Saturday, November 15, 2008

Because I Have Been Given Much...

During my teen years, my mom started giving us Gratitude Journals every Christmas. She encouraged us to write down a few things we were grateful for every night, and this is a habit I've tried to keep up in the years since. I've noticed that writing down what I'm thankful for has helped me 1) recognize just how blessed I really am, and 2) notice little "tender mercies" sent from Heavenly Father as I go through my day: Ry and I will have a spontaneous dance party in the kitchen, or I'll get a phone call from my sister just when I am feeling lonely, and I'll think, "This is going in the Gratitude Journal tonight!" Writing down my blessings has made me more aware of my blessings.

Lately, I've been thinking about my mom. Okay, well, I am always thinking about my mom...but I've been thinking about her even more than usual. In spite of all of the health problems she faced throughout her life, she was always profoundly grateful for her blessings and tried to teach her daughters this quality. When I was about six, my mom decided that the hymn "Because I Have Been Given Much" would be our family song for the year, and, as a family, we memorized all three verses and sang it at every Family Home Evening. Interestingly, before that year, we'd never had a family song, and we never had a family song after that was just that song that she wanted us to memorize. We have the cutest home video of my little sister (who was only three) sitting in bed under her Little Mermaid sheets singing all three verses of "Because I Have Been Given Much" word-for-word. She can't pronounce her Rs or Ls, but she keeps singing: "Because I have been bwessed by thy gweat love, Deaw Lowd..."

It was only later in life that I started to really understand what the words of the hymn mean and why my mom wanted us to learn it:

"Because I have been given much, I too must give. Because of thy great bounty, Lord, each day I live, I shall divide my gifts from Thee with every brother that I see, who has the need of help from me."

This is how my mom lived her life and how I must remember to live mine. It is so easy to get caught up in my own challenges, struggles, and frustrations and forget about how richly I've been blessed. The last few weeks, I've been selfish. I've felt sorry for myself because teaching is outrageously busy and hard and because Ryan is too overwhelmed with school to spend a lot of time with me. Wow...these are really not challenges to whine about, are they?? Again, writing it down really puts it into perspective. With all the suffering that occurs in the world, I need to stop worrying about myself and start sharing my blessings with others. That's what my mom would do.

I am grateful for my mother. More than almost anything else in my life, I am grateful for her.


  1. This is a great post Rachel. Thanks for sharing. I've always admired your courage inspite of your trials. And I love the gratitude journal idea too. I think I remember Katie telling me that she got a gratitude journal from you one year and she is ever so faithful in writing in it. I need to be better at that.

  2. (This comment is from Christie...wasn't until I was about to publish it that I realized that Katie was still logged in! She keeps up with you too!) I wish I could have known your mom, but I think from knowing you a bit, I know her a bit too. To tell you the truth, I think of her every time I'm not feeling very well. I've been blessed with such good health, that I'm not very tolerant of not feeling well. I usually have so much energy and can go and when I don't, the contrast is really startling. It is at those times that I think of your mom...and all that she did, all that she way, and all the positive and fun things she brought to your family, most of which where probably when she "wasn't feeling all that well". It helps me to really appreciate my blessing of health, and try to not be such a whiner when I'm less than 100%. How very much she loved you to 'forget herself' and give to you.

  3. Your mom is still an inspiration to me as well. When she died I think I mentioned that in her memory I coined a new life motto for myself..."No excuses, no regrets" and I still think about that all the time. I know that in spite of all the cancer and not feeling well she did fun things not only for her family, but for all those around her. Her funeral spoke of what an impact she had on people by the shear number of people who were there. And I am sure there are many many more who she touched who couldn't be there. That is exactly the kind of person I want to be and she literally is one of my greatest examples of that. I really appreciated reading your blog about her.

  4. I am grateful for her too! I really miss her as I'm going through becoming a mom myself for the first time. And it IS important to keep things in perspective. Compared to kids in Africa you have the best life imaginable, but don't kid yourself into thinking that it's so easy to be an overworked teacher with an overworked student husband that you can't be discouraged at times. That's just not true. It IS hard. Not as hard as not having food on the table every night, but hard nonetheless. You and Ry are both so great, and not at all selfish. Mom would be very pleased with what you are doing with your life each day. Of that I am sure.


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