When people say, “I want to give my children a better life,” they infer that they experienced some form of deprivation growing up, and want to provide better. This is a great goal if it is more than providing material comforts and conveniences, which in excess can deprive children of lessons learned from sacrifice, patience, and hard work. What can we give our children and grandchildren that will be of the most value, both in this life and the next? The Lord has given parents responsibility to teach children principles of virtue, light, and truth. These values are not usually learned in school classrooms or from friends. “Ye will not suffer your children…that they transgress the laws of God, and fight and quarrel one with another, and serve the devil…but ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another” (Mosiah 4:14-15). We can make our homes houses of learning where we talk openly, listen, encourage questioning, testify, exemplify, and seek learning ourselves, for we cannot teach what we do not know. “Reverently speak of the Savior—in the car, on the bus, at the dinner table, as you kneel in prayer, during scriptures study, or late-night conversations—and the Spirit of the Lord will accompany your words…Your testimony will never leave your children…and will prepare them for the challenges they will most surely face” (Neil A. Anderson).
May I describe what joy feels like to me? It’s deep and untouchable by external influences—such as disappointments, trials, and pain. I’ve had all of those. But even in the midst of difficulties, I feel a brightness of hope that lets in light. This hope is leads to faith, because I trust God’s purpose in allowing trials—His beautiful plan to tutor and improve me. I pledge to follow Him. This faith increases gratitude for my Savior who makes it possible to have eternal life. This gratitude heightens inner peace, which is a soothing feeling of equanimity that allows me to fall gently to sleep at night and to wake smiling in the morning. I might describe joy as an inward “smile.” Peace, gratitude, faith, and hope—gradually increase my ability to “grow in love” as Leo Tolstoy put it. These are all elements of happiness. They are subtle feelings and are easily overlooked, especially during an uphill climb. So I’m trying every day to recognize, acknowledge, and then record these tender mercies from above. They are Reasons to Rejoice!
What is a virtuous woman? The scriptures give a description and say her price is far above rubies. (Proverbs 21:10-31) In addition, a virtuous woman radiates an aura of light—expressed in faithfulness, purity, humility, and strength. Those around her can see and feel this light, and are uplifted, not intimidated. She does not flaunt her goodness; rather it is a quiet thing. George Eliot’s tribute to a virtuous woman adds a clear dimension of what I’m trying to become. “Her finely touched spirit…spent itself in channels which had no great name on earth. But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculable…For the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts…half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life and rest in unvisited graves.” A virtuous woman is the unsung, feminine hero in every nation of the world. She does not crave or receive applause, but her brilliant legacy makes the world a better place.
Our son wanted to carry on our Easter tradition from boyhood days while visiting us. So, early one Easter morning before sunrise, he bundled his children in warm jackets and handed everyone a flashlight. In the dark, he guided us up the steep trailhead to a clearing and spread out a blanket. While wind whistled in the towering pines and a waterfall roared in the distance, our son taught his children the significance of Easter and Christ’s Resurrection. He asked questions and they responded with eagerness. As sunrise gradually chased away darkness and warmed our backs, we noticed that we couldn’t actually see its golden orb, because of the tall mountains behind us. But we knew it was there! In a similar way, we don’t need to see the Savior in person to feel the warmth of His love, and for His light to illuminate our path. In dawn’s early light, we took turns reading from the scriptures while sipping hot chocolate from thermoses. Finally, we knelt on the uneven ground in prayer to express gratitude for our Redeemer. What a beautiful way to celebrate Easter! Yes, later there were eggs and baskets—which the children in time will forget. But I suppose they will never forget this beautiful sunrise moment on the mountainside remembering our Savior Jesus Christ. (Do you want to try this with your children or grandchildren on Easter morning? It works just as effectively on a porch or under your favorite tree in the backyard.)
Do you remember this childhood game? A person enters a room full of people who have preciously hidden an object. They call out clues—“Warm…warmer…no, now you’re getting cold, colder, freezing…” Responding to shouted clues, the person redirects his path until the object is found. The Holy Ghost works like that with me, whispering warm or cold signals to direct my path to be in harmony with God. I remember a day when my heart felt hard and cold as a rock. I felt “off” all day because I was nursing an offense over some slight. As I attended to my daily tasks, I formulated justifications for my wound. I built a strong case for myself. I was getting cold, colder, freezing…But divine rescue intercepted this frozen path, and placed in my mind an act of kindness that this person had performed some years prior, which I had forgotten. Remembering this kindness allowed my heart to begin thawing from its icy state. Darkness began to lift and warmth and light returned. Silently, I thanked Heavenly father for this rescue, for helping me see this person’s worth instead of fault. I saw my little grievance as a tiny gnat, easily swatted away. Divine rescue comes in many forms each day. I’m not only rescued from countless physical dangers as I bump along the landmines of my dangerous world, but a divine hand reaches out to reel me back to the path that leads to Him, time after time!