Gratitude: Mendenhall Fireside Report and Anthology
fireside report • anthology
From: "David W. Allan" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Thursday, October 25, 2001 8:43 AM
Dear 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
experience. We were privileged to meet Denise Mendenhall, her father,
and a friend who wrote a book about Denise's and Doug's experiences,
Lake, MY PEACE I GIVE UNTO YOU. The fireside was such a moving
for us that I felt to share it with you. Denise is now 12 and one of
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
she lived, the expectations were that she would be at best like a
During those three days, her spirit was with the Savior on the other side
the veil and He showed her and taught her a great deal. She was shown
birth, His crucifixion, His resurrection, His ministration to the
and much, much more. For example, she saw the City of Enoch.
When her spirit returned to her body, two remarkable things happened.
through prayers and priesthood blessings received a miraculous recovery,
the veil was not placed again over her mind. She can see spirit
including the Savior -- as they come and go, and she can see everyone's
and knows that different colors indicate different spiritual and/or
emotional characteristics. Her recovery is nearly totally complete
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
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
mothers in a mall with their children. Purple is an indication of
she often sees this around doctors.
Now, her feelings about the atonement are very poignant. She saw the
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
thorns, the nails driven in the hands and in the wrists. He told her,
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
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
fell off." She saw Mary cry out as she saw her son on the cross.
love at her through His pain. She saw angels round about Him; then
left Him alone. He had to bear the sins of all of Father's children,
My heart cries out in the deepest of gratitude for this incomprehensible
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
His meeting with Mary Magdalene on that glorious resurrection morning.
He said, "Mary," she then knew it was He, and her heart went from
deepest despair to the heights of ecstasy.
Doug and his daughter, Denise have now the deepest feelings of gratitude
all the experiences of life. Doug learned that it is through
we approach the Savior. We cannot love without heart felt gratitude.
so deeply touched by the importance of gratitude that I pulled together
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
well. Denise was told they are to write two books. The second
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)
old to share the profound importance of the Savior's mission for all
It was really a special experience to meet the three of them.
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
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
of a true friendship based on love. "In gratitude will you find my
gratitude will you find me." The voice was soft and comforting, more
than heard. My heart sang out in joy. I understood! Gratitude is the door
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
luxury of America compared to other lands. I have wondered how we can
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
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
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
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
us. Let us teach it in our homes to our children, that they may grow up
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
"The spirit of gratitude and thanksgiving was always emphasized in our
family prayers," Ezra says. Because his parents relied heavily upon
Lord, Ezra, while still a boy, patterned after them. His father often
counseled, "Remember that whatever you do or wherever you are, you are
alone. Our Heavenly Father is always near. You can reach out and receive
aid through prayer." In 1954 Ezra would write in a Reader's Digest
"All through my life the counsel to depend on prayer has been prized
any other advice I have ever received. It has become an integral part of
an anchor, a constant source of strength." Sheri L. Dew, Ezra Taft
Biography [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1987],
President Gordon B. Hinckley: Let us cultivate a spirit of thanksgiving
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
Joseph F. Smith: CULTIVATE GRATITUDE. The spirit of gratitude is always
pleasant and satisfying because it carries with it a sense of helpfulness
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
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
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,
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,
Latter-day Prophets and the United States Constitution [Provo: BYU
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
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)
Smith has described how the spirit of gratitude in individuals can
and influence a whole society for good. He said: "The spirit of
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
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
condition as sin: "And I believe that one of the greatest sins of
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.
and the world ascribe his great genius and wisdom to himself. He
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
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
no honor or credit to God. Now, I read in revelations through Joseph
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.
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
disappointment and severe challenges are events in life, not life
The Lord inspired Lehi to declare the fundamental truth: "Men are that
might have joy," That is a conditional statement: "that they
joy." It is not conditional for the Lord. His intent is that each of
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
Take time to discover how beautiful life can be. You are one of the
of God's creations. His intent is that your life be gloriously beautiful
regardless of your circumstances. As you are grateful and obedient, you
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
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
"You are here to be tried, to prove yourself so that you can receive
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
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
life. It engenders a spirit of gratitude. Willing service to others is a
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,
President Gordon B. Hinckley: Gratitude is a divine principle. The Lord
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."
Our society is afflicted by a spirit of thoughtless arrogance unbecoming
those who have been so magnificently blessed. How grateful we should be
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.
is found in the scarred earth, the polluted waters, the befouled air. It
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
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
B. Hinckley, 1997)