GCBC Week 19: The Divine Gift of Gratitude

This week we will study President Monson’s general conference talk,

“The Divine Gift of Gratitude”
by President Thomas S. Monson

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to discuss with an aunt her recent trip to Ghana to pick up her missionary son.  We talked about how amazing it is that people who have so little, and who spend their days solely in matters of sustenance– food, water, provisions, are so kind and vibrant and happy and generous.  It didn’t take long to turn our conversation to the sad reality of how blessed we are and how often we take our blessings for granted.  In short, when we have so much to be happy about, we are often ungrateful.

“My brothers and sisters, to express gratitude is gracious and honorable, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live with gratitude ever in our hearts is to touch heaven.”

What did you learn and/or understand better from President Monson’s talk?  What did you feel like it encouraged you to do?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

(If this is your first time to General Conference Book Club, click here to learn more about it.)

Why Thanksgiving feels good

“A grateful heart is a beginning of greatness. It is an expression of humility. It is a foundation for the development of such virtues as prayer, faith, courage, contentment, happiness, love, and well-being.  . . . As with all commandments, gratitude is a description of a successful mode of living. The thankful heart opens our eyes to a multitude of blessings that continually surround us.”  ~James E. Faust

Have a wonderful day as you take inventory of all your blessings.  After all, it’s the first day of new greatness.  (And there’s pie of course, which counts for at least half of the greatness.)

The rest of the stories…

In the last month or so, there have been a few items that I’ve thrown out there for your advice and input, so I wanted to let you know how it’s all turned out.

1.  Appliances. Remember you all had 1,000 different opinions about the must-have items and features in my up-and-coming appliance collection?  Well, today is delivery day and I am so excited.  I rented appliances for almost a month– partially to give myself time to pick out what I wanted, and partially because I was afraid all this short-sale title-transfer business at the new house might not work itself out and we’d find ourselves out on the street with our brand-new appliances.  (We’ve been paying rent in the meantime, but the title was finally all cleared and we now have an official closing date to own the house.)  Anyway, go here if you even care about the final purchases.  I started to post it all, but then I felt dumb because it might come across as bragging or something  (Hey, wow, look at my awesome new fridge!), but I thought some of you might be curious about what I finally decided.  If I did not buy your very favorite item in the whole world, I hope you’ll forgive me.  I do have a budget, you know.

2.  Grant’s school. I had to channel the “mother lion” inside of me so I could hold my ground when I met with Grant’s principal and teacher. The kid is a year ahead of their curriculum and it has been a struggle to figure out what’s going to help him have a good learning experience.  My biggest fear is that he would become lazy and lose the attitude that he has to work and try when he goes to school.  We ended up with 3 options: clearance from the principal to (1) move him into another classroom with a teacher who’s much more equipped for “enrichment” or (2) have him tested to skip a grade, which he’d probably pass, but I’m just not sure about it, OR (3) put him in a brand-new charter school that just opened last week, but it feels kind of like a gamble because there’s no history or reputation to rely on.  We discussed all our options with Grant and let him pray about it. He chose to go to the charter school and started there on Monday. I’m still pretty nervous about it all, since the school is so new and still seems pretty unorganized. When I expressed my apprehension, he got frustrated with me: “Mom, God said (the charter school) will be fine.”  I figure that I need to let it play itself out, if for no other reason, to let him know we honor the answers he gets to his prayers.  Hopefully it will all work out okay. I guess the worse case scenario is he could learn nothing new this year, but then he’d at least be on schedule again for 3rd grade. Maybe. 🙂  By the way, I left Clark in his first grade class where he already was because he has a good teacher and seems to be doing well.

3.  The move in general. It’s gone much better than I feared.  Our neighborhood is nice, the neighbors are kind, the views out my windows are lovely, and the gospel is still true and all.  Things like Facebook and the phone have let me stay in touch with people I love and miss, and I’m beginning to feel more confident that I’ll be able to form some new friendships here.  The Lord has blessed us so much through this transition that I keep looking over my shoulder waiting for something terrible to happen, but I need to let it go and just be grateful.  This past weekend, we were able to attend a Regional Conference where Sister Beck, Elder Holland, and President Packer all spoke.  You can’t complain about opportunities like that.  (By the way, Sister Beck basically told young moms to stop spending so much time on the computer and to turn our attention to our children.  She reminded us –who am I kidding?  She reminded me— that the computer is simply a tool, just like a dishwasher or washing machine, and should not be a distraction.  It was one of those aha! moments for me– rebuking enough to be a little uncomfortable, but encouraging enough that I felt inspired by the counsel.)  Anyway, life is good at the moment and we’re starting to fall into routines and feel comfortable on our new journey.  There’s been stress, yes, but I know we’ve been blessed.

It is human nature, I suppose, to seek elsewhere for our happiness. Pursuit of career goals, wealth, and material rewards can cloud our perspective and often leads to a lack of appreciation for the bounteous blessings of our present circumstances. It is precarious to dwell on why we have not been given more. It is, however, beneficial and humbling to dwell on why we have been given so much. An old proverb states, “The greater wealth is contentment with a little.”

In his letter to the Philippians, Paul wrote, “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content” (Philip. 4:11).

Alma instructed his son Helaman, giving him counsel that all fathers should teach their children: “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” (Alma 37:37). Alma says, “Let thy heart be full of thanks unto God.” The Lord desires that we give thanks. In Thessalonians we read, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thes. 5:18).

… We should constantly strive to increase our gratitude. Gratitude may be increased by constantly reflecting on our blessings and giving thanks for them in our daily prayers.”  ~Steven E. Snow, “Gratitude,” Liahona, Jan 2002, 49–51

Happy Thanksgiving (How’s that for an original title?)

Have a great Thanksgiving, everyone.  I’m signing off for the week in favor of housecleaning and food preparation  (I realize that this should be a regular habit, but this week it seems more pressing).  Enjoy down time with your families and loved ones.  Among many things, I’m grateful for the community of like-minded friends I’ve found through blogging (especially those of you I know in real life who tolerate my blogging), and wish you all a week of peace, love, good food and good company.

Here are some quotes I’ve collected this week about gratitude.  It’s overwhelming to think how blessed we truly are.

” 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.” — Thomas S. Monson

“He who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious”. — Doctrine and Covenants 78:19

“A grateful heart is a beginning of greatness. It is an expression of humility. It is a foundation for the development of such virtues as prayer, faith, courage, contentment, happiness, love, and well-being.” — James E. Faust

“Gratitude is a mark of a noble soul and a refined character. We like to be around those who are grateful. They tend to brighten all around them. They make others feel better about themselves. They tend to be more humble, more joyful, more likable.” — Joseph B. Wirthlin

“Mercies and blessings come in different forms–sometimes as hard things. Yet the Lord said, ‘Thou shalt thank the Lord thy God in all things’ (D&C 59:7). All things means just that: good things, difficult things–not just some things. He has commanded us to be grateful because He knows being grateful will make us happy. This is another evidence of His love.” –Bonnie D. Parkin

“A happy home is but an earlier heaven. President George Albert Smith asked, ‘Do we want our homes to be happy? If we do, let them be the abiding place of prayer, thanksgiving and gratitude.’” –Thomas S. Monson

If you haven’t seen this yet, it’s a must see:

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Congrats to Lara, who won the FHE Adventures giveaway!  If you didn’t win a copy, but would still like to get one, you can order here.

The rescuing power of gratitude

“Mercies and blessings come in different forms–sometimes as hard things. Yet the Lord said, ‘Thou shalt thank the Lord thy God in all things’ (D&C 59:7). All things means just that: good things, difficult things–not just some things. He has commanded us to be grateful because He knows being grateful will make us happy. This is another evidence of His love.”  –Bonnie D. Parkin, “Gratitude: A Path to Happiness,” Ensign, May 2007, 35

I have a problem where I internalize news stories a little too much and get so disturbed that I almost lose my faith in humanity.  (I know, I know, stop reading the news!)  Last night, I went to bed after reading a news item that gnawed at my guts.  Even though it was late and I was very tired, I couldn’t sleep because I couldn’t get it out of my mind.  I felt sad and shocked and discouraged and horrible sympathy and a little anger and, basically, I felt heavy and sick to my stomach.  As I lay there feeling gross, this thought popped into my mind:  Count your blessings.

So I did.  I began deliberately focusing on gratitude— for Matt’s job, our home, warmth, a roof, three sleeping children, good health, the list went on . . .

This exercise literally began to heal me.  I felt a warmth come over me, a sense of peace and well-being, and a little insight into Heavenly Father’s acute awareness of me and people in the news.  And even though I couldn’t make sense of it, I knew it was all okay, and He is in charge, and people are cared for in ways we don’t see or expect or even understand.  My whole body and mind relaxed, and I was able to drift off to sleep.

When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done. . . .

So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

What better time than the week of Thanskgiving to reflect on all we’ve been given?  And it’s always a good time to be healed, rescued, and made glad.

(If you haven’t entered in the Adventures with FHE giveaway, there’s still time until Sunday night.)