Sunday, November 30, 2008

my heart is full

1. I am grateful for the exercise (some days more than others) of forcing myself to reflect on my day and my life and take notice of the blessings that I have been given.
2. I am grateful that the snow held off falling until after Thanksgiving.
3. I am grateful for the knowledge that I can pray and receive answers to my prayers.

"One of the things we can give at Christmas time, that no one else can give, is our thanks...
"Even though events and circumstances in the world at times become discouraging, our task, not alone in the Christmas season but always, is to be of good cheer. The Lord so often counsels us to have cheerfulness in our lives.
"And now, verily I say unto you, and what I say unto one I say unto all, be of good cheer, little children; for I am in your midst, and I have not forsaken you." (D&C 61:36)
"Wherefore, be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you; and ye shall bear record of me, even Jesus Christ, that I am the Son of the living God, that I was, that I am, and that I am to come." (D&C 68:6)
"The Lord will be in our midst, he will be with us and stand by us and lead us."
-Spencer W. Kimball, "A Gift of Gratitude," Tambuli, Dec 1977

"Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name."
1 Chronicles 29:13

Saturday, November 29, 2008

blessed peace to cheer us

1. I am grateful to have my laptop back. My brother has had it this week doing some much needed maintenance and clean-up (another thing I am most grateful for) and today has been my first real chance to be back on. I love the convenience of a laptop and also having access to all my files.
2. I am grateful that we set up the Christmas tree today. We did help a little with the main family tree upstairs, but we also set up "our" tree downstairs, and I was thrilled to discover that when we packed the tree away last year we has left the lights strung on (something I forgot we did) so that our set-up was a breeze.
3. I am grateful for the happy sounds of a house full of family, but also for the restful quiet that occurs when all the cute children depart.

"We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude."
-Cynthia Ozick

Friday, November 28, 2008

from the beginning the fight we were winning

1. I am grateful for a refrigerator full of delicious leftovers.
2. I am grateful that yesterday was the perfect combination of prepping, cooking, cleaning, playing, hugging, eating, cleaning, napping, laughing, talking, and loving.
3. I am grateful for optimism.

"And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him."
Colossians 3:17

"You could have an experience with the gift of the Holy Ghost today. You could begin a private prayer with thanks. You could start to count your blessings, and then pause for a moment. If you exercise faith, and with the gift of the Holy Ghost, you will find that memories of other blessings will flood into your mind. If you begin to express gratitude for each of them, your prayer may take a little longer than usual. Remembrance will come. And so will gratitude."
-Henry B. Eyring, "Remembrance and Gratitude," Ensign, Nov. 1989

Thursday, November 27, 2008

feed thou our souls, fill thou our hearts

1. I am grateful for a really restful sleep with delightful dreams.
2. I am grateful that have many happy memories to reflect on and think about in quiet moments.
3. I am grateful for a life of abundance--I am generally healthy; I live in a free county; I have a stable and supportive family; I feel loved by many people; I am married to someone who loves me and is kind to me (and I am just head over heels for him, too); I live in a nice home with comfortable furniture; I have reliable cars to drive; I have a kitchen and pantry stocked with food; I have friends who make me laugh and remind me of the good things in life; I have an active imagination and can find the good in bad situations; I have a good education and a job that is secure; I feel safe; I enjoy the freedom to worship according to the dictates of my conscience; I have easy access to modern medicine and good health care; I have access to the medical knowledge of a timeless civilization and a husband who is not afraid to use it; I have been taught by people who love me and want the best for me; I feel my Savior's love; I am the recipient of countless acts of service; I know who I am and what my potential is; I have a closet full of clothes (even though on most mornings I complain that I have nothing to wear); I have planned and lived well so that even in uncertain economic times I can be optimistic and confident in our ability to make it through; I have been given more than I can use and so am able to give to others. Truly, my cup runneth over.

"So once in every year we throng
Upon a day apart,
To praise the Lord with feast and song
In thankfulness of heart."
-Arthur Guiterman, The First Thanksgiving

"Thanksgiving is the holiday of peace, the celebration of work and the simple life... a true folk-festival that speaks the poetry of the turn of the seasons, the beauty of seedtime and harvest, the ripe product of the year - and the deep, deep connection of all these things with God."
-Ray Stannard Baker

And this one isn't specifically gratitude related, but I love it and am grateful for my own testimony that God lives and that He loves me.

"I bear testimony that God lives. His love is infinite and eternal. It extends to all of His children. Because He loves us, He has provided prophets and apostles to guide us in our time. He has given us the Holy Ghost, who teaches, comforts, and inspires. He has given us His scriptures. And I am grateful beyond description that He has given to each of us a heart capable of experiencing the pure love of Christ. I pray that our hearts may be filled with that love and that we may reach out to our Heavenly Father and to others with new vision and new faith. I testify that as we do so, we will discover a greater richness in life."Joseph B Wirthlin, "The Great Commandment," Ensign, Nov. 2007

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

god, our maker, doth provide

1. I am grateful for the comfort of being surrounded by family--people who love me no matter what I do and understand me even without my having to explain.
2. I am grateful for Thai food (not from Taiwan, but from Thailand, although I also enjoy the Taiwanese food) and a restaurant that is close to my office for the days when a bowl of curry is just what will hit the spot. I am also grateful for their generous portions so there is more than enough leftover for lunch another day this weekend (just in case the turkey runs out.)
3. I am grateful for drive-throughs. I am the frequent user of the drive-through at my local library (where you can let them know in advance what books or movies you want and then just go to the drive-through window and they will hand them to you) and today I started using the drive-through at my local pharmacy as well. As a bonus, because I filled three prescriptions I got a coupon for $.30 off each gallon of gas and so was able to fill up my tank and pay only $1.25 per gallon. Happy early Thanksgiving.

"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."
Mosiah 24:22

"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. President J. Reuben Clark, formerly a First Counselor in the First Presidency, said: "Hold fast to the blessings which God has provided for you. Yours is not the task to gain them, they are here; yours is the part of cherishing them" (Church News, 14 June 1969, 2)."
-James E. Faust, "Gratitude As a Saving Principle," Ensign, Dec 1996

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

praises we offer with voices and hearts

1. I am grateful for homemade bread toast with honey.
2. I am grateful for coupons so that getting lunch or dinner is much less expensive.
3. I am grateful for Christmas cards (yes, we received our first one this week) from friends in far away places. I'm not the best at keeping in touch with people, even when I like them a lot, and it's good to know that at least once a year I will get an update on my friends (and their families).

"We need to be more grateful. I think there's no true character without gratitude. It's one of the marks of a real strong character, to have a feeling of thanksgiving and gratitude for blessings that are ours. We need more of that spirit in our homes, in our daily associations, in church, everywhere. It doesn't cost anything. It's so easy to cultivate the spirit of appreciation and gratitude."
-Ezra Taft Benson, "Receive All Things with Thankfulness," New Era, Nov 1976

"Thanksgiving comes to us out of the prehistoric dimness, universal to all ages and all faiths. At whatever straws we must grasp, there is always a time for gratitude and new beginnings."
-J. Robert Moskin

Monday, November 24, 2008

there is hope smiling brightly before us

I was sitting in my office on this perfectly ordinary Monday when I started smelling a very familiar smell. Oranges. Someone around me was eating an orange and I suddenly wanted one. Christmas season* means orange season. Means an orange in the toe of my stocking. Means oranges and nuts (in shell, with nutcracker) in a bowl on the kitchen counter. Means me sitting forlornly at the counter hoping someone will peel an orange for me. Because oranges, like bananas, are yummy fruit encased in peels that I hate touching. Luckily, in this little mental trip I took from the orange smell to wanting to eat an orange, I very quickly remembered that in all the time I have known him, Somebody has never refused to peel an orange for me if he knew I wanted one.

1. And so today I am grateful that something so ordinary—the smell of an orange—immediately reminded me of something so extraordinary—the love and service I receive every day, in very ordinary ways, from Somebody

2. I am grateful for an iPod to drown out the "office" noises around me.

3. I am grateful that this Thanksgiving week will bring my brother (tomorrow!) and my sister (Wednesday!) and my other brother (Thursday!) to my house to celebrate. The only way this party could get better was if my other sister was coming, too. I am grateful that, at least, I get to spend Christmas with her.

Robert Louis Stevenson, who wrote, "The man who forgets to be thankful has fallen asleep in life" (Quotationary, electronic quotation dictionary).

*And I know (I KNOW) it is not even Thanksgiving yet, so I'm kind of jumping the gun here calling it Christmas season. But there were oranges, people! Oranges!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

may we sleep and wake in joy

1. I am grateful for Somebody, who is celebrating his birthday today by helping my niece with her homework and helping my dad puree pumpkin.
2. I am grateful for the variety of card/board games that my family has accumulated over the years and for a family that loves to play games together.
3. I am grateful that Somebody knows my food preferences enough that when he is looking through cookbooks or food magazines he can identify recipes that I will like and point them out to me.

"Thus, my brothers and sisters, there is so much to be grateful for. I give my thanks to our Heavenly Father and to all of you. This is a time when we ponder our blessings and when we also prepare for the new year, for which we should make new resolves and set new personal goals. This partial inventory of our collective blessings should help us to be ever more grateful and ever more determined. Please do the same within your families. Count your blessings, and express your gratitude to your eternal partners, to your children, and to your parents for all that they do."
-Spencer W. Kimball, "A Gift of Gratitude," Liahona, Dec 1977

Saturday, November 22, 2008

with no good evidence

1. I am grateful for a Saturday full of friends and fun.
2. I am grateful that I decided to not attend the football party because our alternative activity was much more restful.
3. I am grateful for E.D Smith's Black Cherry Raspberry Blood Orange fruit preserves. I love this flavor combination because it is more tart than sweet. "We can live in thanksgiving daily by opening our arms to those around us. When was the last time you told someone you love how much they mean to you? When was the last time you expressed your gratitude to someone who has always been there for you, someone who has sacrificed for you, someone whose heart has always been filled with hopes and dreams for you?

"When was the last time you unselfishly reached out to help another in need? Every time we cheer another's heart, every time we ease another's burden, every time we lift a weary hand, we show our gratitude to that God to whom we owe all that we have and all that we are.

"Choice blessings await those who live in thanksgiving daily. "He who receiveth all things with thankfulness," the Lord has promised, "shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold, yea, more" (D&C 78:19).

"Don't wait to start. Open your eyes, open your hearts, and open your arms. I promise that as you do so, you will feel greater joy and happiness. Your life will have a new level of meaning. You will forge relationships that will transcend this life and endure through the eternities."
-Joseph B. Wirthlin, "'Live in Thanksgiving Daily'," Ensign, Sep 2001

Friday, November 21, 2008

how quickly the wide open narrows

This week is busier than normal. It’s probably just the typical pre-holiday rush of activities and assignments, but I’ve felt deadlines loom in every area of my life this week (and for the rest of this, we are just going to leave work aside because I’m a master at leaving my work assignments at work and not trying to get them done on “my” time). I sent Somebody a list of things that I needed to get done and there was definitely more than I could accomplish in the short time I have at home each evening. Even with the list I somehow started missing commitments. One night this week I agreed to accompany Somebody on an errand and completely forgot that my visiting teachers were scheduled to visit. Luckily, my mom was home and they were able to visit with her for a while, but I felt guilty that they had driven 20 minutes across town and I had completely spaced the appointment. Last night was supposed to be spent with a couple of friends finishing a craft project that I started in August. We cancelled the plans at the last minute because of the sickness that has invaded both their homes, and suddenly I had extra hours to get some of my tasks done.

First up was to make a dessert for a meeting I have tonight. I stood in the pantry for ten minutes looking at the boxes of cake mixes (all six of them) and trying to think of something I could do with them other than just make a cake. And then I turned to for some inspiration. Half an hour later I still hadn’t found anything I felt like making and so moved on to the next project. (If you’re keeping track, that was almost 45 minutes wasted. A cake could have been mixed and baked in the time I spent NOT making up my mind.) I was hoping to write the next section of our story (which is kind of turning out to be the longest lead up to a first date in history) but was delayed because I needed some information that I knew I had written on an index card. I just needed to find the card. Sadly, it is somewhere in a storage room filled with 23 boxes from our previous life. I looked through every box that made sense to me and that I could reach, even climbing over chairs and tables to get to harder to reach areas. For an index card. A blue index card with information I felt like I just had to have. An index card hidden in boxes of books, clothing, kitchen items, and other randomness that we never unpacked. What are the chances that it is going to turn up any time soon? I did, however, find the lost bag of t-shirts that I was looking for last week (Russ—I found your shirts!) and so that hour of the evening was not a total loss.

In the end, I accomplished only one of the tasks that needed to be done last night. No dessert was baked. No story was written. No coat was purchased. No photos were edited. I was feeling discouraged and slightly overwhelmed when Somebody came home from class. I knew that I was ignoring him and not responding to his stories and not engaging him in conversation. At one point when I was still getting ready for bed and he had already finished, he was just hanging around waiting for me to be done (he does this often—he calls it “wanting to be with me” and because I’m a cold-hearted snake I call it “being smothered”) and I turned to him and said, “You know, you don’t have to wait in here for me.” “I know,” he replied, “that’s what makes me so nice.”

For those of you who are not fans of Wicked!, you might have missed the humor there, especially considering that part of his story I was ignoring earlier involved how he was listening to the Wicked! soundtrack with the volume turned all the way up on the drive home from class. And, quite honestly, that is what makes him so nice. He is willing to wait around until I get my stuff in order personally and can finally focus on the people around me who might need me. Later he said, “I just need you to pay some attention to me.” After my heart broke into a million pieces and I smacked myself for being so selfish I finally focused my attention where it belonged. It’s not going to matter that I’m going to show up tonight with a store-bought dessert (note to self—go to store and buy dessert) and doing so doesn’t make me less of a baker or less of a woman. And it isn’t going to matter to anyone but me if the story I wanted to tell isn’t going to be finished in time for Somebody’s birthday. I can wait another week for a coat. And those photos are still going to be there when I get back to them next week.

What cannot wait, and what shouldn’t wait, is for me to take the time to make sure that Somebody knows that when he needs my attention, he can have it. When he needs me to be there for him, I will be there. No matter how busy my week might be, I need to learn to put my family before own interests. I am so lucky that Somebody is willing to tell me that he needs me, because if I was allowed to move along without interruption it might be days (weeks!) before my list of things to do eases up enough to finally turn around to see how he is doing. And who knows what I would have missed, and what I would have hurt, in all that time. It would not be too much of a stretch to say I spent the entire decade of my twenties waiting to be needed like that. It would be a shame to throw all that love away because of a cake and a coat.

1. I am grateful that I have family and friends who are patient with me through my weaknesses and are willing to point out the times I am moving in a direction they know I will regret.
2. I am grateful for honest answers (especially to hard questions.)
3. I am grateful for flannel sheets and heavy blankets that restrict my nighttime movements and allow my sleep to be more restful.
4. Also, as a bonus for Heidi, I’m grateful that the signs around town now look like this:

Although I took this picture yesterday and just now noticed that today the price has actually gone down to $1.56. It's like a Thanksgiving miracle.

"One thing I can tell you with certainty is this: You cannot predict happiness by the amount of money, fame, or power a person has. External conditions do not necessarily make a person happy. The Brethren who have had assignments in poorer countries report that despite the abject poverty, the people are very happy. The fact is that the external things so valued by the world are often the cause of a great deal of misery in the world.
"Those who live in thanksgiving daily, however, are usually among the world's happiest people. And they make others happy as well.
"Gratitude turns a meal into a feast and drudgery into delight. It softens our grief and heightens our pleasure. It turns the simple and common into the memorable and transcendent. It forges bonds of love and fosters loyalty and admiration.
"Living in thanksgiving daily is a habit that will enrich our lives and the lives of those we love."
-Joseph B. Wirthlin, "'Live in Thanksgiving Daily'," Ensign, Sep 2001

Thursday, November 20, 2008

there's the given and the expected

1. I am grateful for items that I can successfully cross of my “to do” list.
2. I am grateful for an earpiece so that I can listen in to conference calls and take notes without kinking my neck.
3. I am grateful for Cadbury Thins 100 calorie milk chocolate bars. I bought a couple of boxes of these when I was last in Canada (Dear U.S. What’s up with not carrying this deliciousness? Please get on that. And if Tim Hortons could come, too, that would be great.) and have enjoyed them ever since. I don’t always have a craving for the perfect chocolate/toffee treat (I’ve been leaning more towards French fries as my guilty pleasure these days) but each time these catch my eye I am delighted both by the taste and by my wonderful memories of Canada.
In every thing give thanks.
1 Thes. 5: 18

"Thanksgiving, after all, is a word of action."
-W.J. Cameron

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

like a pinprick to my heart

1. I am grateful for my mother. It's her birthday today and I hope it is wonderful for her. As the years go by I see so much of my mother in me and am happy that she passed along not only physical traits (although I really didn't get any of those—they all went to my lucky sisters) but her fun personality as well. Happy Birthday, Mom. My Mom. Rocking Motherhood since 1973.
2. I am grateful for the yummy smell of clean laundry.
3. I am grateful that Somebody is finally getting over his cold so that he will allow me to come within three feet of him.

"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' (in Conference Report, Apr. 1944, p. 32)."
-Thomas S. Monson, "Precious Children--A Gift from God," Ensign, Nov. 1991

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

i can sense a resting place

1. I am grateful for friends who come to visit and remind me of my fun and care-free college days. We reminisce and laugh and share and all is right with the world. Thanks, Partner.
2. I am grateful for new friends that I feel comfortable with so that when we arrive at their house I can say, "Can we have something to drink? And can I use your bathroom? Oh, you have a story to tell? How about you tell that after I use the bathroom." And they are just fine with my abrupt randomness.
3. I am grateful for the laughter of little children. I saw the children of two of my good friends tonight and in both homes there was much laughter and silliness.

"The grateful man sees so much in the world to be thankful for, and with him the good outweighs the evil. Love overpowers jealousy, and light drives darkness out of his life. Pride destroys our gratitude and sets up selfishness in its place. How much happier we are in the presence of a grateful and loving soul, and how careful we should be to cultivate, through the medium of a prayerful life, a thankful attitude toward God and man!"
-President Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. [1939]

Monday, November 17, 2008

i don't know if it was real or in a dream

1. I am grateful for restaurants that serve really yummy, warm bread while you are deciding on what to order. And then will bring you more when you ask for more.
2. I am grateful that there are some days when I decide to actually style my hair so that when I happen to see myself in the mirror I think it looks pretty. This is, sadly, a very rare occurrence these days.
3. I am grateful that last night (when we went on a tour of Liberty Jail) we were mistaken for a youth group.

“In the Book of Mormon we learn that we should "live in thanksgiving daily" (Alma 34:38). Isn't that a wonderful thought to live in thanksgiving daily? Can you imagine how your life would improve if you lived in thanksgiving daily? Can you imagine how your life would improve if others did the same? Do you think the world would be a happier place? less stressful? less angry? more spiritual?”
-Joseph B. Wirthlin, "'Live in Thanksgiving Daily'," Ensign, Sep 2001

Sunday, November 16, 2008

it's a strange way to show it

1. I am grateful that my mom and I can play Christmas duets on the piano. We may be only in the beginner book, but we have such fun playing together.
2. I am grateful for priesthood leaders who listen to my complaints and frustrations and do their best to make the situation right.
3. I am grateful for family game nights where there is a lot of laughter and no competition.

"It seems as though there is a tug-of-war between opposing character traits that leaves no voids in our souls. As gratitude is absent or disappears, rebellion often enters and fills the vacuum. I do not speak of rebellion against civil oppression. I refer to rebellion against moral cleanliness, beauty, decency, honesty, reverence, and respect for parental authority. 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 As a Saving Principle," Ensign, May 1990

Saturday, November 15, 2008

come here let me clip your wings

1. I am thankful for warm jackets to wear on cold days.
2. I am thankful for oppotunities to cook with friends.
3. I am thankful for homemade bread.

"And he who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold, yea, more."
Doctrine and Covenants 78:19

"... when we choose not to focus on what is missing from our lives but are grateful for the abundance that's present--love, health, family, friends, work, the joys of nature, and personal pursuits that bring us pleasure--the wasteland of illusion falls away and we experience heaven on earth."
-Sarah Ban Brethnach

Friday, November 14, 2008

the date that almost wasn’t

As many of you know, Somebody and I met at work. When I hired him. Because he was so good looking. Just kidding. Our courtship was short one but is a story that I haven’t really told. It began with a date that almost wasn’t.

When I was working at The BYU I coordinated many summer programs and also professional conferences. One of the professional conferences I was assigned to was a two-week conference where all of the 20 participants were coming from mainland China to study how to teach art education at the college level. They would take classes from BYU professors (mostly from the Dance Dept, English Dept, and Education Dept) during the day and then I made arrangements for them to attend cultural events (like dance, music, and stage performances) in the evening. My toughest assignment when making all the arrangements was securing native Mandarin Chinese speakers to serve as interpreters (none of the conference participant spoke English). The director of the program was adamant that the interpreters be native speakers and not just Mandarin-speaking-American returned missionaries. I finally located someone in the Chinese Department who could hook me up with some experienced interpreters and I was all set.

I remember the first week of the conference passed by in kind of a blur, and during that time I thought of Somebody only as “the interpreter.” Although, admittedly, by the end of the week he was more like, “the really good interpreter” and sometimes “the cute interpreter.” But, alas, “interpreter” nonetheless. (Actually, at the time I called him “the translator” but was later informed about the difference between the two words and so have chosen to use the correct word in this story.)

The Friday of the first week I took a “friend who also is a boy but maybe could be something more but right now just a friend and probably will always be just a friend but you never know” to the evening performance. Somebody was on interpreter duty that night and was sitting right next to us. He (or, if his version of the story is to be believed, one of the conference participants) clearly thought something was going on between me and my friend, but I didn’t hear about that until later.

Saturday I stayed home (hello, I totally deserved the day off) and Somebody and another interpreter went with the conference participants up to Park City to shop. They were also supposed to tour the Olympic Park, but let’s all be realistic about what they really wanted to do. The details of what was going on up there are fuzzy to me, but I remember having several phone calls with Somebody as he tried to corral the frenzied shoppers. I may have laughed at him. And I may have wished I was there with them (him).

Sunday I joined the group for a tour of Temple Square, a viewing of Legacy (with interpreter headsets), and dinner at a Chinese restaurant in SLC. The restaurant was a buffet and, besides playing the happy birthday song repeatedly, was one of the better buffets I’ve been to. One of their signature items was tiny little squids. Each one looked like a miniature—about an inch and a half tall—octopus with the round body and many tentacles. Delish. I’m still not sure exactly how it worked out that I was going to eat one, but somehow my willingness to eat one of these became an event that everyone had to watch. I raised the spoon to my mouth, almost put it back down, and then popped the whole thing in. After a few chews, and a half-hearted smile, everyone cheered and went back to eating their own food. After a few more chews my smile was less noticeable. Several chews later I was wondering how I could get this yuck out of my mouth. And I might have, if Somebody hadn’t been watching me. So I kept on chewing. And kept on. And kept on. This was my first experience with the Chinese food eating experience of “this will never feel like it is chewed enough, so after a respectable period of time you should just swallow.” No one had warned me about this. Finally I think Somebody said, “you can probably swallow it now.” And so I did. And there was no vomiting. What did happen, though, and I only know this because Somebody told me later, was that he, for the first time, took notice of me.

On Monday, Somebody came up to me during one of our lunches and asked if the boy who came with me on Friday was my boyfriend. “You know,” he said, “because one of the participants wants to know.” Oh, they did, did they? Riiiiiight. I said that he was just a friend and went about my merry way. Later that day I said to my office friends, “I think the cute interpreter likes me” and relayed the incident to them. “Of course he likes you,” they assured me. “Who wouldn’t?” Everyone should have friends like that.

Well, one thing led to another. Tuesday was Valentine’s Day and Somebody showed up to interpret first thing that morning and said to me, “I thought about bringing you a flower today for Valentine’s Day. But I didn’t.” Um, thanks? The director, who was standing nearby, pulled me out of the room to tell me that she thought he was flirting with me. And that I was flirting back! What the?

One of the days during that week he was interpreting for a modern dance teacher who decided to have the partipants do a little interpretive dancing. She was talking about how you can use movement to convey emotion or your memory of an experience. She did a little demonstration and then turned to Somebody. “Why don’t you show them?” she said. “Please do interpretive movement to show ‘mother’” (at least I think it was mother. That part is vague to me.) And he did! He paused for just a moment to stare at her, as if that really could not be a legitimate assignment, and then just did it. He just moved. Like it was no big deal to have to give an interpretive dance example. Although the thing in the room most moved at that moment was me. I don’t know that I have even been as impressed as I was at that moment.

Friday night was the final shebang of the conference and Somebody was not scheduled to attend (another interpreter was scheduled.) I was starting to be a little sad about that and wished that he could be there and so early Thursday morning I called and left a message on his phone asking if he would be willing to attend so that I would have a friend there. He called back and left a message that said, “Yeah, I guess I can go…because you say you need a friend there.” Almost three years later I still have that message saved on my phone because every time I hear it I remember how happy I was the first time I listened to it. I sat on the floor in the Conference Center and listened to it over and over and over.

Friday night we drove up to the dinner and dance performance separately from the rest of the group. Somebody was actually asked to do most of the interpreting (Honey, did I pay you for that? I totally did, right? I did.) because, well, obviously he was the best. And then during the dance performance there might have been some leaning. And then, on the way home, when we were on University, going past the mall, heading down the hill toward campus (basically, when the evening was five minutes from being over) he turned to me and said, “Would you like to go out to the movies with me tomorrow?”

To be continued…

these are not times for the weak of heart

Last night as I was driving home from work I was happy to be a spectator in a Kansas sunset extravaganza. Ahead of me the sky was the dark blues of impending night. Behind me the sky was still lit with the pinks, oranges, and salmon colors of the clouds hanging on to the last bit of day.

When I lived in Utah Valley, I complained (probably too often) about how the mountains blocked my view of the sky—especially the sunrise and sunsets. How could people live without seeing the horizon? During that time I was often frustrated by my lack of perspective, both literally in that the view was blocked by the mountains, and figuratively by my inability to see what the future held in store for me. Now that I'm in this new place, this new phase where I feel like I can see so much more and have so many more decisions spread before me, I look back at that point and am grateful that I was limited in the way I was. I thought I was ready to see it all, but now I can see that I needed the limitations so that I would be forced to grow in the way that the Lord wanted me to. He showed me just what I needed to see—no more and no less—in order for my actions to be focused on what was important at that time. The mountains that began as obstacles to my view became, over time, beautiful to me. I learned to live within my boundaries and appreciate the blessings of the moment. Now I sometimes look back at that time and wish for more restrictions, more ease, less responsibility. Hindsight, right?

So, last night, as I was watching the night deepen ahead of me and the sun dazzle behind me I was reminded that there are those special times when the Lord wants to show me everything. He does want me to know that there are no boundaries on my potential and that movement in either direction will lead to something that, although very different from the other option, can be beautiful. It’s my choice. I get to determine whether I want the deep blues or the vibrant reds. Today, while the sky is a troubled grey as a storm moves in, and my view in any direction seems dismal, I can take comfort in knowing that the colors are out there, somewhere, and that at the right moments (when I’m ready to see them) the Lord will remind that with His help I can see everything.

1. I am thankful for perspective and for my understanding of my divine potential.
2. I am thankful for the happy limitations that my life choices have brought. For example, I don’t get to choose anymore who I will marry because I already made that choice (and chose well) and am bound to it. And I don’t get to choose whether or not I will go to college because, again, that choice was already made.
3. I am thankful for my eyes and my ability to see colors, smiles, family, friends, nature, kindness, and everything else.

“It is delightfully easy to thank God for the grace we ourselves have received, but it requires great grace to thank God always for the grace given to others.”
-James Smith

“…The Roman orator Cicero claimed this quality was ‘not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others’ (Marcus Tullius Cicero, Pro Plancio, 54 b.c.). It is a quality I have found in every happy person I know. It is a quality that instantly makes a person more likable and more at peace. Where there is an abundance of this virtue, there is happiness. Where there is an absence of this virtue, there is often sadness, resentment, and futility. The virtue I am speaking of is gratitude.”
-Joseph B. Wirthlin, "'Live in Thanksgiving Daily'," Ensign, Sep 2001

Thursday, November 13, 2008

the bearer of unconditional things

Nov 13
1. I am thankful that my real life involves a lot less drama, a lot less bizarreness, a lot less scariness, and a lot fewer criminals than my dreams.
2. I am thankful for rooms that have been recently cleaned and look organized and welcoming.
3. I am thankful that sometimes when I ask Somebody his plans and he says, “do homework” and I say, “oh, well my plans involved a lot more vacuuming and movie watching” that sometimes he gives in to my plans (and somehow still does well in school.)

“Think to thank. In these three words is the finest capsule course for a happy marriage, a formula for enduring friendship, and a pattern for personal happiness.”-Thomas S. Monson, Pathways to Perfection [1973], 254

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

this pedestal is high and i'm afraid of heights

1. I am thankful that my mom never made any meals with curry while I was growing up so that when Somebody first cooked for me and made chicken curry I could be sufficiently blown away by its deliciousness.
2. I am thankful for a pantry full of food—I have never once worried that I wouldn’t have food to eat.
3. I am thankful for my humidifier. In Utah I used it every night because the air was so dry. I think I must have become accustomed to the noise of the machine because now I have a hard time sleeping without it on. Here in the Most Humid State I have no need right now for the additional humidity but I turn it on with an empty water tank so I can still have the noise. I like to think that the sound drowns out my snoring, but Somebody assures me that it doesn’t. Oh well. You can’t win them all.

“A bulletin of some years ago of the Royal Bank of Canada dealt with underprivileged people of the world: ‘It is difficult for [most] North Americans to understand the plight of people in underdeveloped countries, because [most of us] have never been hungry. No one dies here of starvation. Elsewhere more than 1,500 million people go to bed hungry every night. … The fact is that not more than one in a hundred of the people in underdeveloped countries will ever, in all his life, have what a North American family would consider a good, square meal.’

“Cultivate a spirit of thanksgiving for the blessing of life and for the marvelous gifts and privileges each of us enjoy. The Lord has said that the meek shall inherit the earth. (Matt. 5:5) I cannot escape the interpretation that meekness implies a spirit of gratitude as opposed to an attitude of self-sufficiency, an acknowledgment of a greater power beyond oneself, a recognition of God, and an acceptance of his commandments. This is the beginning of wisdom. Walk with gratitude before him who is the giver of life and every good gift.”
Gordon B. Hinckley, "'With All Thy Getting Get Understanding'," Ensign, Aug 1988

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

i've been wanting your undivided attention

1. I am thankful that when Somebody asks me how he can help (while I'm making dinner) and I respond that mostly I just want him to wash the dishes, he always agrees.
2. I am thankful for a laptop and wireless internet access.
3. I am thankful for hot showers and cold drinking water.

“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.”
-Ether 6:9

“Both abundance and lack [of abundance] exist simultaneously in our lives, as parallel realities. It is always our conscious choice which secret garden we will tend … when we choose not to focus on what is missing from our lives but are grateful for the abundance that's present—love, health, family, friends, work, the joys of nature, and personal pursuits that bring us [happiness]—the wasteland of illusion falls away and we experience heaven on earth.”
-Sarah Ban Breathnach, in John Cook, comp., The Book of Positive Quotations, 2nd ed. (2007), as quoted by Thomas S. Monson

Monday, November 10, 2008

all i really want is some patience

1. I am thankful for the option of working from home on days when I’m just not feeling well enough to go to the office.
2. I am thankful for Welch’s Fruit Snacks. These have become my go-to snack and I eat at least one each day.
3. I am thankful for heating pads.

“The Lord has said, "And in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things, and obey not his commandments" (D&C 59:21). It is clear to me from this scripture that to "thank the Lord thy God in all things" (D&C 59:7) is more than a social courtesy; it is a binding commandment.”
-James E. Faust, "Gratitude As a Saving Principle," Ensign, Dec 1996

Sunday, November 09, 2008

it would knock me to the floor if i wasn't there already

1. I am thankful for friends who, no matter how long (or short) a time you have actually known them, it feels like you have known them forever and feel as comfortable with them as if they were family.
2. I am thankful for slow cookers that allow lunch/dinner to be ready and waiting for us when we get home from church.
3. Although I frequently complain about the time and expense of the process, I am thankful that we have the ability to extend Somebody’s eligibility to stay and work in the U.S.

“If you never learned the lesson of thankfulness, begin now. Sum up your mercies; see what provision God has made for your happiness, what opportunities for your usefulness, and what advantages for your success.”
-Ida S. Taylor

“Greatness is not always a matter of the scale of one's life, but of the quality of one's life. True greatness is not always tied to the scope of our tasks, but to the quality of how we carry out our tasks whatever they are. In that attitude, let us give our time, ourselves, and our talents to the things that really matter now, things which will still matter a thousand years from now.”
-Spencer W. Kimball, "A Gift of Gratitude," Tambuli, Dec 1977

Saturday, November 08, 2008

take notice, take interest, take me with you

1. I am thankful for days when I can lounge around the house and never worry about being presentable.
2. I am thankful for dvr that records the tv shows we like to watch so that we can watch them any time we want and fast forward through commercials.
3. I am thankful the there are no more political commercials on tv.

"If a fellow isn't thankful for what he's got, he isn't likely to be thankful for what he's going to get."
-Frank A. Clark

Friday, November 07, 2008

take it with a smile

1. I am thankful that today I get to go back home and sleep in my own bed again. Big hotel beds are okay for awhile (especially when I'm the only one in them), but there is nothing like home.
2. I am thankful that own room has a balcony much like the conference room I was in yesterday. So this morning I decided to recreate the early morning chill (just in case it isn't recreated in the conference room) and opened the balcony doors while I was getting ready. I LOVE the bite in the air that comes with autumn and I'm thankful I was here alone so that no one complained when the room got really, really cold.
3. I am thankful for early nights to bed accompanied by restful sleep that leads to an alert morning. Sadly, the combination doesn't happen all that often.

"And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the Lord; because he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever toward Israel."
-Ezra 3:11

"Gratitude is a Spirit-filled principle. It opens our minds to a universe permeated with the richness of a living God. Through it, we become spiritually aware of the wonder of the smallest things, which gladden our hearts with their messages of God's love. This grateful awareness heightens our sensitivity to divine direction. When we communicate gratitude, we can be filled with the Spirit and connected to those around us and the Lord. Gratitude inspires happiness and carries divine influence."
-Bonnie D. Parkin, "Gratitude: A Path to Happiness," Ensign, May 2007

Thursday, November 06, 2008

signals that are mixed

1. I am thankful for a pillow that is comfortable and doesn't kink my neck.
2. I am thankful for mornings when I already have my clothes for the day picked out--it makes the morning "getting ready" routine move much quicker and smoother.
3. I am thankful that the hotel conference room that my meetings are being held in today has two balconies with glass doors so that the light fills the room and I don't feel too cut off from the world. Also, when I came in first thing this morning the balcony doors were open so the room had that cold, crisp morning air feeling that I love, and I was grateful that I was here early to experience it.

"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, "'Live in Thanksgiving Daily'," Ensign, Sep 2001

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

slender threads and things to treasure

1. I am thankful for a job that pays the bills and doesn't require steel-toed shoes. Also, I'm glad that I can't see the ceiling pipes in my office because seeing them kind of creeps me out.
2. I am thankful for hope and for the ability to change the things I don't like about myself and my situation.
3. Somebody and I drive to work separately and our combined commuting mileage each day is right about 160 miles. We spend a combined total of four hours each day in the car driving to and from work. Paying for gas takes a huge chunk of our income and is the biggest section of our budget. Today I am grateful that for signs like this at every gas station in town:
This is a season for giving and a time for gratitude.
Gordon B. Hinckley, "A Season for Gratitude," Ensign, Dec 1997

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

i have victories to taste

1. I am thankful for phone calls from family and friends who live far away. It is always reassuring to know that there are people out there who care about me and are thinking of me.
2. I am thankful that I have access to a wide variety of fruits and vegetables and also that I enjoy eating them.
3. I am thankful for earrings that go with everything so I don't have to put any thought into my morning selection.

"We show our gratitude by sharing with others."
-H. David Burton, "More or Less," NewEra, Nov 2007

"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

Monday, November 03, 2008

the best one of the best ones

1. I am thankful for long weekends spent with Somebody, friends, East Coast-ness, good food, and much relaxation.
2. I am thankful that Somebody was willing to take me to any restaurant I wanted for my birthday dinner.
3. I am thankful that the yummy smell of a birthday cake was waiting for me when I got home from work today. (Thanks, Mom!)

We are thankful for blessings we cannot measure, for gifts we cannot appraise, "for books, music, art, and for the great inventions which make these blessings available[;] … for the laughter of little children[;] … for the … means for relieving human suffering … and increasing … the enjoyment of life[;] … for everything good and uplifting."
"Three Centuries of Thanksgiving," Etude Music Magazine, Nov. 1945

Sunday, November 02, 2008

breathe in for luck

1. I am grateful for moments when I feel like the calling I have been given is the right calling for me.
2. I am grateful for ponytail holders—they make it easy for me to not do my hair.
3. I am grateful for Christmas music (and yes, I am already listening to it in the car. But not in the house. Somebody would never allow that.)

“Our society is afflicted by a spirit of thoughtless arrogance unbecoming those who have been so magnificently blessed. How grateful we should be for the bounties we enjoy. Absence of gratitude is the mark of the narrow, uneducated mind. It bespeaks a lack of knowledge and the ignorance of self-sufficiency. It expresses itself in ugly egotism and frequently in wanton mischief.
“Where there is appreciation, there is courtesy, there is concern for the rights and property of others. Without appreciation, there is arrogance and evil. Where there is gratitude, there is humility, as opposed to pride. How magnificently we are blessed! How thankful we ought to be!”
-Gordon B. Hinckley, “‘With All Thy Getting Get Understanding’,” Ensign, Aug 1988

Saturday, November 01, 2008

attitude of gratitude 2008

Well folks, the trees are changing colors, the days are getting shorter, and you can just smell autumn in the air. It's time for jackets and pumpkins and the November Attitude of Gratitude Challenge. Participation is completely voluntary. For those of you who have not played before, the challenge is outlined below.

HERE'S HOW IT WORKS: Each day during the month of November you will list three "things" for which you are grateful.

Definition of "things"- the term "things" is used here to encompass a myriad of stuff including, but not limited to: a certain set of circumstances, an event, an inanimate object distinguished from a living being, possessions or effects, a deed or act, a product of work or activity, an idea or notion, a piece of news or information, a person, a memory, anything that makes you smile.

*The challenge is to come up with three ORIGINAL "things" each day. Try not to repeat entries.

Please note that challenge participation may result in any or all of the following:
- you will be surprised at all the Lord has done for you
- angels will attend
- you will feel help and comfort
- you may find yourself singing as the days go by
- your doubts will fly

To get you started, here is my list for today, November 1.
1. I am grateful that Somebody likes to travel as much as I do.
2. I am grateful for friends that are happy to see me again.
3. I am grateful for medication that takes the edge off of sickness.

"Gracias, danke, merci—whatever language is spoken, “thank you” frequently expressed will cheer your spirit, broaden your friendships, and lift your lives to a higher pathway as you journey toward perfection. There is a simplicity—even a sincerity—when “thank you” is spoken."
Thomas S. Monson, “The Profound Power of Gratitude,” Ensign, Sep 2005