theory – attitude of gratitude (today’s talk at church)

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Today I’m grateful.  Grateful for my sweet mother-in-law and Aunts.  For their willingness, patience, and long-suffering during Sacrament Meeting with our adorably busy kiddos. 

Today, I’m grateful:

  • for family
  • for good health
  • for freedom
  • for friendship
  • beauty
  • laughter
  • love
  • peace
  • for the kiddo laughter that fills our home,
  • and for all they teach me every single day
  • for my husband: my partner in our eternal quest

Truly, today I’m grateful, for my testimony and knowledge of the Savior, His Atonement, and the perfect plan of our Father in Heaven.

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The designer and I have been asked to talk about the “Attitude of Gratitude.”  There is much we can be grateful for.  Yet, the more I have pondered gratitude; I realize that our return to the Midway 5th ward has been a journey of gratitude. 

One in which we are still pursuing, striving to understand, and live. 

I’d like to begin by sharing a portion of a wonderful talk given by President Henry B. Eyring in the October ’89 General Conference, entitled, Remembrance and Gratitude.  The portion I’d like to share begins with a quote from President Ezra Taft Benson:

The Prophet Joseph said at one time that one of the greatest sins of which the Latter-day Saints would be guilty is the sin of ingratitude. I presume most of us have not thought of that as a great sin. There is a great tendency for us in our prayers and in our pleadings with the Lord to ask for additional blessings. But sometimes I feel we need to devote more of our prayers to expressions of gratitude and thanksgiving for blessings already received. We enjoy so much.(God, Family, Country, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1974, p. 199.)

Then President Eyring continues:

You could have an experience with the gift of the Holy Ghost today. You could begin a private prayer with thanks. You could start to count your blessings, and then pause for a moment. If you exercise faith, and with the gift of the Holy Ghost, you will find that memories of other blessings will flood into your mind. If you begin to express gratitude for each of them, your prayer may take a little longer than usual. Remembrance will come. And so will gratitude.

You could try the same thing as you write an entry in your book of remembrance. The Holy Ghost has helped with that since the beginning of time. You remember in the record of Moses it says: “And a book of remembrance was kept, in the which was recorded, in the language of Adam, for it was given unto as many as called upon God to write by the spirit of inspiration.” (Moses 6:5.)

President Spencer W. Kimball described that process of inspired writing: “Those who keep a book of remembrance are more likely to keep the Lord in remembrance in their daily lives. Journals are a way of counting our blessings and of leaving an inventory of these blessings for our posterity.” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982, p. 349.)

As you start to write, you could ask yourself, “How did God bless me today?” If you do that long enough and with faith, you will find yourself remembering blessings. And sometimes, you will have gifts brought to your mind which you failed to notice during the day, but which you will then know were a touch of God’s hand in your life.

You can choose to remember the greatest gift of all. Next week, you can go to a meeting where the sacrament is administered. You will hear the words, “Always remember him.” You can pledge to do that, and the Holy Ghost will help you.

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Like many of you, I journal through a blog.  I record all sorts of things about our family, and I also like to write about things I am learning from the Spirit.  I read and reread these entries over and over again.  The remembrance of the truths He is teaching me, gives me the strength to follow Him. 

This morning I’d like to share some of the teachings of our Savior’s disciples and apostles.  They have inspired an attitude of gratitude, our return to this beautiful community, lovely ward, and uplifting friendships.  The majority of what I will share is taken straight from past journal entries.

After our daughter was born, we had the opportunity to live in Heber, renting from my husband’s sister and her husband.  The home was spacious.  We only lived on the main level and found that our furniture could not fill it.  Over time, I worked to fill the expansive walls with paintings.  Family would visit and bring us more furniture and things to fill the large home.   

Soon, I became overwhelmed with a large home, too much stuff, three little ones, a husband working full-time while obtaining on his MBA, and ultimately, I felt like the responsibilities alone for me to carry were burdens far too great.

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My husband and I began to simplify, prioritize and “detox” as we called it.  Gradually we went through parts of the home, giving away that which was unnecessary or never used. 

I knew that this search for simplification and peace of mind was far more than the “stuff” surrounding me.  As I read talks, quotes, and the scriptures, I searched for more direction from our Heavenly Father.

I kept thinking about Elder Dallin H. Oaks, and his  Good, Better or Best talk.  A favorite quote: As we consider various choices, we should remember that it is not enough that something is good. Other choices are better, and still others are best. Even though a particular choice is more costly, its far greater value may make it the best choice of all.    

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During that same General Conference in October of’07, Sister Julie Beck gave her Talk at Women’s Conference What Latter-day Saint Women do best: Stand Stong and Immoveable.  She provided a road map to chosing the best, and follow the counsel of Elder Oaks.  This map included three main areas to stand strong and immovable: in Faith, in Family, and in Relief.  Like many of you, I was greatly moved by her lists within each category.  They have helped me further prioritize and simplify our goals and activities as a family.

Days later, she talked about Mothers Who Know in the General Session of Conference.  My favorite part of her talk:

I have a testimony gained from pondering and studying the scriptures of a plan of happiness given to us by our Father in Heaven. That plan has a part for His daughters. We have the female half to take care of, and if we don’t do our part, no one else is going to do it for us. The half of our Father’s plan that creates life, that nurtures souls, that promotes growth, that influences everything else was given to us. We can’t delegate it. We can’t pass it off to anyone. It’s ours. We can refuse it, we can deny it, but it’s still our part, and we’re accountable for it. There will come a day when we will all remember what we knew before we were born. We will remember that we fought in a great conflict for this privilege. How do we meet this responsibility? We daily put our energies into the work that is uniquely ours to do.”

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Gratefully, as my husband and I pondered this together, we were moved by the following same statements:

  • we can’t delegate it
  • nor pass it off to anyone
  • it is ours
  • we can refuse it, and deny it, but it is still our part
  • we’re accountable for it
  • we fought for the privilege to be mothers

He and I were reminded of the choices we have made, and the impacts these decisions have  made on our children, and will make within our eternal family. 

Yes, it’s nice to be different within marriage, but even nicer to agree on things that are so important. 🙂

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Last Fall, Sister Ann Dibbs gave her delightful Search for the Real and True talk. 

Do you remember the rolls she made from scratch for some young women in her ward?  In her talk she explained the importance of work and sometimes even sacrifice to obtain that which is REAL and TRUE.   She invited us all to commit to that which is real

Pondering each of these talks, my husband and I worked on prioritizing our activities as a family, where we spent our time, and our resources.  I believe that in order to obtain the real and true, and the best, we have to make and refine our priorities.  That we decide what is most important in our lives and not allow the counterfeit to overwhelm our minds and take up our time.  Though it may be unrealistic to bake real homemade rolls each day, I can do one, maybe two or three real activities with my husband and our kiddos each day. 

Enjoying real meals together, real family prayer and real scripture study is a given.  Then comes a real activity or two…painting together, a literacy-based activity, dancing, making music on the piano or singing in the car.  Working outside in the garden, practicing our ASL.  There are so many.  And no, they can’t all be done each day, but we can enjoy a couple real activities and therefore, enjoy a real and true life together

Its so much easier to be grateful for the blessings my Heavenly Father has given me when I am choosing to enjoy this rich, real and true life each day with my family.

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Early this Spring, that desire to simplify overwhelmed me…again.  I keep thinking about Julie Beck’s Mothers Who Know talk.  Specifically,

Mothers who know are willing to live on less and consume less of the world’s goods in order to spend more time with their children—more time eating together, more time working together, more time reading together, more time talking, laughing, singing, and exemplifying. These mothers choose carefully and do not try to choose it all.”

At the time,  I wondered if a life with less would actually be a life with more.  I began to believe that it was. 

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As we welcome more beautiful children to our family, we welcome more stuff.  It’s almost unavoidable.  Oh, the boxes of clothing we have stored: baby clothes, clothes for girls, clothes for boys, prego clothes, big clothes, little clothes…the list goes on and on.  We need clothes, and no, the kiddos don’t have a ton, it’s just that when you add up all the things we aren’t using right now, I was feeling a bit hoard-ish. 

About the same time, our Swiss Oaks renter decided to break her 2 year contract in order to move her family to Italy.  (Oh, I seriously, don’t blame her!)  🙂  My husband and I saw this as another opportunity for growth and change within our family.  We pondered, prayed, and within a couple weeks, knew that it was time to move back to Midway.  As I packed, I kept thinking about good, better, and best…the real and true, and becoming a mother who knows.  It made the process much simpler.  Half of our boxes and furniture were sorted into the “future garage sale” pile. 

After the move was complete, the entire one car garage was filled from floor to ceiling.  As we looked at the mountain of unneeded stuff, we promised not to bring anything in the house that was not essential, being used regularly, or that had it’s own place. 

The gratitude that filled our hearts as we found family and friends that could use our furniture and belongings we were no longer using. 

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It has been a process, yet as we gave away, and sold our beautiful “stuff” that was overcrowding our life, my grateful heart soared, our lives became simpler, and the peace and love of the Savior was more easily felt in our home. 

We have shared a wonderful Summer together, the kiddos and I have spent our days choosing, learning, exploring, and playing together…and then have done more of that when Dad returns each day. 

Today I testify that a life with less TRULY is a life with more. A life choosing the Best or Real and True, is far more fulfilling and valuable. 

I am forever grateful for the way in which our Heavenly Father is contunually teaching our family to be happy, and filled with gratitude. 

For the perfect example of our Savior. 

For the incalcuable power of His Atonement to be healed in every aspect of our life. 

This is my testimony in the name of our Savior and Redemer, Jesus Christ, Amen.

(We spent an afternoon at the Provo Temple last month…it was a memorable time…one in which we are looking forward to repeating with the kiddos again soon!)

4 thoughts on “theory – attitude of gratitude (today’s talk at church)

  1. I’ve found that a lot of this can be traced to more people living farther from extended family. I know I would like to have access to this, that and the other thing. When I don’t live near family and I know that my family and most other families are transient, I tend to get one for myself so that I don’t have to worry about it not being around. As we have been living close/with extended family I find that we have duplicates of lots of things. I’m not even talking about things like furniture, but tools, random office supplies that you buy 10x what you need because that’s the smallest package, those types of things. I’ve also seen it with the yard. We’ve got plenty of space for the kids to play right now, but it would be too much work for just Melissa and I to do on our own. Maybe when we have older kids we can put to work, but not now when they are little. Anyhow, I digress. The point is that when we are not transient and are closer to extended family, we are more likely to have a pool of people we feel comfortable relying on so that there is less duplication of things between the group, and less for upkeep for each family in the group.

    • So do you think we ought to have a berg compound one day? 🙂 Hee hee, thanks for the input. It does make a difference being about to share this and that.

  2. So glad to see you posted your talk. I am going to send my mom and sister to your site to read it. You did a great job – seriously. I was disucssing it with my younger brother today – you are a fantastic writter. Thanks as always for being a real, true, friend (RS lesson today).

    • “Camillia,” my real, true friend, 🙂 I couldn’t help but laugh today, as both of our names have been butchered when we are to stand and be sustained! It took me a while to realize it was my name that was called…you handled it beautifully! I loved your musical moment today as well. I don’t have that book, but have always wanted a copy. Today’s practice hymn will always have more meaning for me…thank you. I even thought of writing about my new perspective of it. 🙂 luvs, katrina

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