So, you’re the birthday boy this week. I can’t believe you are seven-years-old! Well, that means it’s time for me to give you the seven-year-old challenge that I’ve given all your cousins. Some have taken it; others haven’t. The ones that did it can tell you it was a great experience.
Basically, the seven-year-old challenge asks you to listen to an audio recording for ten minutes, reading along with the narrator in your own Book of Mormon. Quinn, I know you are young, but gaining a testimony of God's will change your life. Each and every time you read it; it will change your life. You and I have the ultimate goal of eternal life with our Heavenly Father and Jesus. For this to become reality, it is vital to make choices throughout our lives that will lead us to this great goal. Reading scriptures daily is one of these important choices, because it allows the Holy Ghost to teach us our very own personal plan designed by Heavenly Father. We also learn about another choice; keeping the commandments. When we keep the commandments, our lives are happier and less difficult. Of course, we will still have problems, but they will be easier to handle with God’s help. His help is one of the blessings of keeping the commandments.
Another benefit of this listening and reading is improved reading skills. While reading the greatest and most correct book on earth, you can’t help but increase vocabulary, word attack skills, and comprehension. Good readers are smart people. And as you know, it is fun to be smart.
Yes, accomplishing this challenge requires some pretty grown up actions. Each day as you go to sleep or sit at the breakfast table, you can remember to turn on the narrator and follow along in your book. Ten minutes is such a short time or about as long as takes to eat a bowl of cereal.
You may wonder how I got this idea. The first time I got through the whole Bible, I listened to a great Shakespearian actor read it. It came to life for me. Another time I listened to the Book of Mormon. This year I’m listening to the Book of Mormon in the mornings and the Bible at night. Sure I can and do read without listening, but somehow listening is like an angel reading them to me or a little bit of heaven in my room.
Don’t worry if you can’t understand everything the first time through. I’ve read the scriptures many, many times and still learn new things every day. That’s the way it’s supposed to be, learning here a little and there a little.
It’s so funny; one lady I told about the seven-year-old challenge asked what’s the prize for finishing. She wanted to know what sort of accountability system we used. When she asked, I thought she was kidding; she wasn’t. This question boggled my mind. The reward is a testimony of the gospel and the scriptures as well as personal satisfaction for finishing a big goal. The accountability is learning to keep your word to yourself. Just like most of life, you can choose good or not, be happy or not, be contentious or not, be honest or not, be loyal or not, be studious or not. You get the idea.
We also sent Thornton Burgess Animal Stories set that Uncle Spencer enjoyed around your age. He liked them, because they are silly stories about animals and nature. When he was a little boy, we spent one day a week hiking mountain trails or walking along the seashore. We took our sketchbooks and drew all sorts of things; I guess you can say we both love nature.
Finally, we sent a set of Minecraft Legos, which we hope you don’t already have. We sent it to Tyson, who said it was one of his favorite birthday gifts.
Dash got a puppy tooth pulled the other day. It was infected and stunk like crazy. Once it was out, she stopped stinking. Plus, she has all sorts of energy that she never had before. I guess it was making her sick. Anyway, she’s pretty silly and crazy now. She climbs on the back of the couch to look out the window, because there are no low windows or sliding glass doors in this cottage.
I forgot how much I love the NW. Although the sunny skies of the dessert are nice, I actually enjoy the rain more. What is wrong with me!!??!! We drive north and a huge lake is ever so close. We drive west and the Pacific Ocean greets us. We drive southeast and little lakes dot the land. Water is so pleasing and peaceful. Maybe the difference is this little cottage. While it is only 350 square feet, it is fairly bright. Plus, and this is a big one, the floor is heated by circulating hot water. It doesn’t feel bone chilling cold. Dash and I love to walk at the park just a couple doors down. It’s so nice that I wish I could transplant it to an acre further out in the country and live there forever.
Well, Quinn, please, don’t forget that we love you, your parents love you, Heavenly Father loves you, and Jesus loves you. That’s a lot of love. Because things will go wrong and you will have problems it is very important to always remember this love. We are on your side. We want you to succeed. Choose to be happy, obedient, gentle, loyal, kind, and good. Think before you speak or react to others. Refuse to let other people ‘make you mad.’