I'm finally getting a leg up on this gratitude posting thing. It's not even noon and I already came up with something I want to share. I have been trying to follow a routine in the morning, to make sure I get the essential things done first, and one of those things is to spend some time reading and pondering the word of God. Today I decided to read out of the General Conference edition of the Ensign. I thought for sure I had the perfect thought to share after reading President Uchtdorf's talk, but then I read Elder Christofferson's and I couldn't help but want to share something from it instead. So I decided I could just be grateful for them both.
President Uchtdorf talked about slowing down and focusing in on the most important things in life when things seem to get hectic and out of control. I figured with all the hub-bub gearing up with the holidays it was a perfect message. I loved that he quoted Elder Dallin H. Oaks, from his talk about Good Better Best (one of my all time favorites), “We have to forego some good things in order to choose others that are better or best because they develop faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and strengthen our families.” He lists three key places to focus our energy: "First, our relationship with God is most sacred and vital....He desires our happiness....Our second key relationship is with our families. Since 'no other success can compensate for failure' here, we must place high priority on our families. We build deep and loving family relationships by doing simple things together, like family dinner and family home evening and by just having fun together....The third key relationship we have is with our fellowman. We build this relationship one person at a time—by being sensitive to the needs of others, serving them, and giving of our time and talents." And the fourth was my favorite when I heard him speak because it was something I had been pondering a lot at the time: "The fourth key relationship is with ourselves. It may seem odd to think of having a relationship with ourselves, but we do. Some people can’t get along with themselves. They criticize and belittle themselves all day long until they begin to hate themselves. May I suggest that you reduce the rush and take a little extra time to get to know yourself better. Walk in nature, watch a sunrise, enjoy God’s creations, ponder the truths of the restored gospel, and find out what they mean for you personally. Learn to see yourself as Heavenly Father sees you—as His precious daughter or son with divine potential." And in his summary he said, "Strength comes not from frantic activity but from being settled on a firm foundation of truth and light."
Well, now that I've shared highlights from his talk you won't have to read it yourself - unless you can't help yourself. It really is good.
I'm not sure it will be as easy to paraphrase Elder Christofferson's, but I'll try. He talks about living a consecrated life. He shares the scripture about the purpose of life being happiness. He also praises hard work. I've recently been thinking about the original 12 apostles (Bret and I have been reading the New Testament) and I'm amazed at the degree of sacrifice they made for the gospel. Not to mention the sacrifice Christ made himself. Elder Christofferson quotes Joseph Smith at one point and I was again reminded of the sacrifice and work offered by men who have lived consecrated lives. Somehow that sacrifice is tied to joy. It certainly seems like a contradiction, but in his talk he manages to explain and show how true it is. I'll just share his conclusion and hopefully if you need more clarification or inspiration you'll just go directly to his talk: "A consecrated life is a beautiful thing. Its strength and serenity are “as a very fruitful tree which is planted in a goodly land, by a pure stream, that yieldeth much precious fruit” (D&C 97:9). Of particular significance is the influence of a consecrated man or woman upon others, especially those closest and dearest. The consecration of many who have gone before us and others who live among us has helped lay the foundation for our happiness. In like manner future generations will take courage from your consecrated life, acknowledging their debt to you for the possession of all that truly matters. May we consecrate ourselves as sons and daughters of God, “that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope” (Moroni 7:48; see also 1 John 3:2), I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, amen."
I am grateful for wise leaders who know how to expound the scriptures in ways that make them all the more precious to me. I have loved reading the New Testament and I love that through the ages God has blessed his children with comforting words of truth and hope.