Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Day 322, December 31

It is the day of New Year's Eve.  Some of us feel compelled to set goals.  I used to be that way.  Anymore, I     try to order my life by priorities.  Though they (goals and priorities) have similarities, I see a difference between them.

Goals, the good ones anyway, have a deadline, a method of measuring one's success in achieving them, specific steps.  Priorities provide a way of looking at life through the lens of perspective.  That's what I'm hoping to achieve.

I'm guessing your priorities are much the same as mine:  faith, family, friends, and purpose.  If I give my days to strengthening one or more of these, then I feel I am on the right path.

For the new year, I'm going to shift focus a bit in this blog with a theme of "Joy in the Journey," which I borrowed from our Relief Society.  Gratitude will still find its way into the blog because I believe that joy and gratitude are symbiotic.

I invite you to join me as we take a journey into joy.

So, for today, I am grateful for the journey into a New Year.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Day 321, December 30

You may have noticed that my day numbering is askew.  Somewhere during the year, I got off course with the days.  I don't believe I've missed posting a blog, so I've lost about 40 days.

It doesn't matter.  If that is my only instance of going off course, I would be in good shape indeed.  Unfortunately, it is the only instance of my going off course.  I've gone off course in many things, including letting hurt feelings fester inside of me.  Try as I will, I can't seem to let go of some hurts and pains.

In other things, I feel I am on course.  In my desire to be more grateful, I am (mostly) on course.  In my love for family and friends, I am (mostly again) on course.

So, for today, I am grateful for those times when I am on course and pray that the Lord will make up the difference when I veer off.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Day 320, December 29

We are but two days away from the end of the year.  It has been a year of reflection for me.  In many ways, it's been a hard year as I watch loved ones face grief and hardship.  And, in other ways, it has been a joyous one as I watch those same loved ones overcome whatever challenges are put in their way.

To a one, these family members and friends have turned to the Father, to His Son, to friends to succor them, to sustain them.  That gives me courage to do the same.

So, for today, I am grateful for the wisdom of others in turning to the Savior.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Day 319, December 28

"After nourishment, shelter, and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world."--Phillip Pullman

From the beginning of time, man has told stories.  Stories keep family lore alive.  Stories teach us how to live ... and how not to live.  Stories give us heroes and heroines.  Whether those stories are passed down by word-of-mouth from one generation to the next, whether they are chiseled onto cave walls, whether they are written with the flourish of gold pen, or whether they are typed into a computer, stories bind us together in ways that little else does.

Did your family get together over Thanksgiving and/or Christmas as ours did?  Chances are someone told a story from years ago.  Our family has a number of favorite stories, some humorous, some poignant.  When we are together, those stories are brought out, to be relished, savored, devoured.  It doesn't matter that we've all heard the stories numerous times before; what matters is that they are the vehicle by which we pass down family history and values.

So, for today, I am grateful for stories.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Day 318, Dec 27

Christmas Day is past, but the season is still upon us.  I rejoice in that, in this most holy time of year.  At the same time, I am saddened when we fail to pay homage to Christ as the center of the season.

A week ago, my husband and I attended our granddaughter Reynna's Christmas choir program.  It was lovely.  Needless to say, Reynna was the star.  (Hey, I'm a proud grandma--I make no apologies for that.)  The only problem with the program was that it was labeled "A Winter Holiday."  There was no mention of Christ or Christmas.

I understand the political correctness of using a salutation that will satisfy everyone.  The only problem with that is that it doesn't satisfy everyone.  It doesn't satisfy me.  But, much more importantly, I can't believe that it satisfies the Lord.

Here we are celebrating His glorious birth and we fail to even say His name for fear that we will be seen as insensitive.  What about our sensitivity to Him?  What about our reverence for Him?  What about our gratitude to Him?  How can we profess to honor Him when we fear to even utter His name?

Forgive me if I appear to be ranting.  That is not my intention.  But I cannot remain still when I look around and see our reticience if not downright refusal to put Christ into the the season, into our lives.

So, for today, I am grateful for those who eschew political correctness and embrace the Lord's name.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Day 317, December 26

The day after Christmas can seem a letdown.  All the preparations, the work, the frenzy of the season can feel that they were done for but one day, one unit of 24 hours.  And what then?

I have been there, thought that, and experienced the inevitable letdown.  Then I had a paradigm shift.  That one day, that unit of 24 hours, was just that:  one day.  It was not, by any means, the whole season.  It is the designated day of celebration, but it doesn't mean our efforts must stop.  Nor should they stop.

Do you have an impulse to take a box of candy to someone who can't get out?  Do so.  Never mind that "Christmas is past."  Are you prompted to spend extra time listening to a friend who is going through a hard time?  Do so.  Have you wondered if the animal shelter has enough food for its residents and considered donating some pet food to it?  Once again, do so.

So, for today, I am grateful for impulses, promptings, and wonderings.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Day 316, December 25, Christmas Day

The poem below is from the same booklet I wrote of yesterday.


The first Christmas
Must have been a glorious night
With angels heralding the birth
Of Christ and the gospel light.

Mary wrapped her baby
To keep Him safe and warm.
Joseph stood quietly by
To protect Him from all harm.

If I had been there,
I would have fallen to my knees
To worship my Lord and Savior,
Who said, "Come unto me."

For today, and for always, I am grateful for the Savior.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Day 315, December 24

When we tell the Christmas story, it sometimes seems that Joseph didn't play much of a role.  I wrote the following poem for my grandchildren several years ago:

                                              I WONDER WHAT JOSEPH FELT

I wonder what Joseph felt
When in the stable mary gave birth
To the child Jesus Christ,
The Savior of all the earth.

I wonder what Joseph felt
When he looked at that Holy Child
Did he feel the glorious presence
In one so meek and mild?

I wonder what Joseph felt
When the shepherds came.
Did he, too, kneel in awe
Of the babe who bore Christ's name?

So, for today, I am grateful for Joseph.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Day 314, December 23

"The only way to get through life is to laugh your way through it.  You either have to laugh or cry.  I prefer to laugh.  Crying gives me a headache."--Marjorie Pay Hinckley

Marjorie Pay Hinckley was the wife of our dear Prophet Gordon B. Hinckley.  Sister Hinckley was (and is) one of my role models.  A gracious lady to the core, she never forgot how to laugh and to celebrate life's joys, both large and small.

So, for today, I am grateful for the words of a wise woman.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Day 313, December 22

"Men and women who turn their lives over to God will discover that He can make a lot more out of their lives than they can.  He can deepen their joys, expand their vision, quicken their minds, strengthen their muscles, lift their spirits, multiply their blessings, increase their opportunities, comfort their souls, and pour out peace."--Ezra Taft Benson

We've been talking a lot about God and His power during these last few posts.  I worried that these topics would not seem very Christmasy, then, duh, I realized that nothing is more Christmasy than writing about God and celebrating His power.

Isn't it wonderful to know that there is Someone who can make more of us than we can ourselves?  If I had to rely on myself to sustain me through the hard times of life, I would be doomed to failure.  Fortunately I have God on my side.

So, for today, I am grateful for His power to make "a lot more out of" me than I can.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Day 312, December 21

"In the gospel of Jesus Christ you have help from both sides of the veil, and you must never forget that.  When disappointment and discouragement strike ... you remember and never forget that if our eyes could be opened we would see horses and chariots of fire as far as the eye can see riding at reckless speed to come to our protection."--Jeffrey R. Holland

What a beautiful image Elder Holland evokes with these words?  Who among us has not had times of discouragement and disappointment?  How would we respond if we truly believed that forces from both sides of the veil were there cheering us on, that horses and chariots of fire were coming to our aid?  Would we proceed with more courage, more confidence, more faith?

I think so.

So, for today, I am grateful for help from both sides of the veil.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Day 311, December 20

"Nothing is going to startle us more when we pass through the veil to the other side than to realize how well we know our Father and how familiar His face is to us."--Ezra Taft Benson, Prophet

I hope this is true for me.  I hope it is true for all of us.  Will I recognize His face?  Will it, indeed, be familiar to me?  There are times when I think I might.  Then there are other times, those times when I'm being selfish, greedy, short-sighted, narrow-minded, and other nasties, that I am sure I will never know the Father nor find His face familiar.

The solution to this is easy:  all I have to do is not be selfish, greedy, short-sighted, narrow-minded, and other assorted nasties.  All I have to do is want to be like Him.

So, for today, I am grateful for those times when I do want to be like the Father.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Day 310, December 19

"When in situations of stress, we wonder if there is any more in us to give.  We can be comforted to know that God, who knows our capacity perfectly, placed us here to succeed.  No one was foreordained to fail or to be wicked.  When we have been weighed and found wanting, let us remember that we were measured before and we were found equal to our tasks; and, therefore, let us continue, but with a more determined discipleship. When we feel overwhelemed, let us recall the assurance that God will not over-program us; he wll not press upon us more than we can bear."--Neal A. Maxwell

Don't you love this?  I especially love the phrase, "... God, who knows our capacity perfectly, placed us here to succeed."

There are times, too many, I'm afraid, when I feel unequal to the tasks placed before me.  It is at these times when I turn to the Lord with more frequency, more fervency.   And wouldn't it be wonderful, if I turned to Him with such frequency and fervency all the time?

So, for today, I am grateful for those times when I " ... continue ... with a more determined discipleship."

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Day 309, December 18

Many of my favorite Christmas carols center around Mary, the mother of Jesus.  A Primary song, "Mary's Lullaby," tells the story of Mary's love for her baby:

 Lullayby, lullaby, my little one, lullaby, my child so dear.  
Thy precious life has just begun; thy mother holds thee near. 
While Joseph watches through the night,
A star reflects thy radiant light.

Thy gentle head shall wear a crown, for thy Father is the King.
Thy tender hands so little now, have blessings great to bring.
Let all creation join my song
For peace and love this night are born.


Lullaby, lullaby, my little one.
Lullaby, my child so dear

So, for today, I am grateful for Mary, mother of the Savior.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Day 308, December 17

Of the "non-hymn" Christmas carols, "Up on the House Top" is one of my favorites.  I love the word pictures it evokes as well as the clever rhyming and rhythm.

According to William Studwell in The Christmas Carol Reader, "Up on the House Top," composed by Benjamin Hanby,  was the second-oldest secular Christmas song, outdone only by "Jingle Bells", which was written in 1857 (although the latter was originally intended as a Thanksgiving song). It is also considered the first Christmas song to focus primarily on Santa Claus. 

According to Readers Digest Merry Christmas Song Book Hanby was the first to offer up the idea that Santa and his sleigh land on the roof of homes.   Benjamin Russell Hanby was born in 1833 near Rushville, Ohio, the son of a minister involved with the Underground Railroad. 

So, for today, I am grateful for Christmas carols of all kinds.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Day 307, December 16

"It is a time to do what is right regardless of the consequences that might follow.  It is a time to be found keeping the commandments.  It is a season to reach out with kindness and love to those in distress and dto thsoe who are wandering in darkness and pain.  It is a time to be considerate and good, decent and courteous toward one another in all of our relationships.  In other words, to become more Christlike."--President Gordon B. Hinckley

Just when I don't know what I can possibly write, something presents itself.  In this case, it was a bookmark that was given to me in Relief Society.  On it is a picture of the Savior followed by the beautiful words of the Prophet.  What could be more fitting with the season than President Hinckley's counsel to do what is right, to keep the commandments?

The last part of President Hinckley's words particuarly resonated with me--"to reach out with kindness and love."  Many years ago, my father gave me some instruction that has stayed with me to this day.  He said, "Jane, it's easy to like those who are likable, those who look nice and smell nice.  It's much harder to like those who don't look so nice or smell so nice."  My parents lived by this creed.  Their Thanksgiving and Christmas tables were filled with forgotten people.

So, for today, I am grateful for the words of a prophet and the reminder from my father.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Day 306, December 15

Today is our son Hyrum's 30th birthday.  (This is making it harder and harder for me to maintain my claim to be only 29.  Oh, well.)

Hyrum was a delight as a baby and continues to be a delight as a grown son. He was named for a valiant servant of God, Hyrum Smith, the older brother of the Prophet Joseph Smith.

Last February, Hyrum and his sweetheart Cara made the decision to be sealed for time and all eternity in the Denver Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint.  Since then he and Cara have returned to the temple over and over, to do work for those who could not do it for themselves.  For that, and for many other reasons, I am proud of Hyrum.

So, for today, I am grateful for Hyrum.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Day 305, December 14

I love learning the history of how hymns and Christmas carols came about.  One of my favorite carols is "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing."

This carol first appeared in 1739 in the collection Hymns and Sacred Poems, having been written by Charles Wesley.  Wesley's original opening couplet is "Hark! how all the welkin rings / Glory to the King of Kings."

The popular version is the result of alterations by various hands, notably George Wakefield, Wesley's co-worker, who changed the opening couplet to the familiar one, and Felix Mendelssohn. A hundred years after the publication of Hymns and Sacred Poems, in 1840, Mendelssohn composed a cantata to commemorate Johann Gutenberg's invention of the printing press.  It is music from this cantata, adapted by the English musician William H. Cummings to fit the lyrics of “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”, that we know today.

So, for today, I am grateful for the beauty of this hymn.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Day 304, December 13

Sometimes (too frequently, I'm afraid) I focus on what is missing in my life, in the things or accomplishments I don't have.  And I fail to thank the Father for the things I do have.

Some things that come to mind:  a loving family, a warm home, a cat who cuddles with me, friends, a reason to get up in the mornings.  These are just a few of my blessings.  So why can't I remember them with greater thanks and acknowledgment?

The answer that comes to mind (and it's not a particularly palatable one) is that I'm ungrateful.  Here I am writing a blog called "The Gratitude Project" and I realize that I'm ungrateful.

So, for today, I am grateful for a moment of self-honesty.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Day 303, December 12

Winter means shorter days.  Though I love many things about the season, I don't enjoy the decreased daylight hours.  As I've written before, I love the sun.  I need the sun.

At this time of year, we celebrate the birth of The Son.  The Son of God.  Though scripture teaches us that Jesus was actually born in the spring, December is our traditional celebration of this most glorious of events.
In the hurrying and scurrying of holiday preparations, sometimes we forget why we are celebrating.

My goal for this month is to focus on The Son and to forget that I am missing the sun.

So, for today, I am grateful for "the reason for the season."

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Day 302, December 11

Here it is, fourteen days before Christmas, a scant two weeks.  Over the last weeks, I've watched many Christmas movies on television.  And, just as with Christmas carols, I am enthralled with them.  Only one thing was missing from the heart-warming movies:  Christ.

Not one of these otherwise lovely movies mentioned Christ, the true reason we celebrate at this time of year.  Is it old-fashioned on my part, naive even, to expect someone to at least mention His name?  I don't think so.  I want to watch a movie where families talk about Christ, where the wonder of His birth is the focus.

And then I realize it was up to me to put Christ in Christmas.  If I want His presence, His spirit in my holidays, it is up to me.  I need to talk of Him, to praise Him, to give thanks to Him.

So, for today, I am grateful for those times when I, when anyone, remembers to put Christ back in Christmas.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Day 301, December 10

"It is high time that the ideal of success should be replaced by the ideal of service ...  Only a life lived for others is worthwhile."--Albert Einstein

What does this quote have to do with December, with Christmas?  In case you haven't guessed, service is (or should be) the highlight of this season.

Let me share with you some examples of service I've witnessed over the last weeks:  There is my dear friend Amanda who makes doll clothes and doll blankets to give to organizations which will distribute them to little girls who would otherwise have nothing for Christmas.  There is my friend Janet who, as Relief Society president of our ward and just an all-round wonderful person, sees to the needs of many.  There is my daughter Alanna who sends cards to her great-aunts just because she wants them to know they are thought of.  There are the families in our ward who welcome the missionaries into their homes to live for three months at a time.  The list could go on and on.

So, for today, I am grateful for those who serve.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Day 300, December 9

I love Christmas carols.  I love the sounds, the way the words and phrases fit together to make something lovely.  I love the sentiments.  I go all gooey inside when I hear the words "peace on earth, goodwill to men."
I go equally as gooey when I hear "I'll Be Home for Christmas" or "Upon the Housetop."

In fact, I'm downright sloppy over all the songs, whether they be hymns or "Frosty the Snowman."

I grew up in the non-digital age.  There were no iPods or CD players or even tape recorders.  There was the record player and the piano, but they were enough to make beautiful sounds from beautiful words.

So, for today, I am grateful for Christmas carols.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Day 299, December 8

One week into December and I'm not scrambling to get things done.  That is something of a miracle.  Lest you think I'm bragging, I'm not.  It's not that I'm so organized or have it all together.  It's that I've learned to let some things go.

I've learned a few things over the years.  I don't have to do everything that my friends do.  Nor do I have to create the "perfect Christmas."

What I want to create is a Christmas of memories.  I want my husband and children and grandchildren to remember that I love them.  I want my friends to know that I am there for them.  I want Heavenly Father to know that I'm doing my best to obey His commandments.

So, for today, I am grateful for letting go of things.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Day 298, December 7

"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must undergo the fatigue of supporting it."--Thomas Paine

Today is the 73rd anniversary of Pearl Harbor, one of America's most infamous days in history.  America survived and, ultimately, came back to conquer because of the spirit of her people, the quest for freedom that would not be denied.  America survived because God proclaimed it a promised land.  As Paine so wisely said, though, freedom does not come without a price.

Many have paid the price for our freedoms with their lives.  Those who died on December 7, 1941, and those who lived to continue fighting deserve our respect and reverence, just as do those who have fought in every other battle to preserve our country.

So, for today, I am grateful for those who "undergo the fatigue of supporting" our freedoms.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Day 297, December 6

"Talking is like playing the harp; there is as much in laying the hands on the strings to stop their vibrations as in twanging them to bring out their music."--Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Some of the best conversationalists know the value of silence on their parts.  They know when to speak ... and when to cease speaking.  In short, they know how to listen.

You may know someone who talks all the time, who, so enthralled with the sound of his own voice and so taken with his own opinions,  pays little attention to what others are saying.  Chances are this individual is not known as a great conversationalist.  In fact, he may be known as a bore.  (Or is that boar?)

Then there are the quiet, thoughtful people who listen more than they speak, who give an attentive ear to the words of others.  These are the people to pay attention to, for when they speak, they will have something worthwhile to say.

So, for today, I am grateful for those who "lay their hands on the strings to stop their vibrations."

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Day 296, December 5

"You don't just luck into things as much as you'd like to think you do.  You build step by step, whether it's friendships or opportunities."--Barbara Bush

Barbara Bush was one of my favorite first ladies.  Her words remind me that important things happen when we build slowly and with care.  As I think of the best things in my life, I realize they didn't happen by accident or luck.  They came about because I cared enough to do the hard work necessary to make them happen.

The same holds true for the lives of others.  My friend Janet, who plays the flute, piano, and organ beautifully, didn't "luck" into her talent.  She built it a day at a time through practice and persistence.  My daughter Alanna didn't wake up one day to find that she could fashion beautiful hand-made cards.  She experimented with techniques, took classes, and, once again, practiced.

Then there is the Lord.  He builds us step by step, precept by precept, until we leave behind the natural tendencies and take upon us His yoke.

So, for today, I am grateful for building step by step.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Day 295, December 4

"The world is so empty if one thinks only of mountains, rivers and cities; but to know someone who thinks and feels with us, and who, though distant is close to us in spirit, this makes the earth for us an inhabited garden."--Goethe

Chances are you have a dear friend or sister or aunt or someone else close to you who lives far away, just as I do.  I have all of the above, all who live in different states.  Some of these people I see only infrequently, but they are in my heart and prayers, as I know I am in theirs.

Isn't that wonderful, to know that we are close though miles separate us?  Love and prayers keep us close.

So, for today, I am grateful for those who are close even though they are far away.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Day 294, December 3

"It's a little bit the fiddle, but lots more who holds the bow."--Wilbur Wilson

Most of us know the story "The Master's Touch," of the man who picks up an old violin and makes beautiful music from it.   It is the one "who holds the bow" who makes the difference.

In life, it is the Lord who holds the bow.  It is He who brings forth the music from us, whether it be in words, in paints, in sculpture, in parenting.  It is He who makes up for what we lack.

So, for today, I am grateful for the one "who holds the bow."

Monday, December 2, 2013

Day 293, December 2

"Never a daisy grows but a mystery guides the growing."--Richard Rene

Does it seem strange to write about flowers growing in December?  Perhaps.  Or perhaps not as I mentally substitute "God" for the words "a mystery" in the above quote.

In October, my husband and I planted spring bulbs.  We won't see the blooms until next March or April, but I have faith that they will grow because I have faith in God.  He created the flowers: daisies, tulips, daffodils, and thousands of others.

So, for today, I am grateful for God, the greatest Creator of all.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Day 292, December 1

Here it is the first of December.  How grateful I am that I no longer feel I have to measure up to some artificial holiday standard.   Thankfully, I've outgrown that (for the most part, at least).

I no longer feel I have to decorate the house.  I'll try to keep it clean and call it good.

I no longer feel I have to make holiday shaped cookies.  I'll make a pan of lemon bars.

I no longer feel I have to attend every concert and party.  I'll go to those that are meaningful to me and my family.

I no longer feel I have to make every Christmas present.  I'll tell my friends and family that someone made it, even if that someone is a worker at a factory.

What is important to me?

Choosing the right Christmas card for family members and friends and including a hand-written note.

Showing my visiting teaching ladies that I love them.

Mailing packages to my far-away grandsons.

Attending church services with my husband.

So, for today, I am grateful for the freedom to choose.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Day 291, November 30

"To have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it."--G.K. Chesterton

Our society is big on rights.  I frequently reflect that it's too bad that we are not so big on being right.  As Chesterton said, having the right is not at all the same as being right.

Take, for example, honesty.  We have the right to be honest.  However, we are not right in being cruel.  If an acquaintance asks me if I like her new hair cut and I really don't, do I have the right to say so?  Yes.  Am I right in saying so?  Not so much.  Surely I can find something I like about her hair.  I can comment on how shiny it is.

So, for today, I am grateful for those who spend more time in being right and less in having a right. 

Friday, November 29, 2013

Day 290, November 29

"Sainthood emerges when you can listen to someone's tale of woe and not respond with a description of your own."--Andrew V. Mason, MD

I cringe when I think how many times a friend has confided in me a problem she is undergoing and I immediately, sometimes before she is even finished, tell my own greater tale of woe.  Why must I "one-up" my friend that way?

When someone tells us of a problem or difficulty she is having, it is likely she doesn't want to hear our own problems.  She wants someone to listen.  That's all.  Just listen.

Perhaps this is part of the reason why psychiatry and counseling are so much in demand:  we all want someone to listen to us, even if that person is paid to do so.

So, for today, I am grateful for those who listen.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Day 289, November 28

Today is Thanksgiving.  Soon, our son Steven and his wife Melinda will be here.  Other members of the clan will follow.  We'll all eat too much food, tell too many stories that have been heard too many times, and then try to clean up a mess that is too much for this old tired woman.

I wouldn't have it any other way.

Thanksgiving is one of those rare holidays that doesn't revolve around gifts.  For that, I am grateful.  Don't get me wrong.  I love giving and receiving gifts.  At Christmas, I am as excited as the grandkids.  But I enjoy the no-gift holiday of Thanksgiving, where we concentrate on togetherness rather than things.

So, for today, I am grateful for togetherness.  (Later, I will probably be grateful for less togetherness!)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Day 288, November 27

"There will be times when you will be frightened and discouraged.  You may feel that you are defeated.  The odds of obtaining victory may appear overwhelming.  At times you may feel like David trying to fight Goliath.  But remember--David did win!

"Courage is required to make an initial thrust toward one's coveted goal, but even greater courage is called for when one stumbles and must make a second effort to achieve.

"Have the determiatnion to make the effort, the single mindedness to work toward a worthy goal, and the courage not only to face the challenges that inevitably come but also to make a second effort, should such be required.  Sometimes, courage is the quite voice at the end of the day saying, 'I will try again."--President Thomas S. Monson, President and Prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

I have been frightened and discouraged many times.  I have felt defeated.  I have thought the odds of obtaining victory not only overwhelming but impossible to beat.

Somehow I decide to try one more time.  To write one more page.  To send out one more story.  To offer up one more prayer for a wayward child.    Two things give me the courage to try again:  faith in the Lord and the righteous examples of others.

So, for today, I am grateful for courage, wherever I may find it..

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Day 287, November 26

Last week in church, a man spoke about the service given during the two months following the horrendous flooding that struck our town and others.  As he spoke, I was touched by the pictures he painted of people working together to help others, often people they didn't know.

One story concerned a group of young adults, ages 18 - 30, who helped a widow muck out her mud-filled house and barn.  He desccribed in poignant detail these young people showing up night after night to rip out ruined carpet, pull out linoleum in the house and move hay, bale by bale, from the barn.

There was no monetary reward for this group of valiant servants, only the satisfaction of helping someone in need.

So, for today, I am grateful for this example of service and compassion.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Day 286, November 25

We live in a society of shifting values and morals.  Some, even a few pastors and churches, say that's a good thing.  Guess what?  They're wrong.

Fashions change.  Hairstyles change.  Car styles change.  Lots of things do and should change.  But true values and morals remain the same.  When people say, "It's a time of moral flux," I wonder if they are trying to excuse letting go of important values and to make sin seem right.

So, for today, I am grateful for those who hold fast to their values.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Day 285, November 24

A couple of weeks ago Larry and I bought tile for our kitchen remodeling.  When we got home, Larry discovered that the cashier had charged us for only 30 tiles rather than the 32 which we had bought.  There was no question that Larry would take the receipt back to the store and explain that we owed another $20.00.

It was a small amount, perhaps not important to the store (one of a large chain), but it was important for us to know that we were honest.  We've had similar experiences in the past, returning to a store to "make things right."  Occasionally clerks or cashiers will give us odd looks; occasionally, one will say, "Good karma," as this one said to Larry.

So, for today, I am grateful for an honorable husband.

Day 284, November 23

For the Christian, every tragedy is ultimately a blessing, or God is a liar.
R.C. Sproul

Do you remember the book that was out a number of years ago, WHEN BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE?  The title always intrigued me.  Why DO bad things happen to good people? Why don't bad things happen to bad people, I complained to my long-suffering spouse on  more than one occasion.

"The Lord will make everything right in the end," he told me.  

"I don't want it to be right in the end.  I want it to be right right now.  Why do good people have to suffer?"

"Because the Lord knows the end from the beginning."

We've repeated variations of this conversation many times as I still grapple with the "whys" of life.  

So, for today, I am grateful the Lord who turns every tragedy into a blessing.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Day 283, November 22

We are finished up a long-awaited and much-needed kitchen remodel.   It looks fabulous.  (Or so I tell everyone to tell me when they see it.)

I joked to my sister that I needed a remodel as well.  A face-lift, chemical peel, tummy tuck, and a bunch of other things come to mind.  As I smiled (a bit wryly) over the list, I thought of a more important remodel that I should have done, this one on the inside.

Here's a partial list:

- Soften my heart toward those who have hurt me
- Still my tongue when it is tempted to gossip
- Blur my vision to other's faults

I could go on, but you get the idea.

So, for today, I am grateful for remodels.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Day 282, November 21

§ “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. 10 If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.” (Ecclesiastes 4: 9-10)
This scripture reminds me of an incident 18 months ago.  A friend took me to physical therapy following my hip replacement.  When she brought me home and we opened the front door, my cat ran out.  As I was not to bend over, Marilyn, my friend, tried to catch Harley (the cat).   
She scrambled after Harley, then, with her arms full of a 15 pound cat, helped me up the stairs.   Together, with our arms around each other and Harley squirming in Marilyn's arms, we staggered up the steps.
Obviously the scripture refers to more than helping each other physically.  It means bearing each other's burdens, wiping away each other's tears, listening to each other with non-judgmental ears.
So, for today, I am grateful for those who "reach out and help."

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Day 281, November 20

“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)
A friend included this scripture in an email to me.  Though I've read it before, I had not found such meaning in it as I did upon this reading.  Didn't the Apostle Paul give wonderful counsel in these scant words?  In encouraging us to "motiate one another to acts of love and good works," he presents us with a pattern for friendship.  
Real friends want just that for each other, to help them do better, to  be better.  One of the best ways to do that is to pray for each other.
So, for today, I am grateful for friends who "motivate me to acts of love and good works."

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Day 280, November 19

We are approaching the end of the year.  We have less than a month and a half before the start of a new year.  And I wonder what I accomplished during the past eleven months.  It is sometimes easier to list what I haven't accomplished:  I haven't sold a book.  I haven't lost weight.  I haven't forgiven those who have hurt me.

A pretty dismal record, to be sure.

And then I remember what the Lord has allowed me to accomplish.  I was there for a family member when she needed me.  I was there for my granddaughter who was sick one day and was going to be home alone.  I was there for a friend going through a rough time.

Maybe that is enough.

So, for today, I am grateful for those times when I was there.  I am always grateful for those who are there for me.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Day 279, November 18

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.
William Cowper

The first three words of this poem describe me.  (Really, it's only the word "fearful," as describing myself as a saint is a bit of a stretch.)  No matter.  I am fearful.  I am fearful for family members who are undergoing hard times.  I am fearful for the state of our nation, our world.  

As I read these beautifully penned words, though, I am reminded that the Lord is in charge, that He knows the end from the beginning, that I need not fear if I remain faithful to Him.

So, for today, I am grateful for "fresh courage."

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Day 278, November 17

"For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things, for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant, wherefore he receiveth no reward.

"Verily, I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness.

"For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves.  And inasmuch as men do good, they shall in nowise lose their reward.

"But he that doeth not anything until he is commanded, and receiveth a commandment with a doubtful heart, and keepeth it with slothfulness, the same is damned."--Doctrine & Covenants:  58:26-29

Sometimes it seems hard enough to keep up with the things we are commanded to do. And now the Lord tells us that He shouldn't have to command us in everything.  It's hard to wrap my mind around that as I grumble about all that we're suppposed to do.

And then my better self makes a belated appearance and I find myself nodding at the words in this scripture.  Of course the Lord shouldn't have to command me in everything.  He expects me to figure some things out for myself, to take the initiative in doing good.

So, for today, I am grateful for those times when I don't have to be commanded to do good.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Day 277, November 16

"Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best."--Henry Van Dyke

I love this quote.  (Have you noticed that I love all kinds of quotes?)  I love the admonition that we should all be using whatever talents we have.  Too often I bemoan my lack of talents.  I complain, "I can't write like Amanda," "I can't compose poetry like Jeannie," "I can't play the piano like Janet," etc.  And then I remember that Heavenly Father made me as I am, with the talents I possess.  No one else is exactly like me.  (Some would say that is a good thing!)

So, for today, I am grateful for talents, mine and those of others.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Day 276, November 15

I have a dear friend who loves birds and has planted flowers to attract them.  This poem by Victor Hugo reminds me of her:

Be like the bird who
Halting in his flight
On limb too slight
Feels it give way beneath him,
Yet sings
Knowing he hath wings.

These words painted such a vivid picture in my mind that I had to share them.  Do you ever feel like this bird,  halting in your flight, perched on a limb that won't hold you, yet you keep going on your way?  Despite fears and worries, you sing, giving voice to your gratitude to the Lord.

The last years have been hard ones for our family.  Sickness, a son's divorce, the death of a beloved brother-in-law have beseiged us, and I wonder if I can keep going.  Then I think of the blessings with which Heavenly Father has given me and I know I can keep on, for one day more.

So, for today, I am grateful for the example of the bird who sings.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Day 275, November 14

"Life has meaning only in the struggles.  Triumph or defeat is in the hands of the Gods.  So let us celebrate the struggles."--Swahili warrior song

I don't agree with everthing in this quote, but I do like the idea that we grow through struggles.  When times are easy, when life goes smoothly, we are apt to "rest upon our laurels" and are reluctant to keep striving, to keep trying, to keep working.  Only when life presents us challenges do we stretch and test ourselves.

So, for today, I am (trying to be) grateful for struggles.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Day 274, November 13

Last week, Larry and I had the opportunity to participate in a service project, helping members of a Baptist church move chairs from the balcony back down to the main level.  (This church was filled with mud during the September floods and all the chairs had been moved to the upper level.)

This was described as a project suited to "the least of these," meaning even my poor old body with its artificial hip could help.  We formed a chair brigade, moving several hundred chairs in less than 45 minutes.  Baptists and Mormons worked along side each other, laughing, sharing stories, encouraging each other.

I was touched as I looked about, seeing gradeschool children working beside those in their 60s and 70s, all with a common goal.  When the work was finished, we congratulated each other on a job well done.

So, for today, I am grateful for the satisfaction of work.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Day 273, November 12

Last week, I wrote about my mother.  My nephew David (her grandson) left a comment about how "Grandma Georgia" remembered the small things--letters, cards, phone calls, etc.  In this age of email, texts, facebook, instagrams, etc, such things as cards and phone calls can get lost.   (I wonder sometimes if we are raising a whole generation of children who don't know how to write a letter, but that's a subject for another day.)

David was right--my mother did remember the small things.  She cut pictures from the newspaper or greeting cards to send to her grandchildren.  She slipped a dollar bill in cards to them.  She made sure birthdays and baptisms and other special events were remembered.

Mom didn't do grand gestures.  That wasn't her style.  But her everyday acts of kindness and thoughtfulness spoke grandly to all those who knew her.

So, for today, I am grateful for small things.  And, once again, I am grateful for Mom.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Day 272, November 11

Today is Verterans' Day.  For many of us, the idea of serving our country in the armed services, especially in a time of war, is completely foreign.  I cannot imagine the sacrifice, courage, and faith it took to put everything on the line the way so many men and women have.
Because I didn't know much about the history of Veterans' Day, I included some of the research I found:
World War I – known at the time as “The Great War” - officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.”
My father and three of his brothers served during WWII.  Two of his brothers died during the war, one from injuries he received in battle and one from natural causes.  Through the Red Cross, Dad and his other brother could have come home to comfort their widowed mother, but they elected to stay and continue serving.
So, for today, I am grateful for those who served and who serve our country.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Day 271, November 10

A friend sent the following to me in an email.  I was so impressed with it that I decided to share it here:

Mary Ellen Tribby, founder and CEO at WorkingMomsOnly.com compiled a very interesting list of traits that are characteristic of successful and unsuccessful people.
Successful People
Have a sense of gratitude
Forgive others
Accept responsibility for their failures
Read everyday
Keep a journal
Talk about ideas
Want others to succeed
Share information and data
Keep a “to-be” list
Exude joy
Keep a “to-do/project” list
Set goals and develop life plans
Embrace change
Give other people credit for their victories
Operate from a transformational perspective
Unsuccessful People
Have a sense of entitlement
Hold a grudge
Blame others for their failures
Watch TV everyday
Say they keep a journal but don’t
Talk about people
Secretly hope others fail
Horde information and data
Don’t know what they want to be
Exude anger
Fly by their seat of their pants
Never set goals
Fear change
Take all the credit of their victories
Operate from a transactional perspective

As I read and re-read these two lists, I realized that I fall, at different times, on both sides.  On those times when I fall on the right side, I am less in tune with the Father and the Spirit.  I am in a defensive posture, thinking only of myself.  When I can say that I am (mostly) on the left side, I know I am in sync with the Lord.  

And isn't that the definition of true success?  When we are in sync with the Lord, we are successful.

So, for today, I am grateful for those times when I am truly on the Lord's side.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Day 270, November 9

A final (at least for now) story about Lincoln:

On his way from Springfield, Illinois to be inaugurated President of the United States of America, Lincoln recounted to a group in Trenton, New Jersey a story of the Revolutionary War that he had read as a boy in Weem's LIFE OF WASHINGTON.  He stated:  "I shall be most happy indeed if I shall be an humble instrument in the hands of the Almighty, and of this, his almost chosen people, for perpetuating the object of that great struggle."

The humility of these words profoundly touched me, especially in light of the self-aggrandizing behavior of current leaders.  Lincoln, who is thought by many to be the greatest president our country has ever known, saw himself as "an instrument in the hands of the Almighty."

So, for today, I am grateful for his example of humility.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Day 269, November 8

More about Lincoln:

When the end of the Civil War was in sight, Lincoln realized that many northern leaders were urging him to make an example of the Confederate leaders.  Even prominent pastors and clergy were calling for blood.

Instead of yielding to the pressure, Lincoln met with General Grant and General Sherman, saying that when victory came, they should treat their adversaries with kindness.  The Confederates should be allowed to return to their homes with their horses, mules, and their self-respect.

This did not earn Lincoln approval from many of the northern leaders.  They saw his compassion as weakness.  Lincoln saw it as the start of healing of a nation torn apart.

So, for today, and again, I am grateful for a great man.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Day 268, November 7

Abraham Lincoln is one of my heroes.  He combined both strength and gentleness, turning the seeming dichotomy into yet another strength.

His friends liked to tell a story from his days on the judicial circuit to show just how kind he was.  While they were riding to the next courthouse, one of his friends noticed that Lincoln had disappeared.

"Where's Lincoln?" one asked.

"When I saw him last he had caught two young birds which the wind had blown out of their nest, and he has been hunting for th enest so as to put them back," answered his companion.

After a while, Lincoln rejoined the group.  To the teasing of his friends, he merely said, "I could not have slept well tonight if I had not saved those birds."

So, for today, I am grateful for his example of compassion.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Day 267, November 6

Today is my mother's birthday.  Even though she has been gone for 16 years, I miss her still.  I frequently find myself wishing that she were here to see how her grandchildren have grown up and my grandchildren are growing up.

A child of the Great Depression, Mom grew up poor.  That only whetted her appetite for learning.  She never had the opportunity to go to college.  Instead, she went to business school and learned secretarial skills.  From there, she traveled from her small town home in Eastern Tennessee to Washington, DC to get a job and send money home for her mother and three siblings.

Later in life, she worked as a substitute teacher in the high school which my sister and I attended.  She loved the students, and they loved her.

So, for today and for everyday, I am grateful for my mother.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Day 266, November 5

"Our Heavenly Father, who gives us so much to delight in, also knows that we learn and grow and become stronger as we face and survive the trials through which we must pass/  We know that there are times when we will experience heartbreaking sorrow, when we will grieve, and when we may be tested to our limits.

"However such difficulties allow us to change for the better, to rebuild our lives in the way our Heavenly Father teaches us, and to become something different from what we were--better than we were, more understanding than we were, more empathetic than we were, with stronger testimonies than we had before."--Thomas S. Monson, Prophet and President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

As always, President Monson says much in a few, well chosen words.  Surviving trials strengthens us in a way that enjoying the smooth times of life will never do.  Much as I hate going through the hard times, I find I emerge with more confidence and more gratitude than I previously had.

So, for today, I am grateful for those times when I "change for the better."

Monday, November 4, 2013

Day 265, November 4

Last week, our lesson in Relief Society focused on happiness.  We talked about what happiness is ... and what it isn't.  We agreed that great riches don't make for happiness.  Neither do many of the things the world deems important.

What does make for happiness?  We came up with the usual suspects:  service, family, friends.  We included in their sharing the good news of the Gospel with others.  Happiness is one of life's ironies, in that when we chase it, it frequently eludes us.  But when we engage in doing good, it comes to perch on our shoulders.

So, for today, I am grateful for those times when happiness happens to perch on my shoulder.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Day 264, November 3

Today is a special day.  It is our granddaughter Reynna's birthday.  Reynna is now 14 and fully involved in being all that that means.  She loves her parents, her little brother, and Justin Beiber.  (I hope she loves her grandparents somewhere in there as well.)  She attends Young Women, plays volleyball, and takes karate. 

Her energy is boundless as is her curiosity.  She is compassionate to her poor grandmother who is hopelessly behind in all things technological and is completely uncool.  When I wear things that Reynna deems unfashionable, she says, "Grandma, you have a unique fashion sense."

Reynna finds time to participate in Relay for Life races (to benefit cancer research), to work with her mother at service projects, and to babysit for friends.  She is a light in my life.

So, for today, I am grateful for Reynna.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Day 263, November 2

I promise:  only one more verse of "We Are Sowing."  (Well, there could have been more as I love this hymn, but the author ended at four.)

Though who knowest all our weakness, leave us not to sow alone!
Bid thine angels guard the furrows where the precious grain is sown,
Till the fields are drowned with glory, filled with mellow, ripened ears,
Filled with fruit of life eternal from the seed we sowed in tears.

The last line of the verse especially resonated within me.  "Filled with fruit of life eternal from the seed we sowed in tears."   Some of the most important seeds I've sown in my life had been sown in tears.  There is childbirth (and let me tell you there were plenty of tears there!).  And child rearing (more tears).  There is working to stay married (buckets and buckets of tears).  And saying a temporary goodbye to loved ones (still more tears). 

All of these jouneys were and are drenched in tears.  And they were also filled with laughter (well, not so much the childbirth)  It occurs to me that the most important journeys and events in life are frequently accompanied by tears, so that when we experience the joy, we are that much more grateful for it.

So, for today, I am grateful for "seeds sowed in tears."

Friday, November 1, 2013

Day 262, November 1

You've probably figured out now that you are going to have to wade through all the verses of "We Are Sowing."

Seeds that lie unchanged, unquickened lifeless on the teeming mold,
Seeds that live and grow and flourish when the sower's hand is cold.
By a whsiper sow we blessings: by a breath we scatter strife,
In our words and thoughts and actions lie the seeds of death and life.

We know what it is to be unchanged, but what does it mean to be unquickened?  Different definitions come to mind.  One that came to me was "unacknowledged."  The seed we try to sow within a child to return to a family sometimes seems unacknowledged.  The seeds I try to sow with my writing frequently seem unacknowledged as editor after editor reject my work.  There are all sorts of unacknowledgment.

So, for today, I am grateful for seeds that refuse to lie unacknowledged.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Day 261, October 31

Yesterday I wrote about seeds and sowing.  To go along with that, I'll include another verse from "We Are Sowing."

Seeds that fall amid the stillness of the lonely mountain glen;
Seeds cast out in crowded places trodden under the foot of men;
Seeds by idle hands forgotten, flung at random on the air,
Seeds by faithful souls remembered, sown in tears and love and prayer.

Do you ever feel that you have "sown" seeds in trying to rekindle a strained relationship with a family member or friend only to have those seeds "cast out" or "trodden under foot" or "forgotten" or "flung at random?"  I have.  And I wonder if I've squandered those precious seeds, wasted the time and energy it took to sow them.  Or perhaps you were a visiting teacher, trying to reach a forgotten sister and she turned away from your overtures?  Maybe you tried to sow seeds in developing a talent and that talent just refused to come? 

Are these seeds wasted?  I don't think so.  I believe that anything we do with righteous intent and purpose is not wasted.

So, for today, I am grateful for "seeds by faithful souls remembered."

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Day 260, October 30

A few days ago I was pulling up marigolds from our flower pots.  The thrifty part of me (a combination of my Mormon heritage and being reared by parents who were children of the Great Depression) took the drying flowers apart and scattered the seeds back in the pots and in the flower beds. 

As I carefully took apart the flowers and scattered the seeds, I wondered if some would take root and bloom again for next summer.  The act reminded me of a hymn "We Are Sowing."

We are sowing, daily sowing countless seeds of good and ill,
Scattered on the level lowland, cast upon the windy hill.
Seeds that sink in rich, brown furrows, soft with heaven's gracious rain;
Seeds that rest upon the surface of the dry, unyielding plain.

As I pondered the words of the hymn, I thought of my own seeds, the things I think, say, and do every day.   The fact is that some of my seeds are those of ill.  And some are cast upon the windy hill.  And some rest upon a dry, unyielding plain.  Fortunately some sink "in rich, borwn furrows, soft with heaven's gracious rain."

So, for today, I am grateful for marigold seeds and any seed that sprouts forth beauty.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Day 259, October 29

"Our duty as men (and women) is to proceed as if limits to our ability did not exist.  We are collaborators in creation."--Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

I love any quote about creation.  In fact, I am entranced by the whole concept of creation.  In our living room, I have a painting of God creating the earth.  Next to it is a sculpture (by Mark Hopkins, a friend) of  His hands forming the earth.  I believe that creation, of any kind, is a God-like quality.

Do you ever feel that you lack creative talents?  I do.  I feel it all the time.  I long to create but feel unequal to the task.  Yet I keep trying. That desire to create is inherent in us.  With that in mind, I decided that I needed to broaden my definition of creation.

Is the stay-at-home mother who works to create a loving and nurturing home for her family creative?  You bet.  Is that same mother who can stretch a dollar six different ways creative?  Of course.  Is the entrepreneur who built a business from nothing creative?  Absolutely. 

So, for today, I am grateful for those who create.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Day 258, October 28

"The desire for safety stands against every great and noble enterprise."--Tacitus

I admit it--I like safety.  I like security.  I'm conservative in investments, whether they be financial or other.  Safety and security are good, up to a point.  Then they can become stifling.

Eighteen years ago, my husband and a friend jumped off a cliff to start their own business.  There was little safety and no security in such a venture, but they had a dream, a vision, of what that business could become.  Eighteen years later, that two-man operation, housed in one room above a bar, is now a thriving engineering concern, shipping several million dollars of product a year.

There have been lean years, and there will probably be more lean years ahead.  Cash flow and other problems beseige the business, but they presevere.  And still, I cling to safety.  But safety, while giving the illusion of security, can be a trap.

So, for today, I am grateful for those who defy safety to achieve "great and noble enterprises."

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Day 257, October 27

"When you are suffering and hurt ... there is one thing that is the most dangerous thing of all.  The really, truly, rocky moment is when you think that God doesn't really love you and you are tempted to bail out of the boat.

"The first rule of seamanship is to stay in the boat.  You never better your position by jumping overboard into the sea.  Stay in the good ship of Zion.  I don't care how you do it, just stay.  Our only hope for salvation is inside that boat because the Master is at the helm.  He is the only one who can say with arm to the square, 'Peace be still' ...

"The beach is littered with people who thought they could swim a better route, but there is only One Way ... Stay with the Master and trust that the sea will calm and the ship will come home with you in it."--Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

I have been at that "really, truly, rocky moment" at different times in my life.  That moment when I believed all was lost, that God had given up on me.  Then my more rational self took over and I remembered that the Master was still at the helm, that He had not abandoned me, would never abandon me.

So, for today, I am grateful for the remembrance that "the sea will calm and the ship will come home with me in it."

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Day 256, October 26

Last week I wrote about accountability.  In our church, when a child turns eight years old, he is typically baptized.  We believe that eight is the "age of accountability," the age when one is old enough to distinguish right from wrong.

Yet there are many individuals, far older, at least in chronological age, than eight who remain un-accountable.  They seem to take delight, even pride, in living off the work and discipline of others.   These are the people who make promises they have no intention of keeping.  These are the people who "borrow" money from friends or family they have no intention of repaying.  These are the people who pledge to show up to a service work project who have no intention of showing up.

By contrast, there are those individuals who make accountability a matter of practice.  These are the people who keep every promise they make.  These are the people who repay any loans with a thank-you included.  These are the people who pledge to show up and then do so.

Do you get the idea that this is a big deal for me (else why would I keep writing about it)?  It is a big deal for me.  It is a big deal as I try to right the wrongs of my past.  It is a big deal as I witness what is happening to our society, our nation, our world when the number of un-acountable people continues to grow.

So, for today, I am grateful for accountable people.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Day 255, October 25

The late Sir Alec Dickson, who founded Britain's Voluntary Service Overseas (the model for the Peace Corps) and Community Service Volunteers, believed that everyone, no matter how difficult their current circumstanes, had something of value to give. 

Many of their volunteers might just as easily have been on the receiving end of a helping relationship.  But Sir Alec knew that not only the recipients, but also the volunteers, benefited.  Why?  Because people like to give.  It boosts their self-esteem, their self-worth, their self-confidence.

Of course there are the few people, the takers, who will never feel this, but, fortunately, they are in the minority.

So, for today, I am grateful for those who give.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Day 254, October 24

"We must be arched and buttressed from within, else the temple will crumble to dust."  Marcus Aurelius

What are your arches and buttresses?  What keeps you from crumblng?  Maybe it's the inner strength you gained when you went through a trial by fire.  Or maybe it's knowing that the Lord is on your side.  Always.  Or maybe it's finding that your family and friends stood beside you when you went through that trial by fire.

Sometimes, when I am at a low point, I wonder if I have the strength to hold on when life throws its inevitable curves at me.  And then I remember that I am never alone.

So, for today, I am grateful for the arches and buttresses of faith, family, and friends.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Day 253, October 23

"Where the heart is willing, it will find a thousand ways, but where it is unwilling, it will find a thousand excuses."--Bornean Proverb

These words snagged my attention, perhaps because they so accurately describe me.  When my heart is willing to do something, I find that my body and mind usually tag along and I do it.  When my heart is unwilling, nothing will budge me. 

Take, for example, garage sales.  My heart is almost always willing to go to garage sales.  I get up early, dress, and will tromp through snow and ice to attend a promising sounding sale.  When it comes to exercising, my heart (and, alas, body and mind) find every excuse in the book to avoid it.

Another example is my writing.  I like the feeling have having written.  That is entirely different from writing.  Writing is just hard work.  One day, I noticed a rip in the seam of a pair of drapes.  Painstakingly, I undid each drapery hook from the rod and took the drapes downstairs to my sewing machine where I sewed up the seam.  One might think I'd be feeling proud of myself.  No so, because I knew why I had taken the trouble to sew (I HATE to sew) the seam:  it kept me from writing.  It gave me a wonderful excuse to not write.  The problem was, sooner or later, I had to do the writing, had to finish the story I'd set in motion.

Of more importance are those times when my heart is unwilling to do the things the Lord has instructed.  You know the ones I mean:  serving with a real smile, forgiving those who have wronged me, being generous in thoughts and words as well as means.

So, for today, I am grateful for those times when my heart is willing to do what the Lord commands.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Day 252, October 22

"Autumn is a second spring, when every leaf is a flower."--Albert Camus, French author

In earlier posts, I've written of how I love autumn.  I love the colors, the smells, the sounds. 

Camus's words are a vivid reminder of this glorious time of year, when we put to bed gardens and lawns.  I wonder, could we also put to bed old hurts and grudges?  Bury them, as we cover roses bushes with mulch?   It is something upon which to ponder. 

So, for today, I am grateful for a reminder of the beauties of autumn.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Day 251, October 21

"The world has enough women who are tough; we need women who are tender.  There are enough women who are coarse; we need women who are kind.  There are enough women who are rude; we need women who are refined.  We have enough women of fame and fortune; we need more women of faith.  We have enough greed; we need more goodness.  We have enough vanity; we need more virtue.  We hae enough popularity; we need more purity."-- Former Young Women General President (of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Margarage D. Nadauld

Yesterday I wrote about the moral force of women.  The above quote is a wonderful description of the goodness and greatness that women can bring to bear on their families, their churches, their communities, their nations.  As I read the qualities needed in women, I was struck by how important is our responsibility to ourselves and to those around us.  It's both awe-inspiring and humbling at the same time.

 So, for today, I am grateful for women who kind and refined, who have faith and goodness, virtue and purity. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Day 250, October 20

Last week in Relief Society (the women's organization of the Mormon Church), the president spoke about the moral force of women.  She based her remarks on a talk given at General Conference of two weeks ago. 

Women have always been a force for good.  Whether in the home, the church, the community, the workplace, the schools, women act from their nature to nurture.  I am fortunate enough to have many such women in my life. 

There is my daughter Alanna who serves on the board of a victims' advocacy program.  There is a writer friend who makes dolls and doll clothes to give to little girls at Christmas who may receive nothing else.  There is another friend, whose children are long since grown, who reads to preschool children weekly.  And yet other friends who have worked tirelessly to help members of the community clean up after the floods of last month.

So, for today, I am grateful for the moral force of women.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Day 249, October 19

"You're always believing ahead of your evidence.  What was the evidence I could write a poem?  I just believed it.  The most creative thing in us is to believe a thing in."--Robert Frost

I had to read this quote several times before I could grasp the meaning and even now I'm not certain I have it right.  What is it to "believe a thing in?"  We know what it is to believe in a thing, but to "believe a thing in" is different.

Does it mean having enough belief and faith to will something into existence?  Maybe.  Or does it mean the simple act of belief is enough to effect a change?  Again, maybe.

Believing is not easy.  We struggle with empirical evidence, with scientific theory, with a myriad of other wordly things that all weigh in against belief.  And, in the end, belief comes down to taking a leap of faith that, despite what the naysayers maintain, we can
accomplish what we set out to do.

When I first started writing books, I had lots of evidence saying that I couldn't do it.  Chief among that evidence was a rejection letter from a New York editor telling me that I would do well to look for a different occupation.  I admit that I was beaten down by that.  In the end, though, my dream to write and sell a book was stronger than her scathing words.

So, for today, I am grateful for the words of a great man and poet, that we can "believe a thing in."

Friday, October 18, 2013

Day 248, October 18

"The price of greatness is responsibility."  -- Winston Churchill

Yesterday I wrote about accountability.  The fact is, I have not always been accountable.  I have shirked responsibilities and duties, saying to myself, "Someone else will do it."   Sometimes someone else did do it (whatever it was), and sometimes they didn't. 

Occasionally I congratulated myself when I failed to perform my duties.  I said, in effect, "Wow!  Glad I got out of that."  But those
self-congratulatioins were short lived as I admitted that I may have gotten out of work, but I paid a price in loss of self-esteem.

I wonder if that is what is going on in our nation today:  as people "get out of" work and live upon the work of others, does their self-esteem plummet as mine did?  The more we appreciate our own worth, the more we feel able to make things happen and the more we want to act responsibly toward others.  And the more responsibly we act toward others, the better our society will be.

So, for today, I am grateful for those who do not get out of work.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Day 247, October 17

In reading (do you think I spend a lot of time reading?), I learned that the word accountability comes from an ancient Roman term meaning "to stand forth and be counted." 

Personal accountability seems to be in short supply these days.  Everywhere I turn, I encounter another example of someone not owning up to his actions and yet another reason why he should not be held responsible or accountable for what he has done.  Whether it is a businessman shorting creditors or an individual defaulting on a loan or a person not showing up for something when he promised to be there, I find, not apologies, but excuses.  

It's disheartening.  This disease invades all aspects of our lives, whether professional or personal.  I see it in the workplace.  I see it in families.  I see it, even, in church. 

So, for today, I am grateful for those who hold themselves accountable.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Day 246, October 16

Last week I wrote about the physical clutter that takes space and energy in our homes.  Today's post is also about clutter, though of a different kind.

Do you ever feel that your mind is cluttered?  Mine is.  It's cluttered with negative thoughts, regret, envy, guilt, resentment, and  a bunch of other things that detract from my happiness and willingness to serve others.  How can I be able to serve when I'm weighed down with a myriad of such nasties?

I can't.

Sometimes I do pretty well about clearing out this clutter.  It comes as no surprise when I realize that those times are when I am closer to the Lord.  And sometimes I collect mind-clutter like a squirrel storing away nuts for the winter.

So, for today, I am grateful for those occasions when I can clean out the clutter in my mind.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Day 245, October 15

A few days ago when two friends and I were garage sailing, we saw a doe and her two fawns bound across the street.  Their grace and beauty immediately captivated me.  The mother was caring for her babies and the babies following their mother.  And I thought, "Surely they are fulfilling the measure of their creation."

It made me wonder how many of us are "fulfilling the measure of our creation."  The mores and expectations of our current society have deteriorated to such a point where we are no longer surprised or shocked when a mother fails to care for her children, when a father fails to provide for his children, when adult children fail to care for their elderly parents.

This is a different take on the words "fulfilling the measure of their creation."  Yet, I believe, it is a vital part.  How can we say that we pattern ourselves after the Lord if we shirk those all-important responsibilities? 

I know--I'm sounding preachy, the last thing I want this blog to be, but I cannot shake the fear that grips me when I witness husband and wives, parents and children, turning away from each other.

So, for today, I am grateful for those who "fulfill the measure of their creation." 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Day 244, October 14

Recently I read a (true) story about a man who "could not compliment anyone on what he was supposed to be doing anyway."  It struck me as very sad.  Sad for those worked with the man and sad for the man himself.  It seemed a very narrow and unproductive, not to mention unloving, way to live.

I was reminded of an acquaintance who lives in much the same way.  Kind words are as foreign to him as Russian or Chinese.  His life reflects that as his family pulls further and further away from him.  Obligations are met, but love is conspicuously absent.

Fortunately this man is the exception in my circle of friends and acquaintances.  There are those who speak kind words because they are kind, who care because they are caring, who love because they are loving.

So, for today, I am grateful for kind words and those who speak them.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Day 243, October 13

Last week, I wrote of our opportunity to watch General Conference, to hear President Monson and other leaders speak.  One apostle spoke on tithing.  His words touched me.  He did not preach, but, rather, reminded us of the blessings that come when we pay our tithes and offerings.

He recounted the scripture story of the widow's mite.  If you'll recall, the Savior spoke of the rich men who gave of their abundance.  Then a widow offered two mites, which were worth a farthing.  A small amount to be sure, especially when compared to the offerings of the wealthy men, but the Savior prized those two mites.

I beleive that the Savior prizes anything we give when we give with a willing heart.  He prizes our talents we share to bless the lives of others.  He prizes our energy when we give honest work.  He prizes our hearts when we love fully and unconditionally.

So, for today, I am grateful for the reminder of the widow's mite.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Day 242, October 12

"Small things with great love ... It is not how much we do, but how much love we put into the doing.  And it is not how much we give, but how much love we put into the giving.  To God there is nothing small." -- Mother Theresa

Yesterday I wrote about taking small steps--baby steps--in reaching our goals.  What more important goal could there be, aside from returning to live with the Father and His Son, than in giving love?  Professional goals, health goals, financial goals, pale beside the goal of giving love to the Father's children.

Even as I write this, I realize that I don't put much or give much to this all-important goal.  I've resolved to change that, to refocus my hours and my days and to repurpose my life.  Perhaps I'll report to you later how I'm doing with that goal. 

So, for today, I am grateful for the words of a truly great woman.  I am also grateful for the opportunity to refocus and repurpose. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Day 241, October 11

"When you improve a little each day, eventually big things occur.  When you improve conditioning a little each day, eventually you have a big improvement in conditioning.  Not tomorrow, not the next day, but eventually a big gain is made.  Don't look for the big, quick improvement.  Seek the small improvement one day at a time.  That's the only way it happens--and when it happens, it lasts."  --John Wooden, one of the most successful coaches in the history of college basketball

I love this quote.  I love the idea that we can seek to be better, do better, act better with little steps--baby steps--each day.  Most of us can't make big, sweeping changes in our lives in one day.  It is the little things that add up, whether we are trying to get stronger, trying to write a book, trying to be kinder. 

So, for today, I am grateful for baby steps.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Day 240, October 10

"No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted."--Aesop, "The Lion and the Mouse"

Sometimes, I hear of the grand acts of generosity and kindness that others have performed.  There are the media stars who hold a concert to benefit AIDS research.  There are the people in my own community who have donated countless hours shoveling mud from the homes of victims of the flood.  And then there's me.

I certainly can't hold a concert (well, I guess I could, but no one would come) to benefit AIDS or other research.  And I can't shovel out mud.  (My shoveling days, if they ever existed are long gone).  So what can I do?

It's easy, even tempting, to give myself a pass and say, "You're way past the age where anything you can do will matter."  Then I recognize that for what it is.  An excuse.  A rationalization.  An easy out. 

I sat myself down and made a mental inventory of what I can do:

I can send a card to a friend who is lonely.
I can remember another friend's birthday.
I can offer a sincere compliment to a stranger who is wearing an especially pretty necklace.
I can pray for my friends and family.

So, for today, I am grateful for the things I can do.  (And maybe I'll forgive myself for the things I can't do as well.)

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Day 239, October 9

"Get rid of anything that isn't useful. Clutter weighs you down in many ways."

(This is a quote by a 90-year-young woman who continues to live a full and productive life.) 

Recently, I've had the opportunity to consider the clutter in our home.  Nothing too big, just bits and pieces that have collected over 40 years of marriage.  Though I try to weed out things on a semi-regular basis, the clutter still keeps happening.

Two events have made me more determined than ever to rid our home of (at least some) of its clutter. 

The first:  Larry and I helped friends empty their basement when it was filled with water during the flooding.  We carried books and magazines, fabric and dolls, and a myriad of other things from their basement.  Many of the items were ruined and sent to the dump.  A few precious things--like a grandmother's journals--were carefully dried out.  When I came home, I immediately went down to our basement and loaded up several bags with books.  (You'll find this hard to believe, but I collect books!)

The second:  we're having some remodeling done in our home.  This means cleaning out kitchen drawers and cabinets.  I shook my head at all the stuff that I pulled from the drawers.  Who knew that so much STUFF could fit in one narrow drawer?  I went through said stuff and filled two bags to take to a thrift store.  I hope to go through it again and eliminate yet more things.

Clutter, like death and taxes, is always with us, demanding that we weed out the things that are clogging our lives.  When I am surrounded by clutter, I feel stifled, uncreative, and lethargic.  Clutter saps energy and positive feelings.

So, for today, I am grateful for those times when I can sap clutter instead of clutter sapping me.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Day 238, October 8

"With man it is impossible, but not with God.  For all things are possible with God."--Mark 10:27

Have you ever faced a task or a challenge which seemed insurmountable?  Chances are the answer is yes.  Do you wonder where to turn, what to do next?

I have.  And I feel overwhelmed, unequal to the task before me.   I fall down and doubt I can get up one more time.  Then I remember:  I am not alone.  Even when it seems that everything is against me, I know that I have an Advocate, a Friend, Someone in my corner Who will not let me down.   With that remembrance, I vow to pick myself up and try again.

So, for today, I am grateful that "all things are possible with God."

Monday, October 7, 2013

Day 237, October 7

For the past two days, members of the Church (and anyone interested enough to tune in) have had the opportunity to listen to the counsel given by President Thomas S. Monson (president and prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) and other leaders.  We were fed spiritually from a buffet of guidance, encouragement, and, sometimes, gentle chastisement.  How fortunate we are to have the words of a living prophet.

Occasionally I hear people say that we are on our own here on earth, that, if there is a God, He no longer talks with us.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  We have the words of God, delivered directly to us by President Monson.  We have the Holy Spirit to guide us.  We have our own source of personal revelation through prayer.

How can anyone believe that God no longer communicates with us?  Even to my finite understanding, it is inconceivable. When I think how I feel about my children and grandchildren, I multiply that by a thousand, a million times, and have only an inkling of what the Father feels for His children.  His infinite love is there for all of them, even the rebellious and ungrateful, like myself.

So, for today, I am grateful for a living prophet.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Day 236, October 6

Autumn is upon us.  We feel it in the bite of the early morning air.  We hear it in the crunch of leaves underfoot.  We see it in the changing colors of the leaves.  We smell it in the burning of wood stoves.  We taste it in spicy pumpkin pie.

I love autumn.  Harvest time is close at hand. Though I'm not a farmer, I have always appreciated the idea of harvest and its symbolism.  As I look back over the first nine months of this year, I wonder what I have harvested.  Have I harvested closer relationships with family and friends?  Some.  Have I harvested growing closer to the Savior?  Again, some.  Have I harvested greater understanding of myself?  Once again, some.

Certainly I have not harvested everything I wanted to.  Laziness, selfishness, and a couple of other nasty "nesses" prevented me from harvesting all that I wanted.

(As I re-read the last paragraph, I realized I did harvest things in my laziness and selfishness.  That that harvest was negative does not mean that I didn't reap what I sowed.) 

The law of the harvest is absolute.  There is no getting around it.  Except, and this is one of those great big excepts, except by the Savior's atonement.  Only with His atonement can I fix what is wrong in my life.

So, for today, I am grateful for harvest time.  I am always grateful for the atonement of the Lord.