My name is Anne. My husband Spencer and I have been married for three months. We met in German class last fall—I went on a foreign exchange to Germany in High School at the same time Spencer was serving in the Berlin mission. On our first date, I told Spencer I was not planning on getting married anytime soon and he said he had pretended to be gay at the singles wards so people would stop trying to line him up. But a year later, here we are. Spencer is majoring in mining engineering. I write for the U’s newspaper and am majoring in German.
I am grateful for my family. I am grateful for my mom, who let me sit on the end of her bed at night so I could reenact every funny moment that happened at school. I am grateful for my dad who gave me blessings at odd hours when my thoughts turned into anxiety attacks. I am grateful for my brother Harrison, who accepts others, for Maxwell, who constantly makes me laugh, and for baby sister Mira, who at 10 years old, is already counting down the days until she can go on a mission. I am grateful for my husband, who loves me unconditionally even when I’m irrational, who listens, who brings me hot chocolate in bed, who makes me laugh, who brings the spirit into our home, along with the famous Star Wars collection. I am grateful for our ward, for Heidi and Devon inviting us over, for Alyssa who squeezes my arm when she walks by, for Mckaye texting me, asking if I need a ride to the grocery store, for Theresa offering her washing machine to me. I am grateful for Heavenly Father. I am grateful that he knows my stubbornness, that he roots me on, and that he constantly reminds me that he loves me.
These are things I am grateful for every day. In Alma 34 verse 30, it says “humble yourselves even to the dust, and worship God, in whatsoever place ye be in, in spirit and in truth; and that ye live in thanksgiving daily.”
I wish this scripture were easier to follow. I wish I could remember to live in thanksgiving daily and be humble—to remember to be grateful for the home I have and forget about the plastered hair on the linoleum floor or the sink that squirts out my neighbor’s shavings. I have a roof above my head, a wonderful husband, money to buy groceries, and still everyday I find reasons to complain.
But through my experiences, I have found ways to remember to be grateful every day.
My patriarchal blessing says, “When you start your home, make it a home of calmness and peace, where gentle words are spoken, where scriptures are read, prayers are offered and testimonies are born.” It tells me to make our home a refuge from the storms of life. I have found that having a house of peace and calmness has given me more gratitude. A month ago, Spencer decided to make a Swear Jar. Every time we swear or say something bad about another person, we have to put a nickel in the jar. There is nothing more satisfying than telling your spouse that they need to put a nickel into the jar. We even have a couple of IOU’s from friends and family.
As silly as it sounds, this swear jar has changed the feeling in our house. We are more aware of the words we say. We know others are hearing us. We can talk about things without being upset. We humble ourselves by remembering that we aren’t better than other people. We have a distinct feeling in our home that is welcoming and loving and peaceful because we make a conscious effort every day to say good things about others and to speak gentle words. When I am at home, I feel grateful for the love that is around me.
When Spencer and I were engaged, our bishops and stake presidents gave us advice on ways to have a successful marriage. All of them said the same thing—read scriptures together daily, pray together, have Family Home Evening. They all said that doing these things daily would hold our marriage together. But there are days when we don’t get home until 10 from school or when we have too much homework and we forget to read scriptures or pray. Sometimes we’d rather watch The Walking Dead or play a couple rounds of Connect 4. But when we have a week of constant scripture reading, our weeks run better. We are less anxious about homework. We have faith that our monthly income will hold us over. We rarely argue. When we go for long periods without reading the scriptures, we tend to get in disagreements or become defensive. I know that taking the time to humble myself by reading scriptures and praying daily makes me a better person. I am more grateful for the blessings that are around me.
When Spencer and I decided to get married in the summer, we were both scared to death. I knew I loved Spencer, but I wanted Heavenly Father to give me a big burning answer that I was supposed to marry him. I never received a burning feeling, but I felt calm. Every time I prayed I felt as if God was saying, “Calm down, Anne. Everything is going to be alright.” I would go to bed feeling at peace, but then wake up to feel nervous again. What did He mean everything was going to be alright? I’d think. Should I marry Spencer or not? It took me a couple of weeks to learn that God was not going to tell me whether or not to marry him, but he was certainly not telling me no. Once we made the decision to get married, Spencer and I were overwhelmed by all of the blessings. We both felt once we made the decision to marry that it was the right thing to do. I realized that God did not want to tell me who to marry, but rather he was on our side in whatever decision we made. I’m grateful He believed in me to make that choice.
Still, we worried about not finding a place to live and everywhere we looked, it was too expensive. But a month before we were married, we got a spot in the village. We were ecstatic. After being told three times that we would have to wait until December to be in the village, they emailed us with our new apartment address. I jumped up and down with happiness and kept hugging Spencer, saying, We have a place to live! We have an apartment! We have a home!
I told Spencer it would be so nice to have a sectional couch that could fit plenty of people. We began to think about our money and how we’d be able to pay for a couch. Nothing seemed to work, especially since we’d be paying for tuition in the fall. I kneeled and prayed one night, asking Heavenly Father to help things work out, even if it meant living a couple months without a couch. A few days later, during a wedding shower at my ward, one of the women simply asked me if I needed a couch. I told her we were in desperate need of one. She told me her sister lived a few blocks away and had been trying to get rid of a couch for a long time. Within 10 minutes, we were at her sister’s house hauling a green, leather couch out of a garage with Spencer and his dad who were coincidentally in the neighborhood with a trailer. I went back to the wedding shower again, yelling We got a couch, we got a couch! I am grateful for ward members and answers to prayers.
Other than the green sectional, we had no other furniture. Spencer and I had no furniture for our house. But within weeks of the wedding, our family opened up their storage units to give us a night stand, a leaf table, and a king size bed. Another ward member told me that her work was giving away furniture for a cheap price—we took a trailer over there one day and found a beautiful armoire and a glass coffee table. I am extremely grateful for these loving family and ward members.
We went over our budgeting and both of us thought it’d be good to have a weekend job along with our job during the week. I had been working at Zupas full-time, but wanted to try working full time with the newspaper at the U. But I knew Zupas had a rule that you weren’t allowed to work less than three shifts, and I hoped to only work two. I had the feeling to just go in and ask, and sure enough my manager made an exception.
These were miracles. For two broke students who had no money to buy things for the house or plan a wedding reception, we only prayed and prayed that things would work out. They did.
Our decision to get married is one of the happiest and wonderful things in my life. We were blessed by a million of miracles, by people serving, by the Lord answering our prayers. I learned the importance of gratitude during the few months before Spencer and I married. I learned the joy that comes from giving thanks to the Lord and humbling myself by praying when we were in need of help.
Although the pre-wedding miracles have calmed down and we’re no longer receiving a random couch or coffee table during the week, we are blessed every day with small things, whether it’s a neighbor waving hello from the playground when you had a bad day, a teacher extending their deadline, or watching the sunset in winter. I know that God is watching over me and is taking time to bless me every day. I know that if I notice these things every day and thank the Lord for them, I will be blessed. In D&C Section 78 verse 19 it says, “And he who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold, yea, more.” I say this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen. Did you like this post? For more talk ideas in sacrament meeting, click here for prayer and blessings and click here for a father’s day talk.