To help us keep our eye on the ball this year, we decided to copy a story I found at the church bookstore about a family who put a piece of straw in a manger as they did kind acts through the month. So, Jess made a manger with the kids (it's sooo cute) and they have put straw inside it anonymously for their acts of service, as their gift to the Savior. Just having the little wooden manger under the tree helped me remember the Savior more this Holiday.
And, on that note, I want to share my love for the Savior and Heavenly Father. As a little girl I loved Happily Ever Afters, and as a teen I spent a lot of time searching for the source of true Happily Ever Afters. Then when I was 16, I met a friend and her sweet family from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I can remember learning about their belief that Heavenly Father is a loving father, who's greatest joy is us and helping guide us on our way back to live with Him after this life is done. The moment I learned this, inside I felt it's truth, because I had an imperfect mortal mother here on earth that loved me so much. I've always felt like I could come to her with any wrongs and she would still be crazy about me, and would gently help me find the right way.
I learned that Jesus is God's son just like I'm God's daughter. That in the preEarth life, Heavenly Father presented His wonderful plan for us to go to Earth, get a body like Him, gain experience, and have free agency to choose. But, this would lead to mistakes and sin, and we would need a Savior that could pay for these sins, so we could return to live as an eternal family in Heaven with our Heavenly Parents and each other.
When I was younger each Sunday I attended a little white Baptist church with a neighbor. They taught me wonderful things about God and Jesus, including He atoned for our sins. But, I never understood what this really meant until recent years. Now I can understand that He not only atoned for our sins, but He also had to carry each pain, suffering, and heartache that would come to us.
As I imagine what it would feel like to know every sad heart ache, suffering, and sin that Kyanne, Bridgey, Fin or Rusty who I love with all my heart, I can understand why the Savior knows us best, and loves us most. I can understand why the sheer weight of such a burden caused Him, part God, to bleed from every pore, and, call out to His father using the intimate form of Father, Abba (Like we say Papa, or Daddy in our language), asking if there was any other way [Mark 14:34-36 ].
35 And he went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him.
I'm thankful for the Savior, I'm thankful for His love and sacrafice, especially when he felt as it was so awful "even unto death", and so awful that even though He knew that's what He came to earth to do, and still asked Heavenly Father if there was another way, but He still finished, because He loves each one of us, and when we are all done with this earth, He wants to see and hug each one of us. I really believe this.
I hope you all have a wonderful Holiday. Merry Christmas.