Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Gratitude Journal - November 29

The first Sunday in November, I gave the Relief Society lesson on service, especially how doing service as a family will strengthen the bonds between family members.  I gave some examples of easy service ideas to do with children, as well as some ideas of local community organizations that would benefit from service.

Today I got an email from one of the sisters who has three children.  She had been praying about finding a way to do more giving with her family for December and that lesson really inspired her.  With the help of her children, they have made up a calendar for the month and will do some service every day.  She had a couple of questions, particularly about one of the organizations I had mentioned.

There is nothing more exciting as a teacher than to know that your message touched someone and made a difference.  Her email totally made my day!   I am grateful for the opportunity to teach, and even more grateful that this lesson made a difference in one family's life!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Gratitude Journal - November 28

My visiting teacher came by and we had the nicest visit.  I also work with her in Relief Society, so we have way too much to talk about!  I appreciated the message she shared from the conference talks and we had a nice discussion about that.  I know I could call on her if I had a need.  Mostly, I appreciate the visiting teaching program where every sister is to be cared for and loved.  I wish it always worked - when it does, it is a wonderful thing.  I am grateful for visiting teaching.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Gratitude Journal - November 27

Well, the holiday weekend is really over.  Billy left early this morning and has called to say that he is safely back at home in Cedar Rapids.  He had to drive through rain a good bit of the way and traffic was heavy, but fortunately it was moving.  It has been a quick visit, but we had a great time.  I am so glad that he made it down - made our family complete.  I am grateful that he was able to come and that he arrived back home safely.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Gratitude Journal - November 26

Brooks turns one year old on Dec 1st, but he had his birthday party on Saturday.  Lisa said it was because Ashby was expecting a birthday party for Brooks ever since she had her own birthday party in July.  Personally, I think it was because Mommy wanted to do it!  At any rate, it was a great party.

The theme was Sesame Street and there were several almost life-size characters hanging on the walls - Bert and Ernie, Elmo, Big Bird, Cookie Monster.  There were hats, treat bags, food, games, and everything else.  Everything coordinated with the theme and it was all too cute.  There were three guests for Ashby to play with, plus Uncle Billy, Grandma Vanett, Grandpa and me.

We didn't expect Brooks to know what was happening, but he had a ball.  There were big colored poof balls made from tissue paper handing from the ceilings and he was fascinated with them.  He kept pointing and talking about them.  But, I think the biggest hit for him was fishing for the rubber duckies in the little pool.  He couldn't get enough of playing around that water - to the point that he finally got his shirt wet.  Good thing the weather was warm enough to be outside without a shirt!

What a fun birthday party!  I am so grateful for Brooks and how fun he is.  I love his smile and big laugh.  I love how quick he can crawl from place to place and how much fun he has with the smallest things.  It is such an adventure being one year old!  And, I am grateful for his big sister Ashby, who looks after him so well and had so much fun at the party.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Gratitude Journal - November 25

This was a quiet after-Thanksgiving day - eating leftovers (yum!), taking a nap (so nice!), doing some genealogy (my favorite hobby!), reading (of course!), and babysitting the grandchildren (what life is all about!).  Sometimes the quiet days, which might seem somewhat pointless, are the ones to enjoy the most.  After the pressure of getting a great dinner ready for Thanksgiving, there was no cooking at all.  The resting and relaxing help rejuvenate the mind and body.  Spending time with the grandchildren adds the laughter and joy.  I am grateful for such full, wonderful, nothing days!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Gratitude Journal - November 24

Happy Thanksgiving Day!!!  This is an easy gratitude day - it is all about giving thanks.  We had a wonderful day.  Billy is here from Iowa.  Lisa, David, Ashby and Brooks came over around noon.  Turkey was in the oven about 6:30 and everything else ready to go.  Billy made an apple pie.  I made a peanut-butter trifle.  Lisa brought 3 more pies and some snacks for waiting.  We watched football, grandkids and just talked and enjoyed.  Dinner was wonderful.  We used the good china and sterling.  All the food turned out perfect.

The rest of the afternoon was just plain lazy.  Ashby had fun playing in the big piles of leaves that Grandpa had raked up for her the day before.  Brooks loved going on a long walk around the neighborhood.  Weather was perfect.  Most of us managed to get a short nap in sometime during the afternoon.  All in all, it was everything that makes Thanksgiving the best of the holidays - food, family, and relaxation.

I am grateful for a day to give thanks.  The best ending to the day - when I hugged Ashby goodbye, I said, "I am thankful for Ashby."  She gave me a big smile, a hug back, and then said, "I am thankful for Grandma."  Need I add anything further?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Gratitude Journal - November 23

Billy finally made it.  He drove from Iowa and it was a tough trip.  He is on a schedule where he works until 1:00 am or later, so doesn't sleep well at night.  It made it hard to get an early start, so fortunately he decided to make it a two day trip.  (I always make it two days - 13+ hours is just too much for one day.)  Add to that, the Thanksgiving traffic and it made for a long trip.  He even had the stop and go stuff for over an hour - probably due to an accident that was gone by the time he came by.  Going through Nashville, you don't have a lot of options to get off and try another route!  Anyway, he arrived and all is well.  It is good to see him.  He was last here to visit last June.  I was up to his place in August.  We got the turkey stuffed and ready to stick in the oven early in the morning.  He bought supplies to make an apple pie in the morning.  I am very grateful that he arrived safely and look forward to these few days.  Now we can bring on Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Gratitude Journal - November 22

It was clean up the house day.  Billy is driving down from Iowa to be here for Thanksgiving Day.  He will get in on Wednesday.  So, I got the guest room cleaned up, clean sheets, etc, and the bathroom ready, too.  Add in a little dusting, straightening, etc, and the house looks OK.  I don't clean like I used to, but I do like the feel of a clean house.  I am grateful that we have a comfortable home - not fancy, but nice.  The size is just right - not too big for taking care of, but enough space for everything we need or want.  We don't have fancy or expensive furniture, but everything looks good.  I am not an interior decorator, but our home is nicely done and has a homey feeling.  I think people feel at home here.  When I read about so many with no home at all, I am particularly grateful to have these luxuries and to be warm and safe.  Today I feel grateful for my home!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Gratitude Journal - November 21

I went to the mall for a little while with Lisa and the kids.  Ashby finally got up enough nerve to sit on Santa's lap.  She even talked to him, although it was so soft, he couldn't hear her!  We had lunch, too, and played at the playground.  The mall is all set up for Christmas, of course, and there is music playing everywhere.  Even though it is a little early for me (I really like Thanksgiving and hate to see it skipped!), the music is delightful.  Ashby is also singing Christmas songs - full volume! - and I am loving that.  I am grateful for music, especially Christmas music.  It makes me feel good and I just want to sing along!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Gratitude Journal - November 20

One of the speakers at church was a 19-year-old young man who has just received a call to be a missionary in the Argentina Rosario Mission.  He gave a great talk and will be a wonderful missionary.  His father is our stake president and he is very much like his father.  My nephew is currently serving in that same mission, so hopefully they will cross paths in the few months that their missions overlap.

This all reminded me of the missionaries who knocked on our door when I was eleven.  My parents invited them in and thus began our journey to joining the church.  I was 12 at that point, and I have been active ever since.

I am so grateful for the missionaries who take time out of their lives to devote themselves fully to serving God.  Having an understanding of the Gospel has made all the difference.  My life has been blessed every day because of missionaries.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Gratitude Journal - November 19

I saw on the news in the morning that Iowa State had beaten the #2 ranked football team.  I don't have any interest in football, but I still read this story.  After all, at heart I am still an Iowa girl!

That got me to thinking about growing up in Iowa and I have felt grateful for being raised in a small town in northeast Iowa during the 50's and early 60's.  It couldn't have been a better time or place.  We were free to wander almost anywhere we wanted.  We played pick up games of baseball.  We spent most of the time outdoors.  Since it was a small town, almost everyone knew almost everyone else.  Also, because it was a small town, anything we did was a big deal.  High school sports, plays, concerts were all community events.  Parents didn't worry about their kids, because they knew there was always someone watching and no one was afraid to discipline.

I haven't lived in Iowa since I graduated high school, other than for a few months at a time.  Even so, I am still an Iowa girl.  The farm background is in my blood.  I am grateful for the great state of Iowa, where the tall corn still grows!!!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Gratitude Journal - November 18

I had to go grocery shopping.  I am not a big shopper and groceries are near the top of the "I would rather not" list.  However, we do love to eat and it was time; plus, there is Thanksgiving coming up next week and I needed to get supplied for that.  Once I got there, it wasn't all that bad and I made my rounds and filled my cart.  A problem writing a check at check-out was resolved and I took my trunk load of groceries home to unload and put away.

As I was putting all this food away - in my two pantries, refrigerator or freezer - I realized how blessed I really am.  I have a supply of food a few minutes from my house; I can get almost anything imaginable when I get to the store; I don't have to fight with others over a limited supply of popular items; I have money to pay for it; I have a nice home with plenty of storage for all the food I buy; I don't have to go hungry; and, thankfully, I don't have to go out and shoot something so the family doesn't starve!  Even more than that, some of the items I bought are for the food boxes for the needy and I was glad to be able to buy a great big turkey to donate.

That is a lot to be grateful for - food, convenience, comfort, plenty, and charity.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Gratitude Journal - November 17

The next lesson I teach in Relief Society will be the first Sunday in January, but I have been doing some early preparation for it.  The course of study next year is Teachings of the Prophet George Albert Smith, so I have read a biography and a number of other things.  My lesson will be the overall story of his life.  I didn't know a lot of the details of his life and I have really enjoyed studying it.  He struggled with physical illness most of his life, not finally getting a diagnosis of lupus until late in life.  He also damaged his eyesight in the desert and struggled with that.  And yet, he pushed himself as much as he could to always do what the Lord wanted.  He was incredibly compassionate and always saw the individual's needs.  And he had an unshakable testimony of the Savior.  I love studying about the prophets and I am grateful that there has been a prophet at the head of the church since Joseph Smith.  I know that Thomas S Monson in the prophet today and I am grateful for him.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Gratitude Journal - November 16

We had some rain - not all that bad at my house.  I love a good storm, as long as there isn't a lot of damage done.  It was pretty bad northwest of Atlanta, but in our area, it just threatened.  Dark skies, wind, rain.  Love it all.  There was a tornado warning so some schools delayed release, but fortunately nothing happened.  I am grateful for changing weather.  One of the reasons I love Atlanta is that there is a variety of weather and seasons.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Gratitude Journal - November 15

I had a couple of things happen that made me grateful for service and those who are willing to serve.  First of all, I was reading the local paper and the front page story was about an 11-year-old girl who was trying to get 10,000 pairs of socks to send to soldiers and to others in need around the country.  Her emphasis was on the soldiers and how they can't get more socks when they get holes in the ones they have.  What impressed me was that this young girl was doing this mostly on her own, with support from her mother.  It is wonderful to know that young people care about others and are willing to do something.

The other thing involved the women at church.  I work in the leadership for the women and we have at least four things going on right now involving service.  We are trying to put together food boxes for Thanksgiving and need all the items to make dinner.  Secondly, the children are trying to gather items to put into Christmas bags to give to needy children in the area.  Thirdly, a community organization has requested lap blankets or shawls to be given to women who have been beaten or raped.  When these women get to the hospital, their clothes have to be taken for evidence and they are given scrubs to wear, but they are not warm, so blankets or shawls will help these women feel warm and also safe.  Fourth, Gladys Knight has a choir called Saints Unified Voices, who will be performing free in our area.  We needed some people to volunteer to pick up food for them and to be there to help with lunch and snacks for the choir.

Some of these things came up with very little notice.  We announced the needs on Sunday, and I was so excited to find out that the Thanksgiving boxes are complete, items are coming in already for the children's bags, blankets are already being donated, and all the volunteers are set for the choir.

I am so grateful for opportunities to serve and even more grateful to know that there are so many people who are willing to serve.  It just makes me feel good all over!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Gratitude Journal - November 14

We had Empty Nesters Family Home Evening at our home.  We have a small, but fun, group of empty nesters from church who get together once a month.  Everyone brings something for refreshments and we visit and then have a spiritual lesson or discussion.  This time we each brought a favorite quote from the recent General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints held in October.  What a special time it was as we discussed the quotes and what we could learn from them.  I am grateful for these friends and the fun we have when we get together each month.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Gratitude Journal - November 13

We have had a tradition develop since Lisa got married.  As often as possible, which is almost every Sunday, they come over after church to have dinner with us.  It had been a couple of weeks with conflicts, so we enjoyed this Sunday's dinner more than usual.  It is a relaxing time - we eat, we rest, we talk, sometimes we even take naps.  But, most of all, we watch the grandchildren play or play with them.  I am so grateful for our Sunday family dinner tradition.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Gratitude Journal - November 12

I spent two days attending a Family History Expo.  Genealogy is my favorite hobby and I was so excited to attend my first such event.  I went alone, but figured that didn't really matter.  I absolutely loved it!  The keynote speaker on Friday was M. Bridget Cook, an author and speaker.  (The new word I learned from her was genshai - which basically means to hold no one small, including yourself.  In other words, treat everyone as though they have worth.)  Over the course of the two days, I was able to attend eight classes on a variety of subjects.  I learned a lot and I am really excited to start putting some of my new knowledge into practice.

I also met up with with four other women who were at the conference alone and we became friends.  It was really fun!  We would meet up during breaks and share about the classes we had each attended.  Having the genealogy common thread made it easy to bond really quickly.  We have already exchanged emails and a picture of the group of us.  We also promised to meet up again next year at the Expo.

I am grateful for having participated in this Expo and for the fun and new friends that I enjoyed!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Gratitude Journal - November 11

Being Veterans Day, I have felt a special connection to all those who have served in the military.  They fought to make us free, they have fought to keep us free, and they have stood guard to see that those freedoms are not lost.

I need to go back in my genealogy and do a careful study to see how many of my ancestors have served in the military.  I know some of them: my husband Bill served in Viet Nam, my uncle Harold Nelson served in WWII, my grandfather Bill Nelson served in WWI, my great-great grandfather Henry Cleary served in the Civil War.  There are others, going back to the time of the Revolutionary War.  I am grateful for all of them.

I wore my red, white and blue scarf to let the world know how grateful I am for those who serve in harm's way.  Thank you!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Gratitude Journal - November 10

I went to visit my good friend Judith, who is now in a hospice with lung cancer.  We met as co-workers about 15 years ago or so.  Over the years, we have often talked about genealogy and she expressed interest in learning about her family, but just never had the time.  The other day I asked her if she would like me to see what I could find.  She gave me the names of her parents and their births and I went from there.  In two days, I was able to take her father's line back to her ancestor Zachariah Butler, who served in the Revolutionary War.  So when I visited her, I took her a notebook of everything I had found.  As we looked at the generations, I was able to point out her Civil War ancestor - of course a Confederate, these are loyal Georgia people, after all.  She was so excited.  He only served a month or so before he became sick with typhoid fever, sent home to recover, and died.  Two months later, his wife gave birth to their fourth child.  A great story of a courageous woman, who lived to be 92!

We then moved further down the line until we came to Zachariah.  When I told her that he had fought in the Revolutionary War, her eyes glowed - yes, with tears!  I said, "You are DAR."  And she repeated, "I am DAR!"  I couldn't have given her a better gift.  We spent at least an hour talking about her ancestors.

I am going to work on her mother's line this week.  As long as I can provide a service that brings her excitement, I will do so.  

I am grateful for precious friends who have enriched my life - for the opportunities that sometimes come to really give a special gift to someone - and for the many men and women who have served in the military, from the Revolution to today.  What precious freedoms they have gained and preserved for all of us!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Gratitude Journal - November 9

With the holidays coming, I am again facing the task of getting gifts for everyone.  I love giving gifts, but I don't much like shopping - and I really hate crowds!  So I am grateful that I can do a lot of my shopping online.  I have been making some orders and a few things have begun to arrive.  I get the fun without the parts I don't enjoy.  One or two trips for a few things is just about right.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Gratitude Journal - November 8

I attended book group and had such a great time!  I love to read - I usually have 3 or 4 books going at a time.  This group of women is so fun.  We discuss the books we read, love to disagree about interpretations, etc., and laugh a lot.  Oh, yeah, and we manage to talk about a ton of other things, too.  Throw in some refreshments - always random, whatever shows up - and it is a great night out.  I am grateful for books and being able to read (and friends who add a little extra fun!)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Gratitude Journal - November 7

I went with the Relief Society president to visit a sister who recently moved into our ward.  She is a young married, with a 15 month old son.  Her husband is not a member, but often attends with her.  I really enjoy visiting with the sisters in the ward - it is one of the fun parts of working in the RS presidency.  I am grateful for my calling and the blessings I receive from serving.  I hope that someone else will be blessed because of my service.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Gratitude Journal - November 6

It was my turn to teach the Relief Society lesson on Sunday.  Our goal for the month is service, so that is what the lesson was about.  I like to teach, but I especially like preparing a lesson.  I get to read and look up talks and search for stories and think about my own life experiences and then pull it all together in a lesson.  The sisters in our ward are so willing to share and participate in the lessons, so that makes the teaching even more fun.  I am grateful for being able to teach.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Gratitude Journal - November 5

It was such a beautiful day today!  The sun was shining - the temperature was cool, but not cold - and the leaves are at their peak.  I saw some trees that had the reddest leaves I have ever seen!  I am sure that is because the sun was shining on them just right.  Today I am grateful for the beautiful fall weather and the glorious beauty of nature.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Gratitude Journal - November 4

I babysat with the grandchildren for a few hours so Lisa could get some time away while David was out of town for the night.  We had tons of fun.  I am so thankful for Ashby and Brooks!  They get cuter everyday.  The cutest playtime was Ashby pushing Brooks around in the little car.  He loved it!  Every time she laughs, he laughs, too.  When Mommy got home, Brooks was so excited, he was kissing her over and over again - with his trademark "mouth wide open" kiss.  He was so excited that Grandma got some kisses, too!  Love those grandkids!!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Gratitude Journal - November 3

Bill rarely has to be out of town for work, but last night he was in Hoover, Alabama, where he had a two-day job.  Having him gone, reminded me of how grateful I am for such a great husband.  He works hard to provide for us; he serves willingly in his church calling; he loves our children; he dotes on our grandchildren; and mostly, he puts up with me!  We recently had our 44th wedding anniversary, and I am grateful for him.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Gratitude Journal - November 2

I spent most of yesterday working on genealogy.  I had gotten into something the night before and I was compelled to work all day!  I am grateful for my ancestors.  They were interesting people who left home, crossed an ocean, and started life anew in America.  I have been greatly blessed because of it.  The most recent immigrants were both of my grandfathers - one came from Denmark about 1903, the other from Sweden shortly after that.  The earliest immigrants are on the Bacon line and I have them in Connecticut in the late 1600's - still looking for the jump over the "pond."  The other line came from Ireland in the early 1800's.  What wonderful people!  I am also grateful for the modern technology that lets me sit at my desk in my home and work from my computer.  It is so much easier and more productive than in the old days when I had to send letters everywhere, or order microfilm and wait for it to come in, or visit the places myself.  I still like visiting places, but that is now for fun and to find little details I can't get on the computer.  Genealogy - my favorite hobby!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Gratitude Journal - Nov 1

I decided to try to post each day this month.  I am hoping I can find at least one thing I am grateful for every day.  It shouldn't be hard - except maybe just getting my thoughts posted!  So.........

Tuesday, November 1 - My lifelong best friend Paula called yesterday morning to tell me that she had just learned that another of our friends had passed away on Sunday night.  Jan was one of our classmates.  Going to a small school, we were all close friends.  Jan had married another classmate the summer after graduation.  They had up and down years.  For the most part, they had a great deal of material wealth, but they struggled in other ways.  The last several years had been very difficult, though, as they declared bankruptcy and were divorced.  Jan had several health problems, including hips that had deteriorated to the point of her living in constant pain.  She also fought an alcohol addiction.  Local friends, including Paula, had been trying to reach out to her and give her what support they could.  In fact, a group of them was getting together yesterday and she had called Jan the night before, hoping to get her to come with them at the last minute.  The phone went to voice mail and she just left a message saying to call.  Another friend Peggy called Jan's brother to see if he knew anything about her and left a message on his voicemail.  He immediately returned the call to say that she had passed away, probably Sunday evening.  There was no clear word yet on exactly what the cause of death was, but it appeared to be natural causes.  Also, no plans on a service were yet available.

All of this was on my mind most of the day.  I am so saddened by Jan's passing, knowing how hard things had been for her.  She was a lovely, fun person and she will be missed by those of us who knew her.  At the same time, I have felt gratitude for having grown up in a place and time when we had such wonderful and enduring friendships.  I have felt gratitude that these have become lifelong friendships that I treasure.  I have also felt gratitude for life itself and have been reminded to enjoy each day as it comes.  Life is precious and can be over so quickly.