Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Monday, February 8, 2016

My Mother-In-Law

                My VIP for today is my mother-in-law.  Today is her birthday, and she would have been 91 years old.  We lost her about seventeen years ago to Alzheimer’s disease, but she actually passed about seven years ago.  Alzheimer’s disease is a horrible disease because it steals our loved one and leaves a shell in their place. 

                I most likely had the most wonderful mother-in-law in the world.  She was the mother of four children – two sons and two daughters, one of which she lost before birth; she also mothered a young Indian girl who lived with her for a few years.  She accepted everyone with unconditional love.  I loved her as a mother, and I knew that she loved me as a daughter.  She was particularly tender with me at the time of my mother’s death.  She knew that I loved her son, and she supported me in my role as his wife.  She loved all of her grandchildren and loved to brag about them.  In fact, she was proud of all her family and loved to share pictures of them.

                My mother-in-law came from a large family of eight boys and three girls.  All eight of her brothers served in the military; six of them served during World War II and all came home alive.  It seems that there was always a problem between any two of her siblings for Mom was constantly playing peace maker in her family.  At five foot nothing, she was the shortest person in her family and was known as Shorty, a name her sons were more than happy to call her when they passed her in height.  She wore tiny shoes, about size 5; in fact, she often purchased shoes in the children’s department when she found some she liked. 

                As a young woman my husband’s mother had beautiful black hair that turned snow white when she was older.  Her eyes would sparkle when she laughed, and she laughed often.  Her laugh was contagious and sounded like music to her husband.  She loved to tell jokes but usually got the punch line wrong; this would cause her to start laughing and then everyone laughed even harder.


                My sweet mother-in-law loved to crochet and make craft items; she was always busy making something for her home or to give away as gifts.  She was a great letter writer and carried on correspondence with many people.  She maintained friendships in far flung places and stopped to visit with people whenever she could.  She was often engaged in service to others and held many callings in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I was blessed to have her as my mother-in-law here on earth and will continue to have that blessing throughout eternity.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Constitutional Conservatism

                The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from an article written by Mary Ramirez titled “Five Things Millennials Should Understand About Constitutional Conservatism” yesterday.  Ms. Ramirez discusses in her article how the desire of young adults to gain freedom from the control of their parents is not consistent with their willingness to support Bernie Sanders.

                After recognizing that millennials want to move away from home in order to be free to make their own decisions, Ms. Ramirez asks:  “So let me ask you this:  if you couldn’t stand being told what to do, where to go, and otherwise how to live under your parents’ authority what makes you think having an all-powerful government to do the exact same thing on an infinitesimally bigger scale is any different?”

                Ms. Ramirez then discusses why millennials are willing to give up their freedom for socialism.  She explained that socialism is “varying degrees of wealth redistribution” with “a great deal of cultural engineering thrown in there too.”  She claims that millennials like Bernie Sanders because they are “scared to death about [their] future” and Sanders promised a lot of “free stuff.”

                After setting the stage, Ms. Ramirez discusses some of the freedoms protected by constitutional conservatism, freedoms that are not present in nations practicing socialism:  “(1) Constitutional Conservatism means your rights are protected.  Guaranteed….; (2) Constitutional Conservatism means a government lets you keep more of your money…; 
(3) Constitutional Conservatism means actual concern for the poor…; (4) Constitutional Conservatism means you choose how to run your life…; (5) Constitutional Conservatism means equal protection under the law for ALL Americans….”

                Ms. Ramirez then goes “back to the original question:  If you couldn’t wait to get out from under your parents’ thumbs - what makes you think being under the government’s thumb (in exchange for a bunch of seemingly free stuff and social reengineering) is any better?”


                I suggest that you check out Ms. Ramirez’s article to learn more about Constitutional Conservatism and why socialism is not good for freedom-loving people.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Cycles

                People run in cycles of one kind or another.  I am in a cycle now – get out of bed, do housework, complete assignments, go to bed, get up, and start all over again.  Maybe it isn’t that bad – but it seems like it at times.

                I read this week of another cycle in my Book of Mormon studies.   (See Helaman 11:18-12:6.)  This great book of scripture that written for us documents a cycle that is often called the pride cycle.  The Old Testament also documents the pride cycle taking place in the Israelite nation.  The pride cycle recurs over and over again in the rise and fall of people and nations.  Both the Nephite nation and the Jaredite nation who live and thrived on the American continents were destroyed because they allowed themselves to get caught in the pride cycle and down to destruction.  The Israelites too suffered from their experiences in the pride cycle.

                The cycle starts with prosperity and riches followed in turn by pride, wickedness, and destruction.  When conditions get bad enough, the cycle moves to humility, which then brings righteousness and riches for a time before moving into pride once again.  Our nation has also fallen prey to the pride cycle from time to time only to be saved because there were more righteous people than wicked people. 

                We are still going through the pride cycle.  I believe we are somewhere in the pride and wickedness area as seen by the corruption in our nation and the support for same-sex marriage and abortion.  We are most likely past the prosperity and riches area, and we are definitely not in the humility and righteousness area.  Our safety as a nation depends on our willingness to humble ourselves and turn to the God of the land who is Jesus Christ.  What do you think of the chances of this happening?

                Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles questioned why societies continue to go through the pride cycle:  “I guess one of the greatest mysteries of mortality is why mankind fails to learn from history.  Why do those who profess to be true followers of Christ so often become victims of the enticements of the world” (Ensign, Nov. 1992, 16).  


                It looks to me that we are on the slippery slope of destruction and picking up speed.  At the moment we are being spared because of the prayers and actions of the righteous among us.  How long will the righteous stand firm and steadfast?  God is the only one who knows what our future holds.  Will we join the many societies that failed to learn from previous generations? 

Spelling

                Is it possible to strengthen families, communities, and nations by helping the rising generation to spell better?  Is the ability to spell something that can be taught?  Is it part of the environment or is it inherited?

                My mother was a good speller; I won a class spelling bee and am still good at spelling.  I have children who either won school spelling bees or scored in the top three spots.  Now my grandchildren are winning school spelling bees and representing their schools at area spelling bees.  My children and grandchildren are also good readers.  Does being good at reading have something to do with how well they spell?

                I found an interesting article from 2008 that says spelling may be in the genes.  “This month The Times launched the UK's first national Spelling Bee to bring these issues out into the open and to fuel interest in what some would say is a forgotten art. In the past, poor spelling was attributed to all manner of things, from bad schooling to a lack of moral fibre. But science is offering a new explanation. A difficulty with spelling could be rooted in your genes and in the way that your brain is wired. These findings stem from research into the language disorder dyslexia, but they are proving important for the wider population. Biology, it seems, not only influences those with dyslexia but also people without the syndrome. If you are a bad speller you can blame your grey matter. Spelling and reading require a phenomenal amount of brain power.”


                Read more about spelling and reading here.  

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Economic Freedom

                The 2016 Economic Freedom Index was released this week.  The Index measures nations on ten key criteria:  (1) property rights, (2) freedom from corruption, (3) fiscal freedom,
(4) government spending, (5) business freedom, (6), labor freedom, (7) monetary freedom, (8) trade freedom,
(9) investment freedom, and (10) financial freedom.  I found it very interesting that the Index was “released on the same day the national debt topped $19 trillion for the first time in the nation’s history.”  

                The United States of America did not make the top ten countries with the most economic freedom.  According to this index the top ten economically free countries are:  (1) Hong Kong, (2) Singapore, (3) New Zealand, (4) Switzerland, (5) Australia, (6) Canada, (7) Chile, (8) Ireland, (9) Estonia, and (10) United Kingdom.  The USA is in 11th place out of approximately 200 nations.  

                How could that happen in so few years?  The USA was in 6th place when Barack Obama took office.  How can any sane person claim we are better off today than we were seven years ago? 

                According to Representative Dave Brat (R-Va) one of the reasons that the United States ended the year at #11 is “because of slower than normal economic growth, citing trillions of dollars’ worth of unfunded liabilities and an annual federal budget deficit projected to reach $544 billion by the end of Fiscal Year 2016…. You cannot have economic growth without economic freedom.”

                I hope Americans think long and hard about the direction we are going in economic freedom.  Do you want to live in a nation that is economically free?  If so, are you going to vote for a presidential candidate that will act to change the direction we are heading?  If so, you must look carefully at what the candidates stand for and listen to their words.  Bernie Sanders openly states that he is a socialist, and Hilary Clinton praises the work of Mr. Obama.  That is your choice if you insist on showing your insanity by voting for a Democrat.  Some of the Republicans are much better than what the Democrat Party is offering but not all of them.  I believe we can trust Ted Cruz, but I am not sure about Donald Trump or Marco Rubio.  We need to be sure that we elect a President that we can trust to do what is right for our nation!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Entitlement or Gratitude

                I was thinking about my post from yesterday about the importance of being open to receive all that you meant to receive and how this financial law reflects the Lord’s Law of Tithing.  Both principles counsel us to be willing to give a “significant” amount of money to charity.  Then I remembered a lesson from last semester titled “Giving Back” and decided I needed to include it.

                Part of the lesson on giving back was a talk by Elder Kim B. Clark titled “Drenched in Gratitude:  Protection against the Spirit of Entitlement.”   In his talk President Clark warned about feeling entitled to anything.  He spoke about the condition of the spiritual heart and how it is “full of receptors and sensors tuned to the Holy Ghost with capacity to receive the gifts of the Spirit.”  He suggested that we check the condition of our hearts by asking ourselves five questions because they “could be early warning signs that the spirit of entitlement is at work.”
1.  Are you overly critical of others?  Do you look down on others?
2.  Is the word ‘deserve” used frequently in your vocabulary – as in “I deserve” or “I don’t deserve” this or that?
3.  Do you care too much about indicators of status and rank?
4.  If you are not recognized, or accorded a privilege, or blessed immediately after doing something good – do you hear a voice inside saying “What about me?” or “That is not fair”?
5.  Do you ever seek special treatment for yourself?  Does it happen often?

                President Clark stated that we can avoid the spirit of entitlement by developing an attitude for gratitude.  He suggested “three things we can do to engender a spirit of gratitude in our lives:  pray with real intent, partake of the sacrament with our hearts and minds focused on the Savior, and worship in the temple with thanksgiving.  These are gifts from the Savior.  He has created them for us and taught us how to use them.  They are opportunities to help us always remember Him and express our love and gratitude for Him.”


                I just do not believe it is a coincidence that the Lord’s law of finance – tithing – is nearly identical to an important principle of financial freedom.  When comparing these laws of finance with an entitlement attitude, it is easy to see why people do not become financially free when they have the spirit of entitlement.  If one has the entitlement attitude that the world owes them a hand out, how can they have the attitude of giving back a “significant” amount of what they have?  I think it is obvious that we must develop an attitude of gratitude for what we have and be willing to give back to society if we truly desire to be financially free.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Open the Windows

                One of my assignments for my math and finance class is to read a finance book and write a paper on it.  I chose to read The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom – Practical & Spiritual Steps So You can Stop Worrying written by Suze Orman.  I found numerous principles that sound good to me, but I found one principle that I know really works.  I was surprised but pleased to see this principle included in the book.  The author listed it as the seventh principle, but I feel it should be number one.

                The principle is:  Be open to receive all that you are meant to have.  The author states that “money is a living entity and responds to energy… when you feel you’re in control of your money and have enough to be generous with it, money will naturally flow your way… (page 250).

                “… Beyond a shadow of a doubt, I now know the following principle is true:  We experience prosperity, true financial freedom, when our actions with respect to money are dharmic, or righteous, actions – that is, actions of generosity, actions of offering… (page 254).
                “The reason to give:  You open yourself to receive all that is meant to be yours…” (page 255).

                The author suggested that readers “decide on an amount of money that you feel you can give away freely every month.  Let your inner voice determine the amount you should make as an offering” (page 256).  She wrote that the amount should be “meaningful” but affordable.  She suggested that a check should be written at the beginning of the month and given to charity before the end of the month. 

                I could not help but compare this principle to the gospel principle of tithing.  We too are counseled to pay tithing – ten percent is a “meaningful” amount – when we receive the income.  The prophet Malachi wrote, “Bring ye all the tithe into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (Malachi 3:10).


                I know that paying ten percent of my income to build the kingdom of God on earth is a true principle.  I also know that the payment of tithing opens the windows of heaven in my behalf.  I know that paying tithing will bring me the blessings that I need even though it may not make me a millionaire.  If you want to gain financial freedom, I suggest that you start with tithing.