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.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas, Mother!

Dear Mother,

This year when I drew your name to do service in your honor, I tried to think of something you love and like to spend time doing.  I am so thankful that you are my mother.  I love you so much.  So, here is what I did and I still believe that it will touch lives of those you love and the lives of many you don't know. 

This year, I did many acts of service.  I will highlight 4 that pertain to how I often think of you.

As a backstory, several years ago our friend Eric Bednar was telling us that his father, Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, had recommended that he read the book entitled Bonds that Make Us Free.  Scott and I read it and loved it.  It was so applicable to our lives and our interactions with others that we began recommending it to all of our friends.  Everyone could benefit from reading this book multiple times in their lives and if they take it to heart and look within themselves, it would improve every relationship in their lives including but not limited to spousal relationship, relations with your children, parents, friends, and even coworkers and acquaintances.  I loved reading it so much and it has helped me become a better person so much that I personally have read it several times in the last 10 years.  It's just that great.  Now fast forward to the end of April when Scott was called to the Bishop of our ward.  One of the first bits of advice that our Stake President gave him was to read the book, Bonds that Make Us Free.   It had been a while since Scott had read it and he really wanted to do everything that he could to help himself in helping others during his service as Bishop.  So, he really wanted to read this book again.  The problem was that he is so incredibly busy now between being a father, working, and Bishop that there was really no time for him to sit down with a book to read it.  He has a 20 minute commute to work every day; 40 minutes round trip.  I got the bright idea to begin reading the book for him out loud and recording it on my phone, one chapter at a time.  I began in September reading chapters and I finished the last chapter, chapter 14 last week.  It has been such a great thing for him to be able to listen to the book on his commute.  But, it has also been a great review for me in my own life.  And the giving doesn't stop there!  I've had the opportunity to help friends who are struggling with advice from this book that has saved their marriage.  And even furthermore, Scott as a Bishop has been able to recommend this book to many members of our ward to better themselves and their relationships.  This service has helped many families already and will continue to help families as they teach their own children.  This ended up being about a 10 hour project.  The audio files are now in an emailable format and anyone who wants to listen can just listen right from their phone.  I'm happy to share if anyone is interested.  ;)

The second project I did this year was for members of the Tucker and Marshall families.  Haylee said it well on Facebook with this message, "It makes me sad to hear people complain about how they hate Christmas because it is so commercialized. It's true that it is, but it doesn't have to be in your home and your heart! Focus on the Savior, His mission and life, focus on emulating him through love and service and Christmas will quickly become meaningful and joyful!"  Last year, I bought an ornament kit called the 25 Days of Christ.  It was unfinished wooden ornaments that I painted and it also came with New Testament scriptures and Bible videos to accompany each day's ornament.  It was a wonderful tradition because it focused us the entire month of December on the life of Jesus Christ, our Savior.  It was so wonderful to study and be reminded of His wonder.  So, this year, I decided that I wanted to share that gift and tradition with my siblings that don't already have the ornament kit for their children.  I painted ornament kits for 6 families including Craig and my sister in laws Kristen and Becca.  I hope this has become a beloved tradition in their homes and for their children to be able to focus on our Savior.  This was a 10 hour project as well.

The third project was a project made possible through generous donations, lots of hard work, many hours, and our Colfax Elementary PTA program.  It is a project called One School, One Book.  Literacy is a very important thing to me.  I believe that if a child can learn to read and learn to love to read, their options are limitless.  If you can read, you can do anything!  I also knew since you retired you have looked for service opportunities through the school and ultimately have been able to help at Colfax helping children with reading comprehension.  Through One School, One Book, my friend Ashley and I worked very hard and were able to put the book Wonder in the hands of over 450 families in the Colfax community.  We led them through reading the book over the course of a month, creating a culture of literacy in every home.  It was truly a Wonderful experience!

The last project we did as a family.  We debated over doing the 12 days of Christmas for a couple of families who have had a hard time or doing Secret Santa for a family in need, but we settled on spreading Christmas cheer to be able to reach more families.  We were able to secretly deliver Christmas music CDs to 12 families with a tag that read, "The best way to spread Christmas cheer is to sing loudly for all to hear".  I know that these families were touched and it felt so good to know that they were thought of this beautiful season.

Merry Christmas, Mother!  I hope your Christmas has been filled with joy!  I love you!


  1. I love this whole post! And I love you!

    p.s. I would love a copy of your audio recording.

  2. Thanks for all you do, you are an amazing woman. A great example to all you come in contact with. I love you dearly! I would like to have the audio of the book also. Can it be put on the ipad?

  3. Gina - I loved reading your family's posts. I have heard great things about that book and would love a copy.

  4. We really enjoyed the ornaments. On nights where the kids were not fighting over hanging them it was especially nice. :)