Showing posts with label Spiritual Parenting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Spiritual Parenting. Show all posts

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Joyful Service in Our Homes

The work and service that we do in our homes can be some of the most stressful and physically and emotionally demanding work that we do. It can be mundane, repetitive, tiring, and thankless. It can be downright exhausting.
I remember a particular exhausting time in my life: We had just moved to Texas from BYU where I had just finished my masters degree (and writing my thesis with 2 nursing babies and a one year old). Too say that I was "spent" from that experience is an understatement--but that's another story... I graduated on a Friday and we drove our U-Haul down to Texas over the weekend so that Karl could start school on Monday. Karl was just starting graduate school (MBA) and because of the demanding program, he was not able to work his first year. We were dirt poor. We had maxed out all our school loans and there was no money left after tuition. All three of my babies were in diapers…cloth diapers (that I washed myself) because we couldn’t afford disposable diapers. The financial stresses were very real. Our Christmas budget for all three kids was $10 and that was a stretch. I remember my 3 year old being invited to a birthday party. I started crying because we couldn't afford to buy a gift (home-made play dough saved me). Because there was no extra money, we were on WIC so that I could buy milk and cereal for my babies. Taking care of 3 babies was hard and I was constantly exhausted. And then, to our surprise, we found out that we were expecting again. Now I was doing all these things, but I was even more exhausted because I was pregnant. When #4 (Dallin) was born, my oldest (Ben) was 3, and the twins (my first set of twins) were one. Let me restate that: We had a 3-year-old, two 1 year olds, and a newborn. It was at this point, that I realized what it meant to be truly exhausted. Karl wasn’t able to take off more
Four kids 3 and under
than a day or two of school. I didn’t have any relatives around to help…so there I was, with a brand new baby, a weak and recovering post-pregnant body, two 1-year olds (who were literally into everything), and a hyper, active and busy 3-year old and I had no choice but to go on. I had to keep cooking, feeding, nursing, washing, cleaning, and caring and it just never ended… I would fall exhausted into my bed each night (after sweeping and mopping the kitchen to ward off the Texas cockroaches), just to wake up countless times with my newborn, and then had to be up at the crack of dawn because of my early rising 3-year-old (who would climb out of his bed and up on mine, and bounce on me until I got up and made him breakfast.  I remember wondering why my stomach and my insides were hurting…and it dawned on me that it was my body just aching from fatigue and exhaustion.

Christmas Picture 1996--Little did we know that this
was only half of our family!
So, like I said, “service in the home” can be physically demanding. It can also be extremely emotionally demanding.  What constitutes service in the home? There are a lot of different ways we serve in the home. There’s the household to take care of: dishes, laundry, picking up toys, dusting, vacuuming, mopping, cleaning bathrooms, mowing the lawn, weeding the garden, repairing the leaky faucet, sorting laundry, grocery shopping, cooking and more dishes, and more laundry and more cooking, and more cleaning…it doesn’t ever end. And then there’s the people: Staying up late with sick kids, changing diapers, helping with homework, driving kids all over the planet to get to their various activities, taking injured kids to the ER, helping a spouse with a project, taking care of an elderly parent, waiting up for a teenager to return home from a date, worrying about and praying for a child or relative who is making poor decisions,  listening to 9-year-old knock-knock jokes for hours, going out of your way to show your love for your spouse, oh, and it doesn’t stop there. There’s also the occasional sick dog, chicken, goat or other furry or feathery or scaly friend that needs attention and care. The list is literally never ending. We will never, ever be caught up. We will never get it done and it will never be as good as we want it to be. No wonder it’s easy to get stressed out and overwhelmed…and no wonder we sometimes have a hard time feeling joy.
Some days it seems so stinking hard to find the joy in the piles of dirty clothes, the cranky kids and the endless lists of things to do? How do we lift ourselves out of the mundane to see the glorious big picture?
And what is this big picture???? The big picture, of course, is that you and I are children of a loving and caring Heavenly Father who have been placed on this earth IN FAMILIES so that we might develop Christlike characteristics through serving and loving those around us. Families are crucial to the Lord’s plan. This service in our homes (for our families) is THE most important, noble, powerful and influential work that we will ever do in this life. And all of the little (seemingly mundane) chores and responsibilities are the building blocks that shape our families. We read in Alma Chapter 37 verse 6-7 that “by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; And the Lord God doth work by means to bring about his great and eternal purposes; and by very small means (doing the dishes, making a dinner, listening to a problem) the Lord doth confound the wise and bringeth about the salvation of many souls.” The work we do in our homes for our families is important! There is nothing more important!
But How do we get from feeling stressed, overwhelmed, exhausted, sad, impatient and maybe even angry to being able to serve our families with charity and joy?
It isn’t always easy. On top of all the little things, there are often big things. There are so many who are battling depression, who are struggling with grief, who have fragile marriages or broken families, whose children are wayward, who have serious health issues and huge financial stresses—these are serious, hard, difficult issues. And many of these issues are not easily “fixable”. Sometimes, we just can’t make the situation go away. And, in the case of serious depression, our perception maybe be altered, making it difficult to feel peace, love, joy or any of the fruits of the Spirit. These situations require huge amounts of faith…faith to continue doing what you know in your head or what you once knew in your head (but can no longer feel in your heart) to be the right thing…trusting that your righteous actions will lead to eventual joy and peace. Mental illness does not make joy impossible, but it can sometimes delay our ability to feel the joy.
In any case, the questions remains: Is joyful service possible even when life is tough? And How do we see the big picture? We CAN find joy…But it takes effort. And it takes humility, gratitude and love.
First, we need a good dose of humility so that we can admit that our own view of life is ALWAYS limited. We need humility to admit that the Lord ALWAYS knows what is best for us. He is the source of truth and light. And in order for us to be filled with that light and truth, we have to humble ourselves and have the faith to admit that we are wrong, that we don’t see things, situations, or other people, as they really are. That includes the misconception of thinking of ourselves, our families and our homes as ‘not-good’ enough.  As we trust in Him and replace our misconceptions with His light and truth, we will see ourselves, our family members and our homes through His eyes. We will see ourselves as beloved sons and daughters of the God. We will understand our worth and the value and worth of our families. The mundane will become honorable and noble. We will be filled with gratitude for the privilege of being a part of a family.
That leads us into the importance of gratitude: There is nothing quite so magical and attitude-changing as gratitude. Have you ever had one of those totally THANKFUL days? Where you wake up and think: I’m so grateful that I have a comfortable, warm bed to sleep in! Then you haul your body out of bed and think: I’m so grateful that I have a body that mostly works—even if something doesn’t work on my body…there are WAY more working parts than there are unworking parts!! Then you get in the shower and praise the invention of hot water heaters and indoor plumbing. How amazing is it that you can turn a dial and be drenched in warm water! What a blessing! And then you come downstairs to your dirty kitchen and think: “I am so grateful that I HAVE a kitchen and that there is food in the kitchen (and on the counters and on the floor).” So, maybe you’re not that grateful for the cheerios on the floor… but really truly THINK ABOUT IT! There are so, so, so many people in this world who don’t have a kitchen to clean, who don’t have food to eat, who would give anything to have our dirty kitchen with its food (even the food that’s on the floor).  If we just open our eyes, we will see that there is so, so, so much good all around us. There are SO, SO many things that could go wrong each day that don’t go wrong. The same goes for the people in our lives. When we are grateful for what they ARE and stop focusing on what they are not, then our love and appreciation for them will grow. But it’s not enough to just count our blessings, it’s also crucial that we acknowledge the GIVER of those blessings, as we do this we are filled with a deep sense of love and awe for our Father in Heaven.
And that brings us to charity (or love). As we exercise humility to see ourselves, others and our situations through the Lord’s eyes, and as we recognize our many, many, many blessings and acknowledge our loving Father in Heaven as the Giver of those blessings, our hearts are filled with charity. We are filled with love for our Heavenly Father and our Savior. In turn, we are able to comprehend their great love for us. This love softens our hearts so that we are, in turn, filled with love for others. This perfect love expresses itself in a feeling of peace and joy. And this joy changes everything. It changes the mundane chore into something glorious. This joy that comes from humility, gratitude and love will change our perception of the people around us. It changes the way we serve. And ultimately it changes and transforms us. This joy isn’t dependent on our situation, on having enough money or things, on our health, our body size, our family size or house size… this joy is simply a result of allowing God’s love into our hearts.

I think about those exhausting years as a young mother of young children (as opposed to my current status as an old mother of young children), It’s funny how I don’t remember feeling miserable at the time (tired, yes). I mostly remember feeling incredibly blessed. No, it wasn’t always fun and I wasn’t always “happy”, but I cherished my role as a wife and mother. I was grateful for the little things. And, yes, I sometimes complained and I was by no means perfect in my joyful service. But, when I look back, those were some of the best years ever. I remember feeling joy. And, even today, with all the additional challenges of life—I still don’t love to cook, do dishes or laundry. I can think of a million other things that I’d rather do—And, no, I am not the not the best homemaker, wife or mom, but I love and I value what I do and I’m trying hard to be better…and I know that as I put the Lord first and humble myself, as I count my blessings and show my love to my family, that I can and will continue to find joy as I serve at home. 

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Smile at Them!

Today, as I was watching my sweet little ones play, I was so touched by the beauty of childhood. Watching them warmed my heart and brought a smile to my face. I love to see them interact. I love that they are best friends. I love, love, love to watch them play. I love to watch them enter make-believe worlds that only they can understand. I love driving in the car and hearing the cute things that they say to each other. It makes me smile. I find that I smile a lot. And I think it's because I'm enjoying my little people so, so much. I often even smile when they are naughty...not always...but often.

It hasn't always been so easy for me to smile at my kids. It's a learned trait and it has come with age, perspective, time...and prayer. I've always been a basically happy and optimistic person, but I remember when I was a young mom, raising my first batch of kids, that I used to get much more upset and stressed out. Yes, I still enjoyed my older kids and I loved them just as much as I do my younger kids...but I remember that I had way less patience and was way more stressed. And the result was that I was often quick to anger.

I remember one particular trying afternoon. At the time I had 5 kids and my oldest was 7. I had a lot on my plate. I was trying to organize a large community event. I had church responsibilities that I needed to get done. The kids were fighting and being mean to each other. There was lots of crying and screaming. One of the older kids woke the baby up from her nap. We had people coming over in the evening and I was trying to get the house looking decent. I was getting NOTHING done (in fact, I was moving backwards--the house was getting more messy by the hour) and on top of all that, the kids were complaining, fighting, and being disobedient. I had had it! I was feeling so frustrated, overwhelmed and angry! I had spent the whole afternoon clenching my teeth, speaking sternly and giving the "evil" eye. As I got more frustrated, the kids' behavior deteriorated and I was, in turn, feeling more angry. I think we all are familiar with that lovely downward spiral! It stinks! So, before I did something that I would regret, I ran to my bedroom and locked the door.

With the muffled sound of whining and occasional pounding on the door, I sank to my knees next to my bed. I was tense, frazzled and angry. I knew I was not being an exemplary mother. In my head I knew that it was wrong for me to be feeling annoyed and mad at my sweet kids. In my head, I knew that it was mostly my fault, not theirs. Yet, I just couldn't turn this day around on my own. I knew I needed help. I knelt at my bed and prayed. I pleaded with my Heavenly Father to help me. I couldn't do this alone. I wanted to be a better mother. I wanted my kids to feel unconditional love from me, not annoyance and anger. As I whispered my pleadings, I felt a quiet peace come over me. And then suddenly I had a very distinct impression. It was clear as day.

I could  almost 'hear' the words in my head: "Smile at them.". What a simple thought! I immediately thought back through the day and realized that I had not once smiled at my children. I sat down on my bed and thought about the answer I had been given. I pray a lot and I believe that prayers are answered, but seldom had I witnessed such an immediate and distinct answer to a prayer. I knew that I had just received personal revelation from my Heavenly Father. I knew that He was aware of me and that He understood my situation perfectly. I still didn't feel like smiling, so I practiced smiling as I sat there on my bed. I said another prayer, thanking God for His wise answer to my prayer and asking Him to help me to smile. Then I unlocked my door and faced my kids with a smile on my face.

That experience changed me. It did not change me overnight, nor did it keep me from ever getting mad at my kids. But, it gave me some insight which resulted in growth. My sweet and loving Father in Heaven wants me to enjoy His children. He is all about joy. These sweet children are His children first! He loves them so much more than I can even fathom. As I recognize just how blessed I am to be entrusted with each of my precious children, I am filled with gratitude for the honor of being a mother.

Fast forward 15 years and three additional children, and I find that I still remember that sweet answer to my prayer just as vividly. Now, as an older mother of young children, I don't let the little things bother me as much. I better understand that each beautiful phase of childhood is fleeting and precious. I realize that I need to enjoy each moment to its fullest...not only the moments with my little children, but also each beautiful moment with my teenage and adult children. I'm better now at seeing these moments as the precious gifts that they are. And when I consciously notice these precious moments, I smile. I have a hunch that my sweet Father in Heaven is smiling with me. And when I'm caught up in these precious moments of motherhood, I often think back to the sweet and tender lesson I was taught so many years ago: Smile at Them!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Mother's Day Thoughts

Well, like I said, today is Mother’s Day. I know a lot of moms have a hard time with Mother’s Day for various reasons, but I happen to love it. It’s the day I get to celebrate being a mother. It’s also a day that I like to think about and thank my own mother for everything she is and does. I consider being a mother the greatest blessing in the world. I’m so proud of each of  my kids and all that they do. Nothing brings me more joy than seeing each of them mature into selfless, kind, compassionate people.  Being a mom is the best job in the whole world. I dare anyone to find a job that is better than mothering. I recently read a book called The Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. It was fascinating. It talked about what makes people successful. I loved how the author pointed out that we don’t make ourselves successful. So much of our success is due to lucky (or-in my opinion-divine) circumstances and opportunities and attitudes and life-philosophies and expectations and genetics and culture and heritage that have been passed down to us…these are all things that were given us. It made me think about everything that has been “given” to me. I really can’t take credit for much, if any, of my success in life. I owe so much to my parents and my Savior. The fact that I have a knowledge of my Savior and that I try to live follow Him is an amazing gift in and of itself. That faith defines my life. It’s who I am. But it’s not something I can take any credit for. I thank my sweet great, great grandparents and their sacrifices and faith as they left their native countries in order to come to America to worship their new found faith. That legacy has blessed me more than I can even comprehend. I thank my parents for being faithful and making Christ the center of our home growing up. I thank church teachers and leaders for strengthening my testimony along the way. I especially thank my sweet mother for her strong and unfailing testimony of the Savior, for setting the example of always putting Him first in her life. I’ll never forget passing by her bedroom and seeing her on her knees praying for guidance or watching her make bread for someone who was sick or listening to her read scriptures to us as we hurriedly ate breakfast before rushing out the door for seminary. We always knew by the way she lived her life that she KNEW her Savior and that He was real. She has such a special gift…a gift of spirituality. I am the lucky (or blessed) recipient of that gift. So, I guess, my thought for today is that we really need to step back and take a good look at our lives. None of us are “self-made”, we all owe so much to those who have gone on before, to the loved ones who surround us, and, most importantly, to our loving Heavenly Father. He and his Son, Jesus Christ, are the source of all our blessings. It is Christ that brings us purpose, peace, joy, redemption, understanding, truth, hope and pure love. Everything that makes life worth living, we owe to our Savior. And all He asks in return is that we let go of pride (stop taking all the credit for our successes) and selfishness (just stop being so self-centered) and remember Him. We remember Him as we humble ourselves and acknowledge that we are nothing without Him. There is nothing weak about this kind of humility. This kind of humility brings out the greatest character traits that we can possibly develop, namely Christ-like attributes. So, as you go about this week, remember to put your Savior first. Look around you and be grateful for the many people and circumstances that the Lord has put in your life to bless you and guide you and help you along your way and acknowledge that precious gift. 

Today, I've been feeling grateful for my mother and her mother and her mother and her mother and on and on... and for the amazing lineage of motherhood that they have forged for me and for my daughters and their (future) daughters.... I have been thinking about the power and influence that our maternal lines have on how each generation is raised. I owe SO much of who I am to these amazing women. I am so grateful for their love, their devotion, their work ethic, their traditions, their talents, their strength, their patience and especially their strong faith. Happy Mother's Day to generations of mothers--because of you, we are who we are!!

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)

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