I did it. I got the Christmas lights up. It’s probably the earliest ever—for me at least. This year with storms coming and the insistence of my wife, I got right to it first thing Saturday morning. Impending snow, rain, and cold were good motivators. And if the looming storm wasn’t stimulus enough, my wife’s delight, anticipation, and excitement made it a task I really don’t dread anymore. But it wasn’t always that way.
Maybe your street is like mine. Do you experience this phenomenon? Christmas lights suddenly appear in their neat little rows on the houses up-and-down our street. Where are the ladders, the balancing on high rooftops, and the untangling of extension cords? For eleven years, I have been putting our Christmas light up rain, snow, or infrequently shine. Most years, it was a chore I didn’t want to complete. Instead of the glee and happiness that should be associated with the sentiments of the season, I had one more chore that had to be done in less than convenient circumstances. My children would offer to help and their encouragement motivated me into action. Now that’s beginning to sound a lot like Scrooge. I know. Understandably, my demeanor really wasn’t of my choosing—or so I thought. The prevailing attitude that I really didn’t want to do this chore seemed justified. My family helps by attaching the bulbs and deciding the color pattern. I just place the lights on the eves of the roof. It’s not that I put up tons of lights or decorate my home and yard to the extreme. I have a colleague and neighbors that do things more elaborate. Some have been doing it this way their entire lives. My job is to just adhere the strings of lights to the roof.
Then it all changed.
Exactly when, I can’t be certain. What caused this transformation? I don’t know. But it probably has to do with my wife. She begins slipping in hints just for good measure weeks before the actual day arrives “We may have to get the lights up earlier this year. The weather man predicted a stormy winter,” or perhaps “Sally said she wanted blue lights this time, so I bought a few extra boxes for good measure.” As the day gets closer, the comments will change to “Did you see that the bishop put his lights up already?” or “We better get our lights out soon. Nobody wants to do it in the snow.” Admittedly, this used to bug me. I knew it needed doing, and I will get to it. Then fortunately, something changed. I can’t be sure what it was: the weather is still cold and wet outside, the strings of lights are just as many as always, and the method is pretty much the same as it has been every year. But something definitely changed, because rather than an annoyance, her comments made me smile. When the strings of lights showed up on our living room, kitchen, hallway, and family room floors, I laughed. Up on the roof, I was finishing up the last string of lights when my wife backed out of the garage on her way to an appointment. She stopped, rolled down the window, mouthed “thank you” and gave me a thumbs up. She really means it.
This time of year, my wife turns giddy. Her excitement for this season rivals that of a five-year-old. When it comes to enthusiasm for Christmas, she has it all. And I just have to do my little part that she can’t do herself. The implications are that she will make her holiday treats, decorate our home, and plan fun and exciting activities for the entire family over the coming month to bless the lives of our family and others.
How can I not love doing my little part for all that?
What our Heavenly Father asks of us makes us better people when we do it, gives us many more friends, happiness, and abundance; blesses our homes and families, and prepares us for happiness in this life and an eternity of joy in the kingdoms of God in the world to come.
How can we not love doing our little part for all of that?
As sweet to me and powerful in my life as the numerous blessings I have received, nothing has brought more peace, and hope, and joy than has come from discovering the marvelous qualities of the Savior and all the gracious, loving and merciful things He has done for me and my loved ones. I cannot in any way repay Him, or properly thank Him. But I can serve Him with all my heart and stand as a witness of the goodness of the Father in giving us such a leader and friend as the Savior.
I witness that Christ is divine, has risen from the dead, and out of his love for us has overcome every barrier to our return to Heavenly Father and enjoyment of the unspeakable joys of eternal life.
I know that His teachings are the only way to happiness and peace in this life, for individuals and nations, and to joy in the life to come.
All I do and say is in the hope that I might help His cause and invite others to come to Him for the right guidance in life and the strength to do what’s right.
I know that through Christ, sins can be overcome and forgiven, and lives changed, and hope restored.
In a recent church meeting, we discussed principles of the gospel more encompassing than perhaps I had previously realized. The Israelites traveled for 40 years in the wilderness and faced many hardships, so the Lord could teach them His will. He provided manna to sustain them, one day-at-a-time and only as much as they needed. If these men and women gathered more than they could eat, the extra went bad. They were taught complete reliance on God by having to do this every day. What they collected remained good for the time at hand, so they repeated this task daily. They learned the Source of their blessings, and God promised to help them day-by-day.
For some reason in this context, I better understood that, like them, we are totally dependent on Heavenly Father for everything we have and that we need sustenance from Him regularly to overcome the challenges we face in our daily lives. He will help us along day-by-day if we will let Him, but we must be humble and have faith that He will indeed lead and rescue us, especially in the midst of hardship.
One of my favorite scriptures of all time comes from the New Testament and addresses the very subject of giving all for Christ. Peter comes to the Lord and faithfully confirms that the apostles have left their stations in life, families, livelihood, and all else to follow the Master. The Savior takes the opportunity to teach his followers that they will receive an hundredfold that which they have forsaken for the Lord.
How can we not love doing our little part for all of that?
In 1989, Walter Penning formed a consultancy based in Salt Lake City and empowered his clients by streamlining processes and building a loyal, lifetime customer base with great customer service. His true passion is found in his family. He says the best decision he ever made was to marry his sweetheart and have children. The wonderful family she has given him and her constant love, support, and patience amid life's challenges is his panacea.