Our Season of Service

Inspired by some friends of our family, the Marshall family has decided to try a new way of exchanging Christmas gifts in 2012. We hope it will become a wonderful family tradition.
For years, the four Marshall children, their spouses, and their parents exchanged gifts every Christmas, but in 2011, we decided the gift-giving tradition may need a change since we are all so blessed and in need of truly nothing. We decided we needed to find a better way to celebrate the true Christmas spirit.

We suggested that we each perform acts of service in the name of the sibling whose name we were assigned at random. Our service will be kept a secret until Christmas Day.

Our friend drew the names for us and notified each of us privately of the person who should inspire our service. On Christmas Day, we reveal who we were given and how we chose to serve by posting our stories on The Marshall Family Season of Service blog.

We hope this tradition will help us focus on serving our communities and each other during the annual celebration of the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

We invite you to come back to our blog on Christmas morning to read this year's service.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Dear Terry,

All year long I have had the privilege of serving in your name.  I had many interesting and exciting opportunities come my way and I participated in some but none ever felt like the "right" experience to post about and count as my Christmas service project for you.  Then on October 19th as I casually scrolled though Facebook, I read that my friend, Savannah's, three and a half month old baby would be finishing his time on earth shortly.  

I broke down in sobs.  I prayed.  I cried again.  I prayed some more.

Baby Andrew had been sick from the start and his breathing problems were caught shortly following  birth.  The diagnosis went from slightly worrisome to serious and eventually to a rare genetic disorder with a low life expectancy.  We were still hopeful.  And the hospital stay went from days to weeks to months.  We were still hopeful.

Savannah would post daily, sometimes even more often, about Andrew's progress, his setbacks, her fears and doubts.  We, her friends, waited with baited breath for good news. We would cheer and mourn right along with her as different triumphs and struggles developed.

Everyone already loved Savannah.  She's one of those people who are impossible not to.  But through this trial, I saw many people grow to love her and her family even more, in a very humble way.  I know I was beginning to feel God's love for her, her baby, her family and others.  I was awestruck by the wide range of feelings and emotions I had for a friend I knew and loved but hadn't seen in years and for a child I had never even met.

Savannah had photo-documented Andrew's time here very well.  I knew that had I been in her shoes I would want something tangible to look at and hold.  I also knew that just having lost someone so precious and dear, she probably wouldn't have the time or heart to get it all done while grieving and mourning and healing.  So I set out to create a photo book of Andrew's life.  Some 40+ hours later and I still have no pictures or proof of its completion since I shipped it directly to her.

I can say though, that it was a profoundly moving project for me to work on.  My love for her and her family has multiplied.  I have felt the love of Heavenly Father and the Savior more presently in my life.  I feel my relationship with them has strengthened, as has my testimony of them, the Savior's life and mission and especially of eternal families.  I have experienced on a deeply personal level to joy of love for other's as God loves them, even without having met or been physically near one another.  My gratitude for my family, and especially my children, has grown.  And most importantly, my gratitude for my Savior, Jesus Christ, has increased.  What a great feeling to experience this time of year when our hearts and minds truly should be focused on HIM, the reason for the season.

1 comment:

  1. I woke up at 4:30 this morning, excited for the kids to wake up. So to pass my time, I read everyone's service opportunities. This is so wonderful, Haylee! It made me cry.