Thursday, November 25, 2010

Attitude of Gratitude - Day #25 - Happy Thanksgiving!

Today I am thankful for everything.

The other day we sang the following hymn during family scripture time and I realized its message encompasses my feelings about Thanksgiving:

We give thee but thine own,
Whate'er the gift may be,
For all we have is thine alone,
A trust, O Lord, from thee.

May we thy bounties thus
As stewards true receive,
And gladly, as thou blessest us,
To thee our firstfruits give.

To comfort and to bless,
To find a balm for woe,
To tend the lone and fatherless
Is angels' work below.

And we believe thy word,
Tho dim our faith may be;
Whate'er we do for thine, O Lord,
We do it unto thee.

This hymn, "We Give Thee But Thine Own," reminds me of this scripture in Mosiah 2:20-24

I say unto you, my brethren, that if you should render all the thanks and praise which your whole soul has power to possess, to that God who has created you, and has kept and preserved you, and has caused that ye should rejoice, and has granted that ye should live in peace one with another—
I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.
And behold, all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments; and he has cpromised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth vary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do keep his commandments he doth bless you and prosper you.
And now, in the first place, he hath created you, and granted unto you your lives, for which ye are indebted unto him.
And secondly, he doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you; and therefore he hath paid you. And ye are still indebted unto him, and are, and will be, forever and ever; therefore, of what have ye to boast?

I have been given so many wonderful blessings, and I don't deserve them. In reality they aren't really mine. However, I do try to appreciate them. So to all of you, who are part of this marvelous miracle, thank you for being you. And have a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Attitude of Gratitude - Day #24

Today I am thankful for a progression of things. I am thankful for temples.I'm thankful for my ancestors, and that in these temples we can do the work to seal us together forever.I'm thankful for my wonderful husband and the fact that we got to start a new family unit in said temple.I'm thankful for our beautiful children and all the memories we've created over the years, and I'm thankful for the possibility of creating many more wonderful memories.None of this would be possible without the restoration of the true church of Christ, so I'm thankful for Joseph Smith and all his successors. I'm thankful for my Savior and his atoning sacrifice, because that's also a pivotal moment that makes eternal families possible.
And I'm thankful that I can look forward to a glorious future.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Attitude of Gratitude - Day #23

Today I am grateful for my sons' in-laws. And not just the parents, but the brothers and sisters and their spouses and children. I don't know why, but until a couple of years ago (when our oldest got married), it never dawned on me that when I received a daughter-in-law, her family would also become a part of mine. I think that's actually the best part of the whole wedding scenario - meeting and getting to know such fantastic people. I am amazed at the incredible individuals my grandchildren will be able to call family. I am thankful that in their wives' fathers and brothers my sons have excellent role models to follow. It's comforting to know that other families have worked hard to teach their children correct principles and that they're seeing success. We're glad we don't live in a society where marriages are arranged; our sons did a much better job on their own than we ever could have done. (And we have great faith that the remaining sons and daughters will follow in those footsteps.) It's nice to know that when our kids can't be home for Thanksgiving, they can still be home for Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Attitude of Gratitude - Day #22

Today I am thankful for the gift of sight, and for the beautiful world in which we live. There are so many amazing things, some created by man, and some definitely not. Last week on my walk I noticed some red berries just beginning to peek out from the leaves on a couple of trees. I think it was a sign that the holidays are just around the corner.This is an aerial shot of outside Copenhagen, Denmark. I wonder if my great-great-great-great grandparents ever envisioned living someplace like this! And I needed an excuse to share this incredible picture taken by Michelle with Steven's help. (It's a popped - see the scissor points - water balloon - that's the green piece - before the water disperses.)Seeing these pictures once again, reminds me of the scripture in Moses 6:63 that tells us everything points to the Savior. One of our favorite family night lessons is to just take ordinary objects and find that connection. He truly is in everything. (For one example, review the post when we played BOGGLE - Boggle FHE. Another time we had a very effective seminary lesson where we found connections to a Gatorade bottle, the kleenex box and a pencil.) It's always a little bit easier to be grateful when I remember that everything I see reminds me that God is in charge. Have a great week!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Attitude of Gratitude - Day #21

Today I am thankful for a living prophet, Thomas S. Monson. I'm thankful for general conference and the chance to listen to his counsel. In fact, it was his talk last month that gave me the idea to do this little thanksgiving exercise. Because I have a testimony of our prophet, I want to do what he says. Below are just a few quotes from his talk, "The Divine Gift of Gratitude." I hope I'm getting better at developing an attitude of gratitude; I do know already, however, that having a positive, thankful attitude makes life a lot happier.

My brothers and sisters, do we remember to give thanks for the blessings we receive? Sincerely giving thanks not only helps us recognize our blessings, but it also unlocks the doors of heaven and helps us feel God’s love.

My beloved friend President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “When you walk with gratitude, you do not walk with arrogance and conceit and egotism, you walk with a spirit of thanksgiving that is becoming to you and will bless your lives.”

We can lift ourselves and others as well when we refuse to remain in the realm of negative thought and cultivate within our hearts an attitude of gratitude.

A grateful heart, then, comes through expressing gratitude to our Heavenly Father for His blessings and to those around us for all that they bring into our lives. This requires conscious effort—at least until we have truly learned and cultivated an attitude of gratitude.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Attitude of Gratitude - Day #20

Today I am thankful for the Scouting program. More particularly, today I am thankful that the last of five Eagle projects is totally completed! (This has been hanging over Steven's head for a good three years, which means it's been hanging over my head as well. The paperwork that's left to do before he can have his board of review is the easy part.) It doesn't seem quite fair that after helping four older brothers with their projects, none of them were around to help him, but he managed anyway, and I'm sure they'd love to participate vicariously, so here you go --Actually, the hardest part of the whole project was finding one to do, and even more importantly, finding one where the materials were supplied. Steven inherited his dislike of soliciting donations from his mother. Finally he thought to ask the elementary school that our high school's Spanish Honor Society has "adopted" to see if they had any projects that needed doing. They did! And they were thrilled that someone wanted to help. The project included weeding their "reading garden," laying some pavers where the kids take shortcuts across the dirt, and pulling out dead bushes and spreading mulch over the whole area. The first work day was dedicated to weeding everything, and straightening the existing edging that had tipped over.The second day was paver and mulch day.Everything looks much nicer now. He did a good job :)And someday soon, he can join the ranks of his older brothers. Do you think we'll ever have a chance to get a picture of all five of them in uniform again? (Most of these pictures were taken at Brad's court of honor, but there's one of Weston's - where Steven was a brand-new Cub Scout - and one at Jeff's with our four Eagle sons.)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Attitude of Gratitude - Day #19

Today I am thankful for the Young Women program. I'm grateful for the impact it had on my life when I was a teenager, and I'm even more grateful for the impact it's having on my daughter's life. She has wonderful leaders. They love her and care about her and exemplify good values for her (and all of the other girls as well). This week they had their Young Women in Excellence program, and once again they outdid themselves. The theme was "Black and White" and we were all encouraged to come wearing black and white. Everybody did! That was kind of cool.
The girls set up display boards, choosing one of their value projects to highlight. Michelle was excited to share her cross-stitch of the Salt Lake Temple, and she was in her element designing the poster to go along with it. (She found the perfect use for the eight value ribbons she earned by completing Personal Progress earlier this year - as a border for her cross-stitch.)
Everyone else's boards were terrific as well. Some of the projects included compiling a recipe book (and learning how to cook), playing soccer, finding family history stories, working in the Bishop's Storehouse, and collecting uplifting quotes. These girls are amazing.
Oh, and the guest speaker reminded us that we get into trouble when we stray into gray areas. Living the gospel is a black and white proposition: Christ's way is "white" and Satan's way is "black" - and you can't do both. I'm thankful we have lots of help and support as we strive to keep out of the gray areas.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

MPT - Fifth Grade (and Gratitude Day #18)

This is the seventh in a series of blogs I'm writing for Mommy's Piggy Tales . Janna has provided a forum for members to write and share stories from their youth. It's a great adventure! Feel free to join in here. Today I am thankful that I know how to sew. My "main" gift for Christmas the year I was in fifth grade was a six week sewing course at the local Sears. I remember starting by using paper in the machine to sew straight and curved lines. I learned how to put in a zipper and set sleeves properly. I can't remember exactly what I sewed in the class, but look at the pictures in next week's post; I remember sewing that red dress (in the sewing on the bed picture), the green dress (in the picture with my grandfather), and the yellow jumper and poofy white blouse (in the picture with my friends). Sewing still comes in handy and I'm grateful for that skill.

For fifth grade my teacher was Mr. Ceccarelli, my first male teacher. That year our school was on double session so we had to learn in less time. I remember one day I received a “D” on a math paper, and the next one I failed. It was tremendously embarrassing, but it was kind of nice to let the other kids know that I was human and made mistakes, as is still the case.
In summer school the year before or after fifth grade, I had a science class and we made miniature telegraphs. We took a piece of wood, wires, batteries, and metal strips and put them all together. Then we learned the Morse Code and would relay messages to each other. Another one of my summer school classes was typing. That turned out to be a valuable skill to learn.
As mentioned before I started piano lessons in second grade, and I was still practicing and progressing all through fifth grade. In fact, I had developed enough skill that I was ready for my very first church calling when I was ten years old - that of Junior Sunday School Pianist. I still remember the very first song I learned from the Sing With Me book - "A Happy Song" (which starts "ducks in the pond quack a happy song"). They've improved the content of Primary songs and made them more spiritually-based. However, I picked that one because it didn't have any flats or sharps! Anyway, for almost forty years I've spent a good portion of my time at church behind the piano, and I suspect that won't end any time soon.

seven kids = seven Jack-o-lanterns

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Attitude of Gratitude - Day #17 (and WFMW)

Today I am thankful that I love to cook and bake and make things in the kitchen. Since that can be such a time-consuming part of running a family, I'm glad it's a pleasant activity for me. I'm thankful my mom taught me to cook. I'm grateful my children like what I cook. And I'm happy that I feel creative and fulfilled when a nutritious dinner is on the table (complete with the not-so-nutritious dessert at the end).

You can find some of our favorite recipes, and memorable disasters, on our recipe blog over here, but since it's the week before Thanksgiving and a scheduled "Works for Me Wednesday" I thought I'd share some of our favorite Thanksgiving dinner recipes right here.
These first two aren't really part of the meal, but they're often part of our celebration. First is a snack mix that helps us remember our many blessings. You can find the directions to it here.
Second is a table favor that is fun to dismantle and eat (just the M&M's!) afterwards.
We have a pretty standard, traditional menu, and I realized I don't really have recipes for most of the main dishes. In fact, I remember trying a "from scratch" cranberry sauce once and was told to stick to what comes in a can. Oh, well; I remember doing the same thing the year my mom tried that on us.

Roast Turkey, or maybe a Deep-Fried Turkey, or even both
Cranberry Sauce
Black Olives
Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
Corn, or Green Bean Casserole, or both

And Thanksgiving dinner isn't complete without lots of pies, including:
and any others we feel like!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Attitude of Gratitude - Day #16

Today I am thankful for skills we've developed over the years so that we can take care of a lot of household repairs without calling a repairman. Last night we went outside while the sprinklers were supposed to be on and discovered water squirting all over the place, coming from the valve cap on the top of our well (if that's what it's called - I haven't figured out proper terms yet). In the light of day (because of county regulations it's dark when the sprinklers can be on), it looks like that gray cap got a crack in it and just needs to be replaced. Hopefully we can find the new part without too much trouble. Of course I think I would be more grateful if I didn't have to worry about things like this, but I've learned it's much easier to count our blessings and just deal with the challenge. One of the blessings is that we were actually outside at that time to notice the problem. (I had wanted to put the seat back in the van as soon as the kids came home from school, but we forgot and didn't get to that chore until later.) Another blessing is that I knew which breaker switch to pull to turn off the power and stop the water flow. (Label your electrical panel - it makes life easier.)

Fortunately, or unfortunately, it seems there's always something going on to remind us that this is a very real blessing. Just in the past few weeks we've repaired a pipe leak (including patching and painting the wall that we had to take out to find it), a leak in the pool chlorinator (which kept changing spots as we fixed one hole), a break in the electrical wire from the pump start relay to the well pump (two days of digging to find the spot that needed repair), and a couple of sprinkler heads and pipe elbows (our lawnmowers need to watch where they're going). I remember being told that one of the blessings of having a son on a mission was that things didn't break; we didn't get that blessing. However, we did get other ones instead, so that's okay. And now I'm off to add Home Depot to the list of errands.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Attitude of Gratitude - Day #15

Today I am thankful for Family Home Evenings. I know I've posted about this in the past, but I'm still grateful for the counsel from our living prophets to take the time to gather together as a family and learn gospel principles and have fun. And we've had lots of memorable times. (Just click on the FHE label to see a "plethora" of them.) However, I thought I'd post some links to just a few of my favorite. Have a wonderful family night tonight!!!

Show Respect - creating a family motto
Watch Yourselves - our first family night after David returned home from his mission

Gracious George - a story and activity about performing secret acts of service

In our Lovely Deseret - finding principles contained in songs

I Love You Because - sharing kind things about each other

Preparing in Advance - FHE assignment wheel

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Attitude of Gratitude - Day #14

Today I am thankful for choirs and choir practice and the friends and memories we've made over the years. I love the holiday season, and when you go to choir, you have a legitimate excuse to start singing Christmas music in September! Christmas isn't Christmas without Christmas hymns and carols. Music is what provides the magic of the season for me. And we had a wonderful time this evening working on "Alleluia" and "Angels We have Heard on High" today, along with the "Harvest Song" for Thanksgiving. We don't have a lot of pictures of actual choir performances. (In fact, we probably have zero.) However, blog posts are a lot more fun with pictures, so here are the ones we took before leaving for the performance ten years ago. As a family, we participated in the adult and children choirs for the stake Christmas musical fireside.
Have fun enjoying the magic of the holiday season through music this year!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Attitude of Gratitude - Day #13

Today I am thankful for the gift of time, and of devices used to measure it. (I'm not particularly fond of Dali's art, but I love the memories of visiting the Dali Museum with family, and I do find his melting clocks intriguing.) I am glad that when I remember to use a timer I don't forget there are cookies in the oven or spaghetti boiling on the stove. I am thankful that I can "turn over a new leaf" each day, month and year.

Time is a great blessing.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Attitude of Gratitude - Day #12

Today I am thankful for busy days. There's always something to do, and that's a good thing. I am grateful that I am "NeverBored." (And I'm also feeling grateful that in spite of all the many things on the to-do list, I'm not feeling overwhelmed. What a beautiful tender mercy!)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

MPT - Fourth Grade (and Gratitude Day #11)

This is the sixth in a series of blogs I'm writing for Mommy's Piggy Tales. Janna has provided a forum for members to write and share stories from their youth. It's a great adventure! Feel free to join in here. On my ninth birthday, I received my very own bicycle, and so did Louise and Scott. At first I felt a bit gypped and wondered why they got their birthday presents on my special day, but afterwards it was a lot more fun having someone to ride bikes with. We rode them quite often that summer, around the block and to the store. We lived in a very nice neighborhood and I enjoyed it, even though I wasn’t very social. Fourth grade came along and I graduated to the “big” playground at Holly Oak Elementary. That year was very exciting. First we got to learn how to play instruments. I decided that I wanted to play the clarinet, so Mom and Dad rented one from downtown. After a month, the music teacher asked me if I wanted to play the oboe because there was a spare one lying around the district. The first lesson I had on that, it took me half an hour to get a squeak out of just the reed, but I soon got the hang of it and really enjoyed playing the oboe. Mrs. Chambers was my school teacher, and she has always been one of my favorites. I guess it was because she made you want to learn. She gave us “keys” that were essentially book reports, but the one who had the most at a certain point received a prize. We were also divided into groups of five or six and every Friday the group who had the most points for being good got doughnuts at recess. There were also creativity stations where we could write whatever we wanted to write. For P.E. we played a lot of Dodge Ball, but I enjoyed it. Up to this time I had always worn dresses to school and everyone expected that, although girls were beginning to wear pants to school. One day I went home for lunch and came back to school in pants because we were leaving right after school to go on a picnic, or up to the snow, or some family activity like that. Everyone was shocked, and it was kind of fun being the center of attention. Even after that, I never wore pants on any regular basis until I was in high school. I only wore them on occasions like that. In high school, I wore pants half of the time and dresses the other days, and I still do. I guess I just like being feminine and that’s a lot easier in a dress. On Memorial Day, 1972, (about the time Arlene returned to her family on the reservation) one of the events that most affected my life occurred. This was the day that Tony, George, Ida and Benjamin came to live with us. I guarantee that my life would not be the same if this had never happened. Sometimes I wonder, but I’m glad they came to live with us. At this time they were 12, 9, 6, and 3, respectively. It was, and is, a great trial for our family the way their upbringing interferes with mine. However, it’s been a great learning experience and I now know a lot more about coping with others than I would have otherwise.

Today I am thankful for my parents. They are just amazing people. Can't you just feel the love for others and desire to be righteous that emanates from them, even in a picture? I have the best role models anyone could ever want. I could go on and on and on, but I won't. I'm just grateful I can call them Mom and Dad.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Attitude of Gratitude - Day #10

Today I am thankful for the gift of good health.

One of the messages from general conference that struck me the most was the following one by Elder Christofferson:

"A consecrated life respects the incomparable gift of one’s physical body, a divine creation in the very image of God. A central purpose of the mortal experience is that each spirit should receive such a body and learn to exercise moral agency in a tabernacle of flesh. A physical body is also essential for exaltation, which comes only in the perfect combination of the physical and the spiritual, as we see in our beloved, resurrected Lord. In this fallen world, some lives will be painfully brief; some bodies will be malformed, broken, or barely adequate to maintain life; yet life will be long enough for each spirit, and each body will qualify for resurrection.

"Those who believe that our bodies are nothing more than the result of evolutionary chance will feel no accountability to God or anyone else for what they do with or to their body. We who have a witness of the broader reality of premortal, mortal, and postmortal eternity, however, must acknowledge that we have a duty to God with respect to this crowning achievement of His physical creation."

My poor daughter has a cold right now, which makes me grateful that I can't remember the last time I was really sick. That's a remarkable blessing. Our physical bodies truly are a magnificent gift. As I get older and it doesn't always do what I want it to, I need to be grateful for what it does do, and I need to take care of it. So, today I am even thankful for sore muscles, and I am thankful I'll have the opportunity to use them again this afternoon.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Attitude of Gratitude - Day #9

Today I am thankful for Relief Society.
Where else can you find instant friends, who really care about you, no matter where you go in the world?Relief Society provides the opportunity to serve and be served, to teach and be taught, to love and be loved. It allows us the chance to practice living the way the Savior wants us to, and encouragement to keep trying when we falter. It's food and fun and hugs and smiles and scriptures and sewing and even dirt and tears.Here are just a few of my favorite Relief Society memories:
  • hiding under the quilt as a child while my mom worked on it with other RS sisters
  • being the one working on the quilt while my son played underneath it
  • making a quilt as a family and delivering it to the RS president to give away
  • delivering dinners
  • receiving dinners (after one baby we had sloppy joes and jello salad three nights in a row!)
  • visiting sisters in the hospital
  • having visiting teachers visit me in the hospital to meet our new son
  • birthday luncheons
  • temple trips
  • cleaning house for someone who was moving
  • having my house cleaned before I moved
  • Super Saturdays (90% of our Christmas decorations are compliments of Relief Society!)
  • dinner and the general broadcast each September
  • wonderful lessons and testimonies each Sunday
  • a baby shower for Princess (we moved to the new area a month before she was born, yet there were over 30 guests at the party in her honor - I think they were pretty excited we finally got a girl)
  • summer picnics in various backyards
  • service projects everywhere
  • dry pack canning
  • Christmas programs and fancy dinners
  • thoughtful cards
  • yummy treats
  • a glimpse into eternity
I love Relief Society!

Notes: The first picture is the Relief Society in Nassau, the Bahamas. The church building turned out to be farther from the cruise dock than we expected. One of the sisters graciously drove us back. The second picture shows us working hard to compile Christmas stockings for a local Headstart program. The third picture shows my one dear Relief Society friend who taught me how to cut a mango and survive mothering 6 kids (go to the park and fly a kite) and smile while being the bishop's wife, and my other dear Relief Society friend who went visiting teaching with me every month and cheerfully scrubbed my dirty shower (among many other things). They were both thrilled when after a ten year break we were able to get together again. And so was I. (And they did a marvelous job on the wedding lunch!)