Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Day of Gratitude

                    Americans will celebrate Thanksgiving Day tomorrow, and most of us will celebrate with a big feast.  Our family - and millions of other people - will precede our feast with a prayer of thanksgiving to express our gratitude for our many blessings.  We count our many blessings on Thanksgiving Day and every day.

                    We are commanded to show gratitude for our blessings, and there are many different ways to say thanks for our blessings.  Some prayers are short and very much to the point, such as "GodisgreatGodisgoodletusthankHimforourfoodAmen."  Other prayers are a little longer:  "Our Father in Heaven, We thank Thee for this food and ask Thee to bless it.  We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen."  Still other prayers are much too long.  The appropriate length of prayer is long enough to show proper gratitude, but short enough to keep people feeling grateful!

The question of who should say the blessing on the food often causes problems in families, but our family has not experienced any difficulties with the Thanksgiving Day prayer.  We allow the younger members of our family - those who can speak plain enough to be understood - to say the blessing or "grace" for our regular meals in order to give them practice in saying the prayer as well as to allow them some time as the center of attention. On special days, such as Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, an adult usually gives voice to our feelings of gratitude; this prayer is often but not always given by the patriarch of the home or the extended family.

We can say "thank you" in many different languages.  We say "gracias" (grah-see-yahs) in Spanish, "malo" (mah-loh) in Tongan, "wir danken dir (veer donk-en deer) in German, "tak" (tahk) in Danish, "mersi" (mare-see) in French, and kansha shimasu (kahn-shah shee-mah-sue) in Japanese.  The important thing is to be grateful for our blessings and to express our gratitude.

I believe that there can be a big difference between simply saying "thank you" and showing true gratitude for our blessings.  Since giving thanks can make us more complete in all ways - spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically, we should cultivate the spirit of thanksgiving rather than living just the letter of the law.  The spirit of thanksgiving means that we "Live in thanksgiving daily, for the many mercies and blessings which he doth bestow upon you" (Book of Mormon - Another Testament of Jesus Christ, Alma 34:38).

What should we do in order to "live in thanksgiving daily"?  We can establish the practice of counting our blessings every day.  Instead of getting caught up in complaining about what we do not have or what did not happen, we can express our gratitude for what we do have or the good things that did happen.

A few years ago my husband and I were traveling from Las Vegas, Nevada, to Salt Lake City, Utah.  We were driving a Chevrolet pickup and pulling a fifth-wheel travel trailer.  On the morning of the day we were to leave Las Vega, we asked for blessings in our travels.  We did not get out of Las Vegas before the drive train on the pickup broke, and the truck came to an immediate stop.  My immediate thought was, "Heavenly Father, I asked for blessings on our travels.  How can this possibly be a blessing?" 

Almost immediately, I realized the blessing.  The fact that the drive train broke where it did was the blessing.  Instead of the drive train breaking while we were traveling down the highway at 60 or 70 miles per hour, we were in the act of stopping at a traffic light.  Although we were on a very busy highway, this particular intersection had an entrance into a casino, a place with room to get our truck and trailer out of the traffic.  This casino was located just a few miles from the Chevrolet dealer where we got our truck fixed.  It was also located a short distance from a trailer court with room enough for the tow truck pulling our truck pulling our trailer could fit.  I know that Heavenly Father was watching over us and blessed us.  We were very comfortable in our trailer in this park for the two days we waited for the truck to be repaired.

We should count our blessings daily.  I have days when I do not feel particularly grateful for anything.  On those days, I am especially grateful for my "gratitude journal."  For the past year, I have kept a daily record of my blessings.  I usually write three particular blessings that I am grateful for that day, but sometimes I write more.  The simple act of writing the blessings brings feelings of gratitude into my soul.  I highly recommend that everyone keep a record of blessings received.

I know that I am truly blessed in many different ways.  I consider it a blessing to be born in this day and age in the United States of America.  I enjoy many blessings because I live when I do and where I do.  For example, I have the blessing of abundant clean water - water that I can drink without fear or use for showering, cooking, cleaning, and washing clothes.  Another blessing of living when I do is the wonderful technology that makes life so fun and rewarding - such as this computer and the Internet.  I have many blessings of liberty and freedom in this wonderful country.  One particular blessing I recognize at this time is the lack of tanks and soldiers in our streets.  I also have the blessing of knowing about God and His plan for His children, of knowing about Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice in my behalf, and of enjoying the companionship of the Holy Ghost.  I have a large extended family where I am loved and supported.   I have a husband who is a blessing in my live every day, and children and grandchildren who truly make my life worth while.  I have all the temporal blessings needed to make my life comfortable. 

When I count my blessings, I realize what is really important to me.  The following video helps me feel grateful for my blessings.   I am grateful for this opportunity to think about gratitude and the spirit of thanksgiving.  I know I am truly blessed

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