *We make things, or shop sales or maybe shop online. (What would actually be really hilarious is if we gifted them with their own take to whatever place they decide to call home.) *Then if there are a few little things, we go together and have fun finding them. *We then wrap them together very early (before December) so that we can enjoy a Spirit-filled Christmas, full of service, music, good food, friends, and family and most of all, Christ

In fact, I'd almost like to celebrate Christmas on the 27th. After all, we don't actually celebrate Christ's birthday on the correct day anyway (it's actually around April 6th). Because that's when the buy Buy BUY season goes bye-bye. The massive doses of silly shows end (I absolutely HATE that Mr. Freeze from Frosty 2 and the song that goes with it even more. It has absolutely nothing to do with Christmas) and the pressure with it. It's that dead time which, if done right, could be filled with peace and joy and the actual celebration of Christ's birthday instead of Mammon's.

Please don't get me wrong. I love Santa and presents and so many other aspects of Christmas. I love the traditions we have. I just don't love the pressure for all of it to be perfect, instead of how we treat each other being perfect.
This is what will really happen:

Now they've got boy/girl friends or spouses or any number of other places to go on Christmas. All our carefully constructed traditions will systematically be blown out of the water and we'll find ourselves on Christmas Eve (or day) waving at the receding car like the parents on FIDDLER ON THE ROOF as their girls go off to the Ukraine or some other back-of-beyond place. It already started to happen that way last year. Somebody has to go to another house on Christmas since they came to ours on Thanksgiving. Somebody doesn't want to dress up for the Nativity Scene so they trundle off to the boyfriend's house. And suddenly it was just the youngest who only wanted to play video games. It was a little empty. I know that's life, and I know I used to wish they were more grown up about things, but this is now.

I worry about what will happen when the kids all leave. What will Christmas look like then? I already get a glimpse when we go to church by ourselves. Lots of times we don't even ride together. I guess there is such a thing as too much peace on earth. Maybe.