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* All About Mormons Newsletter *
Merry Christmas! Welcome to the All About Mormons Newsletter. If you like what you read, email this to friends and family! If you have poems, stories, object lessons, questions, answers, or good ideas to contribute, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org (If you get unusual letters mixed in with this newsletter, please let us know so we can be sure you get it in plain text next time)
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*In this newsletter:
*Book of Mormon Quote of the Month
The Book of Mormon is a volume of sacred writings comparable to the Bible. Its principal purpose is to testify of the divinity of Jesus Christ and the truthfulness of his teachings. For a free copy, call (U.S.) 1-800-528-2225.
Now Aaron began to open the scriptures unto them concerning the coming of Christ, and also concerning the resurrection of the dead, and that there could be no redemption for mankind save it were through the death and sufferings of Christ, and the atonement of his blood. (Alma 21:9)
*Focus This Month: Christmas Thoughts
Christ in Contrast
From swaddling bands . . . to wounded hands
From virgin womb . . . to borrowed tomb
From Mary's arms . . . to trader's charms
From no inn room . . . to martyr's doom
From bed of hay . . . to Herod's prey
From tiny lamb . . . to Pilate's hands
From gifts of gold . . . to liars sold
From David's clan . . . to Roman lands
From angels' song . . . to mocking throng
From babe forlorn . . . to shouts of scorn
From brilliant star . . . to scourging scar
From God's first born . . . to crown of thorns
From carpenter chores . . . to bloody pores
From Joseph tall . . . to stumble and fall
From Bethlehem's trails . . . to cross and nails
From Earthen stall . . . TO LORD OF ALL
Oh what think ye of this little child,
Of God and Mary born?
And what say ye of Jesus Christ,
With body spent and torn?
An infant King in a manger lay,
Whom wise and humble sought.
He went to pray in Gethsemane,
And there, our souls, He bought.
No room in the inn at Bethlehem,
Not a place for Him to bed.
But there would be room upon a cross
And a crown upon His head.
Remember our Savior at Christmas time;
The shepherds, the magi and stall.
Celebrate all year, the risen Lord
Redeemer of us all!
The Carpenter's Son
My Friends . . .
Have you met the Carpenter's son?
The boy they call Jesus,
You know the one?
An innocence seems
To beam on his face.
There's something about this boy
My heart is quick to embrace.
His manner so Gentle,
His voice soft and polite.
His eyes sparkle brightly
In youthful delight.
He is eager to learn
From the prophets of old,
The valuable lessons
The wise ones have told.
Could this be the Savior,
Of a world ever so flawed?
Though only a boy,
Perhaps . . . sent here by God?
As he grew older
His endowment grew too.
He surpasses all others
Be they Gentile or Jew.
As the years past
Quite a man he's become.
Loved and followed by many,
Yet, envied and hated by some.
Guiding with love,
A tool in God's hands.
Jesus, our Savior
Carried out his great plan.
A master of men,
As a Carpenter with wood.
His Love everlasting,
His intent understood.
His followers treasure each
Phrase that he speaks.
As he answers the questions
That each man's heart seeks.
But as with the prophets
That told of his birth,
The evils of man schemed
To remove him from earth.
A brother betrays him
For a pittance of Gold.
Replacing the sparkle
His eyes used to hold.
With a sadness beyond
What a mortal could bare.
As loved ones stood aching,
Desiring his burden to share.
But before long they learned
The price he had paid.
The life that he gave and
The great sacrifice made.
How could there have been
The least little doubt,
That God is the father
Of that young boy devout?
So if you haven't met him
And know what he's about,
There's no time like the present
And it's time you found out!
*Object Lesson: ROCK REMOVAL
A little boy was spending his Saturday morning playing in his sandbox. He had with him his box of cars and trucks, his plastic pail, and a shiny, red plastic shovel. In the process of creating roads and tunnels in the soft sand, he discovered a large rock in the middle of the sandbox.
The lad dug around the rock, managing to dislodge it from the dirt. With no little bit of struggle, he pushed and nudged the rock across the sandbox by using his feet. (He was a very small boy and the rock was very huge.) When the boy got the rock to the edge of the sandbox, however, he found that he couldn't roll it up and over the little wall.
Determined, the little boy shoved, pushed, and pried, but every time he thought he had made some progress, the rock tipped and then fell back into the sandbox.
The little boy grunted, struggled, pushed, and shoved, but his only reward was to have the rock roll back, smashing his chubby fingers.
Finally he burst into tears of frustration. All this time the boy's father watched from his living room window as the drama unfolded. At the moment the tears fell, a large shadow fell across the boy and the sandbox. It was the boy's father.
Gently but firmly he said, "Son, why didn't you use all the strength that you had available?
Defeated, the boy sobbed back, "But I did, Daddy, I did! I used all the strength that I had!
"No, son," corrected the father kindly. "You didn't use all the strength you had. You didn't ask me."
With that the father reached down, picked up the rock, and removed it from the sandbox.
*Whats New on All About Mormons?
LDS Humor is continually expanding. Thanks to all those who have contributed so far! Keep on sending us your funny stories, jokes, etc. We want our humor to be enjoyable to all of our visitors, members and non-members alike, so please use discretion when choosing which ones to send. Our Other Good Stuff section is especially for non-religious humor. Laugh With Us!
All About Mormons has information to keep you in touch with the Church, including Church related web sites and Internet services, Church phone numbers, and magazine information. Check it out on our Welcome page!
The "Adding to the Bible - Rev 22:18" accusatory question has been updated (11/11/99)
The "Mormons believe Jesus was crucified for polygamy, not for claiming to be God" accusatory question has been updated (11/10/99)
*Fun Stuff: Holiday Ideas for Your Family!
1. Scripture Reading--What better way to capture the
message of Christmas than by reading the scriptures. This could be done any time during
December, but Sunday nights or Family Home Evenings are the best time, and don't forget
Christmas Eve. Family members could sing hymns or carols and then take turns reading the
scriptures. A cozy fire would add to the atmosphere. Among other scriptures here are some
suggestions: Jacob 7:10-12, John 7:42, Helaman 14:1-13, John 1:1-15, Helaman
8:13-14, 1 Nephi 11: 13-21, Mosiah 15:1-4, Alma 11:40, Jeremiah 23:5-6, Luke 1:26-33, Alma
7:7-11, 3 Nephi 1:1-21, Isaiah 9:6, Matthew 1:18-23, Luke 2:1-20, 2 Nephi 10:3
2. Make an Advent Candle by painting 24 numbers on the side of a large red candle, starting at the top with #1. Each evening during December, the candle could be lit, and Christmas songs sung or Christmas stories told by its light, until the candle burns down to the particular number representing that day.
3. Setting up a Nativity scene is a special way to bring the real meaning of Christmas to children. While the Christmas story is read aloud, each member of the family receives a wrapped piece of the Nativity scene. (This adds excitement and also avoids arguments as to whom the pieces are given.) As the Bible account is read, the reader pauses whenever someone or something represented by a manger piece is mentioned, and the person with that piece places it where it goes. When they are through, they turn out all the lights except the tree lights or a lighted candle, and sing "Silent Night."
4. Raid your storage and fill a large box with your favorite foods. Wrap the box gaily and let the children help you deliver it to the Relief Society President or the Bishop, to be given to a needy family.
5. A special family prayer before opening gifts, sets the mood for the true meaning of Christmas.
6. Children can make Coupon Books which are given as gifts, and are good for "1 bed-making", "two extra nights of doing dishes", "two shoe-shines for Dad", "2 hours of baby-sitting", etc.
7. Let the children have a part in choosing gifts they will be giving. Let them cut up old Christmas cards to make tags for their packages, and let them help with the gifts they are giving.
8. A favorite tradition of many families is a retelling or re-enactment of the Christmas story on Christmas Eve. In many homes a nativity pageant is presented with young bathrobed shepherds and sheet-enfolded angels. One family even presents their play at the home of several friends at an appointed hour. One father illustrates his reading of the scriptural birth of Christ with pictures checked out of the meetinghouse library. Another family made their own slide presentation. Family members were photographed acting out scenes from the Christmas story and the slides were then used with a tape-recorded sound track comprised of scriptures read to the accompaniment of Christmas music.
9. Purchase or make a traditional candle for the family. It may be burned each Christmas Eve or sometime during the holidays. A special lamp could also be lighted. One family has a lamp that was brought across the plains with their great-grandmother. Each Christmas Eve the father lights the lamp and offers a blessing to his family, and expresses his gratitude for the life of the Savior.
10. One family sets up their Nativity scene two weeks before Christmas, except for the manger and baby Jesus. Beside the stable they put a tiny box of straw and each time someone does a sweet deed for another member of the family--a "gift of love"--the doer places a piece of straw where the baby Jesus will lie. By Christmas Eve, the soft cushion of "love" is placed before the manger. Small inexpensive Nativity scenes can be obtained for the children to paint and to have as their own. The reason for Nativity scenes should be explained to the small children so they will appreciate their own scene.
11. One family adopts someone--a recent widow, a foreign student, or a person who lives alone, etc., and during the week of Christmas gives them special attention, such as taking them for a ride, giving them food, gifts, running errands for them, but more importantly, giving them a generous portion of love.
12. Instead of having a Toy Advent Calendar, have one with items to do with Christ and his birth. The children will have just as much fun choosing camels, wise men, and shepherds and especially baby Jesus from the pockets, as they do choosing toys.
13. Choose someone who has done something especially nice for the family during the year. Everyone including the children can write a little note of appreciation and accompany it with a homemade treat.
14. Have one room in your home decorated with items that pertain to the Spiritual side of Christmas, not the commercial side.
15. One family has a treasured set of pictures of the birth of Christ that they get out each year, and tell and retell the story of the Savior's birth.
16. A caroling party is fun with family or neighbors. Warm up afterwards with a warm bowl of chili or hot chocolate.
17. One family spends the month of December rounding up all the toys in the house and mending, painting and gluing the ones that need repair.
18. Sixteen sharing days instead of sixteen shopping days. Prepare your family's hearts by visiting sick friends or relatives or a lonely neighbor. Sneak treats on doorstops, ring doorbells and run; make someone's bed or do a chore for them and surprise family members in other pleasant ways.
19. Take each one of your children shopping alone with you, in the weeks before Christmas. Let them purchase gifts with their money they have earned or from their allowance, so they can share in the excitement of giving. The little gift they might buy for 49 cents will have a lot more meaning than a $5 gift you buy for them to give.
20. One family gives their children new pajamas every Christmas Eve so they can sleep in something new and look cute in their new pajamas on Christmas morning.
21. Remember your neighbors at Christmas with a traditional gift such as bundle of wood tied with a fancy bow, a goodie plate, a new ornament for their tree or even a year's supply of light bulbs! Let them know you love them and appreciate their friendship.
22. One family bakes a big rice pudding with one almond in it. (any dessert would do) This pudding is eaten on Christmas Eve and whoever gets the almond gets a special gift or special favor. This is announced before they eat.
23. Make going to choose your Christmas tree a family tradition--whether it is from the forest or the tree lot. Let the children take turns each year choosing the kind of tree they want. Sometimes a potted tree could be welcome addition to your yard.
24. There is little elf in one family who leaves small gifts and love notes and does good deeds in that home during the pre-Christmas weeks. Other little elves usually join him during the month. Some families have a custom of drawing the names of a family member for whom they will be a "pixie" during the holiday season.
25. Every year, a new Christmas tree ornament is presented to the children in one family. The ornament is hand-made, dated and marked with the child's initials or name. Each child can then hang his own new ornament on the Christmas tree.
26. One family gets together on the first Saturday in December to make their dipped chocolates.
27. Have a family get-together on Christmas Eve and have everyone from the age of two up do something on a program. Serve clam chowder for supper afterwards.
28. If you play that Santa Claus game in your family, save the letters that your children write to Santa each year. Put them in plastic page covers for preservation and place these in a three-ring binder. Show them (or give them) to your child on a special Christmas...such as their first Christmas after marriage.
29. Take advantage of fun opportunity--read Christmas literature to your children during the holiday season. Christmas books can be wrapped and placed under the Christmas tree. Little Golden Books such as "Frosty the Snowman" or "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" can be purchased for under a dollar. Or, check out Christmas books from the library. Just before bed, on designated evenings (perhaps once or twice a week), one book can be opened and read...or go crazy and read a story every night! This helps to put the children in the Christmas spirit, plus keeps a mother or dad close to their children--like we always should be!
30. As a family, spend an evening putting up and decorating your Christmas tree together. As bedtime rolls around, have all the children bring a sleeping bag and pillow and place it by the tree. The foot of their bags should be next to the tree so they can look at the tree while lying down. Turn out the living room lights, turn on some good Christmas music, and plug in the Christmas tree lights. Time for some truly sweet dreams...
31. As part of your children's traditional "sleep out" under the Christmas tree, you may want to serve refreshments. Make reindeer sandwiches by cutting out pieces of bread in a triangle shape. Put each triangle on a separate plate and cover with peanut butter and honey. Use straight pretzels for antlers, raisins for eyes, and a red cherry for a nose. Serve with egg nog (if your children like it)...or else hot cider or root beer.
32. Early in December, as part of Family Home Evening, explain to the children that you are going to have a Christmas door-decorating contest. Each child can pick one door in the house and will be given one week in which to decorate it. Have lots of construction paper and glue available for their use, and check out some Christmas craft books from the library to help give them ideas of what they may want to make. At the next Family Home Evening, a week later, Dad serves as judge. Make certain that prizes are given to everyone, so that all are "winners." The first place winner gets to choose his or her prize first, second place winner chooses next, and so on. Prizes might include a package of Oreos, a bag of candy, etc.
33. The children are more willing to help you take down Christmas decorations and straighten up the house if they know that afterwards a special "tree burning" party will be held. Cut up the tree and light. Be prepared with hot dogs and marshmallows, ready to roast!
34. A few days after Christmas get the family together and make "thank you" cards. (This is not really a "party," but if you call it that, the kids will think it's fun!) Send thank you's to all that gave gifts or dropped off treats. Have refreshments at the end, including special cookies which have a not attached, stating: "Smart cookies never forget to say thanks!"
35. On Christmas Eve, just before bed, be sure to serve hot chocolate with miniature marshmallows floating on top. Then, years later, when your children are away from home at the holidays, you can send an envelope of hot chocolate with a plastic bag of marshmallows as a reminder of home and the holidays.
36. Once each week in December, light a group of candles in candleholder in the middle of the table for the evening. Turn out the lights and enjoy the warmth of the candlelight. Go around the table and share a happy memory from holidays past or something each person is grateful for. After eating, stay around the candlelit table and have someone read a Christmas story or legend.
37. Take a green wreath and decorate it with whatever characterizes the special memories and interest of each family member during the past year: a Scout badge, a small ballet shoe, a memento from a camp out trip, a tiny bride and groom to recall a family wedding. With florist wire and picks, attach these items to the wreath and weave bright thin ribbon in and out in a festive way. (It is simplest to buy the wreath and "make" it your own with your mementos, ribbons and decorations.) Hang the wreath on your front door to welcome all who come in during the holiday season. Then after Christmas, cover the wreath with a big clear plastic sack, and save it as a "snapshot" of your year, a little bit of history.
38. Write special letters of appreciation and love in each stocking. Include little reminders of the past year like how proud you are of progress your child has made or a character quality you've seen developing. Write on decorative paper (which can be purchased by the sheet at copy shops), or make a holiday border around the letter. Enclose in an envelope, and the letter will become one of the favorite "stocking stuffers" at your house.
39. While looking for stocking stuffers and gifts, wrap a small gift in silver and gold for each person, to be opened only when the tree ornaments are put away and the tree taken up to the attic or to the curb. These "Twelfth Night" gifts, from the Wise Men, will encourage your helpers so you won't be stuck with dismantling the tree by yourself.
40. Start the tradition of writing thank-you notes for Christmas gifts. In your child's stocking, include a box of colorful thank-you notes and stamps so he or she can express appreciation to grandparents, aunts and uncles, or friends for gifts received at Christmas.
41. Make a friendship tablecloth. This is fun to use when guests come to share holiday or other meals throughout the year. The tablecloth can be of simple muslin or other solid fabric. After the meal, sketch around your guest's hand print on the tablecloth. Later, sew in bright embroidery thread around the hand print and stitch the person's name beside it. The "Friendship Tablecloth" can be brought out and enjoyed each holiday with its record of guests with whom the family has shared the joy of Christmas through the years.
42. On a table where it can be left out, set a new puzzle of 500-1,000 pieces. Make it a goal to have the whole picture completed by Christmas Eve (or New Year's Eve). As family members are in and out, the puzzle provides little slow down spots of time to gather, put a few pieces of the puzzle in, and chat. When visitors stop by, they too can enjoy putting together "a piece of the puzzle".
43. Gather the family together with take-out pizza or Chinese food. Snuggle up in sleeping bags and quilts and have on hand plenty of popcorn and cider. Watch a favorite classic Christmas movie video such as: It's a Wonderful Life, Meet Me in St. Louis, Miracle on 34th Street, or White Christmas.
44. Put a small basket in the center of your dining room table and encourage each person, big and small, to do little odd jobs and earn extra money to put in the basket. Each family member contributes something, no matter how small. Then just before Christmas, parents and children go to the grocery store to select items for a holiday food basket for a less fortunate family in the community.
45. Take a decorated miniature Christmas tree to someone in a hospital or nursing home.
46. A cookie exchange is a great idea for a winter neighborhood block party (or a get-together with your circle of friends). It provides a wonderful opportunity to chat in a busy season during which neighbors might otherwise only catch a glimpse of each other pulling in an out of the driveways. If the tasks are shared, no one is overwhelmed with preparations. Two families who serve as "hosts" can make invitations on a sheet of white paper--computer designed or handwritten. (Of your kids like to create on-screen, they might love to take over this part!) The invitations can be copied on bright red or green paper. Children can decorate them with crayons or stickers, and hand deliver them. Each family brings a batch of two dozen of their favorite homemade cookies, and the recipe, which are all put out on the dining table on trays. That way everyone goes home with a variety of different cookies. Punch and cookie tasting follow.
47. What better way to make happy memories and start the holidays when school lets out than with a party for neighborhood children? You supply treats and materials for them to decorate jolly gingerbread people (which they get to take home) or "make-and-take" gift for parents. Tasting is permissible, accompanied by warm apple cider simmered with a few cinnamon sticks!
48. Take time now to go through your closets and gather warm clothes to take to a local shelter. When you do this as a family, you reinforce your commitment to think of and act compassionately toward those who are less fortunate.
49. Prepare a basket of inexpensive gifts--soap, crayons, cookies--wrapped and ready for friends who come to see you. Use color-coded stickers to indicate if the gift is for a man, woman or a child. The surprise element adds to the fun.
50. Begin a Christmas journal. Write down memories your family will share; events you attend, presents you give and receive, and the inevitable crises that occur.
51. On a clear night, find the bright North Star and recall the story of the Wise Men.
52. The Lollipop Tree: Kids are always asking "How many days till Christmas?" For the last twelve days before Christmas make a "Lollipop Tree" and they can count the days. Cut a white piece of posterboard or heavy cardboard in the shape of a big Christmas tree, and mount it on their bedroom door. Decorate the cardboard with a colored tape border and write their individual names at the top. Buy strips of lollipops for ease in making rows. For the base of the tree, cut the bottom half of a disposable paper cup and decorate with foil or red wrapping paper. Tape the base of the tree to the cardboard. Put one lollipop at the top of the cardboard for the point of the tree, and then make strips of lollipops across in rows in the shape of a tree. Each day until Christmas one lollipop gets to be taken off and eaten. (This can be adapted to any number of days before Christmas.)
53. Reserve a night for the entire family to make ornaments for your tree.
54. Learn about the Christmas customs and traditions in other countries. Try to incorporate some of their celebrations into your holidays.
55. Mend a broken relationship with a friend or relative during the holidays. What better gift could you give?
56. Try the Swedish custom of writing a short, lighthearted poem on each of your gift cards that half-reveals the contents of the package.
57. Take a holiday family photograph each year in the same spot, such as by a favorite tree in your yard. In the years to come, you'll have a wonderful record not only of the growth of your family, but also of the growth of your tree.
58. Take the family on a drive every year to look at all the Christmas lights and decorations. Take a big blanket for bundling in the car and Christmas music for the stereo.
59. Open Christmas cards as a family at the dinner table. Take turns reading them aloud.
*Response of the Month: How are you increasing the feeling of oneness in your marriage?
There are three things that my husband and I make a habit to do that has helped us to grow together;
1. We always pray together (companionship prayer is very important)
2. We never forget our night out together. Date night is extremely important to our relationship and our example to our children
3. We make it a habit to go to the temple to celebrate our wedding anniversary. Since we live in CT. and the closest temple is in Washington it not only gives us a 6 1/2 hour drive together, which usually gives me time to share a good book or lesson out loud, but it gives us time together to start a new year together, to make new commitments with each other.
The some of the latest additions that I have found that brings us together is we both study in preparation for Sunday School. My husband is YM president and I am in the RS presidency so most of the week we are going in different directions. As we study for the Sunday School lesson if something touches us we share it, either via email or on the phone or before we fall asleep.
But my favorite time of the week is Sunday after the kids are in bed and its still early we sit together and talk no interruptions of the phone or the TV its great!!! I know that it helps us to connect before we start another hectic week day schedule.
I hope you enjoyed these thoughts of mine. They have brought great joy and strength in our relationship these past nine years. I really enjoy the newsletter. Patti
*Question of the Month: How do you teach or encourage modesty in an increasingly immodest world?
Thank you for your wonderful responses so far. Let us know what you think. We want your wisdom and input!
Reader responses will appear in the next newsletter. E-mail responses to firstname.lastname@example.org
See you later!
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