Christmas 2013

Me and my mom at the National Christmas Tree.
Me and my mom at the National Christmas Tree.

It’s December 26, and I am already beginning to miss Christmas. Beginning Thanksgiving weekend, this Christmas season was filled with holiday excitement. Some highlights include picking out a real live Christmas tree with Hunter and Keri; decorating the Christmas tree with Hunter; going with Jen to An Evening in December presented by Ellie Lofaro at the Cherrydale Baptist Church; visiting the national Christmas Tree with my mom and sister on the Saturday before Christmas (it was the first day of Winter, but 65 degrees outside!); participating in the Messiah sing-a-long at the Kennedy Center with Jonathan; and my favorite, singing carols about Jesus Christ’s birth with family and friends on Christmas Eve (and throughout the whole month of December).

Siblings on Christmas Eve
Siblings on Christmas Eve

On the first Sunday of December, I watched this short film (below) about the birth of Jesus Christ, and right before I went to sleep last night on Christmas Day, I watched it again. I appreciated the spirit that filled my heart as I watched it the first time and as I watched it again. I love how Mary says, “Be it unto me according to thy word.”…what faith! This year, I think more so than others, I thought about all the people involved in the story of Christ’s birth — Mary, Joseph, the Shepherds, the wise men, and the children killed by command of Herod the king, as well as their families. While we focus on Jesus Christ (as we rightfully should), I’ve thought about how the lives of these other individuals greatly affect my life today. To each of them, I am truly thankful. Merry Christmas!

Nauvoo in November

Jen and I outside the Nauvoo Temple.
Jen and I outside the Nauvoo Temple.

At the beginning of November, I had the opportunity to go to Nauvoo with Jen, one of my best friends and roommates. We flew from DC to St. Louis, and then rented a car to make the three hour drive from St. Louis to Nauvoo, Illinois. Nauvoo is a special place to me for many reasons. Nauvoo was built up in the 1840’s by the Mormon pioneers. Among those pioneers were some of my ancestors. Now fast forward about 170 years. In 2009-2010, I had the opportunity to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And where was I assigned to serve? Nauvoo, Illinois (as well as a short stint in Denver, Colorado…but today we’re talking about Nauvoo). While serving in Nauvoo, I gained a greater appreciation for my ancestors and for all of the pioneers. Although I’ve never met any of them (obviously), it feels like I know them. What I learned about their lives and their faith in Jesus Christ strengthens me daily. Through their legacy, I’ve learned the importance of trusting in God. Nauvoo was a beautiful city with a beautiful temple that the pioneers had to leave due to persecution. They left behind all they had built up to forge rivers and cross mountains before building up a new home. While this could have left many bitter and angry, the pioneers trusted that God had a plan for their lives and their families and that He would always be with them. While we don’t have to forge literal rivers or cross literal mountains, we’ll all have times when we have to pass through trials that could make us bitter and angry. We, like the pioneers, have to choose to trust in God and in His love. It’s sounds so simple, and yet, I know that it’s not always easy. It’s taken me over a month to write this short blog post because it’s so hard for me to put into words the feelings I have about the pioneers and the city of Nauvoo. Even today there is this most special feeling that permeates the entire city. I believe that special feeling is the legacy of the pioneers. I hope that I can live up to their legacy and their faith. How grateful I am for them!

At the pioneer cemetery by the graves of some of my ancestors.
At the pioneer cemetery by the graves of some of my ancestors.
Outside of my 4th great grandfather's (reconstructed) bakery.
Outside of my 4th great grandfather’s (reconstructed) bakery.
The leaves were SO beautiful while we were there! This is right outside of the Visitors' Center.
The leaves were SO beautiful while we were there! This is right outside of the Visitors’ Center.
Jen and I outside of Carthage Jail.
Jen and I outside of Carthage Jail.
A quote I love along the trail of hope (the road the pioneers walked when they left Nauvoo).
A quote I love along the trail of hope (the road the pioneers walked when they left Nauvoo).
Blast from the past....me in my "classy" pioneer dress on my mission.
Blast from the past….me in my “classy” pioneer dress on my mission.
One final mission picture to show I did not wear a pioneer dress every day! This is outside of Carthage Jail.
One final mission picture to show I did not wear a pioneer dress every day! This is outside of Carthage Jail.