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To start off, I think I should give some background for those of you who may be unfamiliar with some of the things I plan to discuss.  This is likely to make things a trifle long, so hold on to your seat cushions.  Here we go.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has special programs for their young people between the ages of 12 and 18 (middle and high school age kids).  For boys, it’s the Aaronic Priesthood (yes, teenage boys do hold the priesthood in our church) and the Duty To God program.  For girls, it’s Young Women and the Personal Progress program.  When I was a girl, though, Personal Progress was different.  There were only about six areas they wanted us to work on and we were supposed to be setting lots of goals as we went and writing in our journals.  Why it never occurred to me to put the two together is beyond me.

When I was about seventeen or eighteen they introduced the seven values: Faith, Divine Nature, Individual Worth, Knowledge, Choice and Accountability, Good Works and Integrity.  More recently, there was a Relief Society lesson in which the newest value, Virtue, was introduced.  I also learned that the program had been revamped since I was a girl.  It wasn’t goals any more, but experiences.  It was then that I realized that it wouldn’t be long before my own daughter was in Young Women and working her way through the Personal Progress program and I knew, given how different the program is now from when I was a Young Woman, that we wouldn’t have much in common and I wouldn’t be able to help her much.  Also, I realized that the Personal Progress program isn’t just for teenagers, though that’s the age group it was designed for, and I could probably improve my own relationship with Heavenly Father if I worked my way through the program myself. 

So, with those two objectives in mind, A) be able to show my daughter what I learned from the program and B)deepen my relationship with God, I bought a large leather-bound journal, got a copy of the Personal Progress book from the Young Women’s leader and started in.  It’s been two years and four months since then and I’ve been working my way through the Values as outlined.  I’m currently on Choice and Accountability.  At this point, I’m working on the second experience in that section which deals with a booklet they give both young men and young women, called For The Strength of Youth.  (You can also click here to learn more)  It outlines nineteen different standards as a guide meant to help young people make righteous choices and live up to their divine potential.  Of course, though the booklet was originally intended for the youth, the standards listed are applicable to people of all ages and, if I may say so, creeds. 

The experience suggests the reading of this booklet, the most recent edition of which is about forty-five pages long, and that the choosing of one of the listed standards to improve on over a period of three weeks.  When I went to decide which standard to work on, I had a short list of about three (Family, Language, and Work & Self Reliance) listed in a notebook when, out of nowhere, I had the feeling I should ask my daughter which she thought I should work on.  I was surprised when she said, “Mom, I noticed that some of the stuff you watch on the computer makes you swear a lot.”  Well, I knew right there which standard to pick and it wasn’t even on my list: Entertainment and Media.

The booklet doesn’t put down any form of media.  What it does say, though, gave me something to think about.  “Choose wisely when using media because whatever you read, listen to, or look at has an effect on you. Select only media that uplifts you.”  There’s also the last line in the 13th Article of Faith that reads, “…if there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.”  So, with that in mind, I’m endeavoring to be more choosy about what kinds of video games I play, movies I watch or books I read.  Following prayer, I felt that the best standard of all came from the perspective of parenthood.  Basically, if I feel that the entertainment or media I’m contemplating indulging in isn’t something I would want to share with my children, then it’s probably not appropriate for me, either.  I think someone said that to me once, too, but I can’t remember who they were.

Once I decided this, I immediately went to jaklumen and told him my intentions.  I told him I didn’t intend to try to make him change, that would be an infringement on his agency, but I was hoping that, by telling him, I would be able to count on him for support.

It’s raining today and the snow hasn’t completely melted, which means much of what was icy is now slippery as well.  Anyway, many of you know that I usually escort my daughter to the school where she eats her free breakfast and catches her shuttle bus to her gifted program.  I had a few moments free on the way back and so I was discussing all this with my Heavenly Father and I noticed that I seem to have stepped right back into sync with him just like when I was sixteen and all of that just by making a personal commitment to be more selective about the materials and activities I choose.  It’s a welcome feeling and I didn’t realize how much I’d missed it until it returned.

Well, that’s it.  Congratulations if you made it this far.  I try not to make long posts on this blog because I worry that they won’t get read.  This needed to be said, though.  So if the length irks you, I hope it won’t bother you too much if I don’t apologize.