Sunday, November 9, 2014


(The picture's a little fuzzy, but this is when Eli jumped in with the Giant stuffed bears at Costco)

So, I've been thinking a lot about gratitude lately, and last week at church Eli taught me a big lesson on it. I have a really big church bag that I pack up with things that I need for my primary class, and for Eli during church. Before church, I knew this week they were starting choir again, so I packed extra snacks so Eli would for sure have something after church to snack on while we were in choir. I also was actually getting ready on time, so not in a rush, and had time to give Eli a gallon sized ziploc bag and tell him that he could fill it with whatever toys he wanted to take to church (obviously excluding the noise makers). Eli filled his bag with Duplos this time, and I even remembered water bottles. Anyway, Eli started getting out all of his stuff during church, and would you believe the gallon bag of cars he'd packed up the week before was still in the bag too, so he had two bags of toys, along with any snack he could want and lots to drink. Yet, still, I suddenly had an upset Eli, because the exact car that he wanted wasn't with us. I looked down at all of the things Eli had, and I even remembered distinctly telling him he could put whatever he wanted in his bag, which would have included the car he was missing, and all I could think was look at all you have my child, why are you not grateful for all of these things? 

I then thought of how God must see me sometimes. "Jenna, I've given you so much, and I even gave you choices on a lot of these things, and you still aren't happy?" Don't get me wrong there are sad things, in life, but I think sometimes it's easy for us to be like Eli and focus on the one missing car, instead of the other multitude of toys that could make us just as happy.

I've been thinking a lot about a talk President Uchtdorf gave on being grateful in our circumstances. He talked about 'not waiting for the rainbow to be grateful that there is rain,' and constant gratitude as an act of faith. Faith that God has a plan and that His plan is the best one for us, even if we can't see it all right now.

Pondering on what I saw on Sunday has really helped me out with that. You know I end up sharing more things on this blog than I intended to share online, but I know it has helped me with one area where I have trouble remembering gratitude. You see, growing up I never really knew how many children I wanted to have, but I knew I wanted to have a fairly good-sized family. Cancer altered that plan. Family circumstances have constantly thwarted plans for adoption to this point in our lives. Some times though, I hate to admit it, the desire for that missing car or in my case missing children, makes me forget how incredibly grateful I am for my little miracle, Elijah. I get so caught up in wondering why, wondering if I just wasn't good enough to hold anymore of the Kingdom of God in my home to remember that I have a husband who loves me, and a family, and little nephews, awesome friends, even my little primary kids.

It makes me think about a talk on Gratitude that President Thomas S. Monson gave. One of the stories was when Jesus fed more than 4,000 people. When He asked the disciples what they had to share they said they had 7 loaves and a few little fishes, and the miracle was that Jesus gave thanks and then there was enough for everyone. The point that President Monson makes is that the disciples were only looking at what was lacking. They could only see the deficiency. They had limited their vision and their faith, so that the idea of the miracle even being a possibility, the thought that God had a greater plan could not enter their minds.

How easy is it for us to see what lacks and to not see the full picture. I remember one time wondering why when I looked in the mirror when I was sick I actually felt like I looked more attractive then when I was well, and one day I figured it out. See, when I was sick, I was looking at the whole picture, my whole face and body to see if there were any extraordinary signs of illness. When I was well my eyes would immediately go to my "trouble" spots or the areas where I expected to see flaws, and I would fixate on those. I share this because I don't think I'm alone in how I use the mirror. I think we do that with all sorts of aspects of our lives. We compare, we lust, we forget what great things the Lord has already done in our lives.

I mean seriously, now that I am a parent and I see how much work goes into just keeping a toddler from killing itself, let alone having a happy toddler, every person above the age of 10 should be grateful to be alive, but children don't see that. I never saw it as a child. You feel entitled to those things, and in many ways you are, but still someone had to work hard to keep you from serious harm.

I guess I think that about Eli. He's so used to Mom can fix it that it's unfathomable for the moment that somehow I cannot just get the one car that was missing from the set of toys, just like to us it sometimes makes no sense why some of the things God has in or out of our plan are that way. We cannot see the big picture.

I am really understanding though how gratitude can help us get through those times, because though Eli was seriously sad to be missing the one toy he decided he needed at that moment, I could clearly see how if he could just be grateful and enjoy all that he had been given then, that he would be reunited with his missing toy once we got home. He saw it as forever, but I knew it would not be long before he would have other things to distract him, then he would have what he had wanted and what I had been planning on letting him have. God has told us that our trials will one day seem like a small moment. It may seem like forever now, but we can endure it well, and learn to enjoy the toys and snacks that surround us, until that car we are waiting for comes.

1 comment:

  1. I too love that talk by President Uchtdorf. Wonderful insight, Jenna.