Thursday, January 31, 2013

Day 31, January 31

Our family is gathering this week for our third son Hyrum's wedding.  The Scots (where I have roots) might refer to this as the gathering of the clan.  Our oldest son Rob, his wife Jenny, and their two sons Brigham and Isaac are here.  In another day, our second son Steve and his wife Melinda will arrive.

We are a noisy, boisterous, and hungry bunch.  Insults are traded; food is consumed; laughter shared.  The washing machine will be going full time.  And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Our cat Harley is even now seeking a quiet place.  She has traded following patches of sunlight for the safety and security found beneath a chair.  (Sometimes I am tempted to join her.)

So, for today, I am grateful for family.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Day 30, January 30

The other day I was at a garage sale.  (Yes, there are a few sales during the winter and some diehards, like me, still attend them.)  The teenage daughter of the house stepped out into the garage and announced that she had just finished making cupcakes and planned on licking the frosting from the beaters.

I nearly salivated.  I love to lick icing (and cake batter and let's not forget brownie batter) from beaters.  I love to work my tongue between the prongs of the beaters, scraping away every last bit of frosting.  I've done this since I was a small child.  I made a mess then.  I make a mess now.  Some things never change.

So, for today, I am grateful for frosting licked from beaters.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Day 29, January 29

I admit it:  I'm a romantic.  Which probably accounts for why I write and read romance.  So when I ran across the nugget that Walt Disney's SLEEPING BEAUTY was released on this day in 1959, I knew I had to share it.

Who can resist the tale of a prince bringing a princess back to life with a kiss?  I can't.  I remain as entranced with the story today as I was more than fifty years ago.  And I cry each time I see the movie.

But it is not only the romance of the movie that moves me.  It is also the simple but profound concept of good triumphing over evil.  In a world where selfishness, greed, and corruption are too frequently accepted, even applauded, I am drawn to anything that unabashedly celebrates the victory of that which is good and right and pure.

So, for today, I am grateful for Disney's vision in creating SLEEPING BEAUTY.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Day 28, January 28

On January 28, 1813, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE was first published in the United Kingdom.  Jane Austen's masterpiece was remarkable for many reasons, not the least of which was that she wrote it at a time when gentle women were greatly restricted in their activities, such as painting delicate flowers on china.  (There's certainly nothing wrong with painting flowers on china, but would you want to spend your whole life doing that?)

Like the author, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE's characters Elizabeth and Darcy also defied convention.  Austen's subtle humor shines in her commentary on society's manners and mores.  What daring she showed, to not only write, but to cast a spotlight on what many held sacred.

Four of Austen's six books were published anonymously.  Perhaps achieving fame and acclaim was not as important to her as was the act--and art--of writing.  Her books did not gain in popularity until the latter part of the 19th century, long after her death in 1842.
So, for today, I am grateful for Jane Austen and the timeless PRIDE AND PREJUDICE.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Day 27, January 27

Today is Fast and Testimony meeting in our ward, where members have the opportunity to bear their testimonies of the Savior.  Not for the first time I wish I possessed the gift of words.  But, like Moses, I am slow of speech.  Eloquence is not among my talents, so I resort to this blog.

From the time I was a small child, I heard the phrase "an infinite Atonement."  Though my heart could grasp that, my mind had difficulty comprehending the concept.  Only now am I gaining a tiny glimpse of what "infinite" means.  The Savior atoned not only for all of our sins, those we have committed, those we have yet to commit, He also atoned for every cry uttered, every tear shed.  When I imagine the enormity of that, I realize that I am still an infant in my understanding of the Atonement.

The Savior was there as I mourned the loss of my parents.  He was there as I held my sister as her husband lay dying.  He was and is there during the dark hours of depression.

He was there.  He is there.

So, for today, I am grateful for an infinite Atonement.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Day 26, January 26

On January 26, 1802 Thomas Jefferson established the Library of Congress.  In an era where many individuals did not read and made only scratchings in signing their names, Jefferson understood the power and magesty of books.   He must have felt as I do, that without books, we are but drifting through life.

Jefferson spoke seven languages and preferred reading, whenever possible, books in their original form.  He taught himself Spanish so that he could read Cervante's DON QUIXOTE in Cervante's native language.

When my first book was published, I was thrilled to read the copyright page which stated that the book had been registered with the Library of Congress.  I was part of the largest library in the world.

So, for today, I am grateful for libraries.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Day 25, January 25

A few days ago, our granddaughter Reynna spent the night with us.  One of my favorite things to do with Reynna is to play the piano while she sings.  While my playing is lack-luster, Reynna's singing is not.  She has a beautiful soprano voice, sure and true.

It is not difficult to find joy in Reynna.  She is at once sassy and spiritual, lovely and lively.  She keeps me on my toes and reminds me that I will never be able to keep up with her.  That's all right.  Grandmas are not supposed to keep up with their grandchildren.  They are supposed to spoil them, to protect them, to be their cheerleaders.

That, I can do. 

You may remember an earlier post where  I wrote of the time when a much younger Reynna and I shared brownie batter for breakfast.    (If you haven't tried it, you should.  It's fabulous.)  Well, we've progressed.  For breakfast, Reynna had tacquitos.  For lunch, she had tacquitos.  And for dinner?  You guessed it:  tacquitos.   Not the most nutritious of meals, but tacquitos are her favorite, so that is what we had.

So, for today, I am grateful for the miracle that is Reynna.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Day 24, January 24

On January 24, 1962, twenty-eight refugees escaped from East to West Germany. 

Why am I writing about a seemingly obscure and probably long-forgotten event?  The answer is simple.  It reminds me of some special people in my life.

In the mid fifties, Helmut and Gerta Berger, with their small son Rolf fled East Germany.  They made their escape before the erecting of the Berlin Wall.  They arrived in the United States with little money but rich in faith and determination.  They settled in Manti, Utah.

Helmut found a job as a machinist.  In addition to caring for Rolf, Gerta cleaned houses for others, grew a garden, and served in her church.  They did their best to fit in to their adopted country.  Most of all, they worked.  And worked some more.  Helmut and Gerta never thought to ask for handouts, for entitlements, for special consideration.  They simply got on with the business of supporting themselves and raising their child in righteousness.  A few years after arriving in Manti, they moved to Salt Lake City.

At little less than twenty years later, Rolf was called to serve a mission to Switzerland, where he put his language skills to good use.  There, he met my (not yet) husband Larry.  A year after returning from his mission, Rolf married my sister Carla.  Together they reared a righteous family, mirroring Gerta and Helmut's example.

So, for today, I am grateful for those who search for freedom.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Day 23, January 23

"God has two dwellings:  one is in heaven, the other in a meek and thankful heart."  (From the book, THE DIVINE ADVENTURE)

When I started to read this quote, I somewhat smugly finished it for myself, with words such as "... one is in heaven, the other is in a happy home."  Or some such thing.  That would have been an acceptable if predictable ending for it.

But the author was far wiser than me.  He knows that God resides in heaven and in a heart filled with gratitude.   Perhaps that is why I sometimes feel far removed from God, because my heart is not filled with gratitude.  It is filled with reproach, questions, and even resentment as I plod about my daily activities, which is why I started a blog on gratitude in the first place.

I need daily (or hourly or minute by minute) reminders to be grateful.  It does not come naturally to me.  Try as I will, I don't have a grateful or thankful heart all the time.  It is cluttered with the questions and pains and disappointments of this world.

So, for today, I am grateful for those with a "meek and thankful heart" which invites God inside.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Day 22, January 22

Today is my father's birthday.  Dad would have been 94.

My father was only fourteen when his father died at the height of the Great Depression.  The oldest boy in the family, he felt it his duty to help provide for his widowed mother and his brothers and sisters.  With that in mind, he found a job with a nearby farmer for chopping wood.  His pay for the work--$2.25.

He worked all day and into the evening, still not finishing, but he kept at it, determined to keep his word.   What a simple but profound concept--keeping one's word.  My father viewed it not as something special but as a given.

Today, honoring one's commitments and living up to what we say we will do is, sadly, out of fashion.  We have come to expect politicians, athletes, and other media personalities to lie to us.  And isn't that unfortunate?

So, for today, I am grateful for those who keep their word.  I am always grateful for my father.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Day 21, January 21

On January 21, 1789, WH Brown published POWER OF SYMPATHY, acknowledged as the first American novel.  What an accomplishment.   I know firsthand the amount of work necessary to blend plot, characterization, pacing, and other elements into a book.  At my disposal, I have a laptop computer, a laser printer, a typing chair, reference books, and other aids.. 

Brown wrote his novel without any of these conveniences.  In an era where mere survival took most of an individual's time and energy, that he wrote at all is a tribute to his perseverance and talent.  He paved the way for all the great writers to come, including  James Fenimore Cooper, Thomas Hardy, Herman Melville, Mark Twain, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, and hundreds of others.

Where would our country be without books?  Where would we be without the imagination and creativity of writers who share their wisdom, insights, and love of the written word with the rest of us?

So, for today, I am grateful for WH Brown and the first American novel.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Day 20, January 20

Last Sunday in church, a twelve-yaer-old boy was sustained as a Deacon.  We have known Billy since he was born (I babysat his older sister while his parents went to the hospital).  When he was sustained, I whispered to my husband, "He's going to make a wonderful Deacon."

Billy has a prodigious intelligence, a remarkable memory, and a lovely singing voice.   The oldest boy in a family of seven children, Billy is deeply commited to his faith and to his family.  Much of this is due to the special spirit with which he is blessed.  And much is due to his righteous parents.

So why am I writing about him today?  Today is Sunday and I expect and hope to see Billy passing the Sacrament with the other Deacons.  Though I'm not related to him in anyway, I will feel as proud of him as I would any of my own children or grandchildren.

So, for today, I am grateful for Billy.  (I am also grateful for righteous parents everywhere.) 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Day 19, January 19

"The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, who, at worst, if he fails, fails while daring greatly."--Theodore Roosevelt

I love these words.  More, I love the sentiment behind them.  How many times do we, do I, criticize someone for failing?  Why do I not recognize that that individual might have been daring greatly?  Perhaps it is even me who is daring greatly.  And is it not better to have failed while daring than never to have dared at all?

This is a lesson I am still struggling to learn.  If I fail at something, at least I have tried.  Maybe that failure will help me succeed the next time ... or the next ... that I try.

So, for today, I am grateful for those who fail while daring greatly.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Day 18, January 18

A few days ago in church, our bishop spoke about the dangers of being scammed by real estate fraud.  It seemed a strange topic for a Sacrament Meeting Service until he made the connection between these scams and those of the Devil.  The Devil also tries to scam or deceive us. 

When we buy into the lie that the things of the world are more important than eternal things, we are being scammed.  When we buy into yet another lie that there is no heaven or hell, we are being scammed.  Like those who try to scam the unwary with real estate fraud, the Devil mixes truth with lies.  He knows in that way he can lure his victims to his unholy plans for them..

And that's what we are when we accept his lies:  victims.  I don't know about you, but that makes me angry.  I don't want to be anyone's victim.

So, for today, I am grateful for those times when I can detect and resist lies.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Day 17, January 17

But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be manifest, that they are wrought in God.  (John 321

Truth and light are often used interchangebly in the scriptures, for when we bask in the truth, we also bask in the light.  Without the sun, physical life perishes. Without the Son, our spiritual life perishes as well.

This is not the first time I've written about light.  Nor is it the first time I've compared sunlight and Sonlight.  Without the sun, physical life perishes.  Without the Son, our spiritual life perishes as well.

Seeking the light is as natural as breathing, but sometimes that search proves elusive.   Perhaps that is because we are not looking for the light in the right places (does that remind you of the old song, "Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places?").  When I search for it in the lies of the world, I am doomed for disappointment.  When I search for it in the things of the Lord, then I know I'm on the right track.

So, for today, I am grateful for sunlight.  I am always grateful for Sonlight.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Day 16, January 16

"The task ahead of us is never as powerful as the force behind us."--anonymous

A recent email from my sister-in-law Beverly reinforced the above quote to me.  Beverly works a full time job.  She is also the Relief Society President in her ward.  (For those of you who aren't Mormon, Relief Society is the church's women's group and is responsible for much of the compassionate service that happens in a ward and in the community.)  When Beverly was called as RS President, her ward was going through (and continues to go through) a number of crises, including several members receiving chemotherapy, another involved in a horrendous accident, a funeral to plan, in addition to the regular welfare needs of a large and sprawling congregation.

In her email, Beverly affirmed her belief that the Lord is giving her strength and knowledge to fulfill all of her responsibililties.  What faith she shows.  And what insight into the grace of the Lord, that He will make up for any lack she might feel.

So, for today, I am grateful for Beverly and those like her who turn to the Lord.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Day 15, January 15

Today is my dear friend Janet's birthday.  Janet and I have been friends for 36 years.  We have seen each other through the births of babies and the death of parents.  We have tended each other's children, tended each other's pets, and tended each other's hearts. 

Janet is one of my role models, though she would deny that she is a role model for anyone.  Her talents are legendery  she plays several music instruments and composes her own music.  She sews and tailors beautiful clothing, for herself and others.  She serves in our church in multiple callings.  She writes, draws, bakes, and does a host of other things that leave the rest of us in awe.  She does all this with an unassuming air that is all the more charming because she doesn't realize just how amazing she is.

But, though her talents are awesome, that is not why I love her.  Janet gives of herself unstintingly, to her family, to her friends, to the community, to the church, to the Lord.  She never "keeps score," as some do.  She just keeps giving.  

So, for today, I am grateful for my friendship with Janet..

Monday, January 14, 2013

Day 14, January 14

Finding joy in small things is not hard, but it does take effort.  It takes a willingness to see the extraordinary in the ordinary, to find beauty in the prosaic, to recognize the hand of God in all that is around us.

A favorite Primary song of mine is "I Feel My Savior's Love."  The first line goes, "I feel my Savior's love in all the world around me." The concept, like most important things in life, is both simple and profound.  Do I feel my Savior's love "in all the world around me?"  Sadly, not all the time.

And perhaps the problem is not that I don't feel His love, but that I don't take the time to acknowledge it. Acknowledging His love can be done through prayers of gratitude.  It can also be done by serving others. 

So, for today, I am grateful for those times when I feel my Savior's love ... and acknowledge it.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Day 13, January 13

"The will of God never takes you where the grace of God cannot protect you."--Anonymous

At times, I have questioned the will of God.  This is not something I'm particularly proud of, but when I witness friends and family members undergoing harsh trials, I wonder, what was the plan?  Then I remember that God is with them on whatever life journey they must follow.

When we take God with us in this journey, our burdens are immediately lightened.  When we forget Him, He is still there, perhaps a bit saddened that we neglected to include him in our travails, but there nontheless.

In my two-year-old spiritual arrogance, I have upon occasion told God, "I can handle this particular trial.  I don't need you."  What foolishness.  I need God every day, every hour, every minute.

So, for today, I am grateful for those times when God chooses me even when I forget to choose Him.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Day 12, January 12

The other day on a walk through our neighborhood, I saw three squirrels scampering through a yard.  They chased each other up a tree, hopping from one branch to another.  Their antics caused my lips to curve in appreciation. 

As I told my grandson Christopher in one of our frequent discussions about rodents, squirrels are rodents.  However, they are also Heavenly Father's creatures.  Could He have created them for the sole purpose of causing us to smile at their sheer joy in life?  Perhaps, that is our lesson from them.  Enjoy life.  Embrace it.   Leave our worries and cares behind, at least for the space of a walk, and find joy in the world that God created for us.

So, for today, I am grateful for squirrels.  (I am also grateful for Christopher, my "favorite rodent.")

Friday, January 11, 2013

Day 11, January 11

Do you have a problem making decisions?  I do.  I want to gather data.  I want to know everything there is to know about a subject.  I want to know that I'm making the very best decision possible.  Sometimes this process works, and the decision turns out well.  And  sometimes I vacillate until it's too late and I've made a decision I didn't want by default.

Then there are the times when I invite the Savior in to the decision making process.  What a difference.  When I listen to the Savior's voice and take His guidance, I am confident in my decision.  Too frequently, though, I forget to invite Him.   Pretty dumb, huh?  Why don't I remember that His counsel will never lead me astray? 

So, for today, I am grateful for those times when I remember to include the Savior.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Day 10, January 10

Recently in my reading I came across a new word:  mudita.  Mudita is the Buddhist practice of being glad for another's good fortune.  What a lovely concept. 

To my shame, I am sometimes not happy for the good fortune of  someone else.  When another writer gets a big book contract, I'm envious.  Part of me is glad for her, but another part, that natural man part, is envious.  Why her and not me, I wonder.  Then my rational side comes in to play and I realize that the writer in question has worked hard for this contract.  Still ... 

Finding happiness and joy for the good fortune of another is a kind of charity.  And isn't chairty what it's all about?  The Lord tells us to find charity--or the pure love of Christ--in our hearts.  As you can tell, I'm still working on it.

So, for today, I am grateful for those times when I am happy for another and have charity in my heart.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Day 9, January 9

"The single greatest thing you can do to change your life today would be to start being grateful for what you have right now."--Oprah Winfrey

It's easy--too easy--to postpone happiness as we wait for our lives to change.  I waited for all my children to be out of diapers.  I then waited for them all to be in school.  I waited until my husband was out of school and had a good job.  I waited for this and for that, until I felt like I'd spent my entire life waiting.

In the meantime, I missed out on the now.  I missed out on the blessings the Lord was busy pouring out upon me in the present.   Fortunately I woke up and started appreciating the mercies and love He saw fit to give me.  I saw beauty in a sunset.  I found laughter in the antics of my kitty.  As I gained in gratitude, I also gained in joy.

So, for today, I am grateful for what I have now. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Day 8, January 8

“Being settled keeps us from responding to every little ripple of dissent as if it were a tidal wave. We are to be disciples, not oscillators, like a ‘reed shaken in the wind’ (Matt. 11:7).   Elder Neal A. Maxwell

I love the idea of being settled.  The word "settled" makes me think of peace.  As I've written before, we are all, in our own ways, searching for peace. 

If I am settled, I know the answer to questions before they arise.  If I am settled, I know that I am not going to be tempted by alcohol.  If I am tempted, I know that I am not going to be tempted to cheat or steal.  If I am settled, I know who I am and what I am.

So, for today, I am grateful for the times that I am settled.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Day 7, January 7

In the Mormon church, the Deacons (boys age 12 - 14) pass the Sacrament.  As I have observed them, I am always impressed by the seriousness and solemnity with which they perform this sacred task.  Each boy is assigned an area of the chapel and takes great pains to make sure every member receives the bread and then the water.

Having raised three boys of my own, I am aware of the energy and goofiness that boys that age have in such abundance.  They tease each other, their siblings, their parents unmercifully.  They wear their underwear on their heads, shove dirty plates under their beds, and engage in any number of other activities that threaten their mothers' sanity and her resolve not to disown their sons.    Never, though, have I seen any lack of respect in these young Priesthood holders when they are charged with passing the Sacrament.  Dressed in their Sunday best, they give their best because they are serving the Lord.

So, for today, I am grateful for boys who perform this duty with reverence and respect.  (I am also grateful for the parents who instill these qualities in their sons.)

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Day 6, January 6

Writing about gratitude for life's small blessings and tender mercies is a joy.  It is also a responsibility.  Knowing what to say, how to say it, and even when to say something is just plain hard.  I find the same true when talking with people sometimes and discover that I've put my foot in my mouth.  Even as I say the words, I know I've goofed.

Finding the words to undo my gaffe, I stumble around, and, occasionally, make matters worse.   The victim of my foot-in-mouth disease frequently takes pity on me, and we get past the awkwardness.   I resolve to do better but once again find myself hurting someone with my thoughtless words. 

So, for today, I am grateful for those who forgive me when I've offended them.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Day 5, January 5

Like many people, I suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).  The long days of winter occasionally get me down.  When the sky turns gray, I turn gray as well (and no, I'm not talking about my hair).  And then a miracle occurs:  the sun appears, like a benediction from above, and the gray vanishes. 

As the clouds lift, my spirits lift as well.  No amount of self-talk can talk me out of  my mood, but the radiance of the sun erases my low spirits as if they'd never existed.  Without the sun, life would cease to exist.  Similarly, without the sun, I would probably curl up in the fetal position and hibernate during the winter. 

So, for today, I am grateful for sunshine, surely one of the Lord's tender mercies upon His children.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Day 4, January 4

The other day, I was at the grocery store, picking up a perscription.  While there, I noticed a little girl, probably three years old,  industriously pushing a grocery cart.  Her tongue caught between her teeth, she was the picture of concentration.  I shared a smile with her mother.

The mother patiently handed items to her daughter, who carefully placed them inside her minature cart, causing me to think how much more quickly and efficiently the mother could have done this chore without her child's "help."  But this mother was not only shopping for groceries; she was rearing a child and recognized the enormity of that task.

So, for today, I am grateful for parents who understand what is important ... and what is not.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Day 3, January 3

This past Sunday in our ward's Sacrament Meeting, a gentleman spoke about his forebearers.  Among them was a family who had joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the 19th century.  In order to emigrate to America from Europe, they were going to have to leave a daughter behind, to travel  later with another family.

I could only imagine the heartache the parents must have felt at that choice.  They felt compelled to join with the other Saints in America but could not afford to take all of their children.  At the last moment, a man came forward and gave them the money to take their daughter with them.  At one point, on the trek west, a mother found that she had only two stale biscuits with which to feed her family.  She asked for the Lord's help, then put the biscuits in a dutch oven, poured water over them, and prayed.  Within a few hours, the biscuits had been transformed into a meal sufficient to feed her children.

My own ancestors faced hard choices as well, finding the courage and strength to leave comfortable homes and dear friends to follow a prophet.  Because of their faith and testimony, my family has a rich heritage of church service and obedience.

So, for today, I am grateful for the choices of ancestors.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Day 2, January 2

In earlier blogs, I've confessed that I am technologically challenged.  My grandchildren shake their heads in regret and pity at their poor old grandmother's lack of tech skills.  I frequently struggle to figure out my iphone.  So when it comes to computers and software things, I plead ignorance.

However, ignorance does not equate to unappreciation.  I love what computers can do.  In particularly, I appreciate that computers and blogging software allow me to publish this blog.   It's hard enough knowing what and how to write it (the blog) each day.  If I had to figure out technical stuff along the way, I would probably give up.

So, for today, I am grateful for computers and what they allow me to do.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Day 1, January 1

It is the start of a New Year.  This year I hope to write about gratitude for the small things in life, the everyday miracles and tender mercies which we all experience but sometimes fail to recognize.  When we find joy in the small things in life, we recognize the Lord's hand in our lives.

My life is full of these miracles and tender mercies, but too often I fail to acknowledge them and, to my shame, focus on the parts of life that aren't perfect.  I invite you to join me on this journey. 

So, for today, I am grateful for small things that become big things when seen through the lens of gratitude.