"No obstacles are insurmountable when God commands and we obey"
- - Heber J. Grant
December 26, 2012
Joy to the world
by Melissa Howell

Leaving a Christmas party one evening recently, my husband and I walked out the front door of our friends’ home and stepped into a glistening, white snowfall. Tiny crystallized flakes sparkled and fell, covering the ground with a blanket of Christmas cheer, which bolstered my spirits immensely, for I am a firm believer in the importance of a white Christmas.

Only, it wasn’t snowing. The sky was starry and clear, the street was dry and every neighboring yard was brown and barren of the slightest hint of snowy joy.

Our friend, a clever engineer, had decided that if Mother Nature wasn’t going to provide the gift of snow, he would manufacture it himself. With a bit of research and an order placed for such parts with which I am not very familiar but included names like pressure washer and compressed air, combined with hoses and a ladder or some variety of similar items, he rigged up a system that did indeed effectively produce the desired result.

I shared a laugh with a few others wondering what the neighbors would think the next morning as they drove by this yard, radiant with its whiteness. I imagined their surprised faces and perhaps double-takes as they took note of this occurrence, an outward expression of Christmas joy.

As parents, are we equipping our children with the correct “parts” to produce in them an outward expression of Christmas joy, not only in December but throughout their lives? Not the joy that comes with Santa and gifts, candy canes and stockings, but that which accompanies knowledge of the Savior and His divine birth, life and death?

They need the scriptures, to read of His life and His service. I am grateful to my Bishop’s inspired decision to focus this month’s Sacrament meeting talks on the life of the Savior, from His humble and miraculous birth to His mortal life and His simple, divine and loving teachings and endless service rendered to others and His atoning sacrifice. This should be the foundation of our children’s testimonies.

They need opportunities to serve. I am humbled and inspired by friends and those around me who introduce the spirit of service to their children from the youngest ages. I am grateful for opportunities for ward and stake service projects, where even the smallest of hands can pull weeds, pick up trash and leave their community a bit neater than it was. One friend discusses with her children at dinner what random acts of kindness were performed that day for family members.

They need Family Home Evening, family prayer and other moments together where we can develop, refine and share our testimonies of the Savior and our efforts to follow Him.

They need regular church attendance and participation in Primary to bolster parents’ teachings and to share with one another.

They need to hear our own testimonies, and more important, to see them in action.

It is good to take inventory as parents from time to time, and perhaps we might notice that some of these parts are missing; in my life I know this happens now and then. Take heart! The great supplier of these parts, even our Father in Heaven, has them continually in stock if we but order them.

I am humbled and inspired by children who have been given all of these parts, resulting in a beautiful testimony and knowledge of their Savior and Redeemer. With such things in place, children – and adults – naturally give an outward expression of joy, during Christmas and beyond, a peace that is visible to others and often causes others to take note. In essence, it creates sparkling, bright examples to those around them, in a world that all too often is dark, dry and barren.

The testimonies of children can truly bring joy to the world.

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About Melissa Howell

Melissa Howell was born and raised in the woods of northern Minnesota. She has a degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota.

As a single 20-something, she moved to Colorado seeking an adventure. She found one, first in landing her dream job and then in landing her dream husband; four children followed.

Upon becoming a mother, she left her career in healthcare communications to be a stay-at-home mom, and now every day is an adventure with her husband Brian and children Connor (9), Isabel (6), Lucas (5) and Mason (2).

In addition, she is a freelance writer and communications consultant for a variety of organizations.

Melissa serves as Assistant director of media relations for stake public affairs and Webelos den leader

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