Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Gratitude Day Thirty

Ether 6:9
"And they did sing praises unto the Lord; yea, the brother of Jared did sing praises unto the Lord, and he did thank and praise the Lord all the day long; and when the night came, they did not cease to praise the Lord."
Time for one last Thanksgiving hymn of praise, but that doesn't mean we can't sing them throughout the whole year!

Sing praise to him who reigns above,
The Lord of all creation,
The source of pow'r, the fount of love,
The rock of our salvation.
With healing balm my soul he fills
And ev'ry faithless murmur stills.
To him all praise and glory!

Thus, all my toilsome way along,
I sing aloud thy praises,
That men may hear the grateful song
My voice unwearied raises.
Be joyful in the Lord, my heart!
Both soul and body bear your part.
To him all praise and glory!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Gratitude Day Twenty-Nine

Mormon 9:31
"Condemn me not because of mine imperfection, neither my father, because of his imperfection, neither them who have written before him; but rather give thanks unto God that he hath made manifest unto you our imperfections, that ye may learn to be more wise than we have been."

GCBC - Elder Bednar

General Conference Book Club
Elder David A. Bednar

The other day we sang "Turn Your Hearts" (Hymn 291) for family scripture and prayer. I love the message of its words, which reminded me of this latest general conference talk by Elder Bednar.

Turn your hearts; the Lord is coming,
Malachi the prophet said.
Turn your hearts in preparation
To the work of exaltation
For the living and the dead.

In the latter days Elijah
Will renew the plan sublime.
He will teach you and remind you
Of the promises that bind you
To all men throughout all time.

Turn your hearts toward your parents --
Generations gone before.
May you seek until you find them;
In the temple seal and bind them
To your hearts forevermore.

Turn in love to all your children --
Generations yet to be.
May your deeds of gospel giving,
Temple service, righteous living,
Bless them all eternally.

I especially enjoyed the reminder that "family history" goes both directions - forward and back. I need to seek out my ancestors, yet I also need to be a good example to my children and grandchildren. I love family history work, and I am grateful for temple covenants that can seal and bind us together forever.
Elder Bednar taught that "as members of Christ's restored Church, we have the covenant responsibility to search out our ancestors and provide for them the saving ordinances of the gospel." This reminded me of a quote by Elder Russell M. Nelson that "every activity, every lesson, all we do in the Church, point to the Lord and His holy house" which he gave in general conference in 2001 and essentially repeated in 2008. Temple work is important, and it's the little things we do every day, in our homes and in our callings, that help us focus on this great work of salvation.

I also appreciated Elder Bednar's challenge to the youth to get involved. I'm excited to see what happens as a result of that challenge!

Read more insights from this talk here on Stephanie's website.

GCBC - President Uchtdorf

General Conference Book Club
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

I always love President Uchtdorf's talks, and this was no exception. It IS a paradox that man is nothing, yet man is everything. I appreciated the reminder that "our Heavenly Father created the universe that we might reach our potential as His sons and daughters," and that "we have the incomprehensible promise of exaltation -- worlds without end -- within our grasp." It's that amazing.

Yet some days it's difficult to find the balance between humility and pride, between self-confidence and discouragement. Satan works so hard to make us forget who we really are. If we can remember the four principles that President Uchtdorf mentioned, maybe this would be a little easier:
1) God loves the humble and meek.
2) The Lord trusts the "weak things of the world."
3) Heavenly Father loves us individually. We are not invisible to Him.
4) The present is not the future.

It really doesn't matter if we're dealing with "marble halls or stable stalls" in our current situations. The blessings of the gospel and the Atonement are available to everyone. All we have to do is keep trying. I am grateful for a Heavenly Father who loves me; that knowledge is a priceless gift.

One of the things I love about reading the talks in the Ensign is going through the footnotes. After telling of his experience with pilot training in Texas, and how he often felt insignificant and unknown, and yet realized that all he could do was try his best, President Uchtdorf stated, "And all was well." The footnote states, "Dieter F. Uchtdorf graduated first in his class." I just love that understatement. If we follow his example and remember and practice these principles, all can be well with us as well. (The picture is of him receiving the Commander's Trophy; read about it here.)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Gratitude Day Twenty-Eight

3 Nephi 10:10
"And the earth did cleave together again, that it stood; and the mourning, and the weeping, and the wailing of the people who were spared alive did cease; and their mourning was turned into joy, and their lamentations into the praise and thanksgiving unto the Lord Jesus Christ, their Redeemer."

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Gratitude Day Twenty-Seven

Alma 49:28
"And it came to pass, that on the other hand, the people of Nephi did thank the Lord their God, because of his matchless power in delivering them from the hands of their enemies."

There aren't always many people we can go to in times of trouble, but I love the reminders found throughout the Book of Mormon that we can always turn to God. He has the power to deliver us from all of our enemies, seen and unseen.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Gratitude Day Twenty-Six

Alma 48:12
"Yea, a man whose heart did swell with thanksgiving to his God, for the many privileges and blessings which he bestowed upon his people; a man who did labor exceedingly for the welfare and safety of his people."
Captain Moroni's another worthy hero. And having a heart filled with thanksgiving is just one of his many great qualities.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Gratitude Day Twenty-Five

Alma 37:37
"Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day."

This was one of my favorite scriptures when I was in seminary. Thanksgiving Day is over (I hope you enjoyed your turkey dinner!), yet the need to be prayerful and to give thanks to Heavenly Father will never be over. Let's see if we can keep a grateful heart for the next 365 days, and longer!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Gratitude Day Twenty-Four

Happy Thanksgiving!
Alma 34:38
"Worship God, in whatsoever place ye may be in, in spirit and in truth; and . . . live in thanksgiving daily, for the many mercies and blessings which he doth bestow upon you."
We all hope you have a beautiful day!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Gratitude Day Twenty-Three

Alma 26:8
"Blessed be the name of our God; let us sing to his praise, yea, let us give thanks to his holy name, for he doth work righteousness forever."
This little snack mix is one way to help us remember to be thankful. And there's still time for you to make some before the big day.

Thanksgiving Blessing Mix Poem

Bugles: Shaped like a cornucopia or Horn of Plenty, a symbol of our nation's abundance.

Pretzels: Arms folded in prayer, a freedom sought by those who founded our country.

Candy corn: Sacrifices of the Pilgrims' first winter. Food was so scarce that settlers survived on just a few kernels of corn a day.

Nuts or seeds: Promise of a a future harvest, one we will reap only if seeds are planted and tended with diligence.

Dried fruits: Harvest gifts of our bountiful land.

M&Ms: Memories of those who came before us to guide us to a blessed future.

Hershey's Kiss: The love of family and friends that sweetens our lives.

Go here for the printable and instructions. And have a great time preparing for tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Gratitude Day Twenty-Two

Alma 19:14
"Now Ammon seeing the Spirit of the Lord poured out according to his prayers upon the Lamanites, his brethren, who had been the cause of so much mourning among the Nephites, or among all the people of God because of their iniquities and their traditions, he fell upon his knees, and began to pour out his soul in prayer and thanksgiving to God for what he had done for his brethren; and he was also overpowered with joy; and thus they all three had sunk to the earth."

Gratitude brings joy. That reminds me of President Monson's talk "Finding Joy in the Journey." He suggests that in order to find joy in life, it's important to adapt to changes, realize what is most important, and express gratitude always. I agree with him.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Gratitude Day Twenty-One

Alma 24:7-8
"Now, these are the words which he said unto the people concerning the matter: I thank my God, my beloved people, that our great God has in goodness sent these our brethren, the Nephites, unto us to preach unto us, and to convince us of the traditions of our wicked fathers. And behold, I thank my great God that he has given us a portion of his Spirit to soften our hearts, that we have opened a correspondence with these brethren, the Nephites."
We're currently "between missionaries" in our family, but I am extremely grateful that our four older boys all served missions, and that the youngest is diligently preparing to go next summer. I'm also grateful for the missionaries who introduced my great-great grandparents to the church, and for all that are serving right now so that other families may feel the joy of the gospel in their lives. Missionaries are wonderful!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Gratitude Day Twenty

Alma 7:23
"And now I would that ye should be humble, and be submissive and gentle; easy to be entreated; full of patience and long-suffering; being temperate in all things; being diligent in keeping the commandments of God at all times; asking for whatsoever things ye stand in need, both spiritual and temporal; always returning thanks unto God for whatsoever things ye do receive."
Humility, patience, gentleness, diligence, obedience, gratitude - just a few of the qualities I can be working on this week of Thanksgiving, and all year-round too.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Gratitude Day Nineteen

Mosiah 26:39
"And they did admonish their brethren; and they were also admonished, every one by the word of God, according to his sins, or to the sins which he had committed, being commanded of God to pray without ceasing, and to give thanks in all things."
Pray to give thanks. What a simple concept, and yet so powerful, no matter what day of the year it is!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Gratitude Day Eighteen

Mosiah 24:22
"And they gave thanks to God, yea, all their men and all their women and all their children that could speak lifted their voices in the praises of their God."

Time for another hymn; there are so many wonderful hymns of gratitude. This is the one we sang for family prayer last night. I always love it when the "next one in line" is really applicable for that particular day. Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to praise God through music.

With songs of praise and gratitude
We worship God above,
In words and music give our thanks
For his redeeming love.

Then come before God's presence!
With singing worship him!
Express the heart to full to speak
In one exultant hymn.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Gratitude Day Seventeen

Mosiah 24:21
"Yea, and in the valley of Alma they poured out their thanks to God because he had been merciful unto them, and eased their burdens and had delivered them out of bondage; for they were in bondage, and none could deliver them except it were the Lord their God."

You'll be happy to know that we finally got our version of the "Blessing Box" completed. (I should go add "freedom from bondage" to one of the cards now.) These things can be quite simple. As you can see, ours is just a basket with pieces of paper inside. There's a pen in there, too, and after you write something down, you fold the paper and put it right back in the basket. I'm not sure when our little turkey showed up in the house, but he's perfect for keeping an eye on our blessings. If you push his belly, he gobbles, which someone decided we need to do each time we add something. Isn't that a nice touch that makes this activity fun?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Gratitude Day Sixteen

Mosiah 8:19
"And now, when Ammon had made an end of speaking these words the king rejoiced exceedingly, and gave thanks to God, saying: Doubtless a great mystery is contained within these plates, and these interpreters were doubtless prepared for the purpose of unfolding all such mysteries to the children of men."

I love the scriptures! I had wanted to spend some more time with this post expounding on that statement, but I'm running out of time to do "all my heart yearns to do" so I'll just leave it at that.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Gratitude Day Fifteen

Mosiah 7:12
"And now, when Ammon saw that he was permitted to speak, he went forth and bowed himself before the king; and rising again he said: O king, I am very thankful before God this day that I am yet alive, and am permitted to speak; and I will endeavor to speak with boldness."

How often do we take the time to express gratitude just for the fact that we're still breathing? I know I take it for granted. I'm grateful that I haven't had any near-death experiences to make life itself front and center in my mind, but I guess it's important to not wait for drastic circumstances. I should be thankful every day for that new day. That would be a good resolution!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Gratitude Day Fourteen

Mosiah 5:4
"And it is the faith which we have had on the things which our king has spoken unto us that has brought us to this great knowledge, whereby we do rejoice with such exceedingly great joy."

I'm not sure I ever really thought about it before, but the ability to gain knowledge is indeed a great blessing. I'm grateful that I can learn new things every day, and I don't even have to go to school to do so!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Gratitude Day Thirteen

Mosiah 2:20-21
"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."

This has always been a concept that's intrigued me. No matter how much gratitude I may express, I'm always behind. You'd think that would be a discouraging thought, but it really isn't. It just helps me realize how greatly blessed I've been, and encourages me to keep noticing and doing the little things. November's a great month recognize this and put it into practice.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Gratitude Day Twelve

Mosiah 2:19
"And behold also, if I, whom ye call your king, who has spent his days in your service, and yet has been in the service of God, do merit any thanks from you, O how you ought to thank your heavenly King!"
King Benjamin has always been one of my heroes. Service, humility, and gratitude are all great traits to emulate.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Gratitude Day Eleven

Mosiah 2:4
"And also that they might give thanks to the Lord their God, who had brought them out of the land of Jerusalem, and who had delivered them out of the hands of their enemies, and had appointed just men to be their teachers, and also a just man to be their king, who had established peace in the land of Zarahemla, and who had taught them to keep the commandments of God, that they might rejoice and be filled with love towards God and all men."

Things to be thankful for:
  • safety and deliverance
  • just teachers
  • righteous leaders
  • peace
  • guidance of the commandments
  • joy and happiness
  • love and charity
  • kind friends and family
  • a gracious Heavenly Father
Things really don't change very much over the years, do they?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Gratitude Day Ten

Jacob 4:3
"Now in this thing we do rejoice; and we labor diligently to engraven these words upon plates, hoping that our beloved brethren and our children will receive them with thankful hearts, and look upon them that they may learn with joy and not with sorrow, neither with contempt, concerning their first parents."

One of the best places to compile our "list of blessings" is in our journals. Journal writing is so important. Even if no one else ever reads our journal, keeping one can help us individually. (See a great article on this here.) November would be a great month to take some time and write down all the things we're grateful for. If you did that every year, and kept it in the same place (i.e. your journal), it would be really easy to go back and compare. And then you'd have even more things to be grateful for!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Gratitude Day Nine

2 Nephi 25:29
"And now behold, I say unto you that the right way is to believe in Christ, and deny him not; and Christ is the Holy One of Israel; wherefore ye must bow down before him, and worship him with all your might, mind, and strength, and your whole soul; and if ye do this ye shall in nowise be cast out."

President Monson gave the following counsel: "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.' . . . 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."

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Gratitude Day Eight

2 Nephi 9:52
Behold, my beloved brethren, remember the words of your God; pray unto him continually by day, and give thanks unto his holy name by night. Let your hearts rejoice.

I recall President Kimball teaching that "remember" might be the most important word in the dictionary. I believe him. Remembering God and expressing gratitude through prayer truly brings happiness and rejoicing into our lives. What a blessing!

Monday, November 7, 2011

GCBC - President Packer

General Conference Book Club
"Counsel to Youth"
President Boyd K. Packer

One of the things which I loved about this talk (you can find it here) was the sense of optimism that pervaded it. Did you know that President Packer gave a very similar talk several years ago? You can find it here - "Do Not Fear." I also enjoyed listening to the CES fireside talk he gave yesterday; it seemed like he covered many of the same points, which to me just gave them more emphasis. We live in exciting times, and I'm grateful for the counsel to not worry about that - to listen to my leaders, follow the Spirit, and just do what is right.

We attended Young Women in Excellence last week, and one of the girls sang the song, "Maybe I will be There" taken from the September 2001 New Era. I thought it went quite well with this talk. You can find the music here, but here are the words:

Maybe I Will Be There

Words by Cynthia Mrazek Pyne
Music by Melissa Henrie Spencer

1. I wasn’t at the manger
Nor at the cruel cross.
I didn’t lay Him in the tomb,
Feel numb with grief and loss.

2. I wasn’t there when He arose
To worship at His feet.
I wasn’t in a Nephite land
As He taught other sheep.

But maybe I will be there
When Jesus comes again.
Maybe I will hear His voice
And see the angels then.
Surely I will praise His name
When ev’ry knee shall bend.
Maybe I will be there
When Jesus comes again!

3. I didn’t see the miracles
Or walk in Galilee.
I didn’t see Him raise the dead,
Take children on His knee.

4. I never knew His tender smile
Or heard Him call me friend.
I wasn’t there to see the pain
He suffered for all men.

But maybe I will be there
When Jesus comes again.
Maybe I will hear His voice
And see the angels then.
Surely I will praise His name
When ev’ry knee shall bend.
Maybe I will be there
When Jesus comes again!

5. My time is in the latter days
When truth has been restored.
And though I’ve never seen His face,
I know my Savior’s word.

6. The scriptures say I need not fear
If I will but prepare.
Then with the just I’ll be caught up
And meet my Savior there.

And maybe I will be there
When Jesus comes again.
Maybe I will hear His voice
And see the angels then.
Surely I will praise His name
When ev’ry knee shall bend.
Maybe I will be there
When Jesus comes again!
I pray that I will be there
When Jesus comes again!

I think that having a testimony that we've been sent to earth at the right time for us is critical. We need to know that Heavenly Father knows us individually and we need to discover what our personal mission might be. I'm grateful for talks like President Packer's that help me in this quest.

Gratitude Day Seven

2 Nephi 9:49
"Behold, my soul abhorreth sin, and my heart delighteth in righteousness; and I will praise the holy name of my God."
Here's a beautiful talk that expands on this topic: My Soul Delighteth in the Things of the Lord. As Sister Tanner mentioned, there are so many things that can bring us delight. November is a great time to remember them and be thankful for them.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Gratitude Day Six

2 Nephi 8:3
For the Lord shall comfort Zion, he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord. Joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving and the voice of melody.

Here's one of my favorite hymns: On This Day of Joy and Gladness. I love its chorus of "Alleluia" and I think it makes a great Thanksgiving hymn, even if it's normally not thought of that way.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Gratitude Day Five

1 Nephi 18:16
"Nevertheless, I did look unto my God, and I did praise him all the day long; and I did not murmur against the Lord because of mine afflictions."
I think that one of the best ways to praise God (which is definitely a form of expressing gratitude) is through music. Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow is a great one to start with.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise him, all creatures here below;
Praise him above, ye heav'nly host;
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

At one point it was one of our son's favorite hymns (probably because it's the shortest in the hymnbook), and having a family that also loves music is just another blessing in my life.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Gratitude Day Four

1 Nephi 7:22
"And it came to pass that we did come down unto the tent of our father. And after I and my brethren and all the house of Ishmael had come down unto the tent of my father, they did give thanks unto the Lord their God; and they did offer sacrifice and burnt offerings unto him."
If you don't want a branch full of "thankful" leaves, how about a turkey full of "thankful" feathers? Here's the link: Thankful Feathers

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Gratitude Day Three

1 Nephi 5:9
"And it came to pass that they did rejoice exceedingly, and did offer sacrifice and burnt offerings unto the Lord; and they gave thanks unto the God of Israel."
Here's another craft/centerpiece to help us focus on gratitude for the whole month (or even just the one day) of Thanksgiving: Thanksgiving Tree.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Gratitude Day Two

This verse is pretty short and simple, but isn't expressing gratitude a sweet and simple thing?

1 Nephi 2:7
"And it came to pass that he built an altar of stones, and made an offering unto the Lord, and gave thanks unto the Lord our God."

When was the last time you gave a prayer expressing only thanks? I know it's been a while since I have. That sounds like a good thing to try today. And because there are so many things I'm thankful for, I should allow plenty of time to do so.

P.S. There are a lot of neat Thanksgiving traditions built around making lists of things you're thankful for. Here are two I read about yesterday: The Blessing Box and Thanksgiving Advent Calendar.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Gratitude Day One

I'm trying to do better at following through on promptings (see the previous post), so when I had the idea to compile a list of 30 scriptures on gratitude from the Book of Mormon for the sister I visit teach, I did. And since it doesn't take much additional effort to post them here, I figured I would. At the very least, it will keep this principle of giving thanks uppermost in my own mind for the month. Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

I even thought about putting them in some kind of organized progression of theme, but finally decided that just going from 1 Nephi to Moroni was organization enough. This first verse doesn't exactly mention "thanksgiving" yet whenever I read it I'm grateful for so many things. First, it reminds me of Elder Bednar's talk on The Tender Mercies of the Lord. Second, it reminds me of President Hinckley's challenge in August of 2005** to read the Book of Mormon before the end of the year. Michelle and I read it together, looking for examples of tender mercies; it was a wonderful experience. So, in my mind, this is definitely a verse that shows gratitude to the Lord for all of our many blessings. And that's what Thanksgiving is all about.

1 Nephi 1:20

"And when the Jews heard these things they were angry with him; yea, even as with the prophets of old, whom they had cast out, and stoned, and slain; and they also sought his life, that they might take it away. But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance."

**"We studied the Book of Mormon in Sunday School this past year. Nonetheless I offer a challenge to members of the Church throughout the world and to our friends everywhere to read or reread the Book of Mormon. If you will read a bit more than one and one-half chapters a day, you will be able to finish the book before the end of this year. . . .

"Without reservation I promise you that if each of you will observe this simple program, regardless of how many times you previously may have read the Book of Mormon, there will come into your lives and into your homes an added measure of the Spirit of the Lord, a strengthened resolution to walk in obedience to His commandments, and a stronger testimony of the living reality of the Son of God." (Gordon B. Hinckley, August 2005 Ensign)