Sunday, December 10, 2017

Sunday ponderings -- Let every heart prepare Him room

This week on the spur of the moment I invited the women I visit teach (in our women's group in our church we are assigned certain women to visit and look out for each month), and my visiting teaching partner (the woman I make those visits with) over for a simple little brunch at our house.

I love all those women so much and I'm so grateful for the chance I have to get to know them and be uplifted by their wisdom (I love visiting teaching).  I figured it would be nice for us all to be together rather than doing individual visits.  Let's face it, it's a crazy time for all of us so we could make it short and sweet, and also learn and love each other that much more.

As I was looking up the visiting teaching message for the month (I wanted to share a spiritual thought), I found that it was all about service.

Here's part of it:
“We want to use the light of the gospel to see others as the Savior does—with compassion, hope, and charity,” said Jean B. Bingham, Relief Society General President. “The day will come when we will have a complete understanding of others’ hearts and will be grateful to have mercy extended to us—just as we extend charitable thoughts and words to others. …Our obligation and privilege is to embrace improvement in everyone as we strive to become more like our Savior."

You can find the whole thing HERE.

At first I'll admit that I was a little disappointed to see that thing, because I wanted something all wrapped up tidy about the birth of the Savior.  Something easy peasy and all Christmas-spirit-filled to share with these women.  Isn't that what Christmas is all about after all?

But as I pulled out my meager brunch offerings for some reason this beautiful line from Joy to the World kept running through my head, even to the point of making me tear up:  

Let every heart prepare Him room.

And I realized, of course, that service IS about the birth of the Savior.  Strengthening the feeble knees" (one of my very favorite quotes from the scriptures) really is what Christmas is all about.  

THAT is how we "prepare Him room."

If there is any "gift giving" to our Savior, even in the most tiny fraction of a degree, it is all, completely and overwhelmingly found in serving our fellow man.  Trying to understand hearts as we break down our own and serve and love to create our own contrite spirits that bring us closer to God. 

It flooded me with gratitude for the "LIGHTtheWORLD" initiative and all the little things we can do at Christmastime to "prepare Him room."

Those wonderful women came over, we sat and ate overdone egg casserole and dry pumpkin muffins and to me that whole kitchen filled with thick love as we discussed life and the gospel and the beauty of preparing Him room with those women I love.

Now I'm off to prepare Him room by doing little things like turning on our Sunday music and giving my family some undivided attention before church.  I love the Sabbath.  The primary program is today...and also our piano recital...can't wait.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Thanksgiving hoopla 2017

I'm pretty sure that over Thanksgiving I really turned a corner on becoming the "favorite aunt."  

Because really, let's think about it for a minute, what kid doesn't want an aunt to pull them away from all the fun stuff they're doing together and boss them around so she can take pictures all the time?  

I mean, kids love that right?

I kid.  Of course.

And really, we did bond over Thanksgiving.  But not necessarily out of me making them run pose for pictures ;) 
I'm sure they'll thank me for it one day though.
 Or maybe not but maybe their parents will? 
How I love these nieces and nephews...and siblings of mine!!  And how we missed the ones who couldn't make it! 

We had 34 for Thanksgiving dinner.

That was much less than our over fifty with Dave's family the last couple years.

But in many ways it seemed like more because instead of everyone bringing their portion of the meal that they made at their own homes, all 34 of us we bundled up in the kitchen cooking our hearts out after we got home from the Turkey Trot.

(Ok not really all of us, but sometimes it felt like that!!)
Even the kids were cooking:
 ...and preparing:
 As my Dad busied everyone making the "thankful list" on the sidelines.
It was a whole slew of hustle and bustle tripping over kids and vying for counter space but I loved it and will never forget it.

There were table-setting helpers:

Gratitude helpers:

And then it was time to serve up:

At the adult table we did what we have done with Dave's family before and had everyone write one of the things they are very most grateful for this year on a little piece of paper the girls put next to their plates.

We had everyone put their papers in a bowl and read them and guessed who said what, which led to a gratitude discussion that I loved.  Led to the "language" of the gospel which should be a post all on it's own.

And then, after all the incessant begging from the kids (haha), I finally pulled out the good old backdrop and we took "photo booth" type pictures. the light faded turning the sky to pink and purples.

Why in heaven's name am I so tall??

Missing Charity so much!!

My brothers, like the kids, were fighting for time but somehow I never got them there, dang it!!

Got my girls though:
...and these great families:

Then it was time for pie:
...and bday celebrating:

And then rushed out the door to see Wonder.
One of the best movies I've seen which spoke to me in so many ways but was a little too close to home in many ways and sure left Dave and I with lots to think about.  Some day I will do a post about that when enough time has passed and I can express my emotions correctly.

We came home and watched a video of the reunion at Bear Lake last summer my nephew had made...
 ...talked, played some games...

And just like that, Thanksgiving 2017 was all over.

This is how the tree ended up by the end:

 Filled with just a tiny fraction of the abundant gratitude we felt.

All those people we were surrounded by all day (including Dave's family at the turkey trot and the ones who couldn't make it) were the tops.

And these guys are the tippy-top:

 Along with Max who we adore and are limping along until we get to hug him in fifty-five days.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

the Turkey Trot 2017

Every year the Turkey Trot seems to expand and morph into something bigger. 

And I love watching the growth as my heart swells with ever more gratitude for all the people who put so much work and love into that thing.
I think there were 3,700 runners this year...we're growing out of this venue but it sure is fun to be packed in there with so much love swirling around on Thanksgiving morning!

But before we dive into that, let's talk about the PRE-TURKEY TROT stuff for a minute.

These are the notes Lucy handed over to Dave and I a couple days before the big day. 
HA!  I laughed out loud at the fact that she thinks I'd "rather be talking with other moms" than running with her..I better work on that one.

We had red shirts with white glasses this year and we talked about how cool it is that maybe the white glasses represented her first year running with a white cane :)
Seriously are you kidding me on that??  Sometimes I can't stand how much I love that sweet girl of ours.

Dave's brother always takes charge of our "thankful board."  Another brother-in-law helped build that thing in the first place (thank you Dan!) and now every year he brings helpers and paints over all the old thankful stuff to get it ready for a new slew of thankful things to be written all over it.

This year we had to scrub some of the marker that wouldn't cover very well with paint and had to paint like four layers of new paint.

But it worked, and those things were ready for the big day.

There are thousands of turkey trot t-shirts to be rolled and organized before the big day and this group of honors society kids came twice to help out with that:

And a bunch of my family members were in town early enough to help with the assembly of the "swag bags" to be given out at registration.

 ...we worked as the turkey trot team put in their last planning.
 Oh man those are some good men right there!

 Loved having my family mingle with so many good people who help every year on this from BrainFood.
Jeff helped steam out the storage wrinkles of the good old Families Fighting Blindness banner:
 My niece came over after the white paint was dry and wrote her traditional "I am Thankful for..." words on the thankful board:
 ...and then it was registration.
 I wish I had a picture of the work of art people have made this become.  It runs so smoothly.

But instead of an overall picture I have all these cute cousins who were helping.
 ...these ones sold Families Fighting Blindness t-shirts this year which was kind of a fun thing to add.
 And here's the clean up crew:

These nephews were there at the end helping sort out the remaining t-shirts.

That night was filled with Thanksgiving and trot prep activity.  But one thing I will remember the most is cramming in this ranger car with all my family who wasn't busy with babies to go set up the BBS kid signs along the canal.
It was a two-person job but everyone wanted to help so much that we all jammed in and my cheeks hurt so much from laughing in that thing with everyone that night, with the cool air whipping through our hair and the warmth of everyone wanting to help so much.

(we have 16 of these signs introducing the BBS kids along part of the 5K course so that people can know a little more about who they are helping by running.)

 Yeah, memories...
 We also stopped by my favorite tree to grab tree branches for table decor the next day...

And then it was on to the real-deal.

The beginning of the thankfulness emerging:

With cousins galore.
 We were especially excited to have Bo join in the festivities this year ;)

Fun to have so many of my family members intermix with Dave's who are always here.

I had grand visions of hanging with each of them making sure they got to know each other but I was pretty much just running around.  LOve that some of them got to visit.

ANd I can't really look at this picture without tearing up because that is just love right there.
Love through and through.

Elle's friend sang the national anthem from up here this year:

The rest of these pictures are going to be totally random order because my computer mixed them up, but they will give you the basic idea. 

I'll let them tell the mixed-up order story :)


So full of gratitude for that fabulous morning!
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