Giving Thanks, part 30: Gratitude

Today I am grateful for gratitude.  This has been quite the journey, this month of gratitude.  I can honestly say this month, and seeking out things to be grateful for, has opened my heart in a way that has allowed me to be the happiest I have ever been.  I am so grateful for this exercise.  I really have found the beauty in everyday things, and am brimming with gratitude for them.  It reminds me of an account my little brother, Matt, shared in his farewell address before he left to serve a mission for the LDS Church in Slovakia.  His farewell topic was gratitude: 
 
Two summers ago, I lived with my brother Jake and his wife in San Diego.  He was a ward missionary for the local Hmong branch.  The Hmong people are a rather obscure ethnic group from the Laos / Vietnam area with a very rich history, and some of them managed to find their way to the San Diego area.  One Sunday we attended their testimony meeting, and because of the language barrier, we listened to a translation on our headphones.  The testimonies shared in the meeting we pure and beautiful.  One elderly woman approached the podium and started to bear her testimony.  It was a strong and powerful witness of the truth of the Gospel.  At one point she related a personal experience to us.  One day, she was driving home and she had her chicken in a cage in the back of her truck.  When she got home, she looked at the cage and saw that the cage door lay open.  Frightened, she looked inside the cage and was relieved that her Chicken remained safely inside.  At this point she said something that really got my attention, she said “And I want to thank God for saving my chicken that day”.
My brother and I looked at each other and smiled.  We both agreed that it was a beautiful and yet immature testimony that she bore.  How peculiar that someone would thank Heavenly Father for saving their chicken.  However, in studying and pondering gratitude I’ve had to reevaluate that Hmong woman’s testimony.  If I were in that same situation, I would have seen my chicken sitting safely in its cage and thought “Neat. My chicken survived.  This is a good day, what a fortunate coincidence.”  It simply would not have occurred to me to thank God for saving my chicken.  But that Hmong woman saw what I would consider a chance occurrence, and she bore witness of the hand of God in her life.  She took an everyday event and turned it into a testimony building experience.  Her world was so much more divine and meaningful simply because she had shown gratitude for what I would consider an ordinary incident. 
 
It is very humbling to realize how blessed I am, especially when I realize how many of my figurative chickens God has saved. 
 
Plus, if I had nothing else but my eternal John, I would still be the most blessed women in the world.  
 
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“I may not have much, but with you I have everything.”
 
And then there’s my Baby James.  We are over the moon in love with this little monkey.  I never knew this kind of joy and love could exist.
 
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“First we had each other.  Then we had you.  Now we have everything.”
 
And then there is my Savior Jesus Christ: The Source of all I have to be grateful for.  My Light, my Strength, my Friend.
 
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It’s all almost too much for this heart.  I am a new woman because of gratitude.
    

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