Friday, December 30, 2011
Almost from the moment our Christmas tree was up this year, my children were begging me for wrapping paper and tape so they could start putting presents under its welcoming branches. My young children. Who have no money for gifts and lack the creativity and ability of my older children to make worthwhile gifts. Needless to say, I put them off, hoping they would forget and stop bothering me about it.
But they didn't. Their pleas became more persistent as the days before Christmas disappeared. So, finally, I granted their requests, pairing the youngest two with an older sibling to help wrap the "presents." Before I knew it, an array of odd-shaped, hastily wrapped gifts appeared under the tree.
On Christmas morning, I was relieved that my husband and I had the same idea that I did: get the gifts from the younger kids out of the way first. We began digging under the tree to make sure we had gathered them all and started passing them out, not really giving them the same attention we gave to the store bought gifts.
Unlike most Christmases where I was the one to hand the gift to the next recipient, this year my husband took on the responsibility, giving me a little extra time to catch expressions on my children's faces. As my youngest son tore the paper from his first gift, I happened to glance at my six-year old, the giver of the gift, and saw his face aglow with excitement. When my toddler finally pulled the well-loved stuffed animal from the paper, his older brother leaned close and asked, "Do you like it?" with the same excited light shining in his eyes.
We continued opening presents, and I watched, more amazed each minute. More of my six-year old's stuffed animals emerged from their wrappings, and with each one, he beamed with joy, sometimes sharing why he'd selected that particular animal for that person.
Hiding in the gifts from my five-year old were some of his treasured cars, chosen based on his siblings favorite colors. He grinned his shy little smile as each one was opened.
Then came the presents from my ten-year old. Old enough to know that her brothers didn't want any of her princessy, girly things, she created gifts out of sheets of college ruled paper. My husband received a maze, my oldest son a bull-fighting game with various drawings and characters. For me, she wrapped a piece of paper around a stick that made an interesting vibrating sound when I tapped it on things. And on her face, I saw the same smile, the pure joy that comes from giving, as everyone opened their gifts.
The gifts my children gave were not elaborate, and they were definitely not expensive. But they were true gifts from the heart. Thoughtful and selfless.
When I close my eyes and think about how wonderful our Christmas was this year, I see my young children's smiling faces as the presents they gave were opened. And I almost cry to think I tried to prevent them from experiencing the joy of giving.
I'm pretty sure I don't have so many kids because I have so much to teach them, but because they have so much to teach me.
Friday, December 16, 2011
Reflections on Flaxen Cords and Iron Rods
In thinking about Satan's methods in contrast to the Lord's ways, I began comparing the devil's flaxen cord to Christ's iron rod. Flax is a fibrous plant used to make linen. By itself, one strand of flax isn't very strong, and can easily be broken. But when multiple strands are placed together, the resultant cord is sturdy.
Iron is a metal. Obviously, much stronger than flax. But the difference really lies in how they are used. While the Lord invites us to reach out and grab the rod, thereby following him and his teachings, always affording us a choice, Satan offers us no such kindness. He doesn't dangle his cord of sin and error in front of us like kittens, hoping we might bat at it and take hold; he wraps it around our necks at the first opportunity we give him.
Flax does not stretch and is resistant to damage. In the devil's power, we have no room to grow, and alone, we have no hope for escape. Only through the atonement can we find a way out of the powerful cords of sin.
Iron has the most stable nucleus of any element. Just as the Gospel provides stability for us in an unstable world. God and his ways are unchanging, dependable. And iron is magnetic. It quietly, yet powerfully draws other metals toward it, much like the way the spirit speaks to our souls, drawing us ever closer to the Savior.
While the soft, flexible fibers of the flaxen cord may seem more inviting than the rigidity of a rod of iron, that very nature is what allows the cord to bind us, to take away our ability to choose. Whereas the stiff, unyielding iron rod, will never encircle us against our will, but only serve to every guide us on our way, keeping us free.
I'll take iron, thank you.
Friday, December 9, 2011
Friday, December 2, 2011
Friday, November 25, 2011
Friday, October 28, 2011
"Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book, that it may be for the time to come for ever and ever"
Friday, October 14, 2011
Friday, October 7, 2011
Friday, September 30, 2011
Friday, September 23, 2011
Friday, September 9, 2011
Friday, September 2, 2011
Friday, August 19, 2011
Friday, August 12, 2011
Friday, August 5, 2011
We didn't feel very thankful as November of 2009 approached. My husband and I and our seven children were living in a three bedroom trailer without hope of improved circumstances anytime soon. It seemed the complaints multiplied with each day that passed, and I was beginning to feel crushed beneath the weight of our unhappiness. "Mom, when will I have my own room?" "She never helps me clean up." "I HATE this house!" And, although I didn't voice it, I felt the same way. How can I ever keep the house clean with so little space? A dishwasher sure would be nice. Another scratch in the linoleum?
Something had to be done. Something to remind us of all the blessings Heavenly Father had given us. So I found a lightly used spiral notebook buried in a junk drawer, tore out the used pages, and decorated the cover with a few stickers and a marker: Our Book of Daily Blessings. I showed the notebook to the family and told them my idea. Each day, everyone in the family needed to write down a blessing that they were thankful for. Those who could not write, could draw a picture or have an older sibling write it for them.
I placed the book in an accessible location and stocked the area with pens, pencils and crayons. At the end of the first day, I discovered that my family was grateful for food, clothes and other basic necessities. But by the time Thanksgiving arrived, our blessings became deeper; we were far more aware of God's hand in our lives. My son, who struggled with sharing a room with three loud, energetic siblings, wrote, "God showed me how loving my family is and how to be thankful for my trials." A daughter observed, "God gave me the ability to help a student I didn't know with work and she became my friend." And my husband, perhaps the loudest of all the complainers, penned, "Heavenly Father helped me to recognize that our current lifestyle is not as bad as some people."
We enjoyed the Book of Blessings so much that we continued writing in it long after Thanksgiving passed. We became a family full of gratitude, a family that saw God and His magnificent blessings in everything around us-- thanks to a slightly tattered, wide-ruled spiral notebook.
Friday, July 29, 2011
Friday, July 22, 2011
Friday, July 15, 2011
Friday, June 17, 2011
Friday, June 10, 2011
Friday, June 3, 2011
Friday, May 20, 2011
Friday, May 13, 2011
Friday, May 6, 2011
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Friday, April 1, 2011
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
- Trust in God and in His willingness to provide help when needed, no matter how challenging the circumstance.
- Obedience to His commandments and a life that demonstrates that He can trust you.
- Sensitivity to the quiet promptings of the Holy Spirit.
- Courageous implementation of that prompting.
- Patience and understanding when God lets you struggle to grow and when answers come a piece at a time over an extended period.