Life is all about families! As I have been writing histories of parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents, I’m drawn to them with increased tenderness and honor, even greater than when they were alive. Some of them I never knew. I am also thinking about precious one-on-one moments with my children and grandchildren in soul-connecting activities and discussions. I am happiest in the presence of my family. My thoughts wrap around them; every prayer centers on them; my heart is linked inseparably by eternal bonds. Family is everything to me—husband, children, grandchildren, siblings, parents, grandparents—backwards and forwards up and down the generations. It’s like an intricate web that cannot be touched without setting the whole matrix in motion. I think of my posterity yet to be born, and already love them with inexpressible intensity. I yearn to leave behind a legacy of faith to help them remain constant as they traverse their mortal journey. I hope to assist them—by example and precept—to have a strong personal faith in Jesus Christ which will prepare them for the challenges they will most surely face. I know this love and concern will increase, in this lifetime and beyond the veil, as I continue to labor and pray in their behalf. Family is my work, my joy, my life—now and forever. Family gives me abundant Reasons to Rejoice!
“Look unto the rock from whence ye are hewn” (Isaiah 51:1). What does this mean to you? When I think of the word, “hewn” I think of a statue emerging from a block of beautiful marble after the master artisan has laboriously chipped away with sharp tools to create a likeness. Along with all of God’s children, I am “hewn” from divine parentage as a beloved child of God. He is shaping me to be in His likeness. The word “Rock” is often used in the scriptures to represent the Savior Jesus Christ. He is what I strive to become. I have taken upon myself His holy name in covenant, and have pledged to always remember Him. In another respect, I am also “hewn” from beloved earthly parents and ancestors. I want to carry on their legacy of courage and faith. I live in a confused world when it comes to identity. Many people look to find themselves in the wrong places. The right place to find one’s real identity is from God, as His beloved child. Real identity comes from recognizing our divine heritage and purpose. These words from a favorite child’s hymn relate to adults as well: “I am a child of God, and He has sent me here. Has given me an earthly home with parents kind and dear. Lead me, guide me, walk beside me; help me find the way. Teach me all that I must do, to live with Him someday.” Isaiah’s words, “Look unto the rock from whence ye are hewn” remind me of who I am and whose I am.
When teens graduate from high school and leave home to taste independence, they enter the dangerous decade of young adulthood. In the thrill of freedom, they often explore forbidden paths which lead to destructive behaviors, habits, and detours. By contrast, what parent could want more than to hear the following words from a son or daughter during these critical years? Here is a short extract from a long list of lessons learned from our oldest grandchild who recently returned from her mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was hard work. She said she is not the same person that she was 18 months ago.
- I have learned why we need opposition and the trial of our faith.
- I have learned the important role of the Holy Ghost, and why I never want to live without the guidance of the Spirit.
- I have learned the importance of family and what I want my future family to be.
- I have learned what it means to truly love people.
- I have learned that the Atonement of Jesus Christ is infinite and intimate.
- I have learned what Heavenly Father can accomplish through 19 and 20 year- old men and women.
- I think the greatest change in me is that I can say with confidence that I know the truths of the gospel for myself.
- There is a certain peace and joy that comes when you know the truth. It comes from the Savior. That is what continually motivated me to wake up every day with excitement to share it with others.
- I have learned that I have great reason to rejoice!
It is inspiration from God to send missionaries of young adult age to spread the good news of the gospel worldwide. In the process of blessing others, these young adults are shaped in magnificent ways. I am a grandmother with great Reasons to Rejoice!
What does the word, “abound” mean, and how does it apply to you? I was led on a quest to find out. The generic definition of “abound” means to “be present in large numbers or in great quantity.” It is a form of the more familiar word, “abundance.” Think about this definition as it relates to these three scriptures from the New Testament:
- “And see that ye have faith, hope, and charity, and then ye will always abound in good works” (Alma 7:24)
- “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost” (Romans 15:13).
- “And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you” (Thessalonians 3:12).
God want us to abound in good works. He wants us to abound in hope. He wants us to abound in love for others. He wants us to feel these things in abundance and is ready to pour out His blessings as we commit to follow Him. “The Lord wants us to be filled with hope—not just because it points us to a brighter tomorrow, but because it changes the quality of our lives today” (Dwan J. Young). I am learning that as I abound in good works, hope, and love for others, that God fills my soul with abundant Reasons to Rejoice.
Ever hear the phrase, “Been there; done that”? I think it means that a person believes he or she has completed a list of responsibilities and deserves a rest, as if life’s purpose is merely ticking off a series of boxes. This attitude is an excuse to slip into the easy-chair of complacency after an exerted effort. But complacency is a danger for people of all ages. It is dangerous because when we stop giving, we stop growing. Complacency impedes progression and hinders happiness. For example, complacency leads a naïve youth to think there will be plenty of time in the future for spiritual things. It leads adults to mentally, spiritually, and emotionally “retire” from performing good works. Complacency tempts people to consider themselves too old and tired to continue serving others as they once did. A wise prophet of the Lord counselled us: “Behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God” (Mosiah 2:17). There is a need to exchange complacency for compassion. “Being compassionate is another great work of our Heavenly Father and a fundamental characteristic of who we are as a people. Disciples of Christ throughout all ages of the world have been distinguished by their compassion” (Dieter F.Uchtdorf). Personally, I commit to continue serving my family, neighbors, and community as an outward manifestation of my love of the Lord. On my journey back to my Heavenly Home, I want to work with all my might to serve others until I draw my final breath. This brings many Reasons to Rejoice!
How was your day today? Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? When asked this question, what goes through your mind? Is it the number of new jobs obtained, contracts signed, sales completed, a raise in salary, or the bestowal of high marks on performance? Is it zipping along a wreck-free commute on the highway in record time? Although these things surely can bring satisfaction, they are short-lived. An LDS hymn asks these poignant questions: “Have I done any good in the world today? Have I helped anyone in need? Have I cheered up the sad and made someone feel glad? If not, I have failed indeed.” Too often we focus on self rather than looking outward to another’s need as a measure of success. Robert Lewis Stevenson said, “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant.” We can move closer to Christ by shifting our perspective to reflect altruistic behaviors to help others as the best metric of accomplishment. When I’m tempted to use material measures to ascertain a day well spent, I will reflect on the questions listed in the hymn above. These behaviors will result in lasting and deeply fulfilling Reasons to Rejoice.
We used an effective object lesson during a recent family gathering. We discussed how Satan is waging war against all those who are trying to keep the Lord’s commandments. What tools can we use to protect ourselves and stay true to our covenants? My wife and I had purchased 12” lengths of painted rebar for each child to represent the iron rod spoken of in the scriptures. The prophet Lehi saw in vision that many people wandered blindly through mists of darkness, losing their way and following forbidden roads. Lehi saw an iron rod beside the path leading to the Savior. If the people would hold fast to that rod, they would not lose their way. What does the rod of iron mean? “It was the word of God; and whoso would hearken unto the word of God, and would hold fast unto it, they would never perish; neither could the temptations and the fiery darts of the adversary overpower them unto blindness, to lead them away to destruction” (1 Nephi 15:23-24). We challenged our family to prop the rebar “iron rod” in a prominent place as a reminder to read scriptures daily. This daily habit will be a protection against Satan’s temptations. It will empower us with ability beyond our own to stay on the path. It will open channels of personal revelation from God. These are Reasons to Rejoice!