Monday, December 30, 2013

"Beauty Is" by Jenny Phillips


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My eyes were open wide as I read Truth, Lies, and Your Self-Worth by  Mindy Raye Friedman in the January 2014 New Era last week. You know those talks and articles that feel like they were written just for you? This was one of those for me.

With the New Year comes many hopes and goals regarding what we wish to accomplish in the future. But as the article points out, "it also brings a wave of worldly messages telling you that a new year requires a new you. These messages say that you can only be happy if you lose weight, get new clothes, find more friends, and so on. You hear these messages in the media, at school, and sometimes from those closest to you."

The idea that happiness and beauty come from the outside is as wrong as putting sardines on your ice cream sundae.

Sister Friedman further explains:

"Changing your physical appearance or material possessions may make you feel better for a little while, but it doesn’t really do anything to change your worth or your eternal happiness. That’s because your worth is already established."


When I read that, the words lept out at me like a Tigger on a sugar high. [There's a weird yet effective anology for you. haha]

It's easy to feel like you're not important if you don't look like the girls on Pinterest or the models in the magzines. The world is more confused about real beauty and true worth than ever before.

Even though the world is confused, we don't have to be.

I love this quote from President Monson that the article shared:


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God loves us no matter what we look like, and when all is said and done, His opinion is the only one that matters.

Beauty Is by Jenny Phillips continues to explain what it means to be truly beautiful.

As you're making goals for this year, remember to focus on what really matters. True beauty is more beautiful than any nose job or make-up application. It is deeper than any hair-do or shade of eyeshadow. Real beauty is pricesless.

This year I want to become truly beautiful.

Sarah


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

What Shall We Give?

What shall we give to the babe in the manger,

What shall we offer the child in the stall?

Incense and spices and gold we've a-plenty-

Are these the gifts for the king of us all?



We watched this Mormon Message in Seminary last week and it really got me thinking.

Christmas is a celebration of Christ's birth. Essentially, it's like a giant, world-wide birthday party for our Savior. No birthday party is complete without presents, so what can I give to the one who has given me and all mankind the greatest gift imaginable? 

Surely the King of Kings is't interested in toys, new socks, or even fine jewels. He, the creator of the world isn't seeking material goods. What He wants is my heart. And that is something I want to be willing to give.

What shall we give to the babe in the manger? Maybe it's an old habit you've been wanting to break. Maybe a good habit you want to establish. Perhaps it's speaking with more love towards your family or being more gentle with yourself. Worrying less? Trust God more? Praying day and night? Reading scriptures every day?

Whatever it may be, I encourage you to think about what you could do to better yourself. I'll be doing the same. Truly, the refining of our hearts is one of the greatest gifts we can give.

My new years resolutions came a little early this year, but I'm okay with that.

What will your gift to the Savior be this Christmas?

Wishing you all the joys of the season [and peppermint ice cream],

Sarah 

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Story Behind I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

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I always thought I knew the story behind this song. That is, until I went to mutual.

A few weeks ago our ward had a combined gift exchange party. You know how white elephants usually go-- a guy opens up coconut perfume, paper towels are disguised with care and chosen by an unsuspecting victim, and somebody is bound to end up with the blinking Christmas tree glasses. [You should have seen them. They were beyond epic.]

But after the presents were opened and the game was over, one of our leaders shared this Christmas message with us. I loved it so much I just had to pass it along.

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As you may be aware, I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day was written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow at the time of the Civil War. Now, obviously the war was anything but peaceful. However, there was more raging in the heart of this dear poet than many people realize.

About six months before Christmas, Longfellow's wife was burned to death. She had just given their child a haircut and wanted to preserve some of the hair as a keepsake. As she was dipping the locks in wax, there was an accident and her dress went up into flames. Longfellow tried in vain the extinguish them with his own body, but it was to no avail. His dear wife passed away, and he was left with horrible burns that made him so sick he could not even attend his spouse's funeral. 

To quote an article written by Tom Stewart:
The first Christmas after Fanny's death, Longfellow wrote, "How inexpressibly sad are all holidays." A year after the incident, he wrote, "I can make no record of these days. Better leave them wrapped in silence. Perhaps someday God will give me peace." Longfellow's journal entry for December 25th 1862 reads: "'A merry Christmas' say the children, but that is no more for me." 
How deep was the pain that Longfellow was experiencing! No wonder it was hard for him to find the joy in Christmas!

But it gets worse.

A year later his son died while fighting in the Civil War. Now his wife and one of his children were gone. How could there be peace on earth when his heart was racked with such pain?

As he began to heal from these tragic events, Longfellow penned this poem about one year after his son's death.


"I heard the bells on Christmas Day

Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till, ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;
"For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: 
"God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!"


I know we hear this song a lot, but how often do we really stop and think about the lyrics? I really encourage you to jump on Youtube, grab your iPod, whip out your hymn book, or aquire whatever means you enjoy listening to music by and think about the background of this wonderful song. Think about what it meant to Longfellow and what it means to you.


No matter what happens around us, we can still have peace within our hearts. Because our Savior lives, the message of "peace on earth, good-will to men!" is still ringing strong. Wars will happen and tragedy will inevitably strike each of us at some point. But as we turn to Christ, we will find true and lasting peace.

Sarah

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Oh, Finals Week!



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Oh, finals week!

A Super Cheesy Poetic Composition by Sarah
[Sing to the tune of Oh, Christmas Tree.]

Oh, finals week, Oh, finals week!
They perils are unchanging.
Oh, finals week, Oh, finals week!
Your agonies are ranging.

Not only when the tests have come.
But studying also makes me glum.
Oh, finals week, Oh, finals week!
You make me lose large amounts of sleep.

Oh, finals week, Oh, finals week!
Such tension do you bring me.
Oh, finals week, Oh, finals week!
How do I not particularly love thee.

For every semester the study guide,
Stares at me until I cry.
Oh, finals week, Oh, finals week!
You make me want to hide. 
[Forever. In a box with an unending supply of ice cream and cartoons.]

Oh, finals week, Oh, finals week!
When you're over I feel glee.
Oh, finals week, Oh, finals week!
Your completion makes me feel justified in an ice cream spree. 
[Yes, there are too many syllables in this line, but I don't care. :D]

Just two more days until we're done.
And then we can have lots of fun.
Oh, finals week, Oh, finals week!
Thy perils are unchanging.


Thank you for enduring my awkward poetry. Hopefully your ears aren't permanently damaged from the agonies of my goofy rhymes.

As much as finals scare me and as fun as they are to joke about, it is so comforting to know that if we study hard and do our best, Heavenly Father will help us. He isn't just concerned with church-y things. He cares about every aspect of our lives. 

Did you know that the scriptures have some advice for studying for finals? I know it may seem crazy, but it really does work.

2 Nephi 32:9 reads:



I have discovered that when I say a prayer before I start to review, I am able to focus and learn much better. I have also found a lot of guidance in knowing what topics to study. Truly, when we involve the Lord in our study habits, the blessings are plentiful.

But even with this extra help, there have been many times I have struggled to remember things I worked hard to learn just because I was tired or nervous.

In these situations, I try to focus on the words of John 14:26:


As long as we have worked hard to study and learn the material in our classes, the Holy Ghost can help us remember the things we have been taught. 

Don't get me wrong-- just because you pray doesn't mean you're guaranteed to ace everything. These are just some tips that I've found improved the anxiety that I used to feel during finals week and helped me study better. You still have to work and you still have to try, and even then sometimes things won't go your way. However, the comfort of knowing you tried your very best is worth more than any grade.

Remember to get plenty of rest, drink enough water, and eat a healthy breakfast this week. [Wow, I totally sound like my Mom. Maybe I am maturing after all. :D]

May the academic odds be ever in your favor!


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Monday, December 16, 2013

Silent Night

What happens when kings and queens make an entrance?

This is what usually comes to my mind:

"dun dun dun-dun!" [What is the onomatopoeia for trumpet noises?]

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And of course in Disney's classic way, an elephant and fleet of trumpet playing monkeys never hurts anything.

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However, when the Savior was born He didn't have any of this earthly fanfare.

Written in 1818 by assistant pastor, Joseph Mohr, this song explains the beautiful happenings of that first Christmas.


Silent night! Holy night!
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon virgin mother and Child.
Holy Infant, so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace;
Sleep in heavenly peace.


Silent night! Holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight!
Glories stream from heaven afar;
Heav'nly hosts sing Alleluia!
Christ, the Savior, is born!
Christ, the Savior, is born!


Isn't it interesting that of all the entrances the Savior could have chosen to celebrate the beginning of His divine mission, He chose a peaceful night of Angels singing and poor shepherds visiting rather than the praises of worldly Kings and the luxuries of earthly goods? Truly, our Savior is the supreme example of "laying up treasure in heaven". (Matthew 6:20) 

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The Savior didn't come to earth to win the approval of men. It is important that we, too seek for the approval of Heavenly Father rather than that of the world. Yes, grand entrances with trumpets and adoring subjects can be nice, but it is seeking the glory of Heaven that is truly important.

I love the final verse of this beloved song.

Silent night! Holy night!
Son of God, love's pure light
Radiant beams from thy holy face,
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at thy birth;
Jesus, Lord, at thy birth.


Christ didn't need the praise of men when He was born. He had His own glory and love "beaming" from His "holy face". The glory of the Father. The glory of His mission. The glory of His love.

Merry Christmas,

Sarah

P.S. This movie from BYUtv tells the story of how Silent Night was written. You can stream it for free, here. It is super awesome.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Sweet Finds Christmas Edition

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...

A partridge in a pear tree.

Forget wildlife in foliage-- just give me ice cream. ;)

Here at The Sprinkles on my Ice Cream Blog, I am all about the sweet things in life, be it partridges, golden rings, drummers drumming, or dairy laden sugar. Since the 12 days of Christmas have officially begun, I thought it would be fun to do a giant sweet finds post with 12 things that I love. I know usually people would do one a day until Christmas, but I just don't have that kind of patience. In case you're wondering, I also have been known to cook all my food with the stove turned up on high, even if that means pretty much inevitable burning. [Don't take cooking advice from me.]

So, without further ado....

Sarah's fabulous list of awesome Christmassy things. [Is Christmassy a word? Now it is.]


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1. THREE CHRISTMAS MIRACLES

I just finished this amazing book by fellow LDS blogger, Rozanne Packman and let me tell you: it is amazing. This collection of short stories is sure to fill you with the Christmas spirit and teach valuable lessons at the same time. The first story is about a military veteran and his journey to forgive himself. Next is a wonderful modern-day relation of Dicken's A Christmas Carol with a fabulous, unexpected twist. Finally, a beautiful story a young mother and her experience serving an older man next door shows just how remarkable the Lord's hand is in our lives. I enjoyed reading each story and pondering them afterwards. If you're looking for a great Christmas read, check it out. It's available in Kindle format, here for only $0.99! Just be sure and grab some tissues, too. :)

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2. PIANO GUY'S ANGELS WE HAVE HEARD ON HIGH

My favorite Christmas carol played by some of my favorite musicians? Yes please!


3. SANTA'S LOVE LANGUAGES

I have an obsession with psychology, personality tests, and the like. Thus, this Studio C sketch hit home with me. *help...cant. stop. laughing.


4. CAT SWEATERS

I found this pic via LDS Smile, and now I'm pretty sure I need a sweater like this. Just think of it. I could meander the school hallways and grocery store aisles shouting "Meowy Christmas!". I think that is officially on my bucket list now.


5. THE REASONS BEHIND CHRISTMAS

I found this Mormon Message the other day, and I just love it. How they ever got the presents to do that cool thing at the end [sorry I can't give more details. I don't want to spoil it. :D], I have no idea, but I am seriously impressed. But what's even more impressive is the amazing message this movie has. Christmas is so much better when we remember the true reason for the season.

6-8. QUOTES

Aren't Christmas quotes the best? Here are two of my faves:

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9. ELF

As you probably already know from Sunday's post, I love Elf. It makes me laugh every time. Plus, I love candy, candy canes, candy corns, and syrup, so I'm pretty sure Buddy and I would be best friends. ;)

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10. THE 13th DAY OF CHRISTMAS

I read this great book by Jason Wright last year and loved it. Starring a young girl stricken with cancer and a caring Grandma yearning for love, this book is definitely a tear jerker. [In a good way.] The message that the spirit of Christmas should carry on throughout the year is profound.  If you liked Wright's Christmas Jars book, then you'll love The 13th Day of Christmas. You can snag it on Amazon, here.

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11. CHURCH CHRISTMAS WEBSITE

I love all the new branches of the Church website that are being released! The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has a great page filled with Christmas music, quotes, art, articles, and ideas for spreading Christmas cheer. This is a great resource for more fully incorporating Christ into Christmas celebrations. You can find it, here.

12. PEACE

Of course, the peace brought through our Savior Jesus Christ is the best present ever. Better than any number of partridges in pear trees, Christ's love shines like a beacon unto all.

May your Christmas season be filled with His love,

Sarah

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Spirit of Christmas

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I wholeheartedly agree with Buddy the elf. Smiling is totally my favorite thing to do [well, besides eating ice cream. But eating ice cream does make me smile, so....]

As you've probably guessed, I watched Elf  last night. After I finished laughing my head off at Buddy making meals of spaghetti and syrup and then chopping down a Christmas tree from Central park, I really got thinking about the end of the movie.

About ten minutes before the film is over, Buddy is walking through New York City when he sees Santa's sleigh start to malfunction and fall to the ground. He runs to help and learns that the sleigh's turbo engine has fallen off. Santa's sleigh used to work solely off the Christmas spirit, but with the recent hustle and bustle that had begun to fill people's lives, spirits had been low across the world. Without the engine, the sleigh couldn't fly. That is, unless people started believing again. 

After an awkward encounter with a news reporter, the discovery of Santa's list, and some spontaneous Christmas caroling, people's hopes returned and the sleigh was able to fly once more, and this time without the aid of the engine. 

So what does this have to do with anything?

The fact that the sleigh ran off of the fuel of "Christmas Spirit" was really intriguing to me. The more I thought about it, the more I started wondering what the Christmas spirit really is.

President Monson explains it perfectly:



All of those feelings of charity, love, joy, and peace that come with Christmas are from our Savior, Jesus Christ. 

He is the true reason for the season. He is the spirit of Christmas. He is our Savior and Redeemer. The joy and love that He brings does more than power a sleigh. It powers lives. As we invite Him into our homes and hearts I know we will be blessed.

Merry Christmas, and remember: we elves like to stick to four main food groups-- candy, candy canes, candy corn, and syrup. ;)

Sarah

P.S. Don't forget to watch the First Presidency Christmas Devotional tonight at 6 p.m. MST. You can stream it live from broadcast.lds.org.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Symbols of Christ


If you've been reading my blog for a while, you're probably aware that I love searching for symbols and weird analogies all the time. From porta-potties to hair spray, I believe pretty much anything can be turned into a gospel lesson.

As you can imagine, my analogy making habits get put to good use during the Christmas season. Everywhere we turn during the holidays it seems that there is some kind of decoration or tradition that points our minds and hearts to Jesus Christ.

I found this poem by Valerie L. Plowman on this blog and thought it was just too awesome not to share.

Remember Christmas

by Valerie L. Plowman

Red reminds of the blood He spilt
to wash away and cleanse all of our guilt
White is for His actions, most pure.
Through sinless perfection, He did endure.
Green is for the life eternal
we can obtain through our Lord supernal.
The star shines like the one so bright
that twinkled above that first Christmas night.
The fir tree is for many things:
the tree of Jesse--the father of kings,
and for the needles pointing to the Lord--
that little babe we all adored.
The wreath shows one eternal round;
the begin' of the Lord cannot be found.
The lights remind us that this babe
is the light of the world, and born to save.
The candy cane is for the crook;
not one sheep or lamb the shepherd forsook.
The Christmas bells we love to ring
proclaim joy! The birth of a newborn king.
These symbols remind us that we,
more like the three wise men all now should be.
Earnestly seeking to find the new babe
who humbly in a manger laid.

It is all too easy to become wrapped up in all the material aspects of Christmas and forget that it is really about celebrating our savior, Jesus Christ. Finding meaning in decorations and symbols we see every day is a great way to keep Christ in our hearts all through the year.

What do you do to keep Christ in Christmas?

Sarah

P.S. I'm working on finishing up a couple of Christmas books to review pretty soon! Stay tuned... :)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Story Behind "Joy to the World"

I have a bit of a nerdy habit-- I love to discover the stories behind songs. Due to this odd fascination, I thought it would be fun to learn some of the stories behind favorite Christmas carols for Music Monday during December. What better place is there to start then the first Christmas song in the hymn book, #201 Joy to the World ?

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I have always loved the wording of Joy to the World. I think it so so cool that of all the words that could have been chosen to describe the emotions associated with Christ's coming, joy was chosen. Not temporary happiness or mediocre gladness, but lasting joy.

How did the composer, Isaac Watts come up with this beautiful phrasing? According to this article, the joyous song [haha see what I did there? Pun intended.] was based this passage in Psalms 98.

"Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises."

I find it very interesting to note that this scripture is actually about Christ's second coming. Watts realized this and wanted to relate the prophesied joy of the second coming to the Savior's first coming long ago on that night in Bethlehem. 

I love this song because it shows how joyful celebrating the Lord's birth is, and how wondrous it will be when He returns again. Truly, both comings bring true and everlasting "joy to the world". 

This hymn sounds lovely no matter who sings it, but this arrangement performed by David Archuleta and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir is one of my favorites. 


May your days be filled with Joy this Christmas season!

Sarah
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