Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Connecting Christ to Christmas

I hope this won't sound overly preachy or contain too much "psychobabble" for everyone's liking, but I have some things I've been thinking about that I would like to share. First, I loved this Christmas. It was extremely meaningful for me to be home with family and just felt extra special somehow (especially in light of a couple of experiences that I'd be more than happy to share on an individual basis). Anywhohow, I was left with a question that somewhat unsettled me but more so simply got me thinking in the good "search, ponder, and pray" way. Was Christ all that connected to Christmas in my mind and in the way I celebrated the holiday?

On Sunday, I posed a similar question to Natalie and Michael C. "What is the true meaning of Christmas?" I asked. I admitted that I'd really been thinking about it and wondering because I had this terrific day (and holiday season more generally) but how much did I actually sit and ponder the birth of Christ during the festivities and traditions of the holiday? How did all this "Santa" stuff come to be so prominent? I was actually starting to feel somewhat guilty because I really liked all the "Santa" stuff--the presents, the stockings (or in our family's case, the gift bags:)), the tree, the tinsel, the decorations, etc.--and hence began a mini-exercise in self-reflection, something I have come to do fairly often, but I think that's a good thing.

I suppose I should get to the point before this post turns into one of those long emails we all know I'm prone to produce:). And here comes the danger of turning preachy or psychobabble-y, -ish? -esque? So I'll try to keep it short and to the point. In reflecting, I remembered the quiet moments when I had been thinking of the Savior (expressing gratitude for Him in prayer, reading the nativity story with Natalie and Michael on Christmas Eve, going to church with Paula and Brian for their ward's Christmas program , etc.). In addition though, I also thought of why I liked all the "Santa" stuff so much and it quickly became obvious that it's because of my family. All the traditions and the exchanging of gifts--it's a tangible expression of the love of/for/with/through my family. And my family is a web of experiences and relationships that completely defines me. I have some psychological support, but more importantly I've gained spiritual evidence that relationships are absolutely fundamental, or in the language of philosophy, "ontological." In other words, our lives and progress can only be understood in the context of relationships. It's who we are, it's where we came from, it's where we're going. It's what we do:). It's what God does too, as a matter of fact.

With this in mind, Christ was, is and will always be intimately connected to Christmas for me. Not only is it through Him that families can be forever; not only is it in our relationship with Him that we find the greatest happiness and ultimately salvation and exaltation; but it is in celebrating His birth that we can be reminded of what is most important. It is in commemorating His birth that we experience in a beautifully real and poignant way, the love of Christ, the Spirit of Christ. For "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith" (Gal 5:22). I could literally list people and experiences of this Christmas season that have brought every single one of those fruits into my life in wonderfully meaningful ways. "For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth" (Eph 5:9). Is Christ connected to Christmas? Surely if His Spirit is so readily manifest in what we do and feel, Christ is here.

I'm thankful for the blessings of this wonderful season; for family, for friends, for the Savior of the world who makes it all possible and gives everything purpose and meaning. Every good thing I have in my life, every happiness, every blessing is because of Him. God is real; He's alive and well and working in our lives. He's certainly made His presence known in my life for which I will be eternally grateful. I love you all! Merry Christmas! I'm excited to see what new adventures 2011 will bring!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A Happy Merry Thanksgiving-Christmas!

I cannot say enough how much I absolutely love my family. It is so refreshing to be able to go home to Colorado and spend time together with everyone there! This year was our turn to have everyone home for Thanksgiving and when that happens, we get to have a Christmas celebration as well. There are too many words I could/would say, so I'll let some of the pictures do the talking. :)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Half-birthdays are MORE than half the fun!

It started when I made a friend whose birthday was my half-birthday. It continued as a way to celebrate with roommates (since my birthday was during a time of year when I wasn't normally at college). It still carries a special meaning. November 22nd - my half-birthday. Sometimes I'll do something special to celebrate it. Today I just remembered. But you know, even that was fun! Just knowing that it's November 22nd made today a special day. I love birthdays. And half-birthdays. And hand towels. And Nutella ice cream. And Thanksgiving. And family!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

There were never such devoted sisters

I love my sisters, all of them. And I'm sure that I will devote more posts to this story down the road (Jennie and Natalie, you both touch me in unique and wonderful ways for which I am ever grateful and will certainly "blog" about in the future). At this time though, I would like to focus on Paula.

I cannot say enough about this girl. Paula is truly one of my best friends and I cherish my relationship with her. On Saturday, Paula drove down to Provo to go to a bridal shower with me (it was for a family friend from Colorado). Needless to say, it was great to see her and be able to go together, but what I really appreciated was the time we spent together after the shower. She came to my apartment and we talked for almost 2 hours, I think. There is something so valuable in dialogue. Maybe that's what intrigues me about therapy. Anyway, thank you, Paula. It was just what I needed and I love you!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A friendly visit

I guess one of the benefits of still being in Provo is that it seems to be somewhat of a gathering spot and so I get the pleasure of seeing old friends on occasion when they are back in town visiting. Such was the case last weekend! My good friend Jessica and her husband (and adorable boy) came up from Arizona last weekend. Their main reason for coming was actually the BYU football game. They picked a great week to come up for a game! Anyway, it was sure great to see Jessica and finally meet her little one. :)

I love families!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Happy Birthday to you!

I don't remember how the idea came to me, but when I was on my mission I wanted to do something special for my siblings on their birthdays (since I couldn't wish them a "Happy Birthday" in person). So for each birthday, I decided to make a sign, take a picture of myself holding it and send it to them (picture and sign) in the mail. Well today is Heather's first birthday since she's been back from her mission, but of course she up and moved to Maryland:). So I thought I'd revert back to my old ways...only electronically, because I didn't think of it in time for it to get there "snail mail."


Friday, November 5, 2010

"...Who's the SCARIEST of them all?!"

Thanks in large part to Grandma Hansen, Halloween is another really fun time of year for us. Her house was so festive every year for this holiday. And the traditions that started with her continue today! Thanks, Grandma (and to our parents of course!)!

This year, since Halloween fell on Sunday, we made a weekend of it and Paula invited me to spend it with them in South Jordan. I'm so glad I did; it was a ton of fun! I could try to express in words, but I think this is a case where pictures just do a much better job.

I know you can't see Katie's face in this one, but it captures the sister costume theme (Mario Kart)! Becca is Princess Peach and Katie is a bomb and they were both a huge hit! Way to go, Brian and Paula!

I just love that little fuse on her head! Paula made this costume herself! Isn't it great?

Paula and I dressed up as Village Inn groupies. I felt like a little kid again being so excited to show Daddy our costumes. His response definitely didn't disappoint as he promptly figured out how to take pictures on Skype so he could show his department at work.

And last but not least, our masterpiece pumpkins. This was the first time I did a nontraditional carving. Thanks, Brian for the great directions! Can you guess what they all are?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Welcome one, welcome all.

I did it! I have officially entered the "blogosphere" (which, in my opinion, is a funny word)! You want to hear another? "Bloggernacle" Yep, it's a word...sort of. I inadvertently came across it whilst conducting some initial research in preparation for my entry into the blogging universe. Okay, okay, I saw it on Wikipedia because I had looked up "blogosphere" to make sure I was using it correctly (turns out I'm a bit nervous for my debut as a blogger). Apparently, "the Bloggernacle or Bloggernacle choir is a name that has been adopted by some in the LDS blogging community to describe the Mormon portion of the blogosphere." Interesting. Thank you, Wikipedia.

Anyway, moving on! And up! And forward! And eventually out! I suppose I shall begin with my purpose in starting this blog: __________ "Then again, maybe not." Anybody know where that's from? A movie? I Love Lucy? Or is it just a cliche saying? If you know, do tell! Post a comment. Enlighten us. Oh and the way I'm saying it (that makes it sound so familiar as to suggest some specific source) is with the inflection or tone going up on "again" and down with "not"--make sense? I'd be happy to illustrate to those who so inquire. But back to your normally scheduled programming: So I don't have an aim spelled out yet for this blog. No specifically defined goal, no predetermined purpose. I just found myself wanting to make the plunge. Will it primarily be a means for recording graduate school experiences? Maybe. A way to preserve memories? Most likely. An expression of my innermost thoughts and feelings? Probably not entirely. I'm excited though! Where this road leads, I do not know, but on this path I am determined to go. And yes, you may quote me on that.

So welcome to my blog. I'm happy to have you and hope you will visit often. Probably coming up in the near future (i.e., my vague, undetermined plans for this blog at this point include): A post on Halloween, an explanation of the http://triedandtrueblue.blogspot.com/ address, my cohort hike to Stewart Falls, and much, much more! (Well I hope so anyway, at the moment, that's about all I got). Goodnight fellow bloggers!