Sunday, December 25, 2011

Nativity #6

The Baby Jesus
He came to earth and lived a life just as each one of us.  He did not come down in adult form but came as a baby so that he could be raised, taught, loved, and so he could know what this life was about. Somehow I feel  this gives him even more compassion and understanding of our needs, trials, joys, and experiences.  And then when he went through the atonement He had his own life experiences to draw upon that I feel allow for even greater compassion.  
I imagine that Jesus was a very good baby and as a young child knew his purpose and was filled with wisdom likely beyond his years. His birth marked a great change in the world of religion it was the beginning of the end of the Mosaic law.  It was fulfilling the Father's plan.  
I had a coworker ask me if we believed in the Holy Trinity. I responded by reciting the first Article of Faith. And as I tried to explain to her why we knew that to be true I knew I was not convincing her.  I have done some additional contemplating and thought of several things. First, if they are one and the same then God would have been absent from the heavens while he was living on earth as Jesus- that just does not seem to make sense to me.  Second, when Jesus was baptized the Father spoke from heaven and the Holy Ghost descended as a dove- all three present at the same time in 3 distinct ways.  Third, when the Savior suffered in Gethsemane he prayed to "Abba" - daddy.  He was not praying to himself, he was praying to his father. And finally, as he hung on the cross he again communed with his Father- asking for forgiveness for those that were crucifying him and also telling him that it- the Atonement- was finished.  He was not speaking to himself.  
I know that there is a Heavenly Father that rejoiced at the birth of his only begotten son Jesus Christ because his life would lead to the redemption of his children and I know this by the witness of the Holy Ghost- 3 different beings but with one purpose.
I know my Savior lives and I am grateful for this holiday season where we reflect upon his birth and in doing that reflect upon his life and his teachings. 
In closing I share these words of President Monson from this year's Christmas Devotional:

"Because He came to earth, we have a perfect example to follow. As we strive to become more like Him, we will have joy and happiness in our lives and peace each day of the year. It is His example which, if followed, stirs within us more kindness and love, more respect and concern for others.
Because He came, there is meaning to our mortal existence.
Because He came, we know how to reach out to those in trouble or distress, wherever they may be.
Because He came, death has lost its sting, the grave its victory. We will live again because He came.
Because He came and paid for our sins, we have the opportunity to gain eternal life.
Because He came, we are gathered tonight to worship Him, in bonds of brotherhood and love.
May His precious Spirit be with us, and may He ever be the center of our celebrations and indeed of our very lives, I pray in His holy name, amen."

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Nativity #4 and #5

 So I had intended to make each of these a separate post but so goes life.
Mary and Joseph-I have thought a great deal of these two over the last few weeks.

So young, so kind, so patient, so faithful, so pure, so loving- truly a queen among women.
I posted a song for the wise men and here I am posting one for Mary too.  This is a song by Faith Hill and I don't know if I had heard it before this year but when I heard it, it really hit me. 

Teenage girl, much too young
Unprepared for what's to come
A baby changes everything

Not a ring
On her hand
All her dreams and all her plans
A baby changes everything 

The man she loves she's never touched
How will she Keep his trust
A baby changes everything 

And she cries, oh she cries

She has to leave, go far away
Heaven knows she can't stay
A baby changes everything

She can feel it's coming soon
There's no place, there's no room
A baby changes everything 

And she cries and she cries O she cries

Shepherds all... gather 'round
Up above... a star shines down...

Choir of Angels say
Glory to the newborn king
A baby changes everything 
Everything, everything, every day

My whole life is turned around
I was lost but now I'm found
A baby changes everything 

I really thought a great deal about how young she was, that she traveled to a city she had possibly never been to before, she was about to give birth and she would not have the women of her family around her to help her in this process.  In my heart I hope that the Savior's actual birth was not terrible hard for her and in my heart I know that the love she and Joseph had for each other helped her. I am thankful for her righteousness and I hope that as I strive to be a better mother I can reflect some of what I think the mother of the Savior must have been. 

I was thinking of him and I remember once many years ago calling him Jesus' father and being corrected.  It is true that he was not Jesus's biological father.  I also believe that Jesus had a closer relationship with our Heavenly Father than any of us (okay maybe not the prophet) but there are countless ways that I believe Joseph was a father figure to Jesus, almost like a foster or adoptive father is.  He loved Jesus and taught him- Jesus was called the carpenter's son by many.  Joseph was obviously faithful and righteous.  I believe he was a hardworking and loving man and understanding.  There are two songs I love that are focused around Joseph.  First, "I was not his father, He was mine" by Michael McLean from the Forgotten Carols and second, "When Joseph went to Bethlehem" from the Children's Songbook. 
(2nd verse)
"I think there at the busy inn that he was meek and mild and awed to be the guardian of Mary's sacred child.   Perhaps all through the chilly hours he smoothed the swaddling bands and Jesus felt the quiet strength of Joseph's gentle hands." 
(3rd verse)
"And close beside the manger bed, he dimmed the lantern's light and held the little Jesus close upon that holy night."
I don't remember when I had this thought but I remember a time when it occurred to me that Joseph would have needed to be equal to Mary in faith, righteousness, and love.  They were a good couple- loving and dedicated to one another and to their family.  

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Nativity #3

"We three kings of orient are..."
I feel the wisemen carry with them an element of mystery.
It is not known where they came from or how they were connected. It is thought that there were scholars of some sort most likely astrologers- they had to have known a great deal about the heavens to have noticed the new star.  I also believe that they knew of the revelations about the coming of a Messiah so that when they saw that new star they knew what it meant. 
I admire their dedication and commitment to have traveled for about 2 years to get to see the Savior.  
When they came thy brought valuable gifts the like of which Mary and Joseph had probably never seen in their lives nor ever see again.  They knew that they were seeing the King of Kings and wanted to bring gifts worthy of Him. 
Even more wonderful is that they did not return to King Herrod but went another way to protect the young Jesus. 

We three kings of Orient are
Bearing gifts we traverse afar.
Field and fountain, moor and mountain,
Following yonder star.

O star of wonder, star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect Light.

Born a king on Bethlehem's plain,
Gold I bring to crown Him again,
King forever, ceasing never
Over us all to reign.

O star of wonder, star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect Light.

Frankincense to offer have I.
Incense owns a Deity nigh.
Prayer and praising all men raising,
Worship Him, God on high.

[ Lyrics from: ]
O star of wonder, star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect Light.

Myrrh is mine: it's bitter perfume
Breaths a life of gathering gloom.
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding dying,
Sealed in the stone-cold tomb.

O star of wonder, star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect Light.

Glorious now behold Him arise,
King and God and Sacrifice.
Alleluia, alleluia!
Sounds through the earth and skies.

O star of wonder, star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect Light

More lyrics:

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Nativity #2

We had Stake Conference over the weekend and Elder Russell M. Nelson was our visiting authority.  On Saturday night, at the adult session he asked if he could take the opportunity to speak to us about the Savior's birth.  As if any of us would have said no.  It was wonderful.  In fact before I delve into the shepherds I want to add something to the star that he shared.  He said that the time of the Savior's birth was known exactly because God would have had to put things into motion so that the star would be revealed to the earth at just the right moment.  We know that it can take light years for the light of a start to reach the earth and so the day and time of the Savior's birth was known long before that night came.  He also said and I agree that it proves "there is order in the universe".  Cosmic events are not by happen chance.  

Now for the shepherds, Peter asked the question "why those shepherds?" the other night when we were watching the First Presidency Christmas devotional.  It is a good question. I believe they were close to where the Savior was born and that they would believe the words of the angel and act upon what they were told.  They went and beheld the baby Jesus.  They then went and testified of it to all.  This was important. We know that there have been others that have seen angels and been told to do things by angels and not done them (I am thinking of Laman and Lemuel primarily).   The Lord wanted the birth of his son to be announced and so he needed witnesses.
Elder Nelson also pointed out that the announcement of the Good Shepherd's birth was to shepherd's and the Good Shepherd became a lamb.  
For me, I look at the shepherd's as men (maybe women too) who were humble enough and faithful enough to be trusted with this great news.  Also, the Lord did not only tell royalty, wealthy, or powerful about the birth of his son.  The savior was for all men.  
I have done some other reading about the nativity and it has touched me to think of what that night meant for all of God's children.  I would like to think that I was in that host of angels that sang to the shepherds - hallelujah which I learned from Elder Nelson means praise to Jehovah.

Jon is 6!

It is Jon's Birthday- finally! 
He likes to start talking about his next birthday the day after his birthday! 
We love our Jonny! He always has something funny up his sleeve.
Jon has done a lot of growing this year and learning and we could not be more proud.  
Jon is helping me to be a better mom by presenting me with the chance to learn new parenting skills. 
 Jon still loves dinosaurs and so this is his cake. I was going to decorate it and when I woke up yesterday Peter was nearly half done.  Jon loves it!
 Jon loves to play on the I touch.  He loves Angry Birds, Cut the Rope and Where's my Water? as well as watching Netflix on it.  If you are stuck on an Angry Birds level just ask Jon, he'll tell you how to beat it. 
 Present time this morning: Sonic is another favorite of Jon- he wore this shirt today.
 Thank you Bird Grandparents for UNO Attack- he was really excited to see it.  Shooting cards at people is right up Jon's alley.
 Jon has wanted the Nerf disc shooting gun.  I decided to get him two because then whoever he is shooting at can defend themselves.  Peter reminded Jon that since he has 2 hands he could shoot both at the same time.  Thanks Dad! 
I will have to post pictures later of the birthday dinner - shrimp and ravioli- every 6 year olds wish, right?! It will be delicious.  Jon chose to forgo a party now so that we could do something special over Christmas Break with his cousin Sadie.  Peter and I have another surprise in store for him as well. 
We love you Jon and hope you have a fun filled day!

In other belated news, Lily is 4 months old.  I really can not believe she is growing so fast. 
 I know those eyes just melt your heart- right?!
 She is really getting strong as you can tell in this picture.  She rarely just lies back- she is always trying to lift her head up and can kind of sit up with help.
 Jon still loves that she looks like him.
 Loving family!
 I forgot to get a picture at 3 months but here it is again.  You can also see some of the chunka on her legs- I love it.  
At her 4 month check she was 14 lbs 4.5oz and 24 1/4 inches long.  Growing beautifully!

I wanted to share these pictures Arabella took of her baby!

She is such a good little mom to her Baby Alive doll. She is a girly-girl 100%.
(Final nativity posts will be coming.)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Nativity #1

Thursday night we stopped at a Community Nativity Presentation that is being held at the Carrollton Stake Center.  It was amazing and a perfect way to start my December.  They had over 700 different nativities set up in the cultural hall, including a live Mary and Joseph.  The curtains were open to the chapel and there was music being performed by different churches from around the communities.  The spirit was wonderful and it helped remind me what this season is really all about.  It caused me to reflect to more on my Savior and the importance of that night to mankind. 
So I have decided to try and make several posts related to the Nativity and the "characters" in it. But who to start with, the shepherds, the donkey, the innkeeper, Mary or Joseph. I believe I will start with the star.
The star was the physical sign given to all of the world by our Heavenly Father to honor the birth of his only begotten son. Coincidentally, I am reading in 3 Nephi right now in my scripture study.  In chapter 1, the unbelievers were ready to kill those that had believed in the signs that had not come for so long and the day before Nephi "cried mightily to his God in behalf of his people".  Then in v. 13 he gets a most glorious answer: "Lift up your head and be of good cheer; for behold, the times is at hand, and on this night shall the sign be given, and on the morrow come I into the world, to show unto the world that I will fulfill all that which I have caused to be spoken by the mouth of my holy prophets."
And then the sun went down and yet it did not get dark, it was light all night long.  "the sun did rise in the morning according to the proper order;" (v. 19). Verse 20: "And it had come to pass, yea, all things, every whit, according to the words of the prophets." And then there came a new star.  This cherished sign that brought hope to so many among the Nephites.  And it was a sign noticed by the shepherds and followed by the Wise men.  
I love the primary song "When He Come Again": "I wonder if one star will shine, far brighter than the rest.  Will daylight stay the whole night through?" It is really the second verse that causes me to wonder if I will be eager like the Nephites and the others who saw the sign: "I wonder when he comes again, will I be ready there to loo k upon his loving face and join with him in prayer?...Then when that blessed day is here he'll love me and he'll say, "You've served me well my little child; come unto my arms to stay!"
I am thankful for the star and the chance it gave to all of the world to know that the Savior was born!