You know that your children will read. They will read books and they will read magazines and newspapers. Cultivate within them a taste for the best. While they are very young, read to them the great stories which have become immortal because of the virtues they teach. Expose them to good books. Let there be a corner somewhere in your house, be it ever so small, where they will see at least a few books of the kind upon which great minds have been nourished.
In the game of life a second effort is often required. The happy life is not ushered in at any age to the sound of drums and trumpets. It grows upon us year by year, little by little, until at last we realize that we have it. It is achieved in individuals not by flights to the moon or Mars, but by a body of work done so well that we can lift our heads with assurance and look the world in the eye. Of this be sure: You do not find the happy life … you make it.
Parents owe much to children, and children owe much to parents, and future parents owe much to those whom they will bring into the world. Remember that “all the rules will be fair” with “wonderful surprises.” Leave with your Heavenly Father the questions that may disturb you about parents and families who are not perfect and about “eternal families” and other matters which you cannot accomplish yourself. In God’s good time they will be answered on the basis of God’s love and man’s continuing eternal agency.
We can start by feeling and expressing to our Eternal Father our gratitude for being part of his eternal family, and part of his great Church family which extends to far corners of the earth, and part of a ward or branch family. The family we were born or adopted into and the future family we will establish should also be of the greatest concern to us.
Those of us who are lucky enough to belong to one of the good, if imperfect, families we talked about before, can thank God and make our best efforts to be a contributing citizen in a home where friendship and values and traditions and discipline exist, and where we can make a significant contribution if we are willing.
Those whose families are not what we wish they were can be thankful to parents who through God’s gift have given us life, and we can do everything we can do to minimize conflict and enhance harmony in our homes. Some small miracles occur where there just doesn’t appear much probability that one young person can make a difference.
Early Church leaders paid a great price to establish this dispensation. Perhaps we will meet them in the next life and listen to their witness. When we are called upon to testify, what will we say? There will be spiritual infants and spiritual giants in the next life. Eternity is a long time to live without light, especially if our spouses and our descendants also live in darkness because there was no light within us, and others, therefore, could not light their lamps.
"The day appointed for the departure of the Elders to England having arrived, I [stopped at] the house of Brother [Heber C.] Kimball to ascertain when he would start [on his journey], as I expected to accompany him two or three hundred miles, intending to spend my labors in Canada that season.
"The door being partly open, I entered and felt struck with the sight which presented itself to my view. I would have retired, thinking that I was intruding, but I felt riveted to the spot. The father was pouring out his soul to . . . [God, pleading] that He who 'careth for sparrows, and feedeth the young ravens when they cry' would supply the wants of his wife and little ones in his absence. He then, like the patriarchs, and by virtue of his office, laid his hands upon their heads individually, leaving a father's blessing upon them, . . . commending them to the care and protection of God, while he should be engaged preaching the Gospel in a foreign land. While thus engaged [in giving those blessings] his voice was almost lost in the sobs of those around [him], who [were trying in their youthful way to be strong but having a very hard time doing so.] . . . He proceeded, but his heart was too much affected to do so regularly. . . . He was obliged to stop at intervals, while . . . big tears rolled down his cheeks, an index to the feelings which reigned in his bosom. My heart was not stout enough to refrain," said Brother Thompson. "In spite of myself I wept, and mingled my tears with theirs. At the same time I felt thankful that I had the privilege of contemplating such a scene."
That scene has been reenacted one way or another a thousand times, a hundred thousand times, in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—a fear, a need, a call, a danger, a sickness, an accident, a death. I have been a participant in such moments. I have beheld the power of God manifest in my home and in my ministry. I have seen evil rebuked and the elements controlled. I know what it means to have mountains of difficulty move and ominous Red Seas part. I know what it means to have the destroying angel "pass by them." To have received the authority and to have exercised the power of "the Holy Priesthood, after the Order of the Son of God," is as great a blessing for me and for my family as I could ever hope for in this world. And that, in the end, is the meaning of the priesthood in everyday terms—its unequaled, unending, constant capacity to bless.
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