We can also influence our children through the words we write to them. Nephi writes, “We labor diligently to write, to persuade our children … to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God.”6
President Thomas S. Monson shared the experience of Jay Hess, an airman who was shot down over North Vietnam in the 1960s: “For two years his family had no idea whether he was dead or alive. His captors in Hanoi eventually allowed him to write home but limited his message to less than 25 words.” President Monson asks: “What would you and I say to our families if we were in the same situation—not having seen them for over two years and not knowing if we would ever see them again? Wanting to provide something his family could recognize as having come from him and also wanting to give them valuable counsel, Brother Hess wrote [the following words]: ‘These things are important: temple marriage, mission, college. Press on, set goals, write history, take pictures twice a year.’”7
What words would you write to your children if you had 25 words or less?
As soon as I heard this, I jotted a note to myself to record my 25 words or less. I love this idea for so many reasons: it's an interesting writing challenge, it forces me to be succinct (not one of my strengths...I often ramble on), and I love the idea of leaving my priorities in writing for my children/posterity.
So without further ado, here are my (exactly) 25 words:
Love God and all men. Faith, hope, charity. Temple. Keep covenants. Learn, read daily. Forgive. Choose happiness. Be grateful. Remember whose you are. Eternity awaits!