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Gratitude: Mendenhall Fireside Report and Anthology

fireside report anthology

From: "David W. Allan" <>
Sent: Thursday, October 25, 2001 8:43 AM

My Peace I Give Unto You by Robert Adlai Lake With Doug MendenhallDear family and friends,

Last Friday evening, some dear friends of ours (Susan and Ren Carter) invited us to a fireside at their home.  We had a most interesting experience.  We were privileged to meet Denise Mendenhall, her father, Doug, and a friend who wrote a book about Denise's  and Doug's experiences, Rob Lake, MY PEACE I GIVE UNTO YOU.  The fireside was such a moving experience for us that I felt to share it with you.  Denise is now 12 and one of the sweetest little 12 year olds you would ever want to meet.

When Denise was ten she went into an unexpected diabetic coma for three days.  With that she had a massive stroke with blood effusing into two-thirds of the left side of her brain.  She was expected to die and if she lived, the expectations were that she would be at best like a vegetable. During those three days, her spirit was with the Savior on the other side of the veil and He showed her and taught her a great deal.  She was shown His birth, His crucifixion, His resurrection, His ministration to the Americas, and much, much more.  For example, she saw the City of Enoch.

When her spirit returned to her body, two remarkable things happened.  She through prayers and priesthood blessings received a miraculous recovery, and the veil was not placed again over her mind.  She can see spirit beings -- including the Savior -- as they come and go, and she can see everyone's aura and knows that different colors indicate different spiritual and/or emotional characteristics.  Her recovery is nearly totally complete with some slight limitations on the right side of her body.  She knows with clarity that the spirit-world is right around us, and this was so different for her upon her return to her body that she sought to stay next to her daddy all of the time (night and day) because she was so taken back by seeing what she was immediately around her.  Specifically, it was interesting to learn from her that children and handicapped people have white auras and rarely does an adult have a white aura; they are usually yellow.  Red is an indication of anger in the person -- often the color of mothers in a mall with their children.  Purple is an indication of pride and she often sees this around doctors.

Now, her feelings about the atonement are very poignant.  She saw the Savior in agony on the ground in the Garden of Gethsemane -- bleeding from every poor.  She had a really hard time watching His pain.  She saw the crown of thorns, the nails driven in the hands and in the wrists.  He told her, "You must watch, Denise."

She responded, "I don't want to see you get hurt anymore.  Why did you let them hurt you?"

"Father wanted it to be so.  I hurt, Denise, that I might love perfectly. I hurt, Denise, because I love you and want you to be with Me."

As they raised the cross, she says that, "The mean crown with the big spikes fell off."  She saw Mary cry out as she saw her son on the cross.  He smiled love at her through His pain.  She saw angels round about Him; then they left Him alone.  He had to bear the sins of all of Father's children, ALONE! My heart cries out in the deepest of gratitude for this incomprehensible act of love for us.

She saw the spear trust into His side; saw them place his body in a cave where His mother and some other women cleaned it and wrapped it.  She saw His meeting with Mary Magdalene on that glorious resurrection morning. When He said, "Mary," she then knew it was He, and her heart went from the deepest despair to the heights of ecstasy.

Doug and his daughter, Denise have now the deepest feelings of gratitude for all the experiences of life.  Doug learned that it is through gratitude that we approach the Savior.  We cannot love without heart felt gratitude.  I was so deeply touched by the importance of gratitude that I pulled together the material below, that includes a quote from their book by Doug.

Rob Lake, a math teacher at Kerns High School (near Jeannette and Bill's), had a profound experience in writing the book, and he shared that with us as well.  Denise was told they are to write two books.  The second one will be about Rob's experiences Denise said the other night.

I was so please to see the Lord use the innocence of a ten (now twelve) year old to share the profound importance of the Savior's mission for all mankind. It was really a special experience to meet the three of them.

'avec amour'

Dad, Grandpa, votre ami et frere en Christ



VIOLA ...I hate ingratitude more in a man Than lying, vainness, babbling, drunkenness, Or any taint of vice whose strong corruption Inhabits our frail blood. (Shakespeare, Twelfth Night, Act 3 Scene 4)

Joseph F. Smith: The spirit of gratitude... begets love and friendship, and engenders divine influence.

Doug Mendenhall: The words whispered to me that gratitude was the beginning of a true friendship based on love. "In gratitude will you find my love; in gratitude will you find me." The voice was soft and comforting, more felt than heard. My heart sang out in joy. I understood! Gratitude is the door He stands at - the door He waits for us to open! Gratitude for all that is within our lives. (Robert Lake, My Peace I Give Unto You)

Marjorie Hinckley: It has been a matter of concern to me as I have seen the luxury of America compared to other lands. I have wondered how we can teach gratitude and humility to our American children in the face of such abundance. Perhaps the best way is to be constant in the matter of family prayer. It is good to kneel as a family and to hear daily expressions of gratitude to our Heavenly Father for the blessings we enjoy. The Lord intended His children to enjoy the good things of life. With all that we have, we must also have grateful hearts.

Elder John Wells: May we cultivate gratitude. The spirit of gratitude always brings happiness. If we have this virtue we are more God-like. May we cultivate a thankful attitude towards God and our fellowmen. We will express our thankfulness for our blessings to our Father in heaven in daily prayer and show our love for him by keeping his commandments, in giving service in his cause, in contributing of our means for furthering his work, and in praise and song. The spirit of gratitude will grow in our hearts as we express it, and it will be germinated and grow in the hearts of those about us. Let us teach it in our homes to our children, that they may grow up with thankful hearts, that the spirit of discontent and unrest which is in the world may not affect their lives. Let us follow the advice given in our song, "Count Your Many Blessings" (Conference Report, April 1935)

George Benson was a man who took Church leaders at their word. Morning and evening prayers, with everyone kneeling around the table, were never missed. "The spirit of gratitude and thanksgiving was always emphasized in our family prayers," Ezra says. Because his parents relied heavily upon the Lord, Ezra, while still a boy, patterned after them. His father often counseled, "Remember that whatever you do or wherever you are, you are never alone. Our Heavenly Father is always near. You can reach out and receive His aid through prayer." In 1954 Ezra would write in a Reader's Digest article, "All through my life the counsel to depend on prayer has been prized above any other advice I have ever received. It has become an integral part of me, an anchor, a constant source of strength." Sheri L. Dew, Ezra Taft Benson: A Biography [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1987],

President Gordon B. Hinckley: Let us cultivate a spirit of thanksgiving for the blessing of life and for the marvelous gifts and privileges each of us enjoys. The Lord has said that the meek shall inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:5.) I cannot escape the interpretation that meekness implies a spirit of gratitude as opposed to an attitude of self-sufficiency, an acknowledgment of a greater power beyond oneself, a recognition of God, and an acceptance of his commandments. This is the beginning of wisdom. Walk with gratitude before him who is the giver of life and every good gift. (Gordon B. Hinckley, Faith: The Essence of True Religion [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1989],

Joseph F. Smith: CULTIVATE GRATITUDE. The spirit of gratitude is always pleasant and satisfying because it carries with it a sense of helpfulness to others; it begets love and friendship, and engenders divine influence. Gratitude is said to be the memory of the heart.

And where there is an absence of gratitude, either to God or man, there is the presence of vanity and the spirit of self-sufficiency. Thomas Gibbons expresses in verse most beautifully the idea of ingratitude:

"That man may last, but never lives,
Who much receives, but nothing gives;
Whom none can love, whom none can thank,
Creation's blot, creation's blank."

Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine: Selections from the Sermons and Writings of Joseph F. Smith, compiled by John A. Widtsoe [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1939], 271.)

David O. McKay:. Another fundamental for which we should be grateful is the free agency which God has given us-freedom and liberty vouchsafed by the Constitution of the United States.

I wonder if we appreciate this great gift. That free agency, the right to exercise that free agency, and the right of trial by your equals is vouchsafed by the Constitution of the United States. Let us have a spirit of gratitude in our hearts for the free exercise of our agency and the rights of liberty. (Treasures of Life 138)

By inheritance we enjoy liberty vouchsafed by the Constitution to speak, to work, to study, to pray as we wish, so long as we do not deprive others of the same privileges. (Treasures of Life 381)

As we celebrate the birthday of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, one hundred and eighty-eight years ago, let us catch the spirit of that morning and awaken appreciation for the blessings and privileges that are ours if we but remain loyal and true to the Constitution of the United States as established by our Founding Fathers. . . . Donald Q. Cannon, ed., Latter-day Prophets and the United States Constitution [Provo: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1991], 128.)

A CONVERT: Formerly there might have been in his character a... deportment manifesting pride, and a considerable degree of self-importance; but how great the change now in this respect. The light of truth having glanced upon his intelligence, has at once taught him his littleness, his ignorance and unworthiness; and if he be a Saint indeed, humility will be the striking characteristic of his disposition; a desire and willingness to seek for instruction and counsel, and a spirit of gratitude and thankfulness for every fresh acquisition of truth. These will be something of the feelings, desires, and manifestations of the true Saint of God. (Latter-day Saints' Millennial Star, 1846)

GIVING THANKS: One of the characteristics of people in Zion is that they will " . . . thank the Lord . . . in all things." (D&C 59:7) Pres. Joseph F. Smith has described how the spirit of gratitude in individuals can permeate and influence a whole society for good. He said: "The spirit of gratitude is always pleasant and satisfying because it carries with it a sense of helpfulness to others; it begets love and friendship, and engenders divine influence. Gratitude is said to be the memory of the heart. And where there is an absence of gratitude, either to God or man, there is the presence of vanity and the spirit of self-sufficiency. (GD, p. 262)

The absence of this divine attribute is looked upon by the Lord as an offense unto God. (See D&C 59:21) Pres. Joseph F. Smith described such a condition as sin: "And I believe that one of the greatest sins of which the inhabitants of the earth are guilty today is the sin of ingratitude, the want of acknowledgment, on their part, of God and his right to govern and control. We see a man raised up with extraordinary gifts, or with great intelligence, and he is instrumental in developing some great principle. He and the world ascribe his great genius and wisdom to himself. He attributes his success to his own energies, labor and mental capacity. He does not acknowledge the hand of God in anything connected with his success, but ignores him altogether and takes the honor to himself; this will apply to almost all the world. In all the great modern discoveries in science, in the arts, in mechanics, and in all material advancement of the age, the world says, "We have done it". The individual says, "I have done it", and he gives no honor or credit to God. Now, I read in revelations through Joseph Smith, the prophet, that because of this, God is not pleased with the inhabitants of the earth but is angry with them because they will not acknowledge his hand in all things." (GD, pp. 270-271) (L. G. Otten and C. M. Caldwell, Sacred Truths of the Doctrine and Covenants [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1982-1983], 1: 292.)

Elder Richard G. Scott: FIND JOY IN LIFE AMID ADVERSITY, CHALLENGES Sadness, disappointment and severe challenges are events in life, not life itself... The Lord inspired Lehi to declare the fundamental truth: "Men are that they might have joy," That is a conditional statement: "that they might have joy." It is not conditional for the Lord. His intent is that each of us have joy. It will not be conditional for you as you obey the commandments, have faith in the Master and do the things that are necessary to have joy here on earth.

Take time to discover how beautiful life can be. You are one of the noblest of God's creations. His intent is that your life be gloriously beautiful regardless of your circumstances. As you are grateful and obedient, you can become all that God intends you to be."

A pebble held close to the eye appears to be a gigantic obstacle, whereas cast on the ground the pebble is seen in perspective, Elder Scott said, explaining that trials need to be viewed in the perspective of scriptural doctrine.

Some people are like rocks thrown into a sea of problems. They are drowned by them. Be a cork. When submerged in a problem, fight to be free, to bob up, to serve again with happiness.

You are here on earth for a divine purpose. "It is not to be endlessly entertained or to be constantly in full pursuit of pleasure," he explained. "You are here to be tried, to prove yourself so that you can receive the additional blessings God has for you."

Learn from inspiring individuals who have made peace with the challenges they have had and live with joy amid adversity.

Members can learn how to find joy under difficult circumstances from children. Children haven't learned to be depressed by concentrating on things they don't have. They find joy in what is available to them.

Find compensatory blessings in your lives when the Lord, in His wisdom, deprives you of something you want very much. To the sightless, to the hearing impaired, He sharpens other senses. To the ill, He gives patience, understanding and increased appreciation for other's kindness. With the loss of a dear one, he deepens the bonds of love, enriches memories and kindles hope in a future reunion. Be creative and be of service

e to others. Being creative will help you enjoy life. It engenders a spirit of gratitude. Willing service to others is a key to enduring happiness. Challenges [can be] growth experiences.

You will learn that sadness and disappointment are temporary. Happiness is everlastingly eternal because of Jesus Christ. (LDS Church News, 1996, 04/13/96 .)

President Gordon B. Hinckley: Gratitude is a divine principle. The Lord has declared through revelation: "Thou shalt thank the Lord thy God in all things. . . . And in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things." (D&C 59:7, 21.)

Our society is afflicted by a spirit of thoughtless arrogance unbecoming those who have been so magnificently blessed. How grateful we should be for the bounties we enjoy. Absence of gratitude is the mark of the narrow, uneducated mind. It bespeaks a lack of knowledge and the ignorance of self-sufficiency. It expresses itself in ugly egotism and frequently in wanton mischief. We have seen our beaches, our parks, our forests littered with ugly refuse by those who evidently have no appreciation for their beauty. . . There is so much of ugliness in the world in which you live. It is found in the scarred earth, the polluted waters, the befouled air. It is expressed in coarse language, in sloppy dress and manners, in immoral behavior that mocks the beauty of virtue and always leaves a scar. But you can rise above this and revel in the beauty to be found with a little effort. I believe in beauty-the beauty of God's unspoiled creations, the beauty of his sons and daughters who walk without whimpering, meeting the challenges of each new day. . . .

Where there is appreciation, there is courtesy, there is concern for the rights and property of others. Without appreciation, there is arrogance and evil. Where there is gratitude, there is humility, as opposed to pride.

Although I should not have been, I was surprised at something President Kimball said on one occasion. I quote: "I find myself hungering and thirsting for just a word of appreciation or of honest evaluation from my superiors and my peers. I want no praise; I want no flattery; I am seeking only to know if what I gave was acceptable." (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 489.)

Gratitude is of the very essence of worship-thanksgiving to the God of Heaven, who has given us all that we have that is good. (Teaching of Gordon B. Hinckley, 1997)


page posted Oct. 26, 2001



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