I am one of many people who set goals at the beginning of each new year. I like to keep my list to three or fewer goals because I actually intend to accomplish my goals. One of my goals for the coming year is to develop a better appreciation for my many blessings. I am convinced that I can recognize more blessings if I have an attitude of gratitude.
Numerous apostles and prophets have counseled us to be grateful. The Apostle Paul wrote, "In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God" (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
The Prophet Joseph Smith taught, "In nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things" (Doctrine and Covenants 59:21).
President Gordon B. Hinckley wrote, "The habit of saying thank you is the mark of an educated man or woman. Express appreciation to everyone who does you a favor or assists you in any way. Thank the Lord for His goodness to you. Thank the Almighty for His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, who has done for you what none other in all this world could do. Thank Him for His great example, for His tremendous teachings, for His outreaching hand to lift and help. Thank Him for His marvelous atonement. Confess His hand in all things" (Stand A Little Taller, p 338).
President Thomas S. Monson stated, "Our realization of what is most important in life goes hand in hand with gratitude for our blessings" (Ensign, Nov. 2009, - 87).
I know that I have many blessings in spite of the fact that I experience my own tests and trials. I am grateful for all my blessings and especially for my family, my faith, my freedom, and my friends.
I am grateful for my family. As part of my effort to increase my gratitude for my many blessings, I would like to share with you some of the "tender mercies" that the Lord bestowed upon me as I celebrated the Christmas holidays with my children and grandchildren. I had a wonderful time with them and received many blessings from spending time with them.
Grandchildren are marvelous blessings in and of themselves! There is nothing better than receiving a big hug and a beaming smile from a two-year-old grandson or having a younger toddler lift his little arms in a desire to be held. I thoroughly enjoyed receiving spontaneous hugs from my four-year-old granddaughters and hearing the words, "I love you, Grammy!" I was pleased when my ten-year-old grandson brought his new travel Battleship game so that we could continue our annual tradition of playing Battleship. Each grandchild brought his or her own special and unique blessings into my life, whether it was a hug, a smile, or another way of showing love. I am grateful that they love each other and enjoy spending time together.
The simple experience of watching children grow in knowledge and develop different skills is a great blessing that I have enjoyed from the time that my children were infants. Even though my sons and daughters are now adults with children of their own, I still like to watch as they grow in knowledge and experience. It is especially enjoyable to watch as my sons and daughters deal with their own children. I am impressed with my daughters' willingness to love and serve their husbands and to teach their children with tenderness. I appreciate the way that my sons lead their families in righteousness and share the responsibilities of caring for the children.
I am grateful for children who love each other and enjoy spending time together. I especially appreciate the way that they care for each other's children with the same love and concern as their own. I was thrilled when one of my daughters voluntarily helped her sister by carrying a four-year-old niece piggyback down a steep hill - and then came back to carry her own daughter down the same hill.
I am grateful for my faith in God and for my knowledge and testimony that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. I am grateful to know that His gospel has been restored to the earth. I am grateful to belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am grateful for the fact that I can travel and still feel at home in any congregation of the Church. I find the same spirit in all the meetings I attend - even when a different language is spoken. I find the same type of leadership by Melchizedek Priesthood brethren and the same service given by members of the Aaronic Priesthood as they prepare, bless, and pass the sacrament. I find the same hymnals and the same lessons as I would hear in my own home ward.
I am grateful for the freedoms I enjoy in this great nation. I am especially grateful at this time for freedom of religion, especially because Christians in other nations are being persecuted and even killed by members of other religions that claim to be "peaceful."
I am grateful for dear friends in my life and in the lives of my children and grandchildren. Friends are there in many different circumstances, whether it be happy or sad. Friends are the beautiful flowers in our lives.
I am grateful for family, faith in God and Jesus Christ, freedom and friends. I look forward to improving my attitude for gratitude during 2011.