Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Practicing Gratitude

I have so much to be grateful for.  At the end of the night my basic needs are always met; a roof over my head, warm clothes, a full belly and a whole lot of love from my family.

Sometimes though when I am expressing thanks during my personal prayers I create little footnotes in the back of my mind.

I am thankful for a roof over my head....but I wish it had hardwood floors and a bigger kitchen and a more accessible backyard.

I am thankful for warm clothes....but I wish I could buy those new shoes, sweater, etc.

I am thankful for a full belly....but I wish I didn't have to cook it myself.

I am thankful for the love of my family...but why do I feel so worn down by the end of the day?

I kick myself for all of those little footnotes. I don't want to just acknowledge my blessings but I truly want to be grateful for them, for the imperfectness of them, within each circumstance I find myself in.
It is no secret that James' death sparked a massive change in my heart. A desire to be more, to do more with this life I have been given. I don't want to waste it wishing away for more of something or for something that I have deemed "better." I want to be grateful despite my circumstance. I want to find the value in what I have and to stop the pursuit of things.

Over the past couple of years I have become more and more disillusioned with our culture's constant push towards more and more stuff. I have been caught up in it for too long feeling like those basic necessities aren't enough and that I deserve more. I have dreams and hopes that I have mentally turned into essentials for my personal happiness.

We are a young family and as such are dealing with issues like paying off student loans, saving up for a home of our own, budgeting for extras like snow pants and family outings and it is hard to be patient through this time period and wait to accomplish personal and family goals. I found myself growing bitter and exasperated that the effort that I have put in so far towards these goals still has us moving at a snails pace. I am impatient, I want to accomplish everything RIGHT NOW!

I started looking more closely at my efforts and the smaller details. I started realizing that my daily pursuits did not match my long term goals. I have busied myself with stuff that eventually become clutter. Stuff to clean, to sort, to organize, to move from pile to pile, until finally it finds its way to the thrift store. My true goals and passions have nothing to do with this stuff that for so long I have accepted as a part of the daily grind. But I don't believe it has to be, or at least not in such a massive way.

I had a friend introduce me to the blog and since I have started reading I have come to many quick realizations. Realizations about the amount of stuff I am drowning myself in and how unnecessary a majority of it is. As I have made small changes to where I invest my time, my money, my thoughts, and my efforts, I have found peace. I feel as if I am not wasting the day, wishing it away but rather taking advantage of all the opportunities for special moments. I feel as if I am the best version of myself, the version God sees in me. I feel myself practicing true gratitude, doing away with excess and soaking in that which matters most. As a result, those footnotes have quieted and there really is more joy to each day.

I probably sound crazy but I cannot express how good it feels to pursue love, family, and personal growth rather than clothes, furnishings, and things.

Of course, I am not perfect in this pursuit, I still want many things, but I have seen the difference enough that it has lead me towards challenging myself more seriously (more on this later). I have felt a shift for the better and I truly believe that taking all the superfluous away has real and lasting benefits.

In the Sermon on the Mount the Savior said,  
 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Matthew 6:19-21)
I want to follow this admonition. I want to invest in that which cannot be corrupted. I want to treasure that which lasts. I know that as I do, I can be confident that I am living the true life I have imagined, I can be more thankful for what is before me, because in reality there is so much.


  1. I loved hearing your thoughts on minimalism. I'm am interested, intrigued, and somewhat educated on the process but I have not yet committed to taking the full purging plunge. I've got rid of some here and there, but I have hoarding tendencies in certain categories (children's toys, children's clothing, etc.)

    Your thoughts reminded me of a recent email exchange in my family. My parents and siblings all live in the SW area of the USA, they recently had an LDS Area Conference where they all had the same broadcast speakers. My Dad and sister's sent summaries out to the family & your words reminded me of the summaries they shared about Elder Robbins talk. My dad's notes indicated, "Simplify your life. Quit trying to buy more and bigger. Riches of this world must be paid for, insured, protected, worried about and cleaned. All the time these things take to do these things take us away from the most important things of being fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters." My sister's notes from the same talk indicated, "I got the most out of Elder Robbins talk. I didn't get so much the buying or bigger and better things like Dad but having too many things. That having to take care of those things takes time that I could be spending on other things. I have been working on cleaning out the garage with the cooler weather that we are having and I think that I have told Amy more than once. "Too much stuff!" If had less then I wouldn't have to spend my time organizing quite so much."

    Anyway, I think you are definitely onto something with the minimalist vein and good luck as you continue to pursue love, family & personal growth. I am one for New Years Resolutions & I do believe this will be the year to make less equal more. Thanks as always for your blog.

    1. Yes! I love those thoughts of Elder Robbins! I am far from the minimalism you see on instagram with bare everything but really I feel it is more of a state of mind than anything. I save kids clothes for future use but I have been really good about paring down toys. I am going to post more about this (books, blogs, little things that have worked for me). My big challenge is also a new year's resolution and I am super excited to share it and possibly have people join me in it!

  2. I like your thoughts. This time of year I get to thinking about everything I can buy because it's on sale! And we need Christmas gifts! But argh.... it's draining trying to budget for stuff and decide what to buy for who. I'm trying to keep it minimal and meaningful. Gratitude really is the key to happiness! Also, love the photos :)

  3. I love this Gina. Thank you for your thoughts and insights into what is really important. I am so glad that you have been my Visiting Teacher for these last few months and wish we had more time to get to know each other.

  4. I love this Gina. Thank you for your thoughts and insights into what is really important. I am so glad that you have been my Visiting Teacher for these last few months and wish we had more time to get to know each other.