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!
I have more to say about good mothers. This is the kind of mother I want to be: “If you need a woman to rear children in righteousness, Here am I; send me. If you need a woman to make a house a home filled with love, Here am I; send me. If you need a woman who will shun vulgarity and dress modestly and speak with dignity and show the world how joyous it is to keep the commandments, Here am I; send me. If you need a woman who can resist the alluring temptations of the world by keeping her eyes fixed on eternity, Here am I, send me” (M. Russell Ballard). What I say to every mother about to give birth to a daughter is this: I’m glad you’re having a girl because the world needs good mothers! A good mother LIFTS, BENDS, and BALANCES with near superhuman strength. “Motherhood is the highest, holiest service to be assumed by mankind. It places her who honors its holy calling and service next to the angels” (David O. McKay). We mothers need to be reminded of this beautiful description of our career.
US West Point Military Academy
Everyone entering the United States Military Academy at West Point agrees to the following code: “A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do.” All who attend West Point are expected to live by that code. This code, however, is external. In other words, it is imposed by the institution, and those who violate it are subject to harsh discipline. Men and women of honor have an internalized code of conduct which controls their actions. Their individual codes are much stricter than anything the academy can impose. If that internal code is built on righteous principles, a person will do the right thing, even at great personal sacrifice. Thomas Jefferson said, “In estimating every man’s value, either in private or public life, pure integrity is the quality we take first into calculation, and that learning and talents are only the second.” The Lord acknowledged this valued trait when He said, “Blessed is my servant…for I, the Lord, love him because of the integrity of his heart, and because he loveth that which is right before me” (Doctrine & Covenants 124:15). I want to live my life with honesty and integrity, both in public and in private.
Why do we address our prayers to Heavenly Father and close in the name of Jesus Christ? First, because Christ commanded us to do so: “Therefore ye must always pray unto the Father in my name” (3 Nephi 18:19). The Savior reminds us often in the scriptures of the ascendant order of God the Eternal Father and His Son, Jesus Christ–who performs the will of His Father. They are two distinct beings but united in purpose, attribute, and love. Praying in the Savior’s name is a reminder that salvation and resurrection come only through Christ’s infinite Atonement. At baptism I pledged my willingness to take Christ’s name upon me and follow His commandments. This covenant is renewed each week during sacrament. The Savior’s name is sacred. I should always pronounce it in reverent tone, never casually or rushed. (Too often as prayers are closed, the Savior’s name is hastily spoken, garbled, or unintelligible.) I want to honor Jesus Christ by following and serving Him faithfully all of my life. I can also demonstrate honor by articulating His holy name with reverence when I close my prayers.
Modesty is beautiful
For riveting summer reading, I recommend the excellent book, Return to Modesty, by Wendy Shalit. Here are a few nuggets of truth that she bravely illuminated:
- Changing promiscuity in society must come through women, as life comes through her. Women have the eternal feminine power to spiritualize mankind.
- If women want men to be good—they must be good.
- Modesty is infinitely more than what we wear. It is a way of thinking and being. It emerges from a deep vision of one’s own worth.
- When the wind blows, all women are overwhelmed by the natural instinct of modesty to hunch over and pin their skirts down. Embarrassment in exposing one’s body is actually a wonderful signal that something isn’t quite right.
- Immodest dress and conduct is offensive to those who value modesty.
- Society teaches and values independence ahead of virtue.
- In former days, modesty gave women freedom to withhold affection until a virtuous man came around. Men were inspired to become worthy of her.
- Modesty is about knowing, protecting, and directing passion to something higher.
- Rather than treating men as animals, modesty invites men to act honorably.
- What is truly beautiful in a woman is her charity, mercy, and grace. An indicator of true manhood is acting with honor—not scoring conquests.
If you agree with these points, you’ll love this book.