Posted in Joy

Merry Christmas!

I love this song and I think Peter Hollens is amazing! (I also like Josh Groban.) Wishing my readers a joyous and beautiful Christmas! I don’t know about you, but I plan to silence my phone and leave my laptop alone this weekend (right after I post this, haha). I want to live in the moment and embrace Christmas with my husband and children (and my mother-in-law who is visiting, and the young couple downstairs when they are here with us). Tomorrow we will celebrate Marcus’ birthday and end the day reading the Christmas story from scripture, singing carols and unwrapping a new pair of pajamas (one of my kids’ favorite traditions). On Christmas Day we will attend a church service and worship with our ward (LDS congregation) family, in between opening gifts to each other and enjoying my husband’s famous (to us they are famous!) waffles. And I will gaze at the beautiful manger on my coffee table and ponder the gift of a precious baby who was born to be the Savior of the world.

♥ Merry Christmas! ♥

Posted in Joy

Nativities and Our Christmas Advents

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We have a lovely newlywed couple living temporarily in our basement (which has all the components of an apartment such as a full kitchen, master suite, 2nd laundry room and 2nd family room). The husband made us this manger as an early Christmas gift. It’s the perfect fit for my oldest nativity set. I couldn’t sleep early this morning so I sat on my couch and just looked at this rustic manger. I love it. Maybe I can find a light brown cloth or burlap to go underneath.

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Most of our nativities are from Peru. We have at least twelve different Peruvian nativities. Most are small like these on our piano, but I do have two large sets. (The nativity at the very back belongs to the wife of the couple I just mentioned. It’s from Africa and made out of banana leaves.)

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I wanted to share our family’s Christmas advents. We count down the 24 days leading up to Christmas by reading a special story each night. In past years we have read these stories out of a binder which my sister-in-law made for us. This year I had enough Christmas storybooks in our collection to wrap them individually. One is randomly selected and unwrapped each night for our story time. Some of these storybooks have accompanying CDs or DVDs which we listen to or watch. Most of these stories are about the true meaning of Christmas. On Christmas Eve, we read the Christmas story out of the Bible.

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This year we started a new advent tradition- 12 days of Christmas. I made a set of 12 ornaments out of Jenga blocks, each featuring a different name of Christ found in the Bible or The Book of Mormon. I wrapped each one and put a tag on it so we’d know which to open on which day. There is an accompanying scripture verse with each one.

♥ How does your family count down to Christmas? I hope all of my readers are having a wonderful week. ♥

 

Posted in Joy

Replacing Stress With Joy

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From the October General Conference talk, Joy and Spiritual Survival.

Confession: I have this way of stewing over, stressing over and obsessing over some of the negative things in my life, most of which I cannot change or control. Why do I torture myself in this way? Yesterday in church, as I was partaking of the sacrament and reflecting on my Savior’s atoning sacrifices for me, this clarifying thought came to my mind:

What an amazing relief to hand over my worries to a loving Father in Heaven and His Son, Jesus Christ, who can do so much more with them than I can. This frees me to use my precious time and energy on worthwhile things that bring me joy, such as spending time with those who love me- time when I am truly living in the moment.

This past week I found out that someone I once trusted had done something to deliberately hurt me. I let this particular issue eat at me for a couple of days, adding bitterness to my initial sorrow and pulling me into a state of depression around my poor husband and son who were trying desperately to cheer me up.

One morning I came to my senses and knelt down in prayer to my Heavenly Father. I tearfully poured my heart out to Him. I didn’t hold anything back. I also asked Him to help me forgive this person and see them as He sees them (as one of His children, just as I am one of His children). Once I had let all my anguish out, I started thanking my Heavenly Father for my many blessings. I named blessing after blessing off the top of my head. I felt so much lighter afterwards! I was reminded that the good in my life far outweighs the bad.

Looking back on last week, as soon as I let go of the issue I had been obsessing over, I finally felt peace and recognized joy in my every day life. One of the highlights of my week was spending three hours at an elderly neighbor’s home, easing some of her loneliness by having a long conversation with her about anything she wanted to talk about. I also felt joy every night when my son and I took a walk together (it’s the only time here when the temps cool down!). I felt joy preparing a delicious meatloaf dinner for my husband after a long day at work. I felt joy making a homemade birthday gift for my niece. I’m so glad I turned to my Heavenly Father in prayer that day and let go of the burden I had been carrying. Joy is so much nicer than stress!

♥ Have you ever had a similar experience? What are some of the joyful moments in your life that replace your stress? ♥