Wednesday, December 25, 2013

why is it that this will be the best Christmas ever?

sidenote: blogging was a fail this month. apologies.

main note: merry christmas!

i always seem to meet christmas with some trepidation. you see in christmases past, things have not always been...well, peaceful. every year is an unknown adventure.

this year will go down in the books as one of the best christmases ever. not because anything significant happened, but because of the peace, joy and love that was experienced.

on christmas eve, my mom and i kept tradition of venturing to the grocery store hours before the sun was out, we bought doughnuts---best tradition ever! after "wolaxing" and finishing a recorded hallmark christmas classic (yes, oy...) we welcomed the day and got to work. christin and i went delivering goodies, we visited friends and spent some time with my dearest friend carly and her sweet babies. they bless my life in so many ways. my heart couldn't help but be turned to my savior who truly is the prince of peace and the light of the world. their eyes send a light into my heart that can't be described.

while back at home, we were blessed with an abundance of visitors, friends and neighbors, puppies and babies. we love visitors at my house (as long as they're older than 10 or so...and that's a story for another time if you don't know my family) and we welcome them anytime, announced or unannounced.  as i continued to bake, visitors continued to come which ultimately resulted in me being a little latte for the family christmas eve party as i waited for the pecan pie to be done. the stillness of a christmas eve night; however, was perhaps just what i needed. as i traveled to brigham to be with my family i couldn't help but "count my blessings instead of sheep" on a "silent night, a holy night."

during dinner, favorite cousins of mine who i rarely get to see stopped in. again, can i just say how much i love vistors. i love being with family and friends. i love seeing people, hugging them and hearing how their lives are.

after the cousins had left, the pizza, ice cream and bingo were over. the pajamas were unwrapped and we settled off for home. poor lb could hardly keep her eyes open as i drove the streets of my hometown, soaking in the christmas lights i had somehow missed for the previous 25 days.

returning home set in a new frenzy of getting ready for bed. you see, craig and christin love christmas. they got out santa's cookies, and milk, christin had her sleeping bag on my floor (per tradition) quicker than a flash and before you knew it, we were ready to read the christmas story. somehow that's become my job over the years and i don't mind. but this year, after reading in luke 2, i felt impressed to read something that i have glued in between the pages of the beginning of the new testament...the living christ.

this is a document/proclaimation of sorts published by latter-day prophets and apostles, witnesses of jesus christ who have been called, and set apart with authority in our day to testify of jesus christ. i challenge you to read this document, this simple but profoundly beautiful testimony of the divinity and reality of our lord and saviour jesus christ.

my favorite line is this, we solemnly testify that his life neither began in bethlehem, nor ended on calvary. how true this i and howperfectly it coincided with my evening scripture study as christin tried to find sleep on an anxious christmas even night.

jesus christ's divinity and mission was known and testified of, even by he himself, long before the advent of his birth. i know that he is the way, the truth and the light and life of the world. i know he lives.

christmas morning seemed a little more holy this year, sure there were presents and gifts (with christin and craig, how could there not be), but more than that, there was a peace. there was no squabbling, even over the little stuff. there was no competition, no rush, no nothing that there ought not to have been. it was all good. even as i was slow to get ready for the one got too frustrated with fact they let me finish getting ready at my own pace and come along a few minutes behind since we had to take two cars anyway. that meant a lot to me as i love to be with my family but i also love just a little alone time, time to process, time to think, time to pray.

after visiting the grandparents we brought grandpa to our house for the first time since he moved closer. how peaceful that was. how much craig and christin love our folks, but how much they love the company of my grandpa, or as christin calls him, her grandpa lou. fixing lunch/dinner was a process...but again people came and went inbetween fixing and visiting, no one got annoyed or short tempered, we all just enjoyed the process. throughout dinner, i just kept thinking as i sat with my immediate family and all 3 of my grandparents i just great is this. everytime it happens, i think it might never happen again given ailing health, but we are. i have so much to be grateful for.

you can get the drift of where this is going. and in no way am i traying to portray a perfect christmas (in fact that's exactly what my mom and i joke about while watching hallmark movies, because people do perfect things...ethey even make mistakes perfectly like slipping on the ice right into the arms of the man you love in just a perfect position for kissing...really??? that's not reality. ever.) but you know, reality is in the moments and its in choosing what each moment is really about. its about exercising those christlike attributes which all too frequently can be a much challenging task.

but aside...i just have to say...god be blessed for the infinite gift of his son.

i know that everything that is unfair about life can be made right through the atonement of jesus christ. i know that we still experience pain and sorrow, confusion and despair but i know that ultimately he will reign as king of king and lord of lords and that things will be made the meantime...we have prayer, temples and chocolate and the sun....a few mortality essentials.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

i delight in choosing to define me

the other day, i had the most enlightening conversation with a friend. she told me of her recent experience transitioning from a singles ward to a family ward. this is an experience for lots of my friends and not necessarily because they are turning 31, but because they are choosing to go to a family ward. i've done it too before.

as she told me of her experience she told me that she was introduced as being name who just left the singles ward. to which she continued...can't i just be name who has a great job, or name who is working on a masters degree, name who owns a car and a house, name who attends the temple every week, name who does family history work, name who is something more than the one who left the singles ward.

i have been thinking of how i define myself.  recently while staying at a friend's house, i noticed a paper she had hung on her wall. it was a list of sentences she wanted to define her. i wasn't surprised as i had seen a similar paper on her brother's wall when i had stayed with her family on a previous occasion.

i was so impressed. it left an impression on me.

the world seeks to define us. i could list you all the things that i have been defined as but instead i want to share five things that i choose to be defined by, that i am striving to be defined by.

i. i am a daughter of a loving heavenly father who knows me, loves me and has a plan for me.
ii. i am a member of the best family in the world.
iii. i am patient and compassionate.
iv. i see the good in those around me.
v. i have a purpose that i have been sent to this earth to fulfill

i challenge you to take the things that you have been "defined as," write them down, and throw them away. then take the things you want to be "defined by" write them down and put them on your wall.

i know that as we seek to maintain a clear vision of who we are and whose we are that we will more boldly go forward doing hard things and defining ourselves and others better and more accurately.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

I delight in assurances from the Lord.

I recently finished a study on assurances. I want to share a portion of it with you here.

The word "assure" stuck out to me while reading a general conference talk by Elder Boyd K. Packer from October 2013 entitled, The Key to Spiritual Protection." 

In his address, he quotes from 2 Timothy 3: 14, "But acontinue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;"

In this chapter of scripture, Paul has described the terrible conditions of the last days including wickedness, persecution and apostacy, but I love what he wraps it up with: continue in the things you have learned and have been assured of. 

To me, he's saying...don't you give up. Don't you ever think that Jesus isn't here for you. Don't you ever think that his Atonement isn't for you and that all can't be made right. Remember what you know and how you know what you know. Remember who taught you. Remember the experiences you've had and the things you have felt.  And in those times of despair, doubt, persecution, hardness or whatever it may be...don't forget what you know. Just trust. Rest assurred and move forward.


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

"i wanna see you be brave"

my life runs in themes. right now, there are a few of them. while this isn't soley or specifically a spiritual lesson, this is something he is really trying to teach me and that he's been trying to teach me for years. i'm finally starting to catch on.

its a sara barellis song. her songs have been blessings, answers and ironies all too many times in my life before, but her new(er) song brave is like the theme song of my life and honestly, it kind of hit me this week...maybe its the words that heavenly father's been trying to tell me,
"erin, i want to see you be brave."

lately i've been having all sorts of experiences. good experiences. learning experiences. experiences in profound trust (as a article i recently read put it). new experiences. sad experiences. heart pain growing experiences. i'm having to put my money where my mouth is so to speak and be brave because of these experiences.

i've always decribed myself as an extravert who masquarades really well as an introvert until i'm comfortable. the problem is that that comfort line sometimes is like a concrete barrier that i just can't seem to get over. i know that life would be different if i was just a little more brave. and i've always wondered if i could really do it.

and that's the lesson i'm taking away, he wants to see me (finally) be brave. and here's the assurance in it all...its about trusting him (and trusting him with profound trust) as i choose to move forward with the assurances i have and trust in good things to come.

it is too easy to sit back and say, welp, i'm doing all the things i should so he should just bless me. well its hard for him to bring somethings (most things) about in our lives when we're sitting in our houses or hiding out in our comfort zones. we have to step out into the dark, into the less comfortable places and just be brave and trust in the assurances we have been assured with.

people make the scripture "anxiously engaged in a good cause" out to be interpreted many different ways. i think we don't think about it as often in the light it deserves. anxiously engaged in a good cause is a cause other than ourselves. i am not a cause. when i'm reaching out and concerned with others, that's the cause we should be dealing with and focusing on.

now i write this with all the bravery of my soul but me as mortal erin is just plain terrified. so my goal is to try to be brave rather than try to not be brave. i'm going to do things i've never done. i'm going to try things i've never tried. i'm going to try my hardest to be brave and to put myself in new places with new people doing new things because he just wants me to be brave.

do you ever feel those challenges to rise to the call that has come your way?
what areas does the lord want you to be brave in?
have you listened to how awesome this song is? (check it out here, but the music video is strangely likeable...the song is good, the lyrics are excellent)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

I delight in a thankful thanksgiving.

christin making pie
thanksgiving 2013

I love thanksgiving. This thanksgiving, I have so much to be thankful for. I'm grateful to have been able to make an extra effort in delighting daily.

25) I delight in happy Monday's.  Today was a happy Monday. Maybe it was because of the happy kids I saw, maybe it was the notification of my holiday bonus...its just so hard to say. What it really boils down to is that its my favorite time of the year. I love the holidays. I love that my mind is like a really good Christmas radio station and sometimes its all I can do not to just sing the "now playing" hit at the top of my lungs, or at least hum or sing it softly where're I may be.

26) I delight in being a visiting teacher. I'm so grateful to get to know and serve some sisters in my ward just a little better. I truly look forward to being able to visit them each month in their homes (or at least try to). It always ends up being one of the highlights of my month.  Having an awesome companion always helps too!

27) I delight in making pie AND cake. Christin was the best handmixer ever. We had a blast, and concluded our baking extravaganza with a dance party. Mom always thinks we're crazy. I always think we're the best! :) I also delighted in Christin's "gothic salad dressing" comment. I wish I could remember the quote exactly, but it was awesome. Take my word for it.

28) I delight in Craig having a happy birthday and being able to spend the day with family. I love the uninterrupted, no other agenda days except to be home, with my family, having a good time. I'm grateful for the thanksgiving season that turns everyones hearts to what they're grateful for. I personally have so much to be thankful for. My soul delighteth in the things of the Lord because I know that all the blessings in my life are due to Him.

29) I delight in mother-daughter time. Mom and I pretended to be serious Black Friday Shoppers.  When we walked into Target at 7:00 am, the crowds were long gone from 8 pm Thanksgiving evening, it was great. We shopped to our hearts content, had a hobbits brunch and then shopped some more. I'm grateful for a mom who gets me, puts on her classic smile when she says well that looks like you and has my back when it comes to talking to cute boys in line. She's awesome!

30) I delight in knowing how to handle a gun. In my house, this is considered a life skill, and I think its important. I'm grateful for a dad who teaches me a portion of what he knows and is kind and patient when I ask really ridiculous questions. I'm also glad he knows everyone we ever see at the gun range.

1) I delight in November. What a month it was. I'm so grateful I was able to make a more concentrated effort in delighting because I haven't been so good at it lately. I can honestly say that it helps me see with more clear eyes all the ways the Lord blesses me. I would challenge that you join me in delighting daily. In December I am turning my focus to delighting in my Savior Jesus Christ and his teachings.  There are so many things I have learned in my study of His gospel this year that I want to share some of those lessons and treasures here. As one of my favorite Christmas song's poses the question, "what shall we give to the babe in the manger?" I hope to be able to give my testimony and to stand as a witness for him for all who may read this blog, that we may be strengthened and heed the invitation to come to Him.