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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Writing

I'm thankful for Writing.

Specifically, I'm thankful for the ability I have to write (or type) my thoughts down and express myself better than if I were to simply speak aloud.  I love being able to join words together and form intelligent sentences.  Sometimes, I even pretend I'm incredibly witty.  :)

Writing is therapeutic to me.  When I write things down, all the pieces of my thoughts come together to create the picture I see in my mind and can portray to others.

Ty and I were both asked to give talks this last Sunday on two different aspects of Gratitude.  My chosen topic was "Expressing Gratitude to Others and to the Lord".  Unlike my husband who can just scribble a few quotes and ideas down, I have to write basically every word I plan on saying so as to not make a fool of myself.  It may be a tiny bit lengthy, but I thought I would share that talk with you.  Especially seeing how today is Thanksgiving, it's appropriate to talk about how to express our thanks.

             "My topic is “Expressing Gratitude to Others and to the Lord”.  I thought about how I express my gratitude to Others.  Last year, a talk was given in the ward we were in about Gratitude and the woman speaking mentioned finding one thing each day that we were grateful for and writing it down.  Immediately, I felt the need to do this right away and instantly began writing down things that I was grateful for.  I have a blog and I decided to dedicate a daily post to each of these things to really get my mind thinking about why I was grateful for them.  Included in that list was:  My husband, my German heritage, Christmas, dancing, music, food, my head and everything on it, being a member of the church, the temple, family, my hands, books, internet, my big purse, chocolate, paper, trials, my kitchen, plants, callings, and my husband’s job.  When I started this little project, I was not in a good place emotionally.  However, by the end of the month I felt so happy and joyous with life.  My outlook had completely changed.  Everything around me seemed miraculous and extraordinary.  

                Considering the success I had previously, I wanted to continue to make a list and share a post on my blog about each of the things on it.  This year my list consists of Leftover Halloween candy, Craigslist, Farmer’s Market, baking, having a sense of humor, laughing, service, family (again), walking trails, Autumn, veterans, my nieces and nephews, electricity, furniture, my laptop, Dollar Tree, my home d├ęcor, our new home, our new bigger kitchen, our back up fridge, my scriptures, shoes, having the time to enjoy my husband, the Holy Ghost, my cellphone, diet and exercise, gospel lessons that uplift and inspire, forgiveness, and writing. 
I love finding joy in the little things and I feel it’s important to acknowledge how lucky we are because of them.  Vaughn E. Worthen wrote in the March 2010 Ensign, “Gratitude is a positive experience that comes from recognizing gifts or blessings and feeling thankful.  It is also an attitude, a way of perceiving life, in which individuals are willing to receive and acknowledge the beneficial actions of others on their behalf.  Those who consistently display such an attitude are said to have a grateful disposition.”  1 Thessalonians 5:18 says , “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

          Brother Worthen also suggested to Keep Gratitude Journal.  I might add to this that instead of posting on a blog, you could write an entry in your journal every day with something you give thanks for.  He also recommends eliminating ungrateful thoughts and recognizing that things could be worse.  It’s difficult to find the joy in things you could be grateful for if you are continuously spending your time focused on how much different you wish those things were.  Sure, there might be a few things I might change about our home, for example, but it’s better than no house at all.  If I dwell on what isn’t, how can I appreciate what is? 
           It’s also important to share your gratitude for someone you might need to properly thank.  It’s not just good manners to thank them for a meal or for giving you a ride or helping you with whatever task you needed assistance with.  Consider how you would feel if no one EVER thanked you for anything ever again.  Kindness should never go unnoticed or unappreciated.  A letter detailing your gratitude for that person and their actions can go a long way.  If you add a plate of cookies, it could inspire a repeat.  Just so you know, food speaks volumes to me.  A phone call might even do the trick and adds a little more personal touch.  The point is when we show gratitude to others for their kind actions; it’s like the icing on the cake.  I’ll confess there may have been times where I’ve lent my hands half-heartedly, but seeing the gratitude they felt and knowing that I truly uplifted them, my heart softens and the task is more enjoyable.  We should never make someone feel as though we simply expect them to do what we ask.  That it is their duty or “Hey you’re just going to receive more blessings”.  Are you ready?  Because a challenge is coming.  Let’s all do this, it’ll be fun.  Whenever someone does something for us, even if it seems small, sincerely thank them.  Not just a “Hey thanks!”, but a real “Thank you so much for doing this.  You’re amazing.”  Make eye contact with them.  Do this with your family, your friends, colleagues, cashiers, restaurant servers, anyone who shows kindness.
           Now, how do we express gratitude to the Lord?  One of the greatest ways is to tell him directly through prayer.  I always feel like I’m leaving something out when I’m praying because I always feel like I have soooo much to be thankful  for, but not enough time before my eyes start to droop and I’m out for the count or I have to get ready for the day.  Regardless, it’s important for us to share those thoughts with our Heavenly Father so we show him just how grateful we are.  Try to be specific as well.  No need to go into great detail, but try not to generalize.  Something I’m often guilty of is saying, “Thank You for our many blessings” or “Thank you for all we have been given” and leaving it at that.  Acknowledging the individual things you are most thankful for is so important. 
Through our actions we are also able to show our gratitude.  Obeying His commandments and doing what He asks of us shows that we are paying attention and heeding His word.  Showing kindness and blessing the lives of others is a wonderful way to share our gratefulness.  He gives us blessings in our lives and by sharing those gifts with others we are in turn sharing it with the Lord.  Matthew 25:40, “Verily, I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.  As a small tangent, I should also mention that testimony meeting isn’t the place to give a detailed list of everything we are thankful for.  That is the time we share what we believe in.  But that’s a subject for another talk.

         Everyone needs to know they are appreciated and our Heavenly Father isn’t exempt.  I feel as though we so easily forget our Heavenly Father has feelings.  Let us not forget the one person we should be the most grateful to.  He has given us everything we have, all opportunities to progress and be strengthened.  We owe Him everything and He asks so little.  Let the season of giving thanks inspire us to renew ourselves to our Heavenly Father and remember to give thanks to Him for all the blessings He grants us with."
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  Enjoy your turkey and stuffing and all the deliciousness that comes with them.  And remember to give thanks for the many wonderful things you are blessed with.

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