Thursday, November 12, 2015

Christ Centered Christmas Box

Christmas Around the World!!!
Christmas is always a season of anticipation and celebration: anticipation for a Christmas filled with the Spirit of Christ, and celebration in honor of the miracle of His birth.  This year, for our Missionary Christmas, we wanted to do something really meaningful and spiritual for our loved ones as they diligently serve our Heavenly Father - so we decided to send them a Christ Centered Christmas Box.  Each mom 'Ponderized' on how she wanted to individually share this message - and as it turned out - each message and gift was completely different.  We hope it will help fill our children's hearts with the Christmas spirit that only He can bring.

If you would like to send your own 'Christ Centered Christmas' to your Missionary - check out this kit we put together to help you do just that! 

This 'Celebrating a Christ Centered Christmas' kit is designed to give you a Quick and Easy way to send Your Missionary a Spiritual & Fun Care Package.  The Box Flap Designs & Printables have over 57 beautifully-coordinated pieces - available now on Etsy from the Missionary Box Moms.

  This kit includes a 27-Page High-Quality PDF file download for DIY Printables including a Missionary Nativity Activity and a Missionary 12 Days of Keeping Christ in Christmas Music, Scripture, and Story Activity. 

For Ideas to help you put together the perfect Missionary Care Package, how you can use each Printable, to find links to print General Conference talks and other stories to include in your box - look below!

Merry Merry Everything!!!  It’s always so fun to see the pictures that our missionaries send home of them opening up their crazy boxes decorated in whatever the theme that the box is.  Most of the boxes we mailed were 12X12X8 which meant the flap size was just under 12X6 so you can simply cut one piece of 12X12 scrapbook paper in half for each flap.  For the 'Christ Centered Christmas' box I used two pieces of Crimson Stripe AC Cardstock from the American Craft Company - both cut in half then trimmed to fit the box and attached with glue dots.   We then printed off the MBM printables onto photo paper, cut them out, and adhered to the box with Glue Dots for durability.

You’ve Got Mail!!!  One thing we always included in all of our Missionary Box Mom Boxes was a personalized letter to each Missionary from each Mother.  Inside our letters we included our testimonies, the reason we chose that particular item to include in the box, along with uplifting messages filled with love.  A lot of the items won't make much sense as to why you are including them in the box unless you explain how it specifically applies to your Missionary and to Missionary Work.  We also included a card signed by all of us for the missionary's companion.  Many times over I have received thank you letters from our Missionaries - but the things they thanked us all for the most was the letters we included.  It’s just a little piece of ‘Home’ in a box!  So don’t forget to write!

Ho Ho Ho!!!  As we decided on each ‘Missionary Box Theme’, which we based around a scripture or missionary teaching idea, we would then brainstorm fun ideas that could be included in our box.  I often wondered if our missionaries realized how comprehensive we were in our themes!  It honestly might have been just as much fun for us to build these boxes as it was for them to receive them!  Depending on the size of the box you are sending – you could include or delete any of the following items – or come up with a few of your own.  We tried to make sure that most of our items could be used to enhance missionary discussions, to be given away, to decorate their missionary apartments and left for future missionaries when they moved on, or simply eaten and enjoyed.  But of course there were always a few that were just for fun!
                   Christ Centered Christmas Ideas:

#1. Nativity Activity with Personalized Hymn Book
For this gift I purchased a Christmas box at the Dollar Tree Store and attached a 5X7 Nativity photo that I purchased at Deseret Book to the top with Glue Dots for durability.  Inside the box I included the Nativity Activity, a personalized Hymn book in the appropriate language, two bells on ribbon decorated with Santa hats for the Elders or two bell bracelets for the Sisters (both from the Dollar Tree Store), and 2 candy canes.

Write a Letter to Your Missionary to Explain the Activity:
Here is an idea of what we included in our letters:

Dear Missionary,
When I ponderized on what I wanted to include in your Christmas box a thought came to me about sending a little Nativity to you.  I hope it brings some Christmas spirit to you and your companion.  I have a friend that relayed the following story to me:

December had come.  The house was decorated, most of the presents bought, and Megan and I were driving in the car listening to Christmas carols.  Strapped into her car seat and bundled up in her winter coat, Megan did her best to sing along.  Then, just as one song ended and another began, Megan said one simple sentence that forever changed the way our family celebrates Christmas.  "Mom," she began, "I believe in Santa Claus, and you believe in Jesus Christ."

It was a moment of epiphany.  I thought back over all of our holiday preparations and the experiences we had created for our children.  We had written letters to Santa, had talked about being good for Santa, and had counted down the days until Santa would come.  We had spent the majority of the season teaching our children to believe in the reality of Santa Claus, and because of our efforts they trusted that he really would come.  But suddenly I realized that we had not spent the same amount of time teaching them to believe in the reality of our Savior.  I thought over all of the traditions that filled our holiday season and realized that none of them strengthened my children's belief in Jesus Christ.

Since that moment, our home has been transformed into a home that believes.  Not only in the magic of Santa, but also in the reality of our Savior, Jesus Christ, who is the true reason behind our celebration.
So, dear Missionary, I am sending you a paper nativity set activity along with things to help you deepen the Christmas spirit in your missionary home.  You can do this all at once, with just you and your companion, or you may choose to set aside seven special evenings to share it with a family.  It's up to you. With each of the seven figurines from the nativity you will spend time learning about the important role that person played in the miracles that surrounded Christ's birth.  Each of the figures has a story to tell, and each has a lesson to share.  Studying their experiences will give you a greater understanding and deeper appreciation for the miracles that surround the birth of Christ.

This is a season of anticipation and celebration, and hopefully you will let those two emotions become the guiding principles for your holiday experience: anticipation for a Christmas filled with the Spirit of Christ, and celebration in honor of the miracle of His birth.

May this holiday season be one of your fondest in recent years, and may your heart be filled with the Christmas spirit that only He can bring.
Happy Christmas!  Feliz Navidad!  Joyeux Noël!

Print Out the Nativity Set in your MBM kit onto Photo Paper & Cut It Out.  Right click, copy, and paste the 'Stories' in a Word doc or similar and print.  Include the appropriate figures in a sandwich size Ziploc bag with the printables, stories, and handouts.  


There are no words to adequately describe a mother's heart at Christmas, nor the thoughts that are pondered within.  As the season approaches there are so many meaningful details that must be taken care of and arrangements to be made.  Part of the holiday preparation includes pondering moments - every mother wants every part of Christmas to be just right.  We agonize over the perfect gifts; we contemplate how to create lasting memories; and we long for meaningful celebrations.  These reflective moments are a familiar part of Christmas for every mother and are poignantly described in the following story.

The Widow's Might by Elaine Stirland McKay
Bessie watched the wind hurl snow as it howled through Huntsville, Utah.  It's a cold Christmas Eve, she thought, colder than those of the Depression...colder now that her husband was dead.

Before the fire had flickered out, Bessie had heated the iron and made her way up the winding stairs of the stone home to iron the sheets before her eight children climbed into their beds.

"Warmmm," purred the baby as she snuggled in her crib.  Even Bessie's sixteen-year-old son chuckled and sighed as his feet found where the iron had been.  The children were noisily unaware that the iron was heated by bits of slack coal from a supply that wouldn't last the winter.  Nor had they ever noticed that the smiling woman who had pressed the sheets wore patched dresses and was somehow never hungry.

The next morning Bessie would build the  fire while the four boys went out to feed and milk old Sally, the only animal not sold to pay debts.  The little girls would wait in the kitchen until chores were done.  Then all would line up - smallest to tallest - and, at the sound of Bessie's first notes on the piano, would march and sing their way in to the tree: "O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant..."

They had cut the tree themselves and trimmed it with paper chains and popcorn.  But there was nothing under it, and Bessie had little to put there.  Someone had sent her a few oranges and nuts.  That was enough, she knew, to cause shouts of delight.  But, as she sat looking out at the half-buried village, the old question returned, "What can I give my children for Christmas?"  After a moment she saw the answer.

In the morning when songs were sung and oranges eaten, Bessie said, "Today, because it's Christmas Day, we're going to take gifts to a family who is poor."  The house grew quiet.  Poor was a word they shunned.

Then, Bessie, her eyes shining, explained that many people in the world had very little and, since they themselves had so much, it was only right that they share.  They could look through their possessions and find a gift - a hair ribbon, a book, some clothes... "And I'll make apple pies," she beamed.  

When the pies were cooled, Bessie placed two in a basket where the children had put their gifts.  She covered all with a bright cloth.  At last everything was ready.  Then above the excited chatter, a boy's voice demanded, "Mother, why are we doing this when we don't have enough for ourselves?"

There.  Someone had said it.  The smiles vanished.  Even the baby was silent.
"What we have is enough," Bessie said softly, "and what we are giving is small.  We are keeping the precious things...this great stone house built by your grandfather, our love for one another, happy memories of what has been, hope for good things that are to come...  All this is ours to keep.  These few gifts we have gathered are ours to share.  Come, my son, you may carry the basket.

Christmas night was cold, and Bessie again ironed the sheets.  Amid the clamor of getting ready for bed, she felt a sense of peace and assurance.  She could not know that one of her sons would become a United States congressmen and one, a United States federal judge, or that all of her sons would serve in the armed services protecting freedom around the world.  She could not visualize the twelve college degrees, the scholarships, trophies, and awards that would accumulate.  She could not foresee the shared planning, pennies, and prayers that would cause it all to happen.  And later that evening as she watched the last ember die in the old stove and felt the house grow cold, she little knew that in twenty-seven years she would be named Utah's Mother of the Year.

Bessie knew only that she had given her children something for Christmas that they would never lose.  Years from now on a cold winter night when they were far from home, they would find it, small and sacred, in their hearts.  And there would be other things she could give them as days and months went by - little things - like warmed sheets.


I am sure that all Mothers often wonder, when their children are far from home, what Christmas memories they will hold, small and sacred in their hearts.
When I look at a nativity scene my heart is always drawn to Mary, the handmaiden of the Lord.  The testimony of Luke is filled with scriptures that help us to understand more about the kind of woman Mary was.  In the first chapter of Luke we read that Mary had found favor with God (v.30) and that the Lord was with her (v.28).  The scriptures also tell us that she was blessed among women.  At the very end of the first chapter of Luke we are given a rare privilege - we have the opportunity to hear Mary's unwavering testimony, pure and strong, straight from her heart.  Mary said, "My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior...for he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.  ...He hath shewed strength with his arm;... He hath filled the hungry with good things; ...He hath holpen his servant Israel" (Luke 1:46-54).

Mary was a remarkable women who magnified the Lord and who rejoiced in her knowledge of the Christ.  She recognized the tender mercies and the great things that filled her life.  She knew God's strength and His holiness.  She testified of the good things that come from devotion to Him.

At the very end of the account of the first Christmas night found in Luke 2 there is one scripture that tugs on my heartstrings.  After the events of the evening died down and the parade of visitors had left the stable "Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart" (Luke 2:19).  Mary spent the first Christmas doing what every mother does - she pondered.

Have you ever wondered what it was that Mary pondered?  Surely she must have reflected, just like all new mothers do, on the baby's tiny fingers and wrinkled, new born feet.  Her thoughts were probably caught up in the wonder of the recent delivery and the miracle of birth.  Somewhere there must have been gratitude for the blessing of finally finding a quiet place to deliver the Son of God, even if that setting was rustic and simple.  Perhaps she thought of her overwhelming love for a loyal husband who had stood by her through so much.  And as humble strangers sent by angels filled that rustic stable, did she long for the familiarity of family and friends who normally would have been there to support and sustain her?

I imagine Mary's heart was full to almost bursting on that night.  Thoughts of wonder, contentment, and gratitude must have warmed her heart - celebration for the moment, anticipation for what lay ahead.  The blessing.  The burden. The responsibility. The gift.  

In the stillness of that evening as she watched over her sleeping, swaddled son, she little knew the extent of what was to happen within the next thirty-three years.  Mary knew only what she felt in her heart.  Years from that night I wonder if she looked back on that moment, still and sacred, and remembered those thoughts she pondered. 


The real story of Christmas begins with a young man and his weary wife who were desperately searching for somewhere to stay.  When I look at the figure of Joseph in my nativity set I find myself wondering what emotions filled his soul in those final moments that led up to the birth of Jesus.  The early events of that evening must have been heartbreaking for Joseph, the protector and guardian of his tiny family, as he watched the women he loved entering into labor without a place to stay. 

The scriptures tell us that on that night "there was no room for them in the inn" (Luke 2:7).  It seems logical that the young couple did not just stop at one place to find shelter, but were turned away over and over again with the words that must have become discouragingly familiar, "no room."

Our Christmas season sometimes resembles that first Christmas night.  The season is packed so full that we may find ourselves echoing that same sentiment, "no room."  With parties and programs, shopping and decorating, it is hard to make room for anything extra.  But after the last gift is given, the fancy dishes are cleared away, and the house is finally settled down for an evening, how often do we find ourselves longing for something more?
It is in those quiet hours that I think of Joseph.  On that first Christmas night there was no room, only the shelter of a small, simple stable.  It was in that humble circumstance that the Savior was born.  I often wonder, as I think of Joseph caring for his weary wife, and a handmade blanket for the baby.  

Ponder the thought of this humble setting and think about service.  Not just any kind of service, but heartfelt service.  Secret acts of kindness, given to those who are desperately in need.  The type of service described in this familiar Christmas story.

A Gift From The Heart by Norman Vincent Peale
New York City, where I live, is impressive at any time, but as Christmas approaches, it's overwhelming. Store windows blaze with light and color, furs and jewels. Golden angels, 40 feet tall, hover over Fifth Avenue. Wealth, power, opulence-nothing in the world can match this fabulous display.
Through the gleaming canyons, people hurry to find last- minute gifts. Money seems to be no problem. If there's a problem, it's that the recipients so often have everything they need or want that it's hard to find anything suitable, anything that will really say, "I love you."

Last December, as Christ's birthday drew near, a stranger was faced with just that problem. She had come from Switzerland to live in an American home and perfect her English. In return, she was willing to act as secretary, mind the grandchildren, do anything that was asked. She was just a girl in her late teens. Her name was Ursula.

One of the tasks her employers gave Ursula was keeping track of Christmas presents as they arrived. There were many, and all would require acknowledgment. Ursula kept a faithful record, but with a growing concern. She was grateful to her American friends; she wanted to show her gratitude by giving them a Christmas present. But nothing that she could buy with her small allowance could compare with the gifts she was recording daily. Besides, even without these gifts, it seemed that her employers already had everything.

At night, from her window, Ursula could see the snowy expanse of Central Park, and beyond it the jagged skyline of the city. Far below, in the restless streets, taxis hooted and traffic lights winked red and green. It was so different from the silent majesty of the Alps that at times she had to blink back tears of the homesickness she was careful never to show. It was in the solitude of her little room, a few days before Christmas, that a secret idea came to Ursula.

It was almost as if a voice spoke clearly, inside her head. "It's true," said the voice, "that many people in this city have much more than you do. But surely there are many who have far less. If you will think about this, you may find a solution to what's troubling you."

Ursula thought long and hard. Finally on her day off, which was Christmas Eve, she went to a great department store. She moved slowly along the crowded aisles, selecting and rejecting things in her mind. At last she bought some-thing, and had it wrapped in gaily colored paper. She went out into the gray twilight and looked helplessly around. Finally, she went up to a doorman, resplendent in blue and gold. "Excuse me, please," she said in her hesitant English, "can you tell me where to find a poor street?"  "A poor street, miss?" said the puzzled man. "Yes, a very poor street. The poorest in the city."

The doorman looked doubtful. "Well, you might try Harlem. Or down in the Village. Or the Lower East Side, maybe."  But these names meant nothing to Ursula. She thanked the doorman and walked along, threading her way through the stream of shoppers until she came to a tall policeman. "Please," she said, "can you direct me to a very poor street ... in Harlem?"

The policeman looked at her sharply and shook his head. "Harlem's no place for you, miss." And he blew his whistle and sent the traffic swirling past.
Holding her package carefully, Ursula walked on, head bowed against the sharp wind. If a street looked poorer than the one she was on, she took it. But none seemed like the slums she had heard about. Once she stopped a woman, "Please, where do the very poor people live?" But the woman gave her a hard stare and hurried on.

Darkness came sifting from the sky. Ursula was cold and discouraged and afraid of becoming lost. She came to an intersection and stood forlornly on the comer. What she was trying to do suddenly seemed foolish, impulsive, absurd. Then, through the traffic's roar, she heard the cheerful tinkle of a bell. On the comer opposite, a Salvation Army man was making his holiday traditional Christmas appeal.

At once Ursula felt better; The Salvation Army was a part of life in Switzerland, too. Surely this man could tell her what she wanted to know. She waited for the light, then crossed over to him. "Can you help me? I'm looking for a baby. I have here a little present for the poorest baby I can find." And she held up the package with the green ribbon and the gaily colored paper.
Dressed in gloves and overcoat a size too big for him, he seemed a very ordinary man. But behind his steel-rimmed glasses his eyes were kind. He looked at Ursula and stopped ringing his bell. "What sort of present?" he asked.

"A little dress. For a small, poor baby. Do you know of one?"
"Oh, yes," he said. "Of more than one, I'm afraid." "Is it far away? I could take a taxi maybe?"

The Salvation Army man wrinkled his forehead. Finally he said, "It's almost six o'clock. My relief will show up then. If you want to wait, and you can afford a dollar taxi ride, I'll take you to a family in my own neighborhood who needs just about everything."

"And they have a small baby?" "A very small baby."
"Then," said Ursula joyfully, "I wait!"

The substitute bell-ringer came. A cruising taxi slowed. In its welcome warmth, she told her new friend about herself, how she came to be in New York, what she was trying to do. He listened in silence, and the taxi driver listened too. When they reached their destination, the driver said, "Take your time, miss. I'll wait for you."

On the sidewalk, Ursula stared up at the forbidding tenement-dark, decaying, saturated with hopelessness. A gust of wind, iron-cold, stirred the refuse in the street and rattled the reeling ash cans. "They live on the third floor," the Salvation Army man said. "Shall we go up?"

But Ursula shook her head. "They would try to thank me, and this is not from me." She pressed the package into his hand. "Take it up for me, please. Say it's from ... from someone who has everything."

The taxi bore her swiftly from the dark streets to lighted ones, from misery to abundance. She tried to visualize the Salvation Army man climbing the stairs, the knock, the explanation, the package being opened, the dress on the baby. It was hard to do.

Arriving at the apartment on Fifth Avenue where she lived, she fumbled in her purse. But the driver flicked the flag up. "No charge, miss."
"No charge?" echoed Ursula, bewildered. "Don't worry," the driver said. "I've been paid." He smiled at her and drove away.

Ursula was up early the next day. She set the table with special care. By the time she was finished, the family was awake, and there was all the excitement and laughter of Christmas morning. Soon the living room was a sea of gay discarded wrappings. Ursula thanked everyone for the presents she received.

Finally, when there was a lull, she began to explain hesitantly why there seemed to be none from her. She told about going to the department store. She told about the Salvation Army man. She told about the taxi driver. When she was finished, there was a long silence. No one seemed to trust himself to speak.

"So you see," said Ursula, "I try to do kindness in your name. And this is my Christmas present to you."

How do I know all this? I know it because ours was the home where Ursula lived. Ours was the Christmas she shared. We were like many Americans, so richly blessed that to this child there seemed to be nothing she could add to all the material things we already had. And so she offered something of far greater value: a gift from the heart, an act of kindness carried out in our name.

Strange, isn't it? A shy Swiss girl, alone in a great impersonal city. You would think that nothing she could do would affect anyone. And yet, by trying to give away love, she brought the true spirit of Christmas into our lives, the spirit of selfless giving. That was Ursula's secret-and she shared it with us all.
One of my favorite parts of this story is that in the midst of the traffic's roar, Ursula heard the cheerful tinkle of a bell.  Such a quiet noise in the midst of confusion, but through the cacophony of sound, Ursula heard a tiny bell ring.  Because she followed its sound, she was eventually led to someone who needed what she had to give.  

If we choose, we too can hear the silent prompting amidst the holiday confusion - whispers of what we might do to share an act of kindness with someone in need this season.  Ursula's gift was powerful because she performed an act of kindness in someone else's name.  Her journey to make sure the present ended up where it was really needed increased the meaning of the gift.  

Can you hear the cheerful tinkle of the bell this season?  What is it prompting you to do?  The tradition of the tinkling bell suggests a whispered prompting that might be followed and an act of secret service that could be performed.  A familiar Christmas quote counsels, "At one time most of my friends could hear the bell, but as years passed, it fell silent for all of them.  Though I've grown old, the bell still rings for me as it does for all who truly believe."  In a season that is packed full with the hustle and bustle of Christmas, I hope each of us will make room in our hearts to hear the tinkling bell and live as true believers. 

Spend some time this week opening your heart to hear the quiet promptings.  If you choose you can wear the bell I've enclosed here to help remind you.  As you hear its cheerful sound throughout the day it could act as a reminder for you to follow a quiet prompting and perform a secret act of kindness.  The service might require you to journey out of your way, but I have found that often the journey that accompanies the giving of these heartfelt gifts becomes one of my most precious Christmas memories.

I hope that if I had been in Bethlehem on that first Christmas night I would have done something to help the couple to ease their struggle.  Listening for the cheerful tinkling of the bell and then following the quiet promptings to serve in the midst of traditional celebrations can help us to realize our heartfelt desires to serve.  

 The Angel

There is a certain feeling that surrounds the Christmas season - every day is filled with anticipation of good things to come.  We prepare delicious food together in the kitchen, hide behind closed doors wrapping gifts, and make plans to gather with family and friends.  As we count down the days from the first to the twenty-fourth, the feeling of expectation grows.  I find it interesting how much this feeling of anticipation reminds me of the simple gift the angels brought to the shepherds on that first Christmas night - good tidings and great joy.

In my minds eye, I can picture the angels hovering over the shepherd's field in a magical moment when "heaven and earth seemed to mingle, as suddenly an Angel stood before their dazzled eyes, while the outstreaming glory of the Lord seemed to enwrap them, as in a mantle of light.  Surprise, awe, fear would be hushed into calm and expectancy as from the Angel they heard ...the great joy of those good tidings which he brought: that the long-promised Savior, Messiah, Lord, was born in the City of David...

"It was as if attendant angels had only waited the signal...Heaven took up the strain of 'glory'; earth echoed it as 'peace'; it fell on ears and hearts of men as 'good pleasure':

                                      "Glory to God in the highest -
                                      And upon earth peace -
                                      Among men good pleasure!"

I love to imagine the multitude of heaven gathering to fill the night with emotion that is so much a part of the Christmas season - the anticipation of good things to come. 

Have you ever noticed that many of the Christmas carols inspire within us those same feelings of good tiding and great joy?  Phillip Brooks, the author of "O Little Town of Bethlehem," wrote the following of an experience he had on Christmas Eve in 1865: "I remember especially on Christmas Eve, when I was standing in the old church in Bethlehem, close to the spot where Jesus was born, when the whole church was ringing hour after hour with splendid hymns of praise to God, how again and again it seemed as if I could hear voices I knew well, telling each other of the 'Wonderful Night' of the Savior's birth."

I love the thought of voices we know well, telling each other of the night of Christ's birth.  Isn't that what we do when we gather together to sing as friends, families, or congregations?  It is one of the sacred ways we testify to each other of the birth of our Savior.  Throughout our neighborhoods, from home to home and door to door, voices we know well spread great joy and good tidings with melodies that fill our homes and hearts with the Spirit.  The songs help us to picture that first Christmas when the "world in solemn stillness lay to hear the angels sing."  "Glories stream from heaven afar, heavenly hosts sing Alleluia," and within that moment heaven's invitation was extended, the same invitation that calls us today, "Come and behold Him,...O, come, let us adore Him."

Carolers are heaven-sent angels at Christmastime, gathering together to repeat the sounding joy, encouraging every heart to prepare Him room, and echoing the wish nestled inside each of our hearts: "Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask thee to stay close by me forever, and love me, I pray."  Somehow music softens our hearts, lifts our spirits, and draws us closer to the Lord.  The humble invitation of the carolers calls out to each of us: "Come to Bethlehem to see,...Come, adore on bended knee."  

Knowing what it would mean to the world, the multitude of angels extended the first invitation on that Christmas night to a group of shepherds gathered in a sacred field: Come unto Christ.  I imagine they must have watched for the joy on the faces of the shepherds as they ran with haste to the stable to discover the precious gift hidden inside.

Today the invitation is the same.  Come. Prepare Him room.  Invite Him in.  "Where charity stands watching and faith holds wide the door, the dark night wakes, the glory breaks, and Christmas comes once more."

Hold wide the door.  Create the anticipation of Christmas by filling your home or your heart with the carols of the season.

This Christmas season remember the importance of the angels on that first Christmas night and the sweet message they brought to the earth.  They came to spread great joy, to give good tidings, to create anticipation.  Let the music of the season surround you, and as you listen to familiar voices testify of the Savior's birth, may you find your heart filling with those same emotions, not just until it is full - but until it is overflowing.

The Shepherd

I have a friend that relayed the following story to me.
The December I was eight years old, I became very ill.  The severity of the illness necessitated that I be quarantined in our house for weeks.  To prevent any chance of spreading the illness, I could have no visitors.  I missed all of the holiday celebrations - the family gatherings, making candy can cookies and fudge, going to see the lights.

Now, over 30 years later, there is not much I remember about that Christmas.  I don't remember any of the gifts given or received.  I must have been immensely sad to miss all of the school celebrations and heartbroken to miss the family gatherings, but even those memories have left me.

What I do know is that every year we gather together to watch our family videos, and when we come to the celebration for the year 1978, I am not there.  I missed Christmas.  It doesn't matter how many times I watch the video and see the panda pillows my grandma made for each of the grandchildren and the hand-sewn, super-hero capes made for the little boys, I still have no recollection of that experience.  I can't remember the moment because I wasn't part of the celebration - I wasn't there.
When I think of the first Christmas night, my thoughts often focus on the shepherds.  Theirs was a twenty-four hour job.  The responsibility of their assignment did not end when the sun went down - they tended the flock all day and their watch extended through the night.  Then came the night when the angel of the Lord visited the shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock, and extended an invitation: "For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord... Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger" (Luke 2:11-12)

On that important evening, I wonder if each shepherd accepted the invitation.  After the announcement was given, did they all go now and with haste to see the thing the Lord had made know unto them?  I like to think they did.

It breaks my heart to think of the opportunity missed if one shepherd hadn't gone.  How would it be to live your life knowing you weren't a part of the celebration, that you missed the memory, to know you could never get back the moment because you weren't there?  How would it feel to know you missed Christ?

Each of us has an opportunity every Christmas to search for and find the Lord.  If we carefully study the story of the shepherds found in Luke 2, we can learn much about what it means to search for the Lord in the midst of the celebration, and the importance of sharing with others what we hear, see, and feel after those experiences.  From the example of the shepherds we learn what we need to do to make sure we don't miss Christ within our Christmas celebrations. 

The Wise Men

One November morning I received a phone call from a friend who was bursting with enthusiasm over a Christmas tradition she had just heard about.  "You won't believe it," she told me, "but the children in this family receive only three gifts of Christmas morning.  Just three gifts!  Isn't that amazing?"

A detailed explanation followed her outburst.  Inspired by the knowledge that the Christ child received just three gifts - gold, frankincense, and myrrh, one brilliant mother decided to simplify her Christmas giving.  She began by researching the meaning behind the three gifts.  Gold was a gift for a king, celebrating the baby's royalty.  Myrrh, a common incense used for cleaning and for burial, was given in remembrance of His humanity and foreshadowed the importance of His death.  Frankincense, an incense used in the temple, represented His divinity.  After studying at great length, this mother decided her gift giving would follow this same pattern.  On Christmas morning each gift her children opened would be inspired by the three gifts of the Magi.

I was instantly intrigued.  Already on my quest to fill Christmas with Christ, here was a way to simplify and bring meaning to our gift giving.  On Christmas morning each of my children receives a gift from Santa, and then three other gifts inspired from the gifts of the Magi - one joyful, one that is needful, and one that is meaningful.  This gift-giving idea will simplify our Christmas morning and allow us to really focus on what we are giving, and why.  In their simplicity - the gifts will become more personal and meaningful. 

This is just one of the many lessons we can learn from the wise men.  Studying their experience teaches us even more.  The account of their journey leads us to believe that it was a privilege for them to search to know the Lord.  From the wise men, we learn the importance of understanding the prophecies in the scriptures and being willing to watch carefully for signs of the Savior.  Another lesson can be found in the message of this familiar quote, "Wise men still seek Him," which reminds us of the importance pf always searching to know the Lord.  But there is one important lesson we sometimes overlook.  Do you remember what happened after the wise men found the Lord?  In an effort to ensure the child's safety,  and in order to avoid Herod, the wise men returned home another way.  They journeyed another way.

In a world filled with the hustle and bustle of the season, we often find ourselves pulled in many different directions, none of which leads us to Christ.  Only the wisest are inclined to journey another way - a way that will protect their belief in Christ.

The wise men remind us of our search to know the Lord, and how sometimes we have to journey another way to come closer to Him.  Just like the wise men, the journey may not be what we had originally planned; rather it is what we feel inspired to do.  This season, try to find a way to do things differently.  This year, follow the example of the Magi and do something another way.

The Lamb
A nativity set is not complete without the small figure of a lamb.  Symbolic of many teachings of Christ, the lamb often represents a true follower.  Have you ever wondered why a lamb is so faithful to the shepherd?  Perhaps it is because his watchcare is constant; his sheep are never left alone.  Maybe it is because he has proved himself as a keeper of safety - one who leads his flock to water and ensures that they never go hungry.  Over time, the sheep learn to recognize his hand in their life.  A true shepherd is known by his sheep.  Their following him becomes a symbol of their gratitude for his devotion.

A dear friend of mine once told me she had looked up synonyms for the word gratitude in the dictionary.  She found words such as appreciation, indebtedness, thanks, and acknowledgment.  Then she looked up the verbs that went with gratitude.  Two phrases immediately stood out to her.  One was "fall to your knees," and the other was "never forget."  I find it interesting that those two actions are familiar symbols of worship for those who are true followers of Christ.

The Christmas story is filled with gratitude and thanksgiving - angels praising God (Luke 2:13), shepherds glorifying and praising God (Luke 2:20), and wise men who rejoiced (Matthew 2:20).  The scriptural account of the nativity includes more than one fall-to-your-knees moment.  These sacred moments have been carefully recorded, never to be forgotten.  But within the sacred account found in Luke 2, two characters are mentioned who are often overlooked - Simeon and Anna.

I often find myself pondering why their simple stories are so often left out when the Christmas story is read, and I have wondered on numerous occasions why their figurines are not found in any nativity collections.  Simeon and Anna's stories are similar, and they play an important role in the celebration of the birth of Christ.  The lessons contained within each are almost repetitive - one right after another - each a powerful reminder of how we can become true followers of the Good Shepherd, what we need to do to prepare our hearts to recognize Him, and the gratitude that comes in that instant.

Simeon was an older man who was just and devout.  He had been promised that he would not die before seeing Christ, and his heart was filled with that longing.  It was the Spirit that prompted him to go to the temple on the day Mary and Joseph came to present their son to the Lord.  It was there that he discovered the Christ child, and "he took Him in his arms and burst into rapt thanksgiving."

What can we learn from Simeon?  Three life-changing lessons: He longed to know Christ, he responded to the promptings of the Spirit, and, in the very instant he recognized the Christ child, he expressed gratitude immediately.  We too can follow Simeon's example - we can long to know Christ and prepare so that He will be instantly recognizable, we can feel closer to Christ as we respond to the promptings of the Spirit, and we can remember to express gratitude in those moments when we see His hand in our lives.

Anna, a widow of great age, was also in the temple on that day.  Having been widowed for eighty-four years, she had led a life of mourning.  We are told that she never left the temple, in fact, "it was her constant and loved resort."  Anna's days were filled with service to God and much fasting and prayer.  Just like Simeon, "deepest in her soul was longing."  Service, prayer, and fasting had prepared her heart to receive Jesus.  On that day, filled with inspiration, she, like Simeon, was able to recognize Christ, and "in that instant gave thanks" (Luke 2:38).

Both Simeon and Anna were true followers of Christ.  They had prepared their hearts to instantly recognize Him.  Both knew how to act on promptings from the Spirit, and they both expressed humble gratitude for the testimony they had been given.  I love that their recognition was instant and that their gratitude was immediate.  Their stories must not be overlooked; the lessons are far too valuable.  From them we learn the importance of gratitude within the celebration.

For Christmas one year my mom gave our family a Tender Mercy Tree and small Tender Mercy journals - one for everyone in the family.  The tree held rolled-up scrolls of paper tied with ribbon.  A scripture had been carefully typed on each scroll as a reminder for us to watch for the hand of the Lord in our lives and to recognize His tender mercies, or gentle works of grace, all around us.  Each evening we would gather together and unroll one of the small scrolls.  After someone read the scripture, we took a moment to reflect on the events of the day.  We tried to focus on a moment when we had experienced grace in the form of a tender mercy from the Lord during the day.  We remembered to look for tender mercies that had been extended to us through the hands of others. Then we wrote our feelings of gratitude in our Tender Mercy journals.  In that instant, we gave thanks.  The journals became a reminder of our gratitude and allowed us to prepare our hearts for the season.

I don't think it is a coincidence that Thanksgiving comes before Christmas on the calendar.  I believe that a season of gratitude always precedes a season of giving.  Gratitude prepares our hearts.  Within the memory of our blessings we begin to realize how much we truly have to give.  But gratitude can also prepare our hearts in a different way - it can help us recognize Christ. 

Expressing our gratitude helps us to become true followers of Christ - followers who instantly recognize His hand in our lives.  As you strive to fill your heart with gratitude this season, consider this message found in a familiar hymn.  As we gather together to offer prayer of thanksgiving we are gently reminded, "He forgets not His own."  The Good Shepherd is aware of us, and He has great blessings in store for us.  None of us will be forgotten by the Lord; each of us will have the opportunity to experience miracle from Him.  As we look back over our lives, we should remember those fall-to-your-knees moments of gratitude.  The simple stories of Simeon and Anna can help remind us to make room for gratitude in the midst of our celebrations.  Simeon and Anna were true followers of Christ.  Humble and faithful servants, they were as sheep, and recognized their shepherd because they knew His voice (see John 10:4).  Although the figures of Simeon and Anna are not found in any nativity sets, use the lamb to represent Simeon and Anna, who recognized the Shepherd and followed Him with grateful hearts.

Create your own Tender Mercy Tree and Tender Mercy Scrolls. 

Tender Mercy Scripture Scrolls
2 Corinthians 1:3
Psalm 145:9
Psalm 119:156
Psalm 119:77
Psalm 69:16
Psalm 40:11
Psalm 103:2, 4

Psalm 25:6
Luke 1:78
James 5:11

The Christ Child

In the first few years of our marriage we did not own a nativity set.  it was something that I had always wanted but could never afford.  So one year shortly after our first child was born I painted a little wooden set and I bought a very simple crèche.  I love that little nativity set, and we still have it today.  It reminds me of when our family was very small.

I love looking at the little baby Jesus - the most important figure in the nativity.  He reminds me of where my focus needs to be.  Where is your focus this Christmas season?  Can you see Jesus?  

I hope He has become the focus of your celebration, the reason for the season, the center of your Christmas beliefs.  As Christ becomes our focus, we will begin to realize that Christmas is more than a date on the calendar - it is a way of living.  Our hearts can be filled with Christmas every day if we would give as He would have us give, if we would live as He would have us live.  I love a poem by Howard Thurman:

The Work Of Christmas
When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among brothers,
To make music in the heart.

The poem reminds us that what Jesus Christ gives us does not require money, it requires the heart.  As we fill our lives with the work of Christmas, we will find ourselves living as Christ taught - to help others.  We will help others to see Christ.


#2. The 12 Days of Keeping Christ in Christmas Music CD & Stories
For this gift we put together a collection of songs and stories for our missionaries to listen to and read throughout the Christmas season.  We first put together a music 'Playlist' (Your Customized Collection of Audio) on YouTube.  It's fairly easy to do and you can burn your 'Playlist' to a CD when you are finished.  (Links to the songs provided below) You can do the same thing with iTunes, Pandora, or 8Tracks.  We then printed the talks and stories that our Missionaries were to read on each of the 12 Days - then had them bound into a booklet.  You can do this at any printing shop like Staples, Alphagraphics, etc.  Or you can buy a clear plastic file folder with binder and slip the stories inside and secure with the colored binder.   (Links for stories, poems, and lyrics below)  And finally we printed off the Day to Day cards letting them know which songs to listen to and which stories and scriptures to read onto photo paper - then laminated them.  You can punch a hole in the top left corner of the cards and tie them all together with a ribbon or use a jump ring. 

1. Breathe of Heaven - Amy Grant
2. Still, Still, Still - The Gregory Brothers
3. Welcome to Our World - Chris Rice
4. Carols Sing - Michael W. Smith  
5. Do You Hear What I Hear - Carrie Underwood  
6. Christmastime - Michael W. Smith  
8. If You But Trust In God to Guide You - Fountainview Academy
9. I Stand All Amazed - Vocal Point
  10. Alleluia - Mormon Tabernacle Choir
11. One by One - Nathan Pacheco, Lyceum Philharmonic
12. Silent Night - Michael Bublé
Believe - The Polar Express

If you want to burn more than just 12 songs - Here are a few other great ones!

1. The Prayer - Celine Dion and Josh Groban  
2. Angels we Have Heard On High - The Piano Guys
3. Joy to the World - Amy Grant
4. O Holy Night - Celine Dion  
5. O Come All Ye Faithful - David Archuleta
6. Silent Night - Lady Antebellem  
7.   It Came Upon A Midnight Clear - Josh Groban
8.  Away in a Manger - The Piano Guys  

The 12 Days of Keeping Christ in Christmas

Page 1: Listen to 'Breathe of Heaven'.  Read Luke 1:30-38, and 'Maybe Christmas Doesn't Come From a Store' by Jeffrey R. Holland.  Imagine: The feelings Mary must have experienced as she prepared to give birth and raise the Son of God.

Ensign December 1977: Maybe Christmas Doesn’t Come from a Store by Jeffrey R. Holland Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles  (Use 2nd half of talk starting with "I was a student at BYU just...)

Page 2: Listen to 'Still, Still, Still'. Read Isaiah 9:6, and 'Three Levels of Christmas'.  Imagine: The sweet stillness that drifted through the air that the Prince of Peace brought. At what level of Christmas will you celebrate?

Three Levels of Christmas by William B. Smart

Page 3: Listen to 'Welcome to Our World'.  Read Luke 1:30-38, and 'The Lord's Trees'.  Imagine: Am I living as Christ would have me live?  Am I prepared to follow His plan for me?

The Lord’s Trees
Far away on a hillside grew a forest of trees – little and big, old and young, tall and small. The trees were very happy with life just as it was on the hillside. They loved the warm sunlight of summer, spring’s cool silvery rains, the gorgeous reds and golds of autumn and winter’s blanket of glistening snow. But sometimes, too, they spoke of the future, of the things they would like to do and be when they grew up. In this forest there was a mother tree and her three children.

One said, “You know, I should like to be a baby’s cradle. I have seen people come into this forest carrying babies in their arms. I think a baby is the sweetest thing I have ever seen and I should like to be made into a baby’s bed.” The second tree spoke. “That would not please me at all. I want to be something important. I should like to cross many waters and carry cargoes of gold.” The third tree stood off by himself, apparently in deep reflections, but did not speak. “And what would you like to be?” asked the mother tree. “Have you no dream for the future?” “No dream,” he answered, “except to point men to God. What could a tree do better than that?”

Years passed and the three little trees grew up to be beautiful tall trees. One day men came to the forest and cut down the first tree.

 I wonder whether I shall be made into a baby’s cradle now? I hope so. I have waited so long.” He whispered. But the little tree was not made4 into a cradle. Instead, it was cut into rough pieces and carelessly put together to form a manger in Bethlehem. He was heartbroken. “I do not like this at all.” He wailed. “This is not what I planned to be – shoved into this dark stable with no one to see me but the cattle.”

But God, who loved the little trees, whispered, “Wait, I will show you something.” And he did. For there were in the same country, shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flocks by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, “Fear not: for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of heavenly host praising God, and say, “Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth, peace, and good will toward men.” And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherd said one to another. Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which has come to pass, which the Lord hath made known to us. And they came with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
In the stillness of the night, God had laid there His own little baby, the Son of God. The manger quivered with delight. “Oh, this is wonderful,” he whispered. “In all my dreams I never thought to hold a baby like this. This is better than all my planning. Why, I am part of a miracle.” And out on the hillside the trees of the forest clapped their hands because their brother, the little manger, had seen his wish come true. 

Years passed by, and men came to the forest to cut down the second tree. “I wonder whether I shall be made into a great vessel now,” this one thought. “I have waited so long. Now perhaps, I shall do great things of which I have dreamed.” But, the little tree did not do great things. He was not made into a great ship to cross the ocean, but instead he became a tiny fishing boat, owned by a simple fisherman named Peter. “To think that my life has come to this,” he said. “Just a fishing boat. And Pete is only a fisherman.” But God who loves the little trees, said, “Wait, I will show you something.” And He did.

Far out from the crowd, came a person, called Jesus, who entered into the little boat and sat down and taught the people. He spoke of such wisdom, beauty and light that the multitude and eve that little boat listened eagerly. “This is wonderful,” he whispered. “In all my dreams I never thought to carry a cargo like this. Why, I am part of the miracle. Jesus came to the earth to teach all of the people the way to live. This is better than all of my planning.” ***And out on the hillside all of the trees of the forest clapped their hands because their brother, the little boat, had seen his wish come true.

Months went by, and men came to the forest and cut down the third tree. The one that wanted just to stand on the hill and point the way to God. He was most unhappy as the axe cut into his heart. “I don’t want to go from the valley,” he thought. “Why couldn’t they leave me alone?” But the men did not leave the little tree alone. They tore away his branches; they cut into his bark, in the form of a cross. The little tree quivered through all its being. “This is terrible,” he whispered. “They are going to hang someone. Oh, I never wanted this to happen to me. I only wanted to point men to God. This is awful.” But God, who loves the little trees said, “Wait, I will show you something”, and He did.

For one day, outside Jerusalem, a great multitude gathered. They had come to hang Jesus upon the cross. The sky became dark, and a storm came upon the land, there was wind and lightening. Earthquakes frightened the people. Some knew that a great mistake had been made. One Roman soldier, standing near the cross said, “Truly this was the Son of God.”

The body of Jesus was taken off the cross and carefully laid in a tomb. There was much sadness because of His great suffering. Then, a miracle happened; three days after, Jesus who had been dead, came to life again. He looked the same, yet he was different. Jesus had returned as a resurrected being, and He could never die again. He would live forever. And the cross began to understand. “This is wonderful,” he whispered. “I am part of a miracle. Jesus’ greatest mission was to give His life so that all who have ever lived on this earth can someday return to God and live with Him again. In all of my dreams I never thought to point men to God in this way. This is better than all of my planning.”

At this Christmas time, it is good for all of us to stop and think of that which Jesus has done for us. We can remember that Jesus, the Son of God, was sent as a gift to each one of us to teach us the way to live: we can study and learn the teachings of Jesus and keep His commandments and live as we should; then we too can live again with our Heavenly Father and Jesus and with our parents and family forever.
This is the Miracle of Christmas!

Page 4: Listen to 'Carols Sing'.  Read 2 Nephi 25:26, and 'Santa Whispered'.  Imagine: As you decorate this season think about what each symbol of Christmas represents. 

Santa Whispered...
Teach the children the true meaning of

The Star - A Heavenly Sign of prophecy fulfilled long ages ago; the shining hope of all mankind.

Red - The first color of Christmas symbolizing the Savior's sacrifice of all.

Fir Tree - Evergreen - The second color of Christmas shows everlasting life - the needles point heaven ward.

The Bell - Rings out to guide lost sheep back to the fold; signifying that all are precious in the eyes of the Lord.

The Candle - A mirror of starlight reflecting our thanks for the star of Bethlehem.

Gift Bow - Tied as we all should be tied together in bonds of goodwill forever.

Candy Cane - The shepherd's crook used to bring lambs back to the fold, a reminder that we are all our brother's keeper.

The Wreath - A symbol of the never ending, eternal nature of love, having no beginning and no end.
Please...teach the children.

Page 5:  Listen to 'Do you hear what I hear". Read 'Maybe Christmas Doesn't Come From a Store'. Imagine: The best part of Christmas is focusing on the Savior, not the ribbons and bows.

Ensign December 1977: Maybe Christmas Doesn’t Come from a Store by Jeffrey R. Holland Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (Use 1st half of the talk - ending with "Christmas, then is for children - of all ages.)

Page 6: Listen to 'Christmastime'.  Read Matthew 10:39, and 'The Gifts of Christmas' by Howard W. Hunter. Imagine: The sweet sound of the angels singing, rejoicing, and ringing in the Savior's birth.

Ensign December 2002: The Gifts of Christmas by President Howard W. Hunter
Give as Jesus Gave

"We should strive to give as Jesus gave.  Giving of oneself is a holy gift.  This Christmas, mend a quarrel.  Seek out a forgotten friend.  Dismiss suspicion and replace it with trust.  Write a letter.  Give a soft answer.  Encourage youth.  Manifest your loyalty in word and deed.  Keep a promise.  Forgo a grudge.  Forgive an Enemy.  Apologize.  Try to understand.  Examine your demands on others.  think first of someone else.  Be kind.  Be gentle.  Laugh a little more.  Express your gratitude.  Welcome a stranger.  Gladden the heart of a child.  Take pleasure in the beauty of the earth.  Speak your love and then speak it again.  Christmas is a celebration.  There is no celebration that compares with the realization of it's true meaning - with the sudden stirring of the heart that has extended itself unselfishly in the things that matter most.  Peace can only come through living the principles of the gospel and by following the program of the Prince of Peace.  May we find our spiritual thirst quenched by the living water of the Savior.  May He become our focal point at this Christmas season, and always."
Howard W. Hunter
December, 1994
Performed by
Michael W. Smith

Ring Christmas bells
Ring them loud with the message bringing
Peace on earth
Tidings of good cheer
Come carolers
Come and join with the angels singing
Joy to the world
Christmastime is here again

Children gather around and listen
You'll hear the sound
Of angels filling the sky
Telling everyone
Christmastime is here

Loved ones close to our hearts
And strangers in lands afar
Together share the joy

Page 7: Listen to 'Mary's boy child - Long time ago in Bethlehem'. Read Luke 19:38 and Poem 'Happy Birthday dear Jesus' by Michelle Davis. Imagine: A long time ago, a mother lay by the side of a tiny king, He taught men of faith to forgive.

A long time ago in a land far away
A child was born on a cold winter's day
He wasn't the baby your thinking about
But another small lad; he stood short and stout.

He grew up to be quite a caring old man
He loved little children, every one in the land.
He found the "Good Book" and studied its pages
It was the story of Jesus passed down through the ages.

His heart overflowed as he read.  Could it be?
A love so divine that he died just for me?
A twinkle appeared in his eye on that day
He found a road straight to Heaven and Christ was the way.

As Christmas came close, his heart filled with joy
He'd show God's people he loved them - every girl, every boy
He made lots of goodies and stocked up his shelves
Yes, Santa was busy and so were his elves.

He was filled with such love, that he wanted to share
So he handed out gifts to kids everywhere
Praise be to God.  Let the angels sing
For this jolly old man spreads love for the King.

 As he steps into the chimney, he looks high above
And whispers, "Happy Birthday dear Jesus.  From Santa, with love."

Michelle Davis

Page 8: Listen to 'If you but trust in God to guide you'. Read John 14:18 and the Lyrics to 'If'.  Imagine: How the Savior is always there for us in our time of need.

If I trust in God to guide me
He will gently lead
If I bid him walk beside me
He my soul will feed
If I plead for hope and courage
He will hear my prayer
If I call Him in my weakness
He will always hear
If I put my trust in Jesus
His true lamb I'll be
As a Shepherd seeks lost ones
He'll watch over me
If I'm feeling sad or lonely
He will understand
He will heal my heart to hear it
He will comfort me
If I hear and heed His promptings
I'll not go astray
With a still, small voice of wisdom
He will show the way
I will ever praise the Father
Trust in Jesus Christ
I will let the Holy Spirit
Guide me through my life

Page 9: Listen to 'I Stand All Amazed'.  Read John 13:12-16 and 'He Who Would Be Chief Among You'. Imagine: What goodness the world would be filled with if we patterned our lives after the Savior's ultimate example of service.

New Era January 1981: He Who Would Be Chief Among You by Carol Lynn Pearson

Page 10: Listen to 'Alleluia'.  Read Mosiah 15:5 and 'I Remember'.  Imagine: The emotional and physical pain Jesus felt in Gethsemane.  How the heaven's must have rejoiced once His great sacrifice was finally complete. 

I Remember

It was a ministry to the beaten, bewildered people of Judah.  When they were sick, He healed them; when they wept, He comforted them; when they were hungry, He fed them; when other forgot, He remembered.  He was a lonely man seeking the lonely; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief - yet His sorrows were those of others and His grief not of His own making.

The humble loved Him, but many among the influential despised Him.  Sadducees and Pharisees called Him a glutton, a wine-bibber, a friend of harlots.  Such epithets left Him trembling in spirit.  Once, while the city slept, He walked alone through Jerusalem's empty street and out the eastern gate to the garden.  There, above the moon-drenched city, He cried out, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered the children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and he would now!"  (Matthew 23:37)

It began on a Thursday night in April, Jesus had returned to the city for that last time after a farewell supper with those who knew and loved Him best; he had led them to Gethsemane.  There, in the garden, Jesus laid bare.  His very soul in such anguish as only a God could endure.  Others may think of Calvary as His place of atonement, but I think of Gethsemane, too.

In the morning, following His arrest, Jesus was brought before the high priest and the Jewish Sanhedrin for trial.  He listened to the lies of false witness, felt the slap of hands upon His face, and heard the sentence of death for claiming to be the Son of God.  He said nothing.  Nor did He speak a defense before the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate.  Even the fury of His own people shouting, "Crucify Him, Crucify Him" failed to break His silence.  The ministry of words was over; only the ministry of blood remained.

As the sun reached its zenith at noon, the whipped, bleeding body of Jesus was being nailed to the cross like those He may have seen in Sepphoris as a child many years before.  The hours dragged by in an agony of mockery and tears.

Mary stood by the cross.  The sky grew dark.  It was three o'clock...and Jesus, with a mask of inexpressible weariness upon His face, lifted His eyes to His Father's eyes and whispered, "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit."  (Luke 23:46)

How do you remember Him?

Page 11: Listen to "One by One". Read Ether 4:11-12 and Lyrics to "One by One".  Imagine: What a miracle His visit represents and a testament to the truthfulness of the Gospel. 

One by One

One by one, everyone
One by one we came
To look upon our Lord
And feast upon His word,
One by one.
One by one, everyone
One by one, we came;
The halt, the blind, the lame
He healed us in His name,
One by one.
He spoke what no tongue can speak;
What ear hath not heard before.
We saw what no eyes hath seen;
The joys of eternity!
Then He blessed our little ones,
and we were overcome,
Alleluia, Alleluia
O Gloria.
One by one, everyone,
One by one we came
To look upon our Lord.

Page 12: Listen to 'Silent Night' and 'Believe'. Read Luke 1:20-21, Child in a Manger, and 'Christmas Scene' by Neal A. Maxwell. Imagine: The glorious arrival of the little babe, lying in the manger that holy night. The greatest gift.
Child in the Manger

Child in the manger
Infant of Mary
Outcast and Stranger, Lord of all
Child who inherits
All our transgressions
All our demerits on him fall

Once the most holy
Child of salvation
Gently and lowly
Now as our glorious mighty redeemer
See him victorious
O'er each foe

Prophets foretold him
Infant of wonder
Angels behold him on his throne
Worthy our Savior
Of all our praises
Happy Forever are his own.

Lyrics from a song performed
By Michael W. Smith

Christmas Scene by Neal A. Maxwell  

#3. The Light of the World Booklet and Zions Mercantile Battery Operated Lighted Candle - Both from Deseret Book Store

#4. The Life of Jesus the Christ Bible Video & Temple Cards

#5. In Search of the Christmas Spirit Booklet & Star Ornament

#6. Christmas Tree Nativity Ornament made from Wood from Bethlehem

#7. General Conference edition Ensign & Picture of Christ


#8. Tie Gift Bag (Elders), Certs, Lip Balm, Pens, Christmas Candy

Shopping List
Deseret Book
DSD Hymn Book Green (English) $5.00 (Imprinting $3.00 extra)
DSD Spanish Pocket Hymn Book $4.25  (Imprinting $3.00 extra)
Ensign Magazine Conference Edition $1.00
5X7 His Name Shall Be Called Wonderful picture $1.99
3X4 His Name Shall Be Called Wonderful card .99Cents
Mini Elder or Sister Missionary Stocking $8.99
Preach My Gospel Leather Covers $14.99
Celebrating a Christ Centered Christmas by Emily Belle Freeman $10.99
Zions Mercantile Battery Operated Lighted Candle $6.95
Booklet 'Light of the World' Insights into the birth of Christ $2.99
Booklet 'Wise Men and Women Still Adore Him' $2.99
Booklet 'The Perfect Gift' $2.99        
Booklet 'In Search of the Christmas Spirit' $2.99
The Life of Jesus the Christ Bible Video $9.99
Look to the Temple Calendar (Small) $7.99
Christmas Tree Nativity Ornament made from wood in Bethlehem $6.99
Missionary appropriate Music (Misc.)
Greatest Most Important Missionary Plaque $4.99
Articles of Faith 3X4 Cards (Pkg. 10) $1.49)
CTR rings for the missionary to give away .99cents each
Missionary Christmas Tree

Dollar Tree Store (Everything costs $1.00)
Nested Boxes
Peppermint Stick Candy
Jingle Bell Hat Necklace (Elders)
Jingle Bell Bracelet (Sisters)
Jingle Bell
Candy Cane Headband (Both Elders & Sisters have fun with these!)
Reindeer Headband
Candy Cane Tree
Gingerbread Men (2 in Package)
Tiny Gingerbread House
Tin Box with Handel
Christmas Tie (Elders) (It plays music)
Christmas Notepad Paper

Bennion Craft
KaiserCraft 12X12 Scrapbook Paper Holy Night Series  .99cents each
          1. Blessing
          2. Faith
          3. Wise Men (P1913)
          4. Angels (P1911)
Glue Dots
Black 12X12 Scrapbook Paper
TUL GL3 Gel Pen - 3 Pack, Retractable, Fine 0.5mm, Black Ink

Chapstick Candy Cane Smell $1.00

Hobby Lobby Craft Store
Christmas Start Ornaments - 2pack

Kodak Photo Paper

Burn your own CD for the 12-Days Playlist
For the 12-Days Stories you can bind them or staple them.

Depending on where your missionary is serving you could add some fun food items they could easily whip up around the holidays!

Grocery Store
Stephen's Gourmet Hot Chocolate Mix (Candy Cane, White Chocolate, Marshmallow)
Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie Mix
Frosting Tubes & Sprinkles
Krusteaz Pumpkin Pie Bars Supreme Mix
Idahoan Instant Potato Packets
Malt-O-Meal Maple & Brown Sugar Hot Cereal
Pancake Mix & Syrup

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