Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Christmas Service


 Christmas 2014 is over, but I still have the memories and there are some really good ones.  Some of my favorites are from service we did as a family.  I wish we did things like this every year, and we certainly have tried things here and there.  But this year my older two finally felt old enough to really understand the spirit of service and enjoy it.  Here are few of the family service activities we did...

Our first project was mailing Christmas cards to Addie, a girl in UT who asked for Christmas cards to help make her last holiday extra special.  She is only 6 but is terminally ill and very limited in her abilities.  But she is able to open cards and she loves to!  Last I had heard she had received over 400,000 cards from all over the world.  We decided to add to her Christmas cheer.  The kids were on board right away!  I couldn't believe Sophia's reaction when I showed her pictures of the sweet little girl and what we were going to do.  She said "OK" and grabbed a card and started drawing!  LOL  Then she did another and another and another...

It felt really good.  I was proud of them.
Another tradition I'm starting is in memory of my Dad.  My Dad passed last year.  He LOVED flannel shirts and wore them every day.  Since I didn't get to buy him his customary plaid shirt this year I decided I should buy one for someone else who would enjoy one. 

 The kids helped me make the special delivery.

 Our friend was very happy to have young visitors, gave them hugs, and recruited their help for carrying everything to his door.

This is us smiling in the hallway, since we've been friends for over a year and I've never snapped a picture of us.

 He liked making funny faces and kept cracking us both up!

 We also took advantage of the chance to donate change.  My kids have been asking for a lot of unearned candy, bouncy balls, and other random, wasteful little things.  I explained when we spend our "extra" money on things like that then we don't have any extra to help others.  They were happy we didn't splurge at each store so we could drop change in here.  We did get one little treat to share at the end though too.

Another service we all did was perform at the ward Christmas party.  This is a simple act, that takes faith and touches hearts and I was so grateful we all could participate.

Ready for the show!

 Playing "Silent Night"

Singing "Mary's Lullaby"

Singing "The First Noel"

The Angels backstage

 The primary acting out the story of the Nativity.

 The Shepherds!


Best Friends!

Doing service is wonderful no matter what the reason, but our reason was always brought home with the reciting of this scripture each night before bed:
"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." Luke 2:14

We get the greatest peace when we have good will for others, when we are serving.
I truly felt that peace this holiday season.
I hope you did too.  Love, Eva

Thursday, December 11, 2014

A Paper Chain of Peace

I was having one of those days.  You know the kind.  When it feels like the things you're trying to do to bring your family closer and make this season more meaningful just aren't making any difference.  I was so on the ball though!  It had to work out! We had decorated the tree the first Monday of the month and I had this cute poem about service and two paper stars to pass out for people to leave every time they did some anonymous service.  Whoever found the star was supposed to pay it forward and do something nice for someone else too.  Well, over a week had passed and the stars had moved twice. (Mommy sigh...)

I decided we needed to try something else before the month was over and I felt like the Grinch.  I knew we were on the right track as far as serving each other,  For the monthly theme of Peace we've been working on memorizing "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." (Luke 2:14)  Peace truly comes from doing good for each other.  That is what the Savior did every day of his life and I wanted my kids to really feel the peace of serving this month.

So, we did what any mother of small children would do.  WE MADE A PAPER CHAIN!!!  Every time someone did some service they got to write it on a strip of paper and add a loop.  The writing is on the inside, so there's not a lot of praise or recognition, just a beautiful visual representation of the love that is spreading in our home.  And the PEACE that is spreading in our home...
Tonight, after getting to add some additional loops for donating some of their toys to charity, this is how long it just 3 days!!!!  And it was a very sweet surprise to hear them say to me "Mommy we have a surprise for you in our room!  You've got to go see it!"  We had worked on cleaning it together for over an hour, so I knew it was clean.  What could they possibly have done?  I didn't know that they had placed one of the original stars there  where they had cleaned.
Nothing brings more frustration to me than feeling like I'm not getting through to my kids and helping them understand the basic virtues of charity, patience and selflessness.  The bickering and complaining really gets to me.  It's so easy when schedules are busy and we see each other every day to take each other for granted, to not take the time to treat each other as kindly and carefully as we should.  But when they DO GET IT, that is the BIGGEST sense of peace.  There is nothing in the world I want more than the feeling of "Yes.  They are understanding the joy that comes from choosing the right."

I think we are all excited to see how long this Paper Chain of Peace becomes this month.  It's our way of remembering Christ and trying to be more like him.  To close I want to share this quote from Elder Richard G. Scott that brings it all home:

"The ideal place for... peace is within the walls of our own homes, where we have done all we can to make the Lord Jesus Christ the centerpiece."

Good luck in your teaching efforts this week!  The Gospel IS true!  Your efforts ARE WORTH IT!
Merry CHRISTmas!
Love, Eva          
P.S. One more picture of the chain and Sammy flexing his muscles!
P.P.S. The poem about the star is right beneath this last picture.

May the Christmas spirit warm your heart 
As you serve and do you part
Looking out for those in need
Careful that you are not seen
Making beds and hanging coats
Leaving love notes that you wrote 
Then leave a star so they will feel
That the light of Christ is real
For secret acts of love and hope
Bring his Peace into our home

Monday, November 10, 2014

Thanksgiving (And Turkeys!) Through Prayer

Since this is a month of thanksgiving, I wanted to do a Family Night discussing one of the greatest ways we have of showing gratitude, prayer.  I wanted to get back to the basics of prayer and stress the importance of gratitude, which is one of the most valuable personality traits we can have.  Personally, it has been the greatest tool in fighting Depression.  I also wanted to make some turkey art to put in our front window, so this is what I came up with...a paper turkey that explains the parts of prayer.
We started by making the face of the turkey as we remembered who we speak to when we pray (hence, the beak) and look to for answers (and the eyes.)
The body of the turkey represents the body of the prayer.  That is hopefully the majority of it!  For every thing they said they were thankful for they got a feather to put on their turkey.
  It was nice to remind them that while we are thankful for a lot of the same things every day, it's also good to come up with new things we are grateful for and mention those too.  We got pretty creative!
Next we added feet to represent the last two parts of prayer, asking for blessings and closing in the name of Jesus Christ.  The mercy of God & Atonement of Christ are our foundation, what we rely on in our lives.  One foot represented the blessings of God.  We taught how near the end of our prayer we ask Him for blessings we hope he will bestow in His wisdom if it is what we need.  I explained we don't always get exactly what we ask for, but since He is our Father we trust His wisdom.  The other foot represents ending our prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior.  

I was really touched by the following quote from the recent General Conference of the LDS church: "One of the most meaningful things we can do as parents is teach our children the power of prayer, not just the routine of prayer...As parents, we can teach our children to pray for things of eternal consequence- to pray for the strength to be morally clean in a very challenging world, to be obedient, and to have the courage to stand for the right."
This quote comes from a talk titled "Parents: The Prime Gospel Teachers of Their Children" that you can read here.  If there is anything I hope I can teach my children it's the importance of fervent prayer.  When we give thanks we improve the quality of our own lives.  We see the good we sometimes overlook.  Praying gives thanks to the ultimate Giver.  When we pray we can talk to someone who understands us and loves us unconditionally.  And when we choose to ask for those things we feel line up with His will for us, we are a greater force for hope and good than we can ever be on our own.  Hope you have a happy FHE!  Love, Eva