Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from the Bates!

We took this picture after church today. I'm thinking church was rough on Joshua.

I love that Christmas was on a Sunday this year! It was so nice to wake up, go to church, sing and hear beautiful Christmas music, listen to Christ-centered messages and THEN come home and open presents - it just set us in the right Spirit from the start.

I'm feeling very grateful today for the selfless, loving, infinite gift given to me on that first Christmas - the innocent, loving, pure baby boy. Because of His love,  I can be free,  I can experience this joy and have these relationships forever.  His pure innocence erased my guilt simply because He loved me enough to pay it for me.  I love Him. What a blessing and privilege it is to celebrate His birth today!

It has been nice getting to share in some of the Pack's Christmas traditions this year. I'm not very good at planning and implementing meaningful activities. Sara is an amazing planner. And although we only got to about half of what we planned - it was a lot more than I would have done on my own. I learned from her that planning and trying to do meaningful things (even if things don't always go as planned) is better than not planning anything (because you know full well that things won't go as planned).

One nice thing is that neither of our families is big into Santa. We just don't really talk about him or put any emphasis on him coming. As a consequence of this, we didn't hear our kids talk about Santa and their focus was more on the service of the day (#lighttheworld) and the birth of Christ. We didn't intend for that to happen. We don't really have anything against Santa. But he can get distracting. It didn't feel like that this year.

We read the book, "The Christmas Porringer" as families and in it "The Christ Child" brings the children presents on Christmas. This opened up a nice conversation about how different cultures celebrate Christmas differently - how in Mexico the 3 wise men bring the toys. We've also talked about the saint Nicholas story. We are thinking about implementing different cultural celebrations in the future since they seem more meaningful and centered.

We don't have a lot of room for toys right now so instead of a lot of presents we gave activities that we can do next week. We plan to have a stay-cation during the week.

Here is an overview of last week:

The Packs had cousins stay at their house for a few days - between our three families we had 20 kids running around. It made for some great football games for the boys! Here I am with some of the older kids on a walk to the Dollar Store.
We celebrated Miles' birthday this week and since Sara's phone was out of memory, I'm uploading his birthday song here.

 More winter hiking...

Worwood Family Christmas Party:

My mom prepared a delicious Christmas Eve dinner, but I didn't get pictures of that night.

Here is Christmas Morning:

It was a very nice morning. I'll end this post with one of my favorite Christmas songs:

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Giving All to a Cause and Recent Highlights

I just got home from watching Rogue One. I won't give anything away, but I will say it was inspiring. I love movies that remind me I have a cause worth fighting for. It's easy to get caught up in the routine of life and forget that I am in the middle of a raging war against "principalities and rulers of darkness" (Eph 6:12). It made me ask myself how I am doing about giving my all to His Cause. Do I wake up in the morning with a desire in my heart to give it my all? Or do I procrastinate and put my cause on hold for less important things? What am I willing to sacrifice?

I also watched Moana last week so after the movie Bill asked me which one I liked better.  Strangely enough, this was kind of a thought provoking question for me. I realized that I loved how Moana made me feel - free, joyful and excited about life, but I think that the message was a little more self-centered than the one in Rogue One.   In Rogue One people did what was right with no thought about how it would benefit them - simply because they knew there was a cause higher than themselves to fight for. In Moana, she did what was right partly because she believed in a cause higher than herself,  but also because she was trying to figure out what she needed in order to feel fulfilled. 

Both messages are true (fulfillment does come from following the Spirit and doing what is right), but the message of Rogue One seemed more focused on the best reasons. 

I also loved how both movies highlighted the true principle that God will protect us and help us do what we are meant to do until it is time for us to come home to Him. No need to fear. We just move forward, step by step, with trust.

Anyway,  those are just my rambling thoughts tonight after watching two great movies, but I got on here to catch up on my pictures because my phone is getting pretty full and it's been a couple of weeks since I have blogged. Here are some highlights from the last 2 1/2 weeks...

Here is a slide show I put together for the Anne of Green Gables cast party. I love their expressions - they act well!

Here are some pictures from choir concerts and after-concert fun... 

Since we are basically living with the Packs, we are doing a lot of Christmas things together... service projects, making tree ornaments (both of us have our Christmas decorations stored away in pods and we are sharing a tree), Christmas books and movies. Here we are watching "A Muppet's Christmas Carol."

Last week, Vince Newmeyer was kind enough to take us on a field trip to the Natural History Museum at Thanksgiving Point.  He knows so much! I could listen to him teach science all day. He put on two different hats to represent different scientific perspectives looking at the same evidence.  Absolutely fascinating!

We had an early Christmas celebration with my brother before he took off to Arizona for Christmas. There was a cool Christmas Musial that night and a beautiful Hispanic Christmas presentation the at Temple Square the night before. It reminded me how family-centered and joyous my heritage is. I am grateful for it.

One cool thing about living in where we do is that there's hikes just minutes away.  The mountains are so beautiful in the winter! It's sometimes hard to talk people into going out in the cold, but since I'm more leery about hiking by myself in the snow than I am in other seasons, I am glad I usually get one or more takers. 

We are having a pretty great time. It will actually be really hard to move. I think we will all look back on these times with happiness and great memories :-)