Sunday, December 19, 2010

My Gift to Jesus

Image by Greg Olsen

Every year on Christmas Eve, our family gathers in the basement of my parent's home after we eat our traditional Christmas Eve dinner of fried oysters and clam chowder (which I think all of my sisters-in-law refuse to eat) and the Greed-Fest (aka opening of Christmas presents) is over.

At this point, it's time to sit down and think about the true Spirit of Christmas. The actual reason for the holiday. We sit in a circle and my dad begins by lighting his candle and giving his "Gift to Jesus," meaning something he can do for the next year that would bring him closer to the Savior. The next person in the circle lights his/her candle from dad's and gives a Gift to Jesus and so on and so on until everyone has a lit candle and has given their gift.

Last year my gift to Jesus was to sit down every night and read the Book of Mormon with my little family. I felt like there was no time like the present to get in that habit. I'm happy to say that for probably the first time since we began giving gifts to Jesus on Christmas Eve, I've a)remembered throughout the year what my gift was and b)actually followed through with what I've given. We've missed a few days here and there, but I can gladly say that we're in the habit of reading scriptures every night before J goes to bed.

When daddy begins reading him stories and it's scripture time, he comes running out to get me yelling "SKIPTOOORS, SKIPTOOORS" and of course, melts my heart in the process. With our little toddler, it's taking forever (we barely began the Book of Jacob because he can only sit through a few verses per night), but I can feel we've been blessed for our efforts.

This year I won't be with my side of the family for Christmas (I'll be in the hospital with my baby), and since I can't be there, I would like to give my Gift to Jesus a little early and make you, my blog friends, hold me to it!

This year my Gift to Jesus is:

To make personal scripture study a priority

I've really slacked in this area lately and feel so much better when I read my scriptures every day. I lost my scriptures when we moved last August and just the other day found them. I've been praying every day since August to find them and it was really a trial of my faith that it took so long, but Heavenly Father came through and showed me that prayers aren't always answered at the moment we want them answered. To show my gratitude for my answered prayer, I truly feel like this is the best payback I can give him.

I gained a strong testimony of the Book of Mormon when I was 17 and an even stronger one on my mission and hope to strengthen it even more in the coming year.

Since I'll be in the hospital having a baby for Christmas...Merry Christmas everyone! In all of the craziness of the season may you sit down and remember the true reason for why we celebrate. I cherish everyone of you and hope you have as lovely a Christmas as I know I'm going to have. I'll be holding one of my greatest gifts from heaven in my arms that day!


Friday, December 17, 2010

Be it unto me...

Last night I went to a fabulous dinner at the home of a member of our Relief Society Presidency. The topic of the night was seeing "Christmas Through Mary's Eyes," and it really got me thinking about this wonderful little man coming into our home just 2 days before we celebrate the Savior's birth.

When I realized what my due date would be (December 29th) I was dead set against having the baby before Christmas. Not because I didn't want to spend Christmas in the hospital, but because of how difficult it would be for my little man to have a birthday leading up to Christmas. I don't want him to hate his birthday his whole life...I figured the week after Christmas would be better (though not ideal) for him. Due to extenuating circumstances however, we didn't have much of a choice but to schedule our C-section for the 23rd of December. This means I'll be spending Christmas Eve and most likely Christmas Day in the hospital.

Christmas is going to be VERY different for our family this year, but you know - I'm okay with it. I'm actually looking forward to it. I'll be able to hold my baby in my arms and know that he came straight from Heaven. He'll be my greatest gift on Christmas!

Last night as I was listening to the message being given about Mary, I was struck with her image in my minds eye. I can only imagine how she was feeling as she rode along on the back of a donkey to an unfamiliar place, uncertain where she would be having her baby and in what conditions.

With all of the contractions I'm currently having, I have to be grateful I'm not riding on a donkey while having them. I get to have all the conveniences of a modern birth and she had to bring her baby to the world by the humblest of means. Maybe she dealt with scorn and ridicule from others as she became pregnant before she was even married to Joseph, who, merciful as he was wanted to "put her away privily." Thank heavens for those heavenly messengers!

I can't imagine what Mary felt, having "not known a man," but nonetheless carrying the Savior of the world in her womb. I can, however, imagine what she may have felt as she rocked her baby that first night and the love and honor she felt to be the mother of such an amazing little creature.

This Christmas I'm going to be thinking of Mary when I rock my newborn baby in my arms. Would I have said, "be it unto me according to thy word" as she did or would I have been more like Zacharias and doubted that it was at all possible? I hope I would have been more like her.

So, this Christmas I salute you Mary and hope to have as much faith during the coming year as you did when you accepted the great challenge of motherhood under such difficult, but rewarding, circumstances.