Life Lately

I haven’t been super consistent at posting lately. But I feel drawn to blogging again. I sat down to write today, wondering what should I write about? There are so many things to say. There are concerns I have. People are losing their faith in God and their love for one another. Our country is in turmoil.

In January, I decided to break away from Facebook. It started to take a bigger portion of my life than it should have. (read: I was addicted to it). I feel like after eliminating Facebook, I probably freed up about 60-90 minutes of my life!

I also have freed up feelings of anger, frustration, and general depression about this world around me. I turned off my phone, got up and started getting out more and tuning into my family more.

Here’s what’s been going on in my neck of the woods…

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Oh Deer
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Quilty fun
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Tiger made a dress. And Sasquatch has glasses.
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T-Rex being a boy and finding things like dead snakes (and bringing them home!)
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There IS peace in this world. Just go outside. Look up.
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Handmade Pixie Shoes. (The show off the cutest little dirty toes).

I know that life isn’t perfect. And I don’t want to claim that mine is. Am I blessed? Yes! Absolutely!!! Despite my bounteous blessings, this is life, and I’m experiencing my share of trials. However, we can remember this:

“…thou knowest the greatness of God; and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain.” – 2 Nephi 2:2

Know the Greatness of God

I guess that this is what I mean by wake up, put down the phone, and get outside. I find that one of the quickest ways to feel God’s greatness is to go out for a walk.

Put down the phone, get off the internet (even before you finish reading this post!) and serve someone else. Into instant gratification? Get out and serve someone else. Nothing is more invigorating or electrifying as feeling the love that God has for all of us, and this comes to us as we serve each other.

And I know what you might be thinking! It’s easy for you to say, Choco, You aren’t dealing with _____[fill in the blank]_______ problems. However, I guarantee that anyone reading this can find someone who is happier than they are while having it worse than they do. When I’m feeling frustrated or down, and I don’t want to let God into my heart, I can’t help but remember Viktor Frankl. Who found purpose and stayed positive to his purpose WHILE IN A CONCENTRATION CAMP!

Know the greatness of God.

He Shall Consencrate Thine Afflictions for Thy Gain

As we come to know the greatness of God, trusting Him follows. We realize and remember that He isn’t just some arbitrary God up in heaven finding some kind of entertainment in our suffering.

He is our Father.

” Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?

Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?

If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” – Matthew 7:9-11

If you are a parent, then you should be better able to imagine our Heavenly Father – and why He allows us to endure adversity. No he doesn’t want to see us suffer, but He knows what we will see when we get to the other side of suffering.

Yes, there are horrible things happening in this world around us. But maybe there are some pretty great things, too. Maybe we can take a few minutes to know God, trust Him, and then count the ways that He is consecrating all that we are enduring for our gain.

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Creativity is pretty. And joyful.
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🙂
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Take a breath and look around!
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If you blink, you’ll miss it. 🙂
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Joy Is…Week 1/52

Well, I posted about my joy project last week, and I’ve made the decision that I will post one highlight from the week on the blog. I’m not doing it daily because it takes too long.

I am keeping my daily experiences in my special joy journal, but I’m only blogging this weekly.

So – for this week, I think that I’ll have to share the experience I had today.

T-Rex and Sasquatch in Primary
T-Rex and Sasquatch in Primary

In general, I find a lot of joy each week in primary. I really love my calling. However, today was extra-special. It was the T-Rex’s first day in Primary. He is my fourth and youngest child, so I must admit that it was bittersweet to see him growing up like that.

But, the T-Rex is so sweet. He’s so vibrant, active, and funny. He’s particular. He’s outnumbered in a home full of girls. I wasn’t exactly sure how he’d like sitting in Primary.

It turns out, he loves it!

In primary today, he insisted on sitting next to his sister. (I let him, no big deal to me). I couldn’t help it – I had to snap a photo! While I was teaching the singing time, I asked “What kinds of things make you cry?”
T-Rex raised his hand (!) and responded, “I cry when I can’t have hot chocolate.”
(for some context, we were talking about the experience that Christ has in the Americas when He visits the people shortly after his resurrection, blesses the children, and wept. We talked about how usually we cry when we’re sad, but Jesus was crying when He was happy.)

(Oh, and another note – I was so surprised that T-Rex raised his hand. He’s kind of shy. I was delighted that he wanted to contribute to my lesson. And, yes, it’s true – he definitely cries when he can’t have hot chocolate…don’t we all?!)

I could really relate to the concept of Christ weeping for joy because throughout the day, I felt like my heart was brimming with love and joy, and I wanted to cry or jump or something.

Seeing my little ones in primary brings me joy. 🙂 🙂 🙂

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What brought you joy this week?

The Fruit of the Tree of Life and Joy

Joy and Thanksgiving ButtonJoin me for the next two weeks as we study Joy and Thanksgiving. This is part One of my thoughts as I study the assignments.

The scriptures, like any form of literature, is rife with symbolism. One symbol used often is the tree of life and it’s fruit. Studying this symbol will help us to learn more about joy and how to obtain it.

Soon this fruit will be filling me up with joy. :)
Soon this fruit will be filling me up with joy. 🙂

Lehi’s Dream

Before I really talk about Lehi’s dream, I want to discuss the end result: Lehi and others partake of the fruit of the tree of life. Nephi teaches us about this fruit:

“Knowest thou the meaning of the tree which thy father saw?

And I answered him, saying: Yea, it is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it is the most desirable above all things.

And he spake unto me, saying: Yea, and the most joyous to the soul.” – 1 Nephi 11:22-23

So, not only does Lehi partake of the fruit of the tree of life, but this fruit is amazing. It tastes great and fills him with joy. He desires to share it, and many other people partake of the fruit.

Now, as this dream opens, Lehi is suffering in a dark and dreary waste. He suffers in this state for many hours until finally, he decides to pray. I wonder, is there a point that the Lord would have just shown him the tree of life, even if Lehi didn’t pray? I doubt it. I think that Lehi only progressed because He prayed, and the Lord answered His prayer.

Additionally, the Lord didn’t simply hand Lehi a piece of fruit after Lehi uttered his prayer, instead, Lehi had to embark on a journey. But the path was laid out before Him, and he was taken from the dark and dreary waste thanks to the mercy of God.

After going to the tree, Lehi was able to experience the opposite of what he suffered before. He partook of the fruit of the tree of life which was sweet, desirable, and better than anything he had ever tasted. It filled his soul with joy.

I love this example because it is a reminder to me that we must struggle a little bit before we are able to partake of the fruit of the tree. And when I struggle, I know where I can turn: the Lord.

The Struggle

We learn a little bit more about obtaining the fruit that Lehi ate. There are a few struggles that must be endured before partaking of the fruit.
The Mist of Darkness
Before partaking of the fruit of the tree of life, we must pass through the “mists of darkness.” In my life, I guess I could say that there have been mists of darkness that I have passed through–depression, difficulty, the death of loved ones, divorce, loneliness, sickness, etc. These are dark times, and it can be easy to feel lost as trial seems to choke your ability to see even the next step ahead of you.

The Great and Spacious Building
Not only do we pass through tribulations as we press forward to the Tree of life, but we must also endure the temptations of the world. This seems especially hard these days. We are bombarded with images and ideas that tell us if we just buy x then we’ll be happy.

An interesting thing to note, even when we partake of the fruit of the tree of life, we have the agency to accept it. Some of those who partook of the fruit then chose to feel embarrassment and shame as they allowed the voices of those in the great and spacious building to interrupt the joy of partaking of the sought-after fruit. As a result of this distraction, they left the fruit of the tree of life, then wandered off into strange paths and were lost.

The Lord won’t force us to choose happiness. It is always our choice.

Alma’s Analogy

Later on in the Book of Mormon, Alma taught the people about faith. He compared faith to a seed. Often, we think of this story solely as a story of faith, but it is so much more than that!

The seed of faith will eventually sprout, and if we nourish it, it will turn into a tree that produces fruit. Alma describes the fruit:

“the fruit thereof, which is most precious, which is sweet above all that is sweet, and which is white above all that is white, yea, and pure above all that is pure; and ye shall feast upon this fruit even until ye are filled, that ye hunger not, neither shall ye thirst.” – Alma 32:42

Does this fruit sound familiar???

The sermon given by Alma is basically amazing. There is one part that especially struck me this time:

“And thus, if ye will not nourish the word, looking forward with an eye of faith to the fruit thereof, ye can never pluck of the fruit of the tree of life.” – Alma 32:40, emphasis added

Looking forward with an eye of faith is the real way to one day partake of the fruit of the tree of life. This is the way that we will be able to make it through the mists of darkness. Having an eye of faith will help us to discern that the taunts of those in the great and spacious building are nothing but lies. We won’t be overwhelmed or distracted when we keep our eye on the prize: the fruit of the tree of life.

I struggle with this at times. I’m not the best at visualizing or imagining my success. I just think, “geez, I hope…” and then proceed with naivete. But the thing is, I realize that won’t be enough to get me to the tree of life. I want to partake of this fruit. It is the most difficult thing that any of us will ever do. It requires constant attention and effort. And, at this point in my life, I can see how we get burned out. I can see how, if we don’t have this vision in our hearts, then we can be overcome by the constant barrage of Satan’s temptations and distractions. We have to be able to envision this fruit if we want to someday experience it.

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What have you learned about Joy through the symbol of the fruit of the tree of life?

Joy and Thanksgiving 2013 – Opposition, Misery, and Joy

Joy and Thanksgiving ButtonJoin me for the next two weeks as we study Joy and Thanksgiving. This is part One of my thoughts as I study the assignments.

I originally wrote this scripture study program two years ago as a part of class that I taught on studying the scriptures. I haven’t ever gone back and re-studied any of my scripture study series. (I like making new ones!) But I have been feeling a little down and out lately. Sometimes Joy feels elusive, and I don’t like that! I’ve always been a happy person, and I still feel that I’m essentially happy–that I’m just having a tough go of it right now.

So…I figured it would be the perfect time to re-visit the concepts of joy and thanksgiving. It’s the perfect time of year for it. Above all, I like life more when I’m happier and when I’m more grateful. And I also know enough to know that happiness is a choice. I’m excited to study these scriptures again and remember what I can do to continue on in this life joyful and grateful.

The Connections taught by Lehi: Sin, Misery, Righteousness, and Joy

In 2 Nephi 2:13 and 23 Lehi teaches his son Jacob a few connections between Sin, Misery, Righteousness, and Joy. There are multiple levels of connections here.

First Level Connections

The first level of connections are the concepts that are directly related through cause and effect.
Righteousness→Joy – When we choose righteousness, we will also choose joy. Joy is the result of righteousness. There is no other way around this. It is important to remember that joy is not the same as pleasure. Joy is deep. It is abiding. It is what will help to get us through dark times. It is meaningful and fulfilling.

Sin→Misery When we choose sin, we choose misery. There is no other way around it. The important thing to know is why. Misery is a result of sin; it is NOT an emotion we feel because Heavenly Father is a dictatorial God. We learn in Alma that the nature of God is the nature of happiness. (See Alma 41:11.) If we want to experience happiness, then we need to adopt God’s nature as well. That’s just how it is.

Each of these connections are the first level connections. They are obviously related. They are progressive in nature. It is easy to see their relationship and why they have this relationship.

Second Level Connections

The “second level” connections are opposing in nature. They are connected to one another because they oppose one another. (Think of heads and tails of a coin, or the north and south ends of a pole). Even though these forces oppose one another, they are still inseparable.

Sin and Righteousness – Both sin and righteousness are also related. They are opposing forces. Both sin and righteousness are choices we make. We can’t not make a choice. We all must choose. We choose either to follow Christ and be righteous, or we choose to sin. You can’t say, “I refuse to choose.” Even a refusal to choose is a choice (and often a sin because following Christ implies an active and conscientious decision).

Misery and Joy
This connection can be looked at in two different ways.
One–as a result of choice – Both Misery and Joy are results of our choices and are related because they are the results of either sin or righteousness. When we choose sin, we choose misery. When we choose righteousness, we choose joy.

When others choose sin, they choose misery, and sometimes the misery that they choose not only effects them, but spreads to others involved, too. Sometimes we must endure misery because of the bad choices made by others.

Two–as a part of mortal life – Not only are misery and joy results of our choices, but they are also simply a part of mortal life. Because Adam fell, we have gained knowledge. We have gained the ability to perceive all of our emotions. We are not freed from these experiences. It is a part of living here on earth.

We learn in 2 Nephi 2:25:

“Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.” – 2 Nephi 2:25.

Because Adam fell, we exist. And we exist in the state that He has brought us into: the fallen, natural world. Yet, we aren’t here to be subjected only to misery. We are here to experience joy.

The thing is, both misery and joy are connected – like two sides of a coin. So, if we want to pick up the “joy” coin, then we also pick up the “misery” coin. You can’t choose to only pick up the “heads” side of a coin. It seems like it would be nice, but it’s not possible.

So, there are times in this life when we go through Misery–not because we have sinned, not even because others have sinned, but because enduring misery is a part of receiving a fulness of joy.

What do these connections mean for you and me?

I love understanding the connections between misery and joy because it helps me to be able to endure difficulty.

Recently I have been going through a kind of depression. I’m fairly certain that it has been caused by fluctuating hormones (I had a hysterectomy a little over a year ago) plus other little “issues” that I hadn’t really resolved in my life. No matter the cause, the fact is, I have been more prone to feeling “down in the dumps” lately.

This is not really who I am. I feel like I’ve always been a very happy person. Even though I’ve been a little depressed lately, I still feel like I’m a happy person, overall. But I, like everyone else, still struggle. I don’t like struggling, but there’s a way to endure: knowledge, perspective, and gratitude.

I have a very dear friend in my life–Spunky. We became friends when we were teenagers. She is the most vivacious, fun, and life-loving person I have ever known. She has always embraced life with everything she has. Her love of life can be exhausting at times, but it is also contagious, and you are always having a good time when you’re with her. These qualities attracted me to her as a youth. I still look up to her example now.

Spunky would have her fair share of hard days, don’t get me wrong. She was diagnosed bi-polar as a teenager. This was like 20 years ago–long before being bi-polar was popular and/or acceptable. My point is, Spunky wasn’t vivacious because she was ignorant or unaware of hard days. She had her fair share of really difficult times in life.

Yet, even during her trying, depressing times, she would admit, “Life sucks, but I love it.” She didn’t mean this in a sarcastic tone. She honestly meant that even though she wasn’t happy with life at the moment, she still loved it. She didn’t love life in spite of it sucking or despite it sucking. Instead, she had learned to embrace the sucky days, too. They were a reminder that she was alive, that she had a life. She was grateful for the core of her own life–even if it meant she had a bad day or two. She seemed to understand that the ups and downs are equally valuable; that they are inseparably connected; that they are all good because they amount to this gift called life.

I also love life. Sometimes I forget that I love life, and I let the doldrums or the trials of life get to me. Sometimes I get sad enough to forget the blessing it is to be sad and am tempted to think What is there to like about life when life is like this? Yet even misery is a blessing because it is connected to joy.

It can be hard to remember that our trials will bring us joy–especially as we are enduring them. Some of the trials that we endure don’t seem to have a silver lining. Sometimes it is hard to understand how we will grow from a trial. Sometimes it is hard to have faith and put mind over matter during these times of intense suffering.

To get through the most difficult times, I think that we have to come to understand the connections that Lehi teaches. We must learn from our past experiences–where we suffered then felt joy. We need to trust that the pattern we have experienced in life will repeat itself, and that we will feel happy as we faithfully follow Christ. Not only must we learn from our past experiences, but we need to remember what we have learned–read journals, post inspirational quotes around the house, frame pictures taken of accomplishments that you have completed after a time of trial and suffering (Graduation, marathon, brand new baby). Keeping these thoughts in the forefronts of our minds will help us to trust God and in His perspective–that though we experience exquisite misery we will at one point experience exquisite joy. (See Alma 36:20-21.)

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What impresses you about these connections? What do they teach you about joy and thanksgiving? What do you do to choose joy and thanksgiving in your life?

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Check out more thoughts on the connections between Righteousness, Joy, Sin, and Misery here.

Joy and Thanksgiving Scripture Study Series

A few years ago, I created my first ever Scripture Study Series – about Joy and Thanksgiving.

Study along with me!
Study along with me!

I’ve been thinking about both joy and thanksgiving a lot lately. Of course, this is the season to think of gratitude and giving thanks. (I love this time of year). Additionally, joy and happiness have felt elusive to me lately. I feel snatches of happiness, then there are times when I feel a bit depressed. It is the perfect time for me to remember that happiness is a choice and that through the scriptures I can be instructed on how to choose joy and gratitude.

So, I’m going to complete this scripture study series again. You can download all of the assignments here:

I will be blogging some of my own thoughts throughout the next two weeks. If you start this Scripture Study Series tomorrow, then it will be done by Thanksgiving!

I hope you enjoy it!

Joy and Thanksgiving: Connection – Joy and Thanksgiving!

Well, today is the last day of the Joy and Thanksgiving Study Series. I hope that you have enjoyed it. I have! It has been great to learn more about the true meaning of happiness, how to find it, and how it is related to gratitude. Studying these scriptures has inspired me to make positive changes so I can be happier.

Anyways…today’s scripture block is a connection – between Joy and Thanksgiving.

“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.” – 3 Nephi 10:10

Okay…so the first part of this scripture assignment doesn’t seem very joyful, but I think that one of the biggest things I’ve been noticing about happiness is it’s relationship with pain. Sounds strange, I know, but happiness and misery, joy and pain, are related. They are related – especially in this life – as they are in opposition one to another.

My friend, “Curls” made the best observation…“I think for me the most important thing I’ve learned about happiness is that it is NOT constant. Because happiness comes from God and we are not yet in perfect unity with Him there will be times (sometimes short and sometimes long) where we don’t feel happy or joyful. These times are usually when I have the opportunity to experience serious growth since they try my character and my faith.

I think another important thing I’ve learned is that the world expects happiness ALL the time. So if something doesn’t make you happy constantly then you should let go of it and try something else. I think this is one of the selfish roots of the many problems of our day, divorce, broken families, entitlement, greed, etc.

And finally the scripture in 2 Nephi 2:11 stating that there is opposition in all things. No happiness without misery as they are a compound in one.” Don’t you think that’s great! I love this concept…

Once, I was teaching a class to a group of Young Women, and one of the girls asked me if God is happy. That question still comes to me all the time – is He happy? Will we be happy?

And, I think that the answer is YES! It doesn’t mean that he’s happy in the way the world has taught us to be happy. But He’s really happy. Does this mean that misery does not exist? No. He is perfect though, and as God, he is above sin and everything that misery causes.

So, as we learn to be like Him, we overcome the pains of misery. And, as taught in 3 Nephi 10:10, our overcoming misery and the pains of mortality is through Jesus Christ.

Jesus heals our broken hearts. He brings peace to our souls. He will turn our mourning into joy and our lamentations into thanksgiving. And here’s how it can be done…

“If thou art sorrowful, call on the Lord thy God with supplication, that your souls may be joyful.” – Doctrine and Covenants 136:29

I have to admit, I don’t do this enough. Often, I go through, suffering pain or affliction, worrying, moping, whatever – I do this on my own. I don’t always call on God with supplication. Instead, I think that either 1) I have to suffer or 2) I have to figure it out on my own. or 3) I’m just crazy.

No!

The Lord wants to help our souls to be joyful. We need to turn to Him.

And when we do, our souls are joyful. We are happy, and this is how we should respond to such a blessing:

“If thou art merry, praise the Lord with singing, with music, with dancing, and with a prayer of praise and thanksgiving” – Doctrine and Covenants 136:28

We give thanks.

One thing I love about this scripture is that we give thanks through creative expression. We give thanks with praise and singing, music, dancing, and prayer! (Prayer – to supplicate the father; Prayer – to thank the father!)…so much prayer!

One thing I’ve noticed, when I’m taking the time to be grateful, I’m more aware of the world around me. I’m not taking it for granted. I’m listening better, observing more clearly. And, when I’m doing this, it is impossible not to be grateful – even for the ugly things. For it is the ugly things that make the beautiful things even more amazing.

So…be happy; be grateful. Be grateful; be happy!

I hope you have a good Thanksgiving. I have really enjoyed doing this scripture study series. I have learned a lot about thanksgiving and happiness. I’m grateful for the love I experience, daily, from my Heavenly Father. I’m grateful for the mercy and blessings He gives me.

What are you grateful for? What are some of the lessons you’ve learned as you’ve studied Joy and Thanksgiving?

Joy and Thanksgiving – Gratitude: Words from a Living Prophet

So, today, we are reading the talk by President Monson: The Divine Gift of Gratitude. It is so good!

I love what we learn about gratitude from this talk. It is the perfect thing to read at Thanksgiving – or any time of year.

This last two weeks, we’ve been studying Joy and Thanksgiving. As I put this study series together, I kind of separated the two concepts, but I knew that they weren’t separate. I love this talk because it clearly teaches how the two principles are related.

President Monson teaches:

“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.”

This is the secret – the link between gratitude and happiness. When we are grateful, we “unlock the doors of heaven.” We “feel God’s love.” We have established that God’s love is the fruit of the tree of life – that it is happiness; it is joy.

Heavenly Father loves us – whether or not we recognize and accept His love. However, when we are grateful, we can feel more of our Father’s love and joy in our lives. A grateful heart becomes a happy heart.

Now, President Monson doesn’t give this talk with the expectation that we’ll be blissfully ignorant of the problems around us. We just ned to recognize the good – amongst the troubling. We need to choose to see the beautiful rose among the thorns. He states,

“This is a wonderful time to be on earth. While there is much that is wrong in the world today, there are many things that are right and good. There are marriages that make it, parents who love their children and sacrifice for them, friends who care about us and help us, teachers who teach. Our lives are blessed in countless ways.

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. If ingratitude be numbered among the serious sins, then gratitude takes its place among the noblest of virtues. Someone has said that ‘gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.’”

It is so easy to focus on what is negative in the world around us, and all of this negativity can drown out the positive. It can wear on our souls.

I know that when I pay too much attention to “the news” I begin to feel depressed – as if there is no solution to the ailments of society. I forget the blessings we have – that I have. I forget that temples dot the earth; that there are amazing people working hard and serving others. I forget that I have been blessed abundantly.

I think that gratitude is being aware – of the difficulties we have while celebrating the blessings that God has give us to face them. Gratitude is acceptance of God’s will – no matter what that is for us. Gratitude is not a state of blind faith or pretended happiness. A grateful heart is a broken one. And when our hearts are broken, they can then be filled with God’s love..

There are times when I am not great at being grateful – or showing my appreciation to others. This last year, both my piano teacher and my brother have passed away. There are times when I have wished I could have done more to show each of them that I appreciate them. I feel especially haunted by the idea that I never was open with my brother. President Monson speaks on this, saying:

“”The loss of loved ones almost inevitably brings some regrets to our hearts. Let’s minimize such feelings as much as humanly possible by frequently expressing our love and gratitude to them. We never know how soon it will be too late.”

President Monson gave this talk in October 2010. A few weeks before my brother’s 18th birthday; eight months before his passing. And the prophet’s words ring true to me – especially now. The loss of Sean has brought regret to my heart. And I know that I could have minimized these feelings by being more open with my love and gratitude for all of my siblings and family members.

I know this, yet, it is hard to change. I get stuck in the little doldrums of life, forgetting the divine miracles I witness all the time. I get annoyed by little habits and foibles of others, forgetting that this is a temporary life, and I will miss them – foibles and all.

Gratitude – it is the key to joy; and the key to minimized regret.

Finally, President Monson teaches us how to obtain a grateful heart.

“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. Often we feel grateful and intend to express our thanks but forget to do so or just don’t get around to it. Someone has said that “feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.’”

So – here’s the remedy…we get a grateful heart through expressing gratitude – to our Heavenly Father and to those around us. I’m actually grateful to know that such a heart requires a conscious effort.

I feel like I’m a somewhat grateful person. I mean, I say my prayers. I know that my life is really great. I have been very richly blessed. But I don’t know that am as grateful as I ought to be. I don’t know if my siblings know how grateful I am for them. I don’t know if my parents know how much I love them and thank them for their examples, sacrifices, and raising me. I don’t know if my husband knows that I’m thankful that he works tirelessly at a job that he’s not thrilled about – so I can be at home to raise my kids.

Sometimes, I selfishly look inward. I only think of the fights I’ve had with my brothers and sisters. I think of the mistakes my parents made, and how those mistakes have effected me for years. I selfishly think that my husband doesn’t understand the sacrifice I make – while he’s out with other people, improving his own life, and contributing to our family in an obvious and important way. These thoughts! ACK! I don’t even like typing them. They are so depressing. It is amazing – how gratitude changes it all…

So, I’m going to make a goal – to be more grateful. And this is a conscious effort. I’ve heard of gratitude journals. Maybe that’s the way to go. What do you do to be grateful?

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For tomorrow’s Joy and Thanksgiving assignment, click here.