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Jesus Christ Advent Calendar I love advent calendars almost as much as I love Christmas. One of my favorite childhood Christmas traditions was putting the little ornaments on our advent calendar. It served to feed my excitement almost to a frenzy and I don't regret it. In fact, I want the same thing for my own children.

The magic of Christmas is love and giving. It manifests itself in kind deeds, the excitement of little children (and adults, if your adult people are anything like me), and the warmth of the knowledge of the Savior of mankind. This is Christmas.

I wanted to find some way to include my testimony of Jesus Christ into our daily magic. I want my children to know as surely as I do that the babe from Bethlehem grew into the man that would fulfill His Godly mission and atone for their sins. I want them to hear those scriptures as often as they hear jingle bells.

I ran across two different blogs whose authors shared this same vision. I used a little bit of this one and a little bit of that one and then incorporated some changes and ideas of my own. I love the way it turned out. I'm going to try my hand at a second one and play with different background colors because my little sister wants one too and I'm just that nice. And maybe I'll figure out a way to be successful at Mod Podge
before I'm done . . . or not, in which case I'll switch to spray paint.

I wanted my calendar to include daily scriptures and so I first decided which pictures I wanted to use and their accompanying scriptures. I know that many of my readers are not LDS, but I am, so if you're feeling a little confused by some of the references it's because they can be found in The Book of Mormon. I ordered 3x4 prints from Deseret Book and then cut them down to just slightly smaller than 3x3" to fit on my squares. More on that later.

  1. Journey To Bethlehem by Joseph Brickey: Luke 1:26-28, Matthew 1:18-25, Luke 2:1-5
  2. His Name Shall Be Called Wonderful by Simon Dewey: Luke 2:6-20
  3. Be It Unto Me by Liz Lemon Swindle: 1 Nephi 11:13-20
  4. For Unto Us A Child Is Born by Simon Dewey: Isaiah 9:6, Luke 2:21-35
  5. In Favor With God by Simon Dewey: Matthew 2, Luke 2:40
  6. Growing In Wisdom by Simon Dewey: Luke 2:41-52
  7. Light And Truth by Simon Dewey: Matthew 13:54-57
  8. To Fulfill All Righteousness by Simon Dewey: Matthew 3:13-17
  9. Seeking The One by Liz Lemon Swindle: John 10:14, Luke 15:3-5
  10. Peace, Be Still by Simon Dewey: Mark 4:35-41
  11. Living Water by Simon Dewey: John 4:6-14, John 6:35
  12. Fishers of Men by Simon Dewey: Matthew 4:18-20
  13. The Better Part by Simon Dewey: Luke 10:38-42
  14. From Darkness To Light by Simon Dewey: John 9:1-7, John 12:46
  15. Led By The Spirit by Simon Dewey: Luke 4:1-8
  16. In Humility by Simon Dewey: John 13:4-5 & 12-17
  17. The Last Supper by Simon Dewey: Matthew 26:20-30
  18. Gethsemane: Matthew 26:36-46, Mosiah 3:7
  19. Behold The Man by Simon Dewey: John 18 & 19, Mosiah 3:8-9
  20. Why Weepest Thou by Simon Dewey: John 20:1-17, Mosiah 3:10, D&C 76:22-24
  21. That Ye May Know by Simon Dewey: 3 Nephi 11:1-17
  22. Jesus Blesses The Children by Del Parsons: 3 Nephi 17:21-24
  23. Let Him Ask In Faith by Simon Dewey: Joseph Smith History 1:11-17
  24. The Second Coming: Acts 1:11, D&C 29:10-11
  25. Prince of Peace by Liz Lemon Swindle: 2 Nephi 25:26

I cut my board from 3/8" plywood. My handy husband cut it down to a 19x24" size for me. He also used a 2x4 to cut the 25 3x3" squares to 1/8" thick. They ended up not being quite uniform in thickness and I actually prefer that. I painted the edges of the little squares red.

advent calendar project 2 After that I cut down the pictures of Christ and the scrapbook paper that I'd chosen for the other side to 2 7/8 x 2 7/8" sizes. This allowed a little bit of the red to show and also ensured that I wouldn't have to repair any of the cuts.

advent calendar project 3

I mod podged the paper and the images to their rightful sides (on separate days). I put a layer of mod podge underneath and then over the top. I didn't put the top layer on the scrapbook paper sides until I had adhered the vinyl numbers (which were cut to be about 1x1"). I also used a brown ink pad on the edges of the scrapbook paper sides to add contrast and give them kind of an aged look . . . a brilliant idea from a friend of mine who is far craftier than I will ever be. She also prints my vinyl for me. I should probably just pay her to do these projects for me. It'd be better for my blood pressure.

advent calendar project 4

advent calendar project 5 I mod podged brick red scrapbook paper to the base board. That was a stinking disaster. I'll just be honest. It took one redo and then was still so bad that I tossed it in my room and vowed to just spray paint the other side the color I wanted when I was no longer mad. Well, it magically fixed itself as it sat in my room and the majority of the bubbles laid flat. I'm not going to promise that this sort of miracle will happen to you, however, because I refuse to make false claims . . . especially where mod podge is concerned.

I sanded down the edges of that board and the paper just to give it a feathery look. Then I used antiquing gel mixed with water and rubbed it where I had sanded. It added a little bit of contrast and darkened the edges (another brilliant idea from my friend).

advent calendar project 8 I mod podged on a couple of contrasting sheets for my header that my sister-in-law helped me choose because she's way craftier than me also. I'm pretty sure everyone is, but I try. Then I adhered my vinyl lettering to that and mod podged a final layer over the top. The edges on my headers were also given that aged look on the edges by using the brown ink pad.

advent calendar project 6 I marked the spot on each square where they'd need to be drilled in order to hang on the nails. I centered them and went about 1/4" down from the top.

advent calendar project 7

My handy dandy husband drilled the holes in my little squares for me. That was only semi disastrous. You have to wait to drill the holes until you've mod podged everything on both sides of your squares. I don't think there's any way around it. The drill bits go through just fine, but because the paper is firm from all of that special glue, pieces tended to rip or not come all the way off. I had to take a wire brush to the insides of the holes to at least partially clean them out. It was some work, but it turned out fine.

Then I laid out the squares where I wanted them to hang and hammered the nails into my board. Underneath the little squares is where I placed the scriptures. I was able to find Avery adhesive labels in a 2x2" size and a Kraft brown color. I printed the applicable scriptures for each square and then stuck them underneath their appropriate square. You can't see them except when you go to flip the square from the date to the image of Christ.

advent calendar project 9

Once those stickers were on. I used Mod Podge Clear Acrylic Sealer
on the base. I probably could've used the sealer on each square also, but I didn't and am not sure it's necessary yet. The sealer keeps the mod podge from remaining so tacky even when it's dry. Hopefully it will keep the squares from sticking to it during storage. If not, then I guess I'll use the sealer on them too.

Anyway, I was so excited to be done! And I think it turned out great! I'm excited to try some other color combos as well. Although don't hold your breath for those just yet. I intended to be done with this a month ago so we could use it beginning December 1st. That obviously didn't happen. Sometimes I get caught up in a million different projects and things don't go exactly how I plan, but I finished this nonetheless.

advent calendar project 1 Enjoy! And hey, if you do a similar project, share the link with me! I'd love to see what you come up with (even if it's way better than mine . . . I won't even be mad for keeps).

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Believe in the Miracle There's a lot to feel hopeless about. I'm not going to deny it. The world is in complete turmoil, much of which is our own doing.

I'm alarmed by the choices of groups and governments. But I'm even more anxious about the personal choices and beliefs of billions of people. Because after all, it is our personal choices and beliefs that direct our governments and any other groups to which we belong.

Good has become evil and evil has become good. We knew that in the last days this would happen. The scriptures and the voices of prophets have told us that it would. All that is right is made to look closed-minded and awful. And those things which are inherently evil, the things which are contrary to the laws of a loving God, are made to look compassionate and loving and decent.

As a society we're trying to rewrite the rules. We walk around as if the fate of the world is in our hands. We currently live under the assumption that if the laws of God don't fit into our personal plans, we can change them. If the secular law is on our side then we must be right. If the majority agrees with us, then it must be because the minority is wrong and ignorant and foolish. We somehow believe that we can lambaste our way through the decrees and expectations of the God of us all.

We can't. I can't and you can't. It's a simple truth that can't be argued away: God is the Supreme Ruler over us and the ground on which we stand. Get used to it. And while you're getting used to it, try waking up. Seriously. Wake up. The fate of the world is not in your hands.

Look around you at what's happening and really let it sink in. Do we really think that as a civilization we can ignore its Creator and come out ahead? If we can convince enough of our peers that something that we want is our right, even when God says it isn't, do we win? Can we hand over our God-given agency to corrupt governments without consequences? Think about it. That victory is temporary.

Maybe you're like me. Maybe thinking about the state of this world for too long leaves you uncomfortably anxious. Maybe you just want to grab the majority by the shoulders and shake them and make them understand just what it is that they're doing.

I feel like that a lot, but I also feel something else. I feel something that even the direst of circumstances can't take away. I feel hope.

And that hope stems from the very reason that we celebrate this Christmas season.

Jesus the Christ, the Creator and Savior of the world, can teach us a lot about hope because He is our hope. He exemplifies it, He personified it when He walked amongst us, and He literally became it when He fulfilled His atoning mission.

As I think back on His entrance into this world, I can't help but feel the warmth and hope of that miracle. I can imagine that I was there, staring in wondering awe at the sign of the birth of the King of Kings. I can understand the joy that must have been felt by those who had been waiting for that holy birth.

For a long time I couldn't imagine what the extent of my horror would be as a nation crucified the Son of God. I couldn't wrap my mind around the fact that so many were past feeling, that there were so many who failed to recognize in the gentle man from Nazareth truth and salvation. I couldn't understand the mockery of all that was sacred and the flippant way in which the Roman soldiers insulted and abused their own Savior. I couldn't fathom the storm the world suffered as the Heavens raged.

Now I'm an adult. With age comes wisdom, sometimes more of it than I'd like. After witnessing the last ten years I can fully understand how it happened. I've seen what happens when a civilization collectively turns their back on God. I can now fully grasp the significance of all of the tiny, little decisions that we make . . . the consequences of which are a closeness to God or a removal from Him. I can understand all of the natural disasters that we currently suffer as the Heavens rage over our refusal to follow the Lamb of God once more.

I get it. I'm awake. And it breaks my heart.

But the one thing that breaks my heart also brings peace to it. Everything is happening just as it was foretold. I've known about it my entire life, thanks to wonderful parents who are firm believers in the miracle that is Jesus the Christ. And I still know it now. I continue to spread that hope to my children and to anyone who will listen.

So at this wonderful season of the year, I want to express my gratitude for and faith in the Son of the Living God.

From the foundation of the world, a Savior was a necessary part of the plan of God. Our brother stepped forward. He willingly took the role that would cause Him unimaginable suffering and grief and He did it for us.

I can only imagine the rejoicing that occurred amongst those of us who weren't yet here and those of us who were. What a glorious day for all of mankind. That sweet baby with the humblest of beginnings, set apart by His Godly mission and the angels who heralded His coming. I rejoiced. I know I did. And His birth still causes me to rejoice today.

I find hope and peace in my Savior, Jesus Christ. He's the One, the only One, who can make all that goes wrong, right. He's the One who will come again. He's the One who is mighty to save. All that He promised and all that He said will come to pass. The fate of the world is in His hands, not ours.

So during this most wonderful time of the year, we have as much reason as we ever have to celebrate the birth of the Son of God. He is our constant hope. Believe in Him. Believe in the miracle. In it you will find the peace that will carry you through whatever may come.

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I'm sort of obsessed with Christmas. I'm not going to deny it. I'm totally proud of it. I'm also obsessed with Christmas movies and this will also not be denied. I watch them all year. Give me whatever speech you'd like about encroaching on other holidays because it won't phase me in the least. I love feel-good jolliness all year long. Christmas movies are uplifting and warm and sometimes even cater to my romantic heart. Besides, if you don't like Christmas movies, it's quite possible that you have no soul.

So I either buy or rent or watch on Netflix, any Christmas movies I ever get my hands on. I won't claim to have seen them all, but I've seen a lot. I also won't claim to love them all because sometimes the acting can be incredibly poor. But I love a lot of them. Give me a good, cheesy, romantic story with good acting and I'm yours. If any of these ten movies hold claim to cheesiness, I'll warn you, but will not apologize for the sappy genius.

Okay, so here goes, in no particular order . . . good Christmas movies can't be rated without offending the season:

white-christmas-movie-finale-red-costumes

1. Irving Berlin's White Christmas
- I don't care who you are. I don't care if you like dancing or singing. If you can't appreciate Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, Vera Ellen and Danny Kaye's artistic talents, then you probably shouldn't watch Christmas movies anyway.

dear-santa-amy-acker-5

2. Dear Santa
- My family loves this one. It's one of our favorites. It's a romantic, feel-good movie that focuses a lot on hope and service to others. I seriously probably watch it once a week. All year.

its_a_wonderful_life-300x210

3.It's A Wonderful Life
- I shouldn't even have to say it, but this is a classic. And I prefer it in black and white, but they sell both versions. James Stewart is fantastic and the story is uplifting and wonderful. It's a must watch every year.

12 Dates of Christmas 4. The 12 Dates of Christmas -  I can't find this to purchase anywhere, but it's on Netflix. It's a great movie. It's like a holiday version of Groundhog Day. Can't go wrong with that. Plus, if you watched Saved by the Bell and were in love with Zack Morris, it's like a trip down memory lane.

the-santa-clause 5. The Santa Clause
- I love this movie and it's not just because of Neal's ridiculous Christmas sweaters. It's a warm and kind of healing movie, I think.

MostWonderfulTimeOfTheYear1 6. The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
- Love it. Period. Just a warning though, if you have little kids who still believe in Santa Claus, I probably wouldn't let them watch this one. It will get them asking questions you don't want to answer. I've never let my kids watch it, but I do all the time.

600full-miracle-on-34th-street-screenshot 7. Miracle on 34th Street
- There are several versions of this movie and the new one is actually good too, but I still like the classic the best. The magic of Christmas right there.

BoyfriendforChristmasStill2 8. A Boyfriend for Christmas
- This is probably the cheesiest of all my picks, but it's still totally cute. Just a good romantic comedy. Totally worth watching.

Christmas Shoes 9. The Christmas Shoes
- If you don't feel like crying . . . well, okay, or completely sobbing . . . through the entire thing, then don't watch it. Luckily for me, I don't mind shamelessly blubbering. If a movie is capable of capturing heartbreak and happiness at the same time, this is the one. Great movie. Plus, Kimberly Williams-Paisley rules. And actually, there are two sequels to this which are also good.

still-of-macaulay-culkin-and-joe-pesci-in-home-alone-large-picture 10. Home Alone
- I've been watching this since I was a kid and I still love it. Funny and yet works in the hope of the Christmas season. It's an incredibly well-done film.

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Step 1: Go ahead. There is no shame in letting them believe they're doing a fun, Halloween activity. And in their eyes it really is fun. Pumpkin bags at Wal-mart are $.97 each. I don't think there's really any argument to be had here.

Fall Chore Tips for KidsStep 2: Let the baby walk around eating Cheetos. Trust me, this is a win-win situation for everyone.

You're so very welcome.