Wednesday, November 25, 2015

for our community

Our elementary school had their annual turkey trot this morning. So many parents came out to support and cheer on the runners. It was wonderful to see. I was the lucky turkey that the kindergarteners raced across the field. It was fun, but man, those kindergarteners were fast! I love our neighborhood and community. It is full of the best kind of people. I am thankful to live here and to be raising my family here.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

for good weather

November is a great time to be in Arizona. I was reminded of this as Elliot and I walked home from school on this beautiful afternoon. The sun was warm on my face, but it didn't melt my eyeballs like it does in the summer. Some of the leaves are starting to change, and the oranges are getting ready to be plucked from the trees. Our windows are open day and night, letting in fresh, clean air. Good weather makes life easy, and I am thankful that we finally have ours. We really earn it here, and I do my best not to take it for granted.

Monday, November 23, 2015

for the end of the day

My favorite moment of every day is the one at the end, when I am climbing into bed to watch a show with Mike. The dishes have been done. The floor has been swept. Prayers have been said. And the kids are tucked in bed. My life is not particularly stressful, but there is still quite a bit of relief in this moment. I made it. We survived another day. I am thankful for this calm, quiet time.

Mike and I are really into Madame Secretary right now. Have you seen it? We're almost done with the first season on netflix. #BessMcCordForPresident!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

for the opportunity to speak

I will be giving a talk in Sacrament Meeting later this afternoon. As nervous as that makes me, and as much as I wish it was already over, I am thankful for the opportunity. It has given me time to study and ponder on some things, and has helped to strengthen my testimony.

I wanted to share just a bit of what I plan to say. My topic is how increasing my temple attendance has improved my life. As I thought about the changes I have seen in myself, Elder Richard J. Maynes' talk from our most recent general conference, entitled "The Joy of Living a Christ-Centered Life" kept coming to mind. In it, he spoke of Elder Aoba, a japanese potter and member of the Seventy. Elder Aoba was asked to participate in a youth conference in his area. As part of his presentation, he invited the youth to his pottery studio and demonstrated his ability to shape bowls and cups out of clay on his potter's wheel. He had the youth who were attending the conference give it a try, and without exception, all failed. They assumed they didn't have the talent for it, or that they didn't have enough experience. But, as Elder Aoba showed them, the problem was that their clay was not perfectly centered on the wheel, thus causing their failure. If the clay is not precisely in the center, it can never be shaped into something sturdy and long-lasting. Elder Aoba gave the youth another chance, this time placing the clay on their wheels for them, directly in the center, and this time each youth was successful.

Elder Maynes said, "The wold in which we live is similar to the potter's spinning wheel, and the speed of that wheel is increasing. Like the clay on the potter's wheel, we must be centered as well. Our core, the center of our lives, must be Jesus Christ and His gospel. Living a Christ-centered life means we learn about Jesus Christ and His gospel and then we follow His example and keep His commandments with exactness. The joy we experience in this life will be in direct proportion to how well our lives are centered on the teachings, example, and atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ."

Saturday, November 21, 2015

for the plan

This morning Mike and I attended the funeral of a faithful and valiant young man from our neighborhood. As I watched his mother, my friend, who never left his side during his four year battle with cancer, stand and boldly bear testimony of the joy she feels because of her knowledge of the Plan of Salvation, I knew exactly what I needed to share here for my month of gratitude. Friends, readers, I am thankful for the plan of happiness that our Heavenly Father created for us. This plan began before we came to this earth and continues after we leave. It gives me guidance and direction, and an assurance that I am a daughter of a loving God. I was sent to this earth to receive a physical body, to gain experience, and to be tested. Because of Jesus Christ's atoning sacrifice, after I die, I can live again with Him and with my loved ones. Knowledge of this plan brings me peace and joy, especially when someone I love leaves this life for the next. I am thankful for this knowledge. It buoys me up when things are tough and provides solace when life feels overwhelming.

Friday, November 20, 2015

for Mike's home office

Mike has been working from home for the past couple of months. It has mostly been really great and I am thankful for the extra time we've been able to spend together. Having him home during the day means that we can go running after the kids leave for school instead of waking up in the pitch black darkness of early morning. It means that he can come with me to the temple on Thursday mornings. It means that I can run errands while Elliot is napping. It hasn't meant nearly enough lunch dates, but that's something we can fix. I am grateful for the flexibility of his job, and that he is able to spend so much of his time at home.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

for the temple

Once the kids went back to school, I started attending the temple each week. I can't tell you the difference this has made in my life, but I suppose I will try.

When I attend the temple, I feel a great sense of peace--that no matter what is happening in my life or in the world, everything will be ok. Being in the temple gives me an eternal perspective. It reminds me that this life is about family and faith and obedience. I'd never been very good at regular temple attendance before, but making it a weekly event put it into my routine and now it is easier to be consistent. I knew that increasing my attendance would be a good thing, but I didn't expect that it would touch every part of my life like it has. It is easier to speak kindly to my children, to read my scriptures everyday, to be patient in line at the grocery store. I feel like I am more generous, more willing to serve others, and more understanding when others disagree with me. My weekly temple attendance has helped me to focus on what is most important and to feel more gratitude in my day-to-day life.

I am thankful for this change that I made. I am thankful to live so near a temple and that I am in a stage in my life where a weekly temple trip is doable. Mostly I am thankful for the peace I feel there, and for the blessings I've received through my attendance.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

for good books

I picked up a load of books that I'd reserved at the library this morning, including the newest in the adorable Little Elliot series. I am excited to dive into them. I am thankful for good books. I might be a minimalist at heart, but I don't think one can ever have too many books. If you are in need of something good to read, here is a list of some of my favorites (I hope you'll share yours in the comments!):

Ahab's Wife

Jane Eyre

All the Light We Cannot See

May the Road Rise Up to Meet You

The Greenlanders

These is My Words

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

for running water and other things

This morning I did a million loads of laundry with just the touch of a button in my super slick automatic washing machine. I probably washed my hands a thousand times at the sink that is conveniently located right in my kitchen. I flushed toilets and ran the dishwasher. I turned on a hose and water came rushing out and onto my plants. I knew we were having a plumber this afternoon to fix the sump pump in our basement, so I tried to get all of the things that required water out of the way in case he needed to turn it off (he didn't). I spent my day using or thinking about using water and feeling very grateful to have such an unlimited and easy access to it. Today is about being grateful for modern conveniences - things I normally take for granted that many people in this world live without. It's sort of staggering when I stop to think about it. Man, oh man, am I grateful!

Monday, November 16, 2015

for our Stella

When Stella was two, I was convinced that she was my most stubborn child. Boy was I wrong! She was probably just tired at the time, because Stella is the sweetest, most easy going person in our family. She thanks me after each meal and is always the first to give Mike a hug when he comes in the door. She is a friend to Elliot and puts up with the teasing that comes from Mabel and Oliver. When I met with her teacher for parent teacher conferences, he couldn't stop grinning. When she met with the bishop for her baptism interview, she left him teary. Stella quietly glides through life, spreading cheer with her breathless little voice. I am thankful that she joined our family eight years ago today!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

for motherhood

Here's the thing about being a mother (and the older my kids get, the more I realize this is true): I have to be my best self or I am failing them. Please don't misunderstand me. This does not mean that I have to be perfect, but I do have to be trying to do the right thing. My children are watching, and what they see me do will form their own habits and beliefs. I believe that life is about shedding my natural tendencies and learning to be more like my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Being a mother helps me to do that, and I am so very thankful for the opportunity. Motherhood stretches and strengthens me. It humbles and teaches me, and it is my highest, most sacred privilege.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

for family

We took family pictures with Mike's family tonight. I feel really lucky to live near his parents and all of his siblings. They are easy going and nonjudgmental and so, so funny. We get together often and we always have a great time when we do. I am thankful to live near them and to be one of them.

Also, sometimes I forget that we totally live in the desert. Check out that backdrop! The desert is pokey, but it sure gave us a pretty sunset tonight.

Friday, November 13, 2015

for my turn to volunteer

On Fridays, I help in Elliot's class. I look forward to it all week. Because I've always had little kids at home, this is the first time I've been a parent volunteer. I learned long ago that finding a sitter for my babies so that I could help at school wasn't worth the stress, so I've waited. Now it is my turn to be the mom helper and I am grateful for the opportunity. It has been fun to be in his classroom, to see his interaction with the other kids, and to watch his teacher. (I've learned so much! And kindergarten teachers are total heroes.) While part of me wishes that I could have done this for my older children, I know that there is a time and a season for everything, and I don't regret my choice. I am grateful that I listened to the voice that told me it was ok to say no then, and that now it is ok to say yes.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

for quiet days

This feels like the first day since school started where I don't have a list of things to get done. No sewing. No alterations. No housework. And no errands. It feels fantastic. I made a schedule for myself in August so that I would use the time when my kids are in school wisely. But I'm afraid I might have over scheduled myself. It is good to be busy, and that schedule has helped me to be very productive, but sometimes I need to just lay on the couch and read a book for a minute, you know? That is happening today and I am so grateful. I feel weary, and a quiet day at home is just what I need to feel better.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

for Veterans and for America, too

I am glad that Veteran's Day falls in November. Because I am trying to make more of an effort to be grateful this month, I give Veteran's Day more thought than I otherwise would. Both of my grandfathers and Mike's grandfathers served in the military, but it is not something I think about often. We went downtown to watch the parade, hoping to feel the spirit of this day a little better. There is something so American about marching bands and small horses and girls with batons parading down the streets. I loved it. But mostly I loved that it made me stop and think about the service and sacrifice of so many families to protect this nation. I left the parade feeling more grateful, for their sacrifice, and for my citizenship in this land.