Wednesday, September 10, 2014

To Serve or Not to Serve-The Twin Sister Missionary Question

My vivacious & fun  Michaela
Almost exactly 2 weeks after sending Michaela off on her mission to Germany with much fanfare and excitement, we sent Kiana (her twin sister) to Idaho for her sophomore year of college, with less fanfare but with just as much love, concern and gratitude for the choices that she has made. I've had a unique opportunity to mother two amazing, spiritually-mature, capable, grounded, and wonderful twin girls, one of which has chosen to serve a mission for her church and the other who has decided that a mission is not in her plans at this time.

My tenderhearted & cute Kiana
Although in our church all worthy young men are strongly encouraged to serve a full-time mission, young women are not under the same obligation. It is a completely voluntary decision. Granted, with the recent age change at which young women can serve missions, a much higher percentage of young women are now choosing to serve missions. And, naturally, it puts a little more pressure on all young women. Where it used to be that a young woman choosing to serve a mission was an exception to the rule, it’s now almost as if a worthy, active young woman not serving a mission is an exception to the rule. This pressure bothers many young women, but, really, it’s just a result of the numbers. If you’re at a party and talking to a group of 5 students and 4 of them tell you that they are majoring in engineering, you automatically ask the 5th student what his or her major is. You don’t intend to put pressure on him, it’s just that you now have information about 4 of the 5 group members and you want to fill the informational void about the fifth. And I agree that there are more tactful and less tactful ways to get that information. For example, I could ask “Are you majoring in engineering, too?” which puts a little more pressure on the individual than asking: “So, what are your plans?” Anyways, I could go on and on about tact and what to say and what not to say, but the fact remains that those young women not serving missions will get asked (and asked often) whether or not they are planning on serving a mission. And if your twin sister is has announced that she is serving a mission, then you get asked that question even more than most people…which brings me back to my sweet Kiana.

8 yr old soccer buddies
My twin girls are best friends, but they are also very, very different. In fact, of all my children, those two are probably the most different from each other than any of the others, but not in a ‘good and bad’ way; but rather they are different in a ‘good and good’ way. For example, they’re both smart, but have drastically different learning styles. They’re both strikingly beautiful in their own individual way. They both love fashion but have extremely different clothing preferences. They’re both social but have very different mannerisms and interact with others very differently. They’re both athletic, but excel at different sports in different ways. And they are both deeply spiritual, but differ in how publicly or privately they are comfortable expressing their spirituality. 

Both girls have given the decision to serve or not to serve much thought and prayer and both girls have received different answers to those prayers. And, as parents, we are equally proud of them. The fact that they both are actively seeking the Lord’s guidance in their lives is enough to make any parent happy. Yes, we are thrilled that Michaela is serving a mission…very, very thrilled. But that does not diminish the love, gratitude and respect that we have for Kiana and her decisions. She is a remarkable young woman with a heart of gold. She has high aspirations for her education and her future and she is working diligently to meet her goals. She is determined, thoughtful and has a resolute strength about her. Her sweet, calm, and caring maternal influence is such a blessing in our home. She touches many lives with her selfless, quiet service and when she’s gone, we all feel the void of her absence. Although, leaving on a 18 month mission naturally elicits more fanfare and attention than merely returning to college for your sophomore year, we sent her off to school yesterday with just as much love, joy, and hope for her success as her twin received 2 weeks ago. It was a quieter farewell, but no less heartfelt.

Photos by Jenny Brooke Photography
As I contemplated the difference between the two farewells  (Michaela’s farewell with all the family activities, the open house, speaking in church, the pictures and all the excitement and well-wishes compared to Kiana’s farewell which consisted of a few shopping trips to get some needed college items and some quiet family time) I was struck by Kiana’s selfless, composed, and almost regal demeanor. She has never once even hinted at feeling anything except joy and excitement for her sister’s upcoming mission. She has given Michaela her full support and love. There has been absolutely no jealousy, envy or complaining. When countless people have asked her over and over if she’s planning on a mission, her answer is always sweet and polite; never annoyed or exasperated. As I've observed my beautiful, poised, gracious Kiana this summer, my heart has swelled with pride at the wonderful young woman that she has become. I’m amazed at her growth, her composure and her maturity. And I’m excited to see what her future holds for her.  Similarly, when I think of my energetic and vibrant Michaela serving her mission with so much passion and enthusiasm for the Lord’s work, I am equally proud of and grateful for the young woman that she has become. They are each precious daughters of God with so much potential for good. They each love their Savior and understand the joy and peace that comes through following His will.  Although their paths are different, they are equally honorable and noble. I couldn't be more pleased with their choices and decisions—both for the missionary twin and for the college student twin. From the moment they were born, I knew that Heavenly Father had entrusted us with some very special spirits.  And words can’t express the joy and gratitude that I feel for the blessing and honor of being the mother of these two remarkable young women.  

My sweet twinners. (Photos by Jenny Brooke Photography)

Monday, September 1, 2014

Good, good memories with our "Bad, Bad Babies"

Karl as Vizzini, Kiana as Buttercup,
Ben as Wesley in our "Princess Bride"
In the month before Michaela left on her mission, she had a mission of her fill every day creating fun memories with her family. One of the things she insisted on was that we make a music video. At first, we had a hard time getting motivated. Then we had a hard time finding an open day when we were all home. It was also hard to find a good song to use in our video. We LOVE Sandra Boynton's CD's and have almost all of them. She writes such fun and clever music. We finally decided on "Bad, Bad Babies." No, we don't think that our babies are bad, but it's just a cute song from the perspective of a 5 year old who is fed up with babies and toddlers who are always being naughty. 
Fezzik (Dallin) climbs the
"Cliffs of Insanity" with Inigo
Montoya (Kandra), Vizzini and
So, we FINALLY got around to filming our little music video on Michaela's very last day at home and we created some very fun memories in the process. The little ones had fun being "bad babies" and we had fun doing something goofy together as a family.
We always have fun making our "movies". We filmed a "Princess Bride" spoof the week before Ben left on his mission (as you can see in the photos), however, I'm not posting that one, even though it's hilarious (at least it is for us). We also made a "Finding Nemo" video earlier this year, where we all swam around like fish...just goofy stuff, but good memories. Sometimes good memories are spontaneous and sometimes you really have to do a lot of planning to make them happen. But either way, they are priceless and  make up the strong foundation stones in our family structure. Each family has those funny goofy moments that tie them together and make them stronger. It's so important to celebrate those moments and to record them for our children and our posterity, because those moments are the foundation on which our children will build their future families.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Musings on Missions, Memories and Mortar

It's been a whirlwind week as we've been preparing for Michaela to leave on her mission. Michaela is our second child to choose to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Our oldest child, Benjamin, who is 21 years old, is currently serving a mission in Wisconsin. We spent these past few weeks packing in as many fun-filled, family memories as possible. It's during these times (when you know that you're about to send off a child into the world) that you really start pondering the importance and beauty of family. I was surprised that I wasn't more sad about Michaela leaving. It seems that when Ben left home, I felt much more panicky and upset about his departure. I saw it as an end of an end of our family's "golden years." I just knew that the best years of my life (being a mother with all my children living at home) were over and that now I was entering a new and depressing era of goodbyes and separations. I felt like my purpose and joy in life was coming to an end. I felt panicky about all the wonderful experiences ending and becoming mere memories...and only fleeting memories
at that.
Kiana and Dallin
But over the past year, I've started realizing that while these precious moments seem to be fleeting and gone forever, that they aren't gone at all. They are a part of us. In fact, our precious family moments are the most lasting, permanent things in the world. They are lasting because they are the building blocks of our family. Each wonderful memory is like a solid brick in our foundation. All of our family traditions, special routines, family prayers, fun trips, games, family projects around the house, each cushion fort built in the family room and each family home evening, each funny family story, each smile, each family rule, each act of service, and each hug make up the bricks that are building our family. And the mortar that holds these bricks in place and makes our family truly strong is the love that we feel for each other. 
Dallin and Grandma Krey
So, what are we building with all these bricks and mortar? We're building a strong family--our family castle or fortress--an enduring structure that will protect, nurture and be a place of refuge for its inhabitants.  Each beautiful moment is like a brick that is permanently mortared into place. These memories aren't fleeting, they are solid, lasting and real. They are what define us, they are our foundation, our walls...all of these precious moments we have created, and that we continue to create, make our family what it is...and the most wonderful and hopeful thought is that we're nowhere near done building this family castle. We get to continue to build and build and build. Just because my children are moving out, doesn't mean that my castle is finished and that it will now become an old ruin.  It is forever a work in progress...and it will continue even after I'm not even around (what an awesome thought!!). In fact, as I look below all of our precious bricks and mortar, I see that we have built our castle on the foundation that our parents built for us and their foundation is built upon their parents' foundation and it goes on and on. In some cases, we have made changes in the foundation and structure. Now and then a weak, crumbing, self-centered brick (or even an entire wall) gets placed in the structure and we have to go through the repair process of removing it and replacing it with solid bricks. This always takes a lot of extra loving mortar, but in the end, we are stronger when the repair is done right. The repairs are difficult and sometimes painful, but because we are unified in creating the most beautiful and lasting family fortress, we know that it's worth it to do it right.
Grandma & Grandpa Krey with their
1+twins (the 1 is my mom)
Simon and big brother, Ben
So, as I've been pondering this very real family structure that we're building, I've been filled with hope. This morning, as Michaela boarded her plane, my panicky, sad feelings were replaced with anticipation to see what kind of beautiful additions she will create as her growth and experiences strengthen and build our family structure. And it's not just my missionaries that get me excited. I am JUST as excited for my beautiful Kiana to leave for college with all of her hopes and dreams for the future. I see her strength and resolve and I get excited about how her amazing example continues to affect her siblings in such positive and nurturing ways. We will all miss her so much when she leaves, but, even while she is living away from home, her loving influence is creating strong building blocks that continue to beautify and strengthen our family--brick by brick. And that is something to be excited about.
Me and Karl with our 1+ twins
It brings me comfort to think of these beautiful family memories as permanent bricks that will last for eternity, rather than as fleeting moments that are here today, but gone tomorrow. I can see that each interaction, each routine, each tradition that we are experiencing today has been built upon the good solid building block memories of the past. And together, they create strong, protective walls that radiate warmth and joy.
Christmas morning tradition of gathering
in mom and dad's bed before going down
to see tree.
And as I bask in the warmth and joy of each of these precious bricks that make up our unique, yet beautiful family structure, I am filled with gratitude for my Savior, Jesus Christ, who is the master brick layer and architect of this fortress, which we call family. He is the only one who can remove the crumbling, unfit, self-centered bricks and replace them with solid, strong and healthy bricks. He is the one who infuses the mortar with the love and strength that holds everything permanently together. Without His guidance, His example, His correction, His forgiveness and His perfect love, our family castle would be a faulty, weak, and ugly shack which would be destroyed by the slightest breeze. It's His master touch that creates all beauty and makes the brick walls of our castle radiate with warmth, strength and love. He is the master builder and architect of our lives and all he asks of us for compensation is that we put our trust in Him and follow His example. So, today, rather than feeling sad, distraught and panicky about the changes happening in our family, I feel hope, excitement and peace because I trust the Master Builder and I know that His designs never end or fail and that He is constantly helping us to build a brighter and more glorious future...brick by brick.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

My Mommy Prayer for my Children

First of all, it is my prayer that you realize who you are and how precious you are. You are special. You’re a child of God. Do you realize what that means? Your father is the God of the universe. He has all power. He has all intelligence. He is the literal father of your spirit…and he knows you. He knows what you are thinking and what you are feeling. He knows what is best for you.
By President Spencer W. Kimball
God, our Heavenly Father—Elohimlives. That is an absolute truth. All of the children of men on earth might be ignorant of him and his attributes and his powers, but he still lives. All the people on earth might deny him and disbelieve, but he lives in spite of them. They may have their own opinions, but he still lives, and his form, his powers, and attributes do not change according to men’s opinions. In short, opinion alone has no power in the matter of absolute truth. He still lives. And Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Almighty, the Creator, the Master of the only true way of life—the gospel of Jesus Christ. The intellectuals may rationalize him out of existence and the unbeliever may scoff, but Christ still lives and guides the destinies of his people. That is an absolute truth; there is no gainsaying.
Think about this story:
There once was a watchmaker in Switzerland, who made a beautiful watch. This watch was later found in the sand of a California desert. The people who found the watch had never been to Switzerland, nor seen the watchmaker, nor seen the watch made. But even though these people didn’t know anything about the watchmaker, he still existed, no matter the extent of their ignorance or experience. Even if the watch had a tongue, and lied and said, “There is no watchmaker.” That would not alter the truth. The watchmaker still existed and he did make the watch.
The truth is that Heavenly Father lives and he loves you! No matter what you might think sometimes and no matter  what others might say.
It is also my prayer that you realize that YOU can have a personal relationship with your Heavenly Father. You can pray to him any time, anywhere. He is ALWAYS aware of you and your needs.
It’s my prayer that you realize that you can trust your Heavenly Father completely. He ALWAYS wants what is best for you. He knows how to help you to become like him. He will NEVER lead you the wrong way. His greatest desire is for you to be really happy. He wants you to be all that you can be.

I want you to realize that if you obey his commandments, you will be blessed and you be happy. But most importantly, you will be SAFE. If you are trying your hardest to choose the right, you will always be OK. It doesn’t matter what else happens. Sometimes really sad things happen. Sometimes, you might have rotten day or even a whole rotten year. People get hurt. People even die. Sometimes, life is really hard… But you will always be OK if are choosing the right. As long as you are keeping the commandments, Heavenly Father can guide you. And you can know that there is a purpose or a reason for what is happening and that will give you a feeling of peace. And you can be sure that eventually everything will work out, and you will be happier than you ever could have imagined.
The Prophet Joseph Smith taught, “Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 255-56).
Your Heavenly Father wants you to be happy. He has shown you the way. We just need to do what he says. There is no other way to find happiness and safety.

But, if you decide ignore the commandments, you will not be safe and your Heavenly Father won’t be able to guide you or help you. If you decide make bad choices, you will loose the companionship of the Holy Ghost. You will forget who you are. You’ll feel dark and yucky inside AND you’ll have to suffer the consequences of sin.

It is my prayer that you will be smart! Look around you. You can learn a lot from the people around you. Learn to recognize true joy and happiness. Having fun isn’t always the same as real joy. Be observant! Look for the consequences of righteous living and for the consequences of sinful living. You don’t have to do something really bad to learn that it won’t make you happy. There are lots of other people in the world who already made that mistake. They already messed up their lives.  Don’t mess up your life, because you only have one life. Learn from their mistakes. Trust in the Lord, keep the commandments, and experience the good consequences. These experiences will help your faith to grow. After enough good experiences, you will be able to trust the Lord completely, even when you don’t understand why something is happening—you’ll know that everything will be ok.

You are still young and you have most of your life ahead of you. In all of eternity, you only get one childhood. So make the most of it. Establish good habits. One of the most important habits each of you can get into is to daily personal prayer and daily scripture study. That means that you need to get on your knees every morning and every night and talk with your Heavenly Father. And you need to be reading your scriptures every single day. If you do this, you’ll always remember who you are and what’s really important. You won’t make so many mistakes. You’ll be wiser than most of your friends. You’ll understand things better. You’ll especially know how and where to find happiness. You’ll be a shining example to your family and friends. You’ll be on the right path that will lead you back to your loving Father in Heaven.

It is my prayer that you will understand and live these truths. Your daddy and I love you so much and we want you to have a wonderful life. We want you to be happy.  I know that Father in Heaven lives and that His son, Jesus Christ has atoned for our sins and made it possible for us to return to our Heavenly Father. I know that we can find peace and joy in this life and in the life to come if we strive to be righteous and to keep the commandments. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Helping Children to Find JOY in Righteous Living

Raising a family in troubled times:
How to help children know the joy the Gospel brings

Teaching our children to recognize, understand and feel the true joy and light that comes from living the gospel will help them to withstand temptations as they learn to completely trust and rely on their loving Heavenly Father. Recognizing the language of the Spirit, understanding spiritual consequences to their actions and feeling the joy that accompanies charity will help them to govern themselves and allows us, their parents and teachers, to let go and watch them achieve their potentials.
What is meant by “troubled times”?
The Apostle Paul accurately described our day in his letter to Timothy: “In the last days,” he said, “perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, … despisers of those that are good, … lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; … Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
·         Troubled Society
o   The moral fabric is thinning. We can no longer look to our society to teach correct values. Our society reflects violence, immorality and selfishness.
·         Troubled Families
o   Family members who deal with emotional or mental issues, unrighteous choices, divorce, death, illness, financial problems,
·         Troubled Individuals
o   Dealing with our own issues, abusive past, unfulfilled dreams, emotional or mental challenges, burdens,

We’re talking about teaching children (and ourselves) to find joy in the gospel!  (not just joy, but joy in the gospel)

What is the gospel? We need to teach our children what the gospel is!!
The gospel is the source of all joy. The gospel is our Heavenly Father’s plan for happiness and joy. You and I are his literal spirit children. He knows us and loves us perfectly and unconditionally. As our loving Father, he wants us to become “perfect”…perfectly loving, perfectly joyful, our perfect selves. Knowing that we need to be tested and tried in order to grow and develop into our potential selves, he created this beautiful earth and provided us with physical bodies. And to truly test us, our memory of our pre-mortal life with Him was dimmed and he allowed Satan to tempt us because He knew we needed opposition in all things in order to grow and become stronger. Our sweet and perfectly loving Heavenly Father KNEW that we would make mistakes along the way. He knew that we would give into temptations, discouragement, selfishness, pride and that our souls would become stained with sin and that the effect or consequence of sin would make us unworthy or unable to dwell in our Father’s presence.  All of our actions have consequences…I believe we are unaware of enormity of the consequences. Consequences for sins can affect generations and cause hurt and pain beyond our awareness. Each sin causes suffering...each sin has a price. We can suffer because of sins, but, because we are imperfect, we cannot suffer sufficiently to pay the price for that sin. We cannot remove the sin from ourselves.
In order to pay for the sin, our loving Heavenly Father sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Christ suffered all the agony associated with our sin—that is the price of sin. Think of the amount of dark, awful and hellish sins committed in this world—and the hurt and sorrow associated with them. Our Savior had to feel the anguish associated with each awful act for each and every sin that has or ever will be committed. He literally paid the price by suffering the full effect of each of our sins and sorrows…something we are completely incapable of doing because we are imperfect. Because He suffered for our sins (paid the price), we don’t have to…if we repent and turn to Him and accept His precious offering. This is the atonement. This is the good news of the gospel: That through the atonement of our Savior, Jesus Christ, we can be cleansed of our sins and return to our Heavenly Father and receive a fullness of joy.

·         What does that mean “finding  joy”?
o   When we feel joy, we are feeling the Spirit of God, we are feeling His love. Joy is being filled with love, light and peace. Joy is just another word to describe feeling the love of God.

Joy is feeling the love of God: We feel it whenever we are doing something that puts us on the path to becoming Christ like.

What sorts of things bring us joy?  When we work hard at something and really stretch ourselves, when learn new things, when we’re full of gratitude, when we forget ourselves and serve others, when we form and nurture loving relationships, when we develop our God-given talents, when we acknowledge God in our lives.
·         Does life have to be easy for us to have joy? Life does NOT have to be easy for us to be filled with joy. In fact, we sometimes have our greatest joy when we’re going through some of our most trying and difficult times

·       Beautiful Blog about Jordan Janeway



A condition of great happiness coming from righteous living. The purpose of mortal life is for all people to have joy (2 Ne. 2:22–25). A full joy will come only through Jesus Christ (John 15:11;).

 2 Ne. 2
22 And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end.
 23 And they would have had no achildren; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no bjoy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no csin.
 24 But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who aknoweth all things.
 25 aAdam bfell that men might be; and men care, that they might have djoy.

John 15
  As the Father hath aloved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.
 10 If ye akeep my commandments, ye shall abide in my blove; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.
 11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your ajoy might be full.

So, how do we teach this to young people (and old people)?
1.       Help them understand the spiritual language of  God...the source of all joy.
2.       Help them recognize the spiritual consequences that come from their actions
3.       Help them feel the joy that ALWAYS accompanies charity (Christ-like love) and true repentance.

Understanding the spiritual language of joy (which comes from God)
·         How do you learn a language?
o   Teachers, examples to point out meaning
o   Need to immerse and practice in order to acquire
·         What do we need to do in order to be effective language teachers?
o   Need to know it ourselves
§  Are we allowing ourselves to feel joy—we need to realize that joy is not situational…it is a conscious decision on our part.
§  Are we recognizing the Lord’s hand in our lives?
·         Start simply by always pointing out joy and the absence of joy:
o   Point out joy—the sweet, warm, peaceful happy feeling
§  Sharing, thoughtful, working hard, creating, observing beauty, helping, serving, learning, loving, being honest, bonding,
·         Interrupt your young children when they are playing nicely with each other and remind them how good they feel
·         Point out joy when they see a rainbow or any beauty in nature: cloud formations, stars, a sunset, a beautiful waterfall, etc.
§  Teenagers are a little harder (but it’s ok if they roll their eyes): point out the beautiful feeling in the home when they’re helping, serving, creating, bonding…
§  If you have adult children who never “grasped” the joy that comes from the gospel, you can still teach by example.
·         Some children have a harder time grasping this than others. For some, they might not understand it until well into their adult years.
o   Point out absence of joy—hardness, darkness, anger, emptiness,
§  Fighting, gossiping, cheating, lying, hurting others physically or emotionally, being lazy, indulgent, self-absorbed, angry, full of self-pity, etc.
§  With little ones, ask “Do you like how your feel right now?” “Do you feel happy and calm?”
§  Explain that the Holy Ghost won’t stay with us when we make bad choices. He goes away to help to teach us that when we don’t keep the commandments, we won’t feel happy/joyful inside.
§  Teach by example: Point out times when your heart was hard and you felt selfish or angry and then how you did change, or want to change, because JOY is always your goal.
o   Joy is the Goal!!  “Men are that they might have joy”
§  Joy must be taught! We need to dwell on joy!!
·         If a child feels joy, stop and help her make the connection: Her loving Heavenly Father is the source of that joy. This will help her feel just how “real” her Heavenly Father is. And because joy is joyful, J she will also understand just how good and loving he is.
§  Explain that this joyful feeling comes from the Holy Ghost as he is able to fill her soul and witness God’s love to her. The Holy Ghost is teaching us that if we keep the commandments, we will be happy.
§  Bonus to teaching joy: The more you point out joy, the more YOU will appreciate just how much our Heavenly Father loves you and more joy YOU will feel.

Understanding/recognizing consequences
·         Once you understand what “joy” is and can recognize it when you feel it, then you are able to recognize good and bad consequences.
o   Point out/recall behaviors from the past and presence or absence of joy
§  Share these examples with your children!!
§  Have kids share similar experiences (around dinner table, FHE, after school, etc).
·         Did you have to make any hard decisions today?
·         When they make good, hard choices, ask them how they feel?
o   How did that make you feel? (Help them to correlate their feelings with their actions)
·         Teach that Obedience brings joy!
o   Joseph Smith taught that “in obedience there is joy and peace unspotted, unalloyed; and as God has designed our happiness…he never has–He never will institute an ordinance or give a commandment to His people that is not calculated in its nature to promote that happiness which He has designed, and which will not end in the greatest amount of good and glory to those who become the recipients of his law and ordinances” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 256-57).
§  What a wonderful promise! There couldn’t be a more wonderful reward for keeping the commandments. The Lord promises us joy. Satan tries to lure us with riches, fame, beauty and prestige, but he cannot promise joy. –point this out to your kids!!
o   Teach the joy that comes from living the standards in “For the Strength of Youth”. This pamphlet could also be called “For the JOY of Youth, Children and Adults”.
§  Obedience and compliance with each of these standards will result in increased joy and decreased regret…
§  Ask teenagers to picture their lives in 10 or 20 years. Talk about regret versus joy. Will they look back on their teen years and wish that they had had more inappropriate and serious relationships? No. Will they wish they had dressed more immodestly and objectified themselves, or that they had watched more explicit or violent movies? Will they wish they had been more dishonest or selfish? NO!! These are things that cause regret, despair and darkness.
§  If our teens understand what joy is and what it feels like, then they’ll understand that God’s standards aren’t restricting, they are enabling them to feel joy!!
·         Teach that repentance brings joy!
Elder Craig C Christensen, April 2006
When we understand that being filled with joy involves being filled with the Holy Ghost, we realize that true happiness comes from repenting of our sins and living worthy of the Spirit. In addition, when feeling the Spirit, we can find great joy in knowing that we are being sanctified before God.
The joy that comes from repentance is evident on many levels. First is the joy and comfort that come to the heart of a repentant soul as the burden of sin is lifted. Second are the deep feelings of joy and love that come to those who help others work through the repentance process. And finally there are the joyful feelings of a loving Savior as He sees us follow His admonitions and rely upon the healing power of His atoning sacrifice.
o   Practice repentance with young kids. Always point out the joy they feel after they repent…in contrast to the yuckiness they felt beforehand.
o   Repentance isn’t here to shame us or to make us feel guilty. Repentance is about restoring JOY to our lives.

As we are filled with charity—the pure love of God, our joy will be full
What brings joy??
§  There are the lies that the world tells us: more money, nicer house, designer clothes, a skinnier body, whiter teeth, less wrinkles, more friends, nicer car, more toys, fabulous vacations, etc.
§  Then there are the things that we know are good: Working hard, getting married in the temple, taking care of our bodies, going on a mission,
getting an education, learning new things, going hiking in nature, holding your newborn baby, spending time with family/friends…
·         Has there ever been anyone with lots of money who was miserable?
·         Has there ever been anyone with who worked hard who was miserable?
·         Do any of these things guarantee joy???

o   There is only ONE thing that guarantees true joy in our lives. And that is being filled with the Love of God…the only guaranteed source of joy!
§  When we are filled with God’s love, we are never miserable…we can’t be! When his love fills our hearts, we are always filled with joy and peace.
§  How do we allow His love for us to fill our hearts? (He will never force us to feel the constant, perfect love that he has for us)
·         Love Him
·         Love our neighbor
·         Matthew 22:37-39
·          Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
o   I am so profoundly grateful for the gospel and its teachings. I am so grateful for the knowledge of a loving, perfect Heavenly Father and that so much love and joy can be found in this imperfect and confused world.