During a road trip, my husband and I took turns discussing these 3 questions: (1) What lessons have we have learned from the past? (2) How we can prepare for the future? (3) How can we enjoy living today? It was a fascinating and unifying activity. Of course the lessons learned from the past were usually gleaned from trial experiences. Though everyone’s list will be different, I’ll share just a few ideas we came up with from each category.
- Learn from the past: In the strength of the Lord, we can do hard things; Joy is in God, not in circumstance; recognition of countless divine rescues and tender mercies; the need of a Savior in the eternal plan of happiness; learning what is really important.
- Prepare for the future: Seek learning, both sacred and secular; continue to budget and save; practice prudence and generosity; maintain habits of healthy eating and exercise; establish emergency plans and supplies; maintain and repair property and possessions; nourish strong family relationships; view life with optimism and cheer; have a positive attitude about aging.
- Enjoy today: Appreciate each moment as a gift from God; increase gratitude; perform acts of service each day; prioritize best options for use of time; cherish each other and strengthen our marriage; be actively engaged in good causes; smile more; be other-centered; learn balance and pacing of all good things.
Plan to have this discussion with your spouse. It will give you many Reasons to Rejoice!
I ask myself: What blessings have come from sacrifices made to fully live my religion? This blog follows the former one about sacrifices required to live one’s religion. I have discovered that blessings far outweigh the sacrifices. Each sacrifice is rewarded tenfold with an outpouring of tender mercies, miracles, and manifestations of God’s love and approval. Here are just a few blessings that come as a result of striving to live my religion with all my heart:
- Feeling peace of conscience that God is pleased—engulfed in His light.
- Extending my understanding and view of God’s eternal plan.
- Communicating with God. Hearing His answers.
- Feeling JOY and optimism—untouched by circumstance.
- Recognizing God’s tender mercies, even during trials.
- Feeling gratitude for everything.
- Recognizing God’s grace. Feeling His love and enabling power.
- Feeling the comfort, guidance, and companionship of the Holy Ghost.
- Feeling personal growth beyond my own ability.
- Being enabled to let go of offenses.
- Rejoicing in seeing my family members grow in testimony and conversion.
- Witnessing miracles unfolding before my eyes.
- Being transformed, changed. Feeling clean.
And more—many, many more! Aren’t these Reasons to Rejoice?
For us, Easter comes in the springtime of the year, when new buds and green leaves appear after a long winter. Easter is the celebration of Jesus Christ’s universal resurrection, with the promise that all in their proper order will have their bodies and spirits reunited immortally, free from disease, pain, or death. Christ’s redeeming power saves all mankind from physical death. At the resurrection, new life will spring forth from the grave with excitement exceeding any earthly expectation. Another gift of the Savior comes through the Atonement, when He paid the price for all our sins. We are sanctified as we repent and are baptized through proper authority, and endure faithfully to the end. Without this great gift, we would all suffer a spiritual death or separation from God’s presence. A powerful witness of the Savior Jesus Christ by His living apostles can be found at: http://jesuschrist.lds.org/testimonies-of-him/articles/the-living-christ-the-testimony-of-the-apostles-of-the-church-of-jesus-christ-of-latter-day-saints?&lang=eng Here is a summarizing statement: “We bear testimony, as His duly ordained Apostles—that Jesus is the Living Christ, the immortal Son of God. He is the great King Immanuel, who stands today on the right hand of His Father. He is the light, the life, and the hope of the world. His way is the path that leads to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come. God be thanked for the matchless gift of His divine Son.”
A friend told me that before her family kneels for prayer each evening, they take a moment to reflect and share a particular experience that day which manifests Heavenly Father’s love. The person offering the prayer then includes expressions of gratitude for those specific things. In this way, family members are being made aware of one another’s kindnesses from God. This exercise also helps avoid vain repetitions and keeps expressions fresh. Though our children are now grown with families of their own, we continue the tradition of kneeling for family prayer whenever we gather together in our home. It is a sweet finish to every family activity before we hug goodbye. There is truth to the adage that “families who pray together—stay together.”
- Prayer is an acknowledgment that God is our Father and Jesus Christ is our Savior.
- Prayer is a sincere confession of mistakes, and a request for forgiveness.
- Prayer is recognition that we need help beyond our ability.
- Prayer is an opportunity to express gratitude to our Creator.
- Prayer is a privilege to ask God for specific blessings.
When families kneel together in humble supplication both morning and night, they enjoy a bonding spirit of love and unity.
What is real beauty? What is counterfeit beauty? The adversary entices women in a frenzied quest to secure an unattainable, flawless image. Women obsess, starve, shop, spend, and go under the knife—yet still are not content. The adversary tauntingly dangles this elusive beauty just out of reach, while placing an increasingly high value upon it. This leads to discontent, even self-loathing. Instead of reverencing our bodies as sacred, holy temples, Satan tempts us to view them with disgust because they fall short of flawless images flashed before our eyes in the media. But I want to view myself (and others) the way Christ does—recognizing the exquisite beauty of the soul. I want to acquire and value the “beauty of holiness” (1 Chronicles 16:29). It is deep beauty of the soul shining through one’s countenance. Beauty of holiness is marked by features of goodness, kindness and love. As I age, I want to accept the fair exchange of diminished external beauty for greater wisdom and refinement within. I will express gratitude every day for the gift of my body, and think positive thoughts about it. As I learn to honor my own body, I believe that increased reverence for others will naturally follow.
May I describe what joy feels like to me? It’s deep and untouchable by external influences—such as disappointments, trials, and pain. I’ve had all of those. But even in the midst of difficulties, I feel a brightness of hope that lets in light. This hope is leads to faith, because I trust God’s purpose in allowing trials—His beautiful plan to tutor and improve me. I pledge to follow Him. This faith increases gratitude for my Savior who makes it possible to have eternal life. This gratitude heightens inner peace, which is a soothing feeling of equanimity that allows me to fall gently to sleep at night and to wake smiling in the morning. I might describe joy as an inward “smile.” Peace, gratitude, faith, and hope—gradually increase my ability to “grow in love” as Leo Tolstoy put it. These are all elements of happiness. They are subtle feelings and are easily overlooked, especially during an uphill climb. So I’m trying every day to recognize, acknowledge, and then record these tender mercies from above. They are Reasons to Rejoice!
When you were young, did you ever put a plate of cookies on a neighbor’s doorstep, ring the bell and run away with the thrill of being an anonymous giver? Our great Exemplar of anonymous giving is the Savior, Jesus Christ. He doesn’t dramatize His offerings. Many come quietly and subtly. Oh, if I had eyes to recognize ALL the good things brought by His loving hand each day—I’d be astonished. Much of what He gives is unnoticed. He is the author of every tender mercy and sweet moment metaphorically dropped at the doorstep. Just try to catch Him in the act! But because we don’t always recognize His hand, we might give credit to ourselves or to fate, luck or coincidence. Or accept them as our right or due. Often good things slip past without being noticed at all. God gives and gives; we take and take. I can do better to become keenly observant—to see, recognize and express gratitude—for every small and mighty good thing. It might be a sunset, kind thought, rescue, good idea, warm hug, or change of heart. In the very moment I will acknowledge His gift with a smile and silent prayer.