In college, my five roommates and I called ourselves, “The Snapper Squad.” (Yes, we were very cheesy…but don’t ya just love cheese?)
On our Snapper Squad wall we covered it with reams of paper. Across the top we wrote “The Snapper Squad’s Happy List” (or something like that. Gretchen Rubin, eat your heart out 🙂 I should have written THAT happiness book!)
Anyway, the whole wall was covered with lists of what made us happy. Just writing the list made us happy. And every girl, boy, and RA who wandered into our apartment had a comment about our wall. It was a huge conversation starter, and every time I passed in and out of our apartment, I would glance at it…and college Amy was happy (in-between all the boy drama.)
I didn’t know it then, but years later, science would back up the Snapper Squad’s happiness experiment.
Being grateful and expressing gratitude makes us happier.
My niece, Hailey, and I taught a lesson to our young women at church on Sunday. The topic was “Why is it important to be grateful?” Isn’t it interesting that God has often commanded us to be happy? (Think of the parable of the lepers…)
Doctrine & Covenants 59:21 And in nothing doth man aoffend God, or against none is his bwrathckindled, save those who dconfess not his hand in all things, and eobey not his commandments.
Sometimes, when we feel our lives are a train wreck we don’t feel we have much to be grateful for.
But remember Job? Even after he lost everything, he said: “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return…the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
I think God wants us to be happy. And if that’s true, than perhaps we shouldn’t think of commandments as restrictions, rather, as opportunities for greater happiness.
Even if you don’t care a lick about what scriptures say about gratitude, let us go back to science. Science says we are happier when we are grateful. Try it.
Hailey showed this video:
For a phenomenal talk from one of my spiritual heroes, listen to this one.Wow.
Tonight, with a nod to the Snapper Squad, the #makechniemafia hung a long piece of paper on the wall so we can have our own happy list.
“We sometimes think that being grateful is what we do after our problems are solved, but how terribly shortsighted that is. How much of life do we miss by waiting to see the rainbow before thanking God that there is rain?”
-Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Happy Monday. Hope you’re feeling grateful because then I bet you’re feeling happy 🙂
Mary was named National Geographic’s Most Powerful Woman of 2015, and while I don’t “worship” her the way some religions do, I revere her. I always imagine the type of young girl she must have been, to be chosen to raise the most extraordinary man and influence the world has ever known.
Sometimes I feel very inconsequential, like I’m never doing enough, that I’m not “living up to my potential,” the message “CHANGE THE WORLD OR YOU’RE NOTHING” constantly being thrust at us. It’s exhausting.
During the bustle and hustle of Christmas time, I’m so happy to pause and think of Mary. Quiet and serene, holding a small baby wrapped in swaddling clothes, in a dirty barn in a field under the stars. Or maybe she was loud and boisterous and had a wicked sense of humor. I don’t know. But she’s sitting in the barn wrapped in pure love with some cows, her Joseph, and their beloved baby. She’s thinking nothing of social media likes or platform or being important. She’s just loving her baby. This scene is pure peace. I want to sit under the stars with her and just hold my babies, hearing nothing but the cattle lowing…
A few years ago I realized that the greatest thing I would probably ever do in this life was raise good children. What a wonderful way to change the world.
What if your neighbor asked you to take twenty minutes one night to help him? Would you?
But what if he asked you every night following? With no end in sight?
Would you be willing to do it?
“The more we serve our fellow men in appropriate ways, the more substance there is to our souls. We become more substantive as we serve others. Indeed, its easier to find ourselves because there’s so much more of us to find.”
Last tuesday, Paige came to me with her sad “I’m in the dentist chair” face. It looks like this:
She wasn’t actually at the dentist. She was sad because she had lost my fitness watch, specifically, the small seaglass disc to this cool new fitness & sleep contraption I loaned to her, called the misfit shine.
“I was at recess and I looked down and it was gone!”
Brynne was behind her, pushing her to confess.
“I said so many prayers in the bathroom that I would find it!” Paige wailed. She shook her head sadly.
“Are you mad?” Brynne pressed.
They were both so earnest I couldn’t be mad…but was a little “dentist chair expression” myself.
Four days passed without the disc being found. It was a goner.
Yesterday was cold and raining buckets. Paige and I stood in the rain for hours watching Brynne’s soccer tournament. Famished, freezing, and tired, we took a break and trudged up to Jake’s, the only gas station in town to see what kind of warm snack we could scrounge up enough pennies for.
I sprung for the hot chocolate with milk and once again we trudged back to the field, our faces down as we watched our step, umbrellas over our head.
We decided to take a short-cut to the field, crossing the playground covered with wood chips. Instead of walking around the playground like usually do, we hopped over over a small wooden fence, across the basketball court, and past the swings.
Walking, walking, rain pouring, sipping hot chocolate, walking.
When all of a sudden, there, right in front of my red rain boots was a small seaglass disc.
It sat atop the wood chips right in front of the swings on the playground where Paige had lost it four days ago.
Four days ago, where it was kicked around by hundreds and hundreds of children. Four days ago where not one school child saw a small seaglass disc on the ground and said, “what the heck is this? I think I’ll chuck it in the woods…or put it in my pocket…or put it in the trash…or give it to a teacher.” No, none of those things happened.
I gasped when I saw it and literally stopped in my tracks. Of all the paths we could have taken, this was the path?
“Paige,” I whispered. “Look!”
The sad “dentist face expression” was nowhere to be found as she snatched it up quickly and screamed, “OH MY GOSH!”
“Paige,” I said, “that is a miracle.”
She smiled. “I prayed so many times. It’s like that song I sing in the bathroom…”
It’s a primary church song she sings twice when she’s washing her hands in the bathroom for fear of contracting ebola. or diabetes.
She started to sing:
Heavenly Father, are you really there? And do you hear and answer every child’s prayer…
I looked down at her.
She looked up at me.
“Some people think Heavenly Father doesn’t answer prayers, but he does!” she said.
This week my friend wrote to me saying, “I am going through a thorough scrubbing right now – mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically.”
He’s been stressed with work, volunteer responsibilities, and physically exhausted from years without quality sleep. All week I pondered the phrase, ” a thorough scrubbing.”
I read this note again the morning my husband and I jetted off to NYC last weekend. We left early as we had to make a stop by our church to quickly do some volunteer cleaning.
Usually, we make our children come with us as we think it’s an important assignment to clean up your own church, to empty trash, clean windows, and whine about the amount of dirt in the entry way. This is how we make a church OUR church. Due to the NYC child-less trip, they had to stay home and didn’t get to clean the church this time 🙂
It was very quiet as my husband entered the building on an early Saturday morning. We opened the janitor’s closet and I reached for the vacuum, my most favorite chore in life. I use a vacuum called The Pig because it has a long hose attached to a canister that follows behind me like a pet pig. (peculiar people, aren’t we?)
I headed to the chapel, where immediately, the air shifted. It was even more quiet than the quiet halls. The chapel is a sacred place, a room I never allow my children to run through, yell, or pinch…I like it.
The Pig and I started on the stand, stopping to straighten hymn books and place tissue boxes in order.
I moved down to the aisles and vacuumed in-between each pew. It was tight and required The Pig to maneuver expertly.
It’s always eye-opening to see what we leave behind in our chapel.
Tiny bits of white paper
Sacrament and announcement bulletins
Tiny, folded up wrappers
The occasional toy
I thought of my friend’s note again, of his “thorough scrubbing.”
The visible and microscopic messes were sucked up; it doesn’t take much time, and it was extremely satisfying. It wasn’t even all that “thorough,” but it felt good to be clean again.
Then I unplugged The Pig and glanced back at our chapel. It was still perfectly still and quiet, but this time the room was smiling at me, no longer sullied by dirt, grime, and other people’s crumbs. We left soon after, happy a congregation would enter a place of worship that was at least tidy and visibly clean.
We got in our car, took South 93, and headed to NYC. I thought about what a thorough scrubbing is.
If our body is a temple (which it is) and made in the image of God, what are we putting in it? How do we fill our minds? Are we taking care of our greatest creation? Are we diligent about what’s coming into our bodies, mind, and home – whether that’s from television, internet, or sugar cereal? Are we learning, examining, trying?
I vowed to do better, occasionally administering a thorough scrubbing of every part of my life – physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually.
Perhaps a soul without scrubbing is like a church without The Pig.
This short list of names say something about how some people respond when life is most definitely not fair.
They see something beyond the right now.
Does faith emerge because of tragedy? Or in spite of?
To have faith is to “hope for things which are not seen, which are true” (see Book of Mormon, Alma 32:21 and Hebrews 11:1). Each day you act upon things you hope for, even before you see the end result. This is similar to faith.
“faith is believing what you know, and knowing what you believe.”
Ugo Betti, a writer and POW wrote:
“To believe in God is to know that all the rules will be fair, and there will be wonderful surprises.”
It keeps me going.
I invite people of all different faiths, beliefs, ages, and walks of life to share their own Sunday Meditations in the form of short stories, thoughts, quotes, and inspiration. If interested, send me an email at amym (at) proctornet (dot) com. Thank you! And if you never want to miss a post, well then you best subscribe RIGHT HERE.
I love my Dad. He’s one of the good guys. In a white shirt and tie.
I love Arthur. He’s one of the good guys. In a kitchen apron, making bread.
I love my boy, Nellie Mak. He’s one of the good guys. With duct tape.
I love Superman. Because who doesn’t?
I love our doggy, Tenny. He’s a good doggy.
I love my brothers. And brothers-in-law. Each one of them. They’re good fathers and men. And could have their own fashion face-off.
I love the good men who show my son what being a good man is all about. Who do the right thing. And help my husband laugh and cook bacon.
And I’m lucky that seventeen years ago (zowie!) my husband walked into a college apartment and it was love at first sight even though it took him a few months for him to realize that. He works so hard for us, can cook like a master chef, and loves his children something fierce. He deserves a back scratch, don’t you think?