i started watching a documentary on netflix entitled HAPPY. i have always been fascinated by the notion of happiness. why some people are happy and others seem to struggle with it. i haven't finished the documentary, but it focuses on these questions. i therefore have been thinking more about this topic. shortly after watching the beginning of this film i read a talk my father gave in church last week and it expanded on these same questions. he shared:

A short time ago I had an experience that I would like to share with you today that set me thinking about the assumptions that have guided me for many years.

A friend and I flew to Europe recently. We spent some time on the Continent then took a ferry from Rotterdam to England. He then flew to Warsaw. I spent a couple of days in London and I then went on my way to Southampton. I had relatives from this port city. The Mayflower and Titanic set sail from there and so I had several reasons for wanting to do some sightseeing as well as board my ship.

The next day I boarded a ship for a seven day Trans-Atlantic crossing to New York. I had never done such a thing and had no expectations about the voyage. I knew it wouldn’t be what my ancestors had experienced, but I would at least be under the same sky on the same sea.

We left Southampton in the evening of the and reached the English Channel sometime that night. The following morning we entered the Celtic Sea and later that day we came into the North Atlantic Ocean.

A storm was ahead of us that measured more than 1000 miles across and so the Captain of the ship steered us slightly to the south to avoid the direct power of the storm. Nevertheless, the seas went from light to moderate to rough over the course of the next 24 hours.

The ship was traveling at about 20 miles per hour and the head winds were at least 20 miles per hour during the entire trip. This made 40 mile per hour sustained winds across the bow at a bare minimum. During the first storm, and a second storm we encountered on day five, the winds were steady at approximately 70 miles per hour across the bow of the ship.

Midway in the crossing I had a thought, a notion, an inkling. This was not inspiration per se, but a tiny seed; a hypothetical, if you will, that I began to consider. What if, I asked my self, God wants to give you beauty? What if beauty results from what He does?

Knowing that we all limit God, I considered this notion, not to supplant the necessity of doctrine, but to augment our mortal experience.

I looked out at the scene; the sky, the clouds, the columns of light reaching the waves and leaving rivers and puddles of silver and gold streaming from sunlight and moonlight across windswept white capped tempestuous seas.

I had not realized that blue and black and gray could come in so many varied hues and tones. I was awestruck at the magnificence and indescribable beauty of all that was before me.

In a brief moment I saw a tiny wisp of a cirrus cloud passing by. I realized that if no one was there to see it, it would still be there. I could gaze upon it or look away, but it would still be present, and so would all creation.

I wondered at the differences in my life if when I had thoughts or feelings of covetousness, envy, animosity, enmity, anger, annoyance, jealousy, lust, longing, frustration, irritation, dissatisfaction, disappointment, disillusionment, despair, vengeance, retribution, hatred, disgust, loathing, self-loathing, greed, intractability, stubbornness, selfishness, egotism, contention, conflict, strife, regret, remorse, shame, willfulness, rebellion, obstinance, and so forth, I would have instead, considered beauty?

What if rather than nurturing the negative, codling the hurtful, focusing on the ugly heaviness of so many other thoughts and emotions, I had instead sought after beauty?

If there is anything virtuous, lovely, [beautiful] or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things. (See Article of Faith 13)

May I suggest to you a reconsideration of the hymn? “There is beauty all around” whether there is love at home or not. Beauty is all about us and is not contingent on anything we might do or not do.

The ocean crossing ended far too soon and I returned home.

The other day I was walking, considering what I have just shared with you about beauty. Doilies of black locust trees were silhouettes against a salmon colored sunrise.

I picked up a large dry maple leaf with black soil from the street drifted against the veins that once nourished the leaf. It was still beautiful.

Doctrine comes with responsibility, accountability, admonition, instruction, commandment and expectation.

Beauty is simply offered as a free gift. There is no obligation to find a parable, a metaphor or a testimony in the gift. It is simply given. There is great liberty of spirit in beauty.

The doctrine is a necessity; indisputable, irrefutable, undeniable, unequivocal. Beauty is not meant to supplant the truths of doctrine, but may I suggest that you are free to augment the truth of doctrine with the beauty of creation.

God gives us beauty.

This is it! this to me is what makes us HAPPY. it is seeing the beauty amidst all else. it is seeing the beauty in creation, in struggle, in pain, in hardship, in mistakes, in good days and bad days, it is seeing that "GOD GIVES US BEAUTY." in everything. 

i by all means have not lived a perfect life, but despite my weaknesses God has still blessed me with beauty in every chapter of my life. i was born to incredible parents, with wonderful siblings. i guarantee you there was not always "love at home," but there was always beauty. i have made decisions in my life that have hurt me and that have hurt others and i can tell you that despite the hurt there was always beauty in these decisions. dreams and goals were not reached, my hopes have been dashed, my plans have been ruined, life has been life. there have been ups and there have been downs, but boy oh boy has there been beauty! lots and lots of it! incredible moments, wonderful people, countless lessons and lots of dried maple leaves covered in black soil that were still beautiful!

i loved the description my dad gave of the storm and the fact that, if he wasn't there it would have still existed, the beauty would have been there whether he acknowledged it or not. there is joy and happiness in the acknowledgement of the beauty and sometimes being in the storm gives us that opportunity to see it. i will be the first to admit that sometimes it is hard to see the beauty in every situation, but it does exist.

i'm grateful for my life, for the storms, for the people, for the love, for my family, and especially for the "free gift" of beauty in all of it!

thanks dad, for reminding us to see.


  1. Thank you Anna for posting that! Very poignant - props to your dad for coming up with that! I really needed to hear it today.

  2. I seriously cannot handle all the adorableness that is this little one!

  3. This brought tears to my eyes. I understand completely what you mean, and feel the same way. Regardless of all the disappointments, mistakes, and low points in my life, it is still very, very beautiful and filled with so much beauty. Thanks for sharing Anna Lee!

  4. i think this is one of my favorite posts. tell your dad thanks for the wise words. i really really enjoyed those thoughts. :)