December 21, 2015

Christmas Hoopla

The tree is bursting with gifts ready for Christmas morning.

Each of the children got presents for each person in our little family and extended family. Kacin and Kyler were pretty independent and quite generous with their own money in their purchases for everyone. Layla and Perry made gifts for all the aunts and uncles and grandparents. Then we went to the dollar store and they picked out some pretty special gifts for their siblings and cousins. I love watching all of my children deliberating at the store about which gift to buy which person and then bringing those gifts home and lovingly wrapping each one.

To: Kyler From: Perry
We went to the toy drive at the stake center and had a little visit with Santa. I was so proud that Perry told Santa his name was "Perry Allred". He got shy and needed some prompting to tell Santa what he wanted for Christmas (a firestation).

Layla told Santa she wanted ballet shoes. After her turn was over she got worried because she had forgotten to tell him she also wanted a pink suitcase with a unicorn inside.

Now these guys are a bit too old to be sitting on Santa's lap. But they'll do anything for a candy cane. There wasn't anyone else in the room when we were there so I think they figured they'd have a little fun.

We went on a Christmas light drive around our area. We ended up at the doughnut shop for a treat.

The boys had their Christmas piano recital. They rocked their songs!

Eric and I went to our friends annual Christmas party. A few of the games were wrapping a present blindfolded and picking up a candy cane using another candy cane and ribbon. Eric is pretty proud of his ugly christmas sweater.

When we first moved into this area, the bishop of our ward kindly invited Kyler ad Kacin to help him set up their train set around his Christmas tree. This man is now in the Stake Presidency so we don't see him in our ward as often, but he still invites the boys over for trains. It has become a tradition that my boys look forward to each year.  This year the boys made a thank you for him--a candy train. Each of the kids pitched in and had a blast designing some creative train cars. I think candy trains might become our own family tradition!

I have to throw this picture in here. It is the first picture I have of dear, sweet, wonderful Sundi and Layla.

I know these next few days will be filled to the brim as we enjoy celebrating Christmas (and two birthdays) with family.  We wish you a very Merry Christmas!

December 18, 2015

The Joy of Living a Christ-Centered Life: GC 7

Isaiah 64:8 
"But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand."

After sharing this illuminating scripture, Elder Maynes explained "If our lives are centered in Jesus Christ, He can successfully mold us into who we need to be in order to return to His and Heavenly Father's presence in the celestial kingdom. The joy we experience in this life will be in direct proportion to how well our lives are centered on the teachings, example, and atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ."

When we focus on Christ, he molds us into who we can be and we gain experience and receive inspiration, guidance, and greater understanding. By following His example and His teachings and applying the redeeming power of the atonement, we become a little better. My life has had some interesting twists and turns, but because of my Savior I understand them and I am growing because of them.

I noticed he said the joy we experience will be in direct proportion--not the ease we experience in life, not the success, not the riches, not the fulfillment of everything we want, but the joy. Amidst all of my challenges and trials, I am happy because of Jesus Christ. I have peace, understanding, answers, and joy because of His gospel and His atoning sacrifice.

When I put Christ at the center of my life, especially at this Christmas season, I can feel great joy.

Thanksgiving 2015

It is not Christmas yet so I think I'm still in the grace period to talk about Thanksgiving.

We have so much to be thankful for around here. Like, this little girl by my side.

Because top on our gratitude list is family--our own little family and the extended family that bless our lives.

It was wonderful spending Thanksgiving with my sister--it had been many, many years since we spent Thanksgiving together. And this was her last Thanksgiving here in the states for awhile (they are off to Japan soon).

There was a lot of game playing. Bryce led us in a Ninja game he made up. And then we played "Are you thankful for your neighbor?" for awhile.

The turkey was a bit on the slower side to cook. Partly because Eric went and played football with the boys and left me in charge of monitoring the smoker. Bad idea. We thought the temperature got too high so I made Stefy go turn it down. But then the temperature went waaay too far down. Moral of the story: don't leave me in charge of smoking the bird.

Ultimately, we couldn't wait any longer to eat and so we had our first round of pie before the feast. I love how Preston had to use his fork and his hand to get all that pie in his mouth. :)

 Finally, the beautiful bird came out of the smoker.

And the feast began.

Happy Thanksgiving 2015!