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Thursday, December 25, 2014

My Post-Food Coma Obligatory Christmas Blog Post

Its Christmas Day. I'm sitting on my couch with my favorite wife and dog next to me watching Elf! (which has since become the Doctor Who Christmas Special). They're my favorite because they're mine. I'm sure many of you have a favorite wife and dog as well. We just returned from a friend's house where we chit chatted all day while our host cooked up an extreme Christmas Dinner, which filled our bellies much like one fills a size 6 shoe with a size 10 foot.

This Christmas season really gave us a chance to look at the season of Christmas, and refocus our Christmas spirit. We had spent most of our money on things we didn't need, like rent, electricity, food, and student loans, so didn't have much money for the things we need, like iPads, HD TVs, and sideline Denver Bronco's season tickets. Now, Christmas isn't about money. We all know that. Its all over the Ensign every year, and I'm sure somebody in your ward (church congregation) took up a good 5 minutes of your Sunday School nap to rant about the evils of Christmas consumerism.

However, Christmas really isn't the same when you're broke, and let me tell you why. When it comes down to it, Christmas is about giving, and serving. We give to those we love because of the happiness it brings them. We give because Jesus gave, and he is our examplar. And who doesn't love seeing the smile on their favorite wife's face when she opens a small box of designer rocks, or the look on their child's face at the sight of a brand new digital distraction? When you're broke, you miss out on the anticipation and excitement of brand new toys. Being broke on Christmas is like missing an opportunity to serve. You miss out on an opportunity to do as Christ would have done (though I'm sure he wouldn't buy your child the new iSomething.)

So, we had a choice to make. We could mope around for Christmas, or we could get into the Christmas spirit. So we forced it on ourselves. We took late night (9pm for old married couples) car rides to look at Christmas lights while listening to the local jazz station's Christmas program. We put up Christmas lights on the back patio, and got out our little tiny Christmas tree. We bought a few new shirts, and wrapped them up in last years wrapping paper. We watched some Christmas movies, drank some hot cocoa, and snuggled under the big red fleece blanket with our favorite dog between us. To top it off, we went caroling with the sister missionaries to the bishop, some random ward (church) families, and, by accident, a non-member family we'd never met.

In all, its been a good Christmas, partially because my in-laws mailed me a very nice Bronco's scarf, but mostly because I spent the Christmas season with my favorite wife, doing what we could to bring each other happiness, and bringing happiness to our ward family.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Home Teaching: Take the Initiative

When the Ward Executive Secretary sent an email to the ward to report their home teaching for November, I asked if I had a home teaching assignment yet, and I did. I was to teach with Brother Burk. I immediately sent off an email to Brother Burk to ask if he was available to make visits. We agreed that I would make the appointments and he would teach the lesson. So, I called our families and got our appointments made. No big deal.

I don’t know about you, but I do what I do. It’s not out of the ordinary or in any way special. It’s just what I do.

Well, what I had done was, unbeknownst to me, quite noteworthy. Brother Burk was quite impressed with my initiative in contacting him when I could have just let him do all the work, since he’s the senior companion and all. He spent several minutes talking about it.

Then I thought about it. Why did I take the initiative?

Brother Burk is moving next month. I don’t know anybody in the ward very well. I’m busy with work and school. It’s the Christmas Season and people are busy. Taking initiative scares me. Etc. Etc. There are a million reasons I could make up, none of them good of course.

In order for me to take the initiative and call Brother Burk I had to supplant the natural man. I had to jump through all my personal hang-ups and excuses, and just do what I had to do. Would my lack of home teaching have gone unnoticed by my Priesthood leaders? Likely not, as Home Teaching percentages are low in most wards. Would I be in trouble with anyone? No. Would I notice I hadn’t done my Home Teaching? Yes. Would my families have known? Yes. Would Brother Burk have known? Yes.

So, my decision came down to four considerations: 1. Personal accountability, 2. Accountability to/Respect for those I serve with, 3. My basic obligations to those whom I’ve been given Priesthood Authority over, 4. My love for my Savior and his Children.

To the Elders of the church: If you are lacking in your Home Teaching, then I ask you to begin now. Stop making excuses. Be of good courage, and push past the fears, the apathy, and the excuses. Get out there, and serve your families. Whether or not you are a good Teacher, you are providing service to people whom you will come to love, and call friends. This is the work that will outlast this mortal life. It is a good work, and you should make yourself a part of it.