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Archive for the ‘Gratitude’ Category

 

Two Americans (Mormon) play at the Panamanian beach on Thanksgiving

Not your average American (or Mormon!) Thanksgiving celebration

I missed truly celebrating American Thanksgiving this year as I spent the week on the beach in Panama with three of my best girlfriends. Sure, we celebrated by lounging about, napping, snacking, and even keeping up with the time-honored tradition of stating what we were Thankful for this year. (My dish–though a very great garlic shrimp concoction–didn’t live up to a plate doused in gravy.) In hindsight, I realize I missed taking stock of what I’m truly grateful for and how it affects my life.

How happy I am to be reminded of that today.

It’s December 1st and the beginning of my very favorite three weeks of the year. You see, the anticipation of Christmas is enough for me — the world seems to be a generally nicer, kinder, gentler place. Toss in a birthday and my overwhelming need to throw gatherings with cream-cheese frosted anything, and December is a cornucopia of good feelings, good food, and the goodness of people.

I was reminded today about the small and simple things that make me grateful.

As Mormons, we’re taught in the Book of Mormon that “by small and simple things are great things brought to pass.” (Alma 37:6) Well boy howdy, today turned into the greatest day. Nothing massive or grand visions opened to me, but rather a steady stream of small and simple things that made me grateful.

  • A chicken TBM (tomato, basil, mozzerella) sandwich from Cosi (seriously, this place is ridiculously good).
  • 60-degrees on December 1st in Boston! (Rain can be ignored when it’s that warm, right?)
  • A fun, casual date to the Boston Celtics game — and a win to boot!
  • My sister’s annual Christmas music mix arrived in the mail today along with my wrapped birthday present. It took all my self control not to open it, but I’m learning self mastery. (Wink.)
  • Knowing my intense love of sports, my work registered and paid for me to attend the annual MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference. It’s a fairly huge deal with great panels and infamous speakers (Bill Simmons in the house! Malcom Gladwell, Jeff Van Gundy, Mark Cuban)… this is sports nerdery to the max.
  • And finally, I purchased my final Christmas gifts tonight. I’m officially ready for the holidays.

To be honest, sometimes I think I sit and wait around and wait for the grand event. What that is, I have no idea, but I’m learning that real life is a culmination of small, simple, and steady experiences that leave us better people. Some might call the wins in our life luck or coincidence, but I call them God’s outward expressions of love. He’s looking to bless our lives–and if it comes in the form of a great meal or entertaining conversation (or a good sandwich?) so be it. I’ll take the many small, simple, and steady blessings over the waiting around for the BIG EVENT.

Our modern-day Prophet and President of the Mormon Church, Thomas S. Monson recently said, “To live with gratitude ever in our hearts is a touch of heaven.[1]” Saying thanks and being grateful for the blessings in my life has in fact drawn me nearer to God. And that’s something to be thankful for.

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A short post isn’t much consolation for four months absence on this blog, but I’ve just got to get it out of my system–

I absolutely believe that God knows me personally and is working miracles in my life.

Sure, the miracles I’m seeing aren’t as grand as the parting of the seas or the raising of the dead, but for several months over the summer, I felt like I was drowning. Caught in a riptide of work, personal, and familial situations out of my control, I was having a hard time keeping my spirits high. I wasn’t ever in serious danger, but as someone who generally feels a sense of control over most aspects of her life, I was in unfamiliar territory. And it was a drag. (For me and probably for those around me too!)

A personal Mormon prayerAbout a month ago I realized I wasn’t feeling the influence of the Holy Ghost nearly enough in my life. I promised God that I’d do all I could to recommit myself to doing his will and being a better servant. Not ten hours later, I received an email that’s changing the course of my life. I’ll get to telling that story on here a bit later, but the hours I’ve spent in church service have quadrupled overnight.

Busier, but couldn’t be happier.

While listening to a talk from our semi-annual church conference earlier this month, a quote from the apostle Richard G. Scott resonated deep in my heart. In fact, I can’t quit thinking about it:

An axiom we all understand is that you get what you pay for. That is true for spiritual matters as well. You get what you pay for in obedience, in faith in Jesus Christ, in diligent application of the truths you learn. What you get is the molding of character, the growth in capacity, and the successful completion of your mortal purpose to be proven and to have joy.

I wasn’t getting very much before because I wasn’t paying for very much. There really is no such thing as a free lunch–joy comes in extending ourselves in service to others. It takes faith and it requires obedience. I know this, I just forget when I turn my eye from the things that matter most. I’m denying myself personal growth, molding of character and joy! Heaven knows I need all of the above.

I’ll do better, I promise. I like the way I’m feeling these days. Still busy, still stressed, and a bit overwhelmed with what I’m being tasked with — but I’ve felt the guiding hand of the Lord as I’ve knelt in more earnest prayer and recognized His ideas and grand plans through the voice of the Spirit. This is Mormonism 101!; the love of God through revelation and I’m grateful for the reminder. Remembering will be like swimming in a life jacket! And really (as literally not a very strong swimmer) this sounds like the best idea of the year.

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I wrote this post on my personal blog last Thanksgiving. I was in NYC last weekend and actually saw the boy in the red shirt standing on a subway platform. Sadly, he did not get a seat on the train, but happily–no fights broke out on the train! (Ride from Prince St to Times Square: 1-1) Watch the video and you’ll get what I mean.

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Alternate Title: “I too am thankful for muffins and donuts”

…and also so many of the other things in this sweet video.

With the Thanksgiving holiday all but around the corner, my thoughts are turned to tradition, blessings, and the gratitude I feel so strongly in my life. I’ve watched this video countless times (funny considering my perpetual disdain for streaming video) because it’s funny, and warm, and I love the feeling I get listening to Elder Dallin H. Oaks talk.

As Mormons, we believe that modern-day Apostles have been called again to the earth. Elder Oaks has been called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to be a special witness of Jesus Christ.

I love Elder Oaks challenge, “Let us give thanks for what we are and for the circumstances God has given us for our personal journey through mortality.” So true! My personal journey is different than each of yours and this blog should be a testament to that fact! Lately I’ve been ruminating on a blog post on the “Why I Came to Boston” (which has never been fully discussed here) and have unanimously agreed with myself that this little adventure of mine has truly changed my life. It’s not a circumstance I ever considered would become a reality, but I guess God had a different circumstance in mind for me, eh? How thankful I am for that. (And will discuss at length further. Later.)

“When we understand that God offers us opportunities for blessings and blesses us through our own adversities and the adversities of others we can understand why He has commanded us again and again to thank the Lord thy God in all things.”

So this is it. My general shout out of Gratitude in Thanksgiving for all that I’ve been given. For the tactile goods and tools required for everyday living. For the intangible quality (and eternal!) relationships I share with my family and friends. For my innate gifts and talents. For the ability to express myself freely. For the time and talents and desire to serve in God’s Kingdom. For learning to truly love myself and recognizing my worth as a daughter, a sister, a friend.

For independence.
For dependence.

For Happy Ever After.
And most importantly…
For Happy Right Now.

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