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.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

President Is Top Boss

            There topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday is the power of the President of the United States. The President is the top guy in the executive branch of the federal government. He has the power to fire any of the appointees at any time.

            The media has been tied in knots for several weeks. They called for a special Senate investigation, and the results were a “nothing burger” as Senator Ted Cruz called it in the beginning. Former FBI Director James Comey did not to help his cause and may have put himself in deep trouble.

            The Blaze published an article about an interview done recently by MSNBC anchor Yasmin Vossoughian with Elizabeth Price Foley, a law professor at Florida International University. The interview concerned the charge that President Donald Trump committed obstruction of justice when he fired Comey last month. Democrats charge that Trump fired Comey because of the FBI investigation into possible collusion between the Russians and the Trump campaign. No evidence of collusion has been found, but that fact does not stop liberals.
Foley explained the situation as follows.

The FBI director works for the attorney general and the attorney general works for the president of the United States. All of these individuals have their jobs by the pleasure of the president’s appointment with the advice and consent of the Senate…. They can be fired by him at any time and for any reason….

To the extent that people want [to] try to make this obstruction of justice, there’s a million different layers why this is not technically obstruction of justice, either as a statutory matter or constitutional matter….

You don’t put discretionary limits on plenary constitutional authority and if you do what you do is you invite Article III non-elected politically non-accountable judges to second guess the president’s authority. You never want to have a constitutional regime that sets up that way.


Foley explained that people have two options if they do not like the fact that Trump fired Comey. They can impeach him and remove him from office or they can elect another President in 2020. This writer believes that liberals should back off and let the President do his job, especially if they will not or cannot take either of the above stated actions. 

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Personal Guidance from God

            About 600 years before the birth of Jesus Christ, a prophet named Lehi took his family and departed into the desert wilderness in obedience to the voice of the Lord. One morning Lehi received an unexpected but wonderful gift. His son Nephi writes about the experience.

And it came to pass that as my father arose in the morning, and went forth to the tent door, to his great astonishment he beheld upon the ground a round ball of curious workmanship; and it was of fine brass. And within the ball were two spindles; and the one pointed the way whither we should go into the wilderness” (Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, 1 Nephi 16:10).

            Another Book of Mormon prophet named Alma writes that the ball was called the Liahona and that it was a compass prepared by the Lord. He also says that the Liahona pointed the way that they should go in the wilderness and that it worked for them according to their faith.
(See Alma 37:38-40.) In other words, they had to exercise faith in Jesus Christ in order for the Liahona to tell them the direction they should go in order to find the promised land.

            President Thomas S. Monson, then Second Counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints explains that the Lord provided the Liahona for Lehi and that He also provides direction for us in our day but in a different form.

The same Lord who provided a Liahona for Lehi provides for you and for me today a rare and valuable gift to give direction to our lives, to mark the hazards to our safety, and to chart the way, even safe passage – not to a promised land, but to our heavenly home. The gift to which I refer is known as your patriarchal blessing. Every worthy member of the Church is entitled to receive such a precious and priceless personal treasure.

            Just as Lehi and his family had to exercise faith in Jesus Christ in order to reach their promised land, we must exercise faith in Christ to obtain divine direction for our lives. We must first believe that the patriarch has the authority to give us the blessing, and then we must exercise our faith to obtain the blessing. After receiving the blessing, we must follow the counsel given.

            President Monson continued by quoting instructions from the First Presidency to stake presidents about patriarch blessings in a letter dated June 28, 1958.

Patriarchal blessings contemplate an inspired declaration of the lineage of the recipient and, when so moved upon by the Spirit, an inspired and prophetic statement of the life mission of the recipient, together with such blessings, cautions and admonitions as the patriarch may be prompted to give for the accomplishment of such life’s mission, it being always made clear that the realization of all promised blessings is conditioned upon faithfulness to the gospel of our Lord, whose servant the patriarch is.

            Who is this patriarch that has the power to see the future and the authority to bestow such blessings? The Lord gave the responsibility for calling patriarchs to the Council of the Twelve Apostles. President Monson explains that from his “own experience I testify that patriarchs are called of God by prophecy.”

            The office of patriarch is an ordained office in the Melchizedek Priesthood. It is an office of blessing rather than of administration. Patriarchs carry the responsibility to remain worthy of revelation from God. President Monson describes the men who are called as patriarchs.

Patriarchs are humble men. They are students of the scriptures. They stand before God as the means whereby the blessings of heaven can flow from that eternal source to the recipient on whose head rests the hands of the patriarch. He may not be a man of letters, a possessor of worldly wealth, or a holder of a distinguished office. He, however, must be blessed with priesthood power and personal purity. To reach to heaven for divine guidance and inspiration, a patriarch is to be a man of love, a man of compassion, a man of judgment, a man of God.

            That is a wonderful description of the men I know personally who are patriarchs. Patriarchal blessings are sacred gifts or loving letters from Heavenly Father to His children. Garry H. Boyle,  a man who currently holds the office of patriarch, lists six ways that we can get more from our patriarchal blessings.

1. Read your patriarchal blessing often. [Study it to bring] into remembrance your connection to God as His child and your intersection with His great plan of happiness, with its duties and promised rewards. Reading it often will bring you back to your roots and faith.
Pondering your blessing also demonstrates a respect for sacred things, your interest in planning your future in accordance with God’s will, and your desire to receive further personal revelation, as well as put you in tune … with God. Just like reading a scripture, pondering it becomes a lightning rod for more inspiration.

2. Understand who can interpret your blessing. Discovering the interpretation of your blessing is your responsibility, and an exercise in receiving revelation…. Your blessing may have symbols or hidden layers yet to be discovered….

3. Share and discuss your blessing with your spouse. … God designed marriage in much the same way [as He designed our eyes]. God’s plan of a marriage between a man and a woman provides two distinct perspectives with the overlap being a focus on God. We marry partly based on what we feel this person can bring to our lives, and soon find that neither they nor we are perfect. Studying each other’s blessings together strengthens our bonds and develops common focuses, reminding us of the potential we saw in that person and the potential within ourselves.

4. Remember your gifts and make goals to use them often. Gifts are like muscles; they need to be used before they will grow strong and benefit those God has put in our path (see Doctrine and Covenants 46:8-12, 26, 29). God encompasses all gifts, and we must seek for the gifts we need to become like Him. We may read about our gifts and talents and ask for additional ones, but to make them a part of our very being, we must use these gifts often. Therefore, look for opportunities to use your gifts for the benefit of others and you will become more Christlike.

5. Use your blessing to learn about the Abrahamic covenant. A deeper understanding of God’s covenant promises will increase your understanding of your role as an heir of the covenant he gave Abraham and your motivation to work for His promised blessings….

6. Look for the mission and genealogy ties to your tribe. Knowing the tribe you come through will provide you with a mission. Part of that mission is to seek out the living and the dead that are part of the covenant people. God promised Abraham that his seed would have the opportunity to accept the covenant God made with him. There are many past generations that have not had that promised opportunity and are waiting for you to discover their genealogy and do their temple work. Another part of your mission is to pray and look for the descendants of your tribe that God will place in your path. Preparing a holy people as Abraham did is essential to prepare a people for Christ’s second coming.


            I received my patriarchal blessing many years ago, and I read it often enough that I almost have it memorized. I cherish this loving letter from Heavenly Father that “deals with spiritual gifts, celestial goals, divine promises and rewards, and various temporal blessings and principles intended to support [my] spiritual development” (Boyle). I have relied on the promises given in my blessing during difficult times, and I have marveled at the counsel given many years ago that helps me today. I am immensely grateful to have this great gift from God.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Family Togetherness

            Families grow stronger as they spend time together, and strong families bring strength to their communities and nations. Good family relationships require the investment of time, effort, and open lines of communication. There are lots of useful skills that can strengthen family relationships, but time together is one of the most valuable. There are many ways that families can spend time together in work or play.

            Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that “families unite when they do meaningful things together.”

Families should pray together, kneeling night and morning to offer thanks for blessings and prayers for common concerns.

Families should worship together, participating in church services and family devotionals.

Families should study and learn together.

Families should work together. … Families should also play together, so that happy recreational experiences are associated with the activities of the family.

Families should counsel together, treating all matters of concern to the family and its members.

Families should eat together. Mealtime is a natural time for the family to assemble and communicate. It is a shame for such an opportunity to be lost in family bickering or to be fragmented by family members seizing food and scattering to the four corners as if the family kitchen were a fast food outlet.

            My husband and I are celebrating 50 years as husband and wife. We invited our six children, their spouses, and all seventeen grandchildren to join our celebration on a week-long cruise from Vancouver, British Columbia, to Seward, Alaska. The trip ends at our home in Anchorage where the togetherness continues for another week.


            Nothing makes me happier than to have all my children around me, and this extended period of time together has been wonderful. I am grateful that our children enjoy being with us and with each other. Family togetherness strengthens families, and strong families strengthen communities and nations.        

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Long Term Commitments

            The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is the necessity to make long term commitments. Commitment is a big word that means dedication or willingness to give time and energy to a person, cause, or activity.  It means an obligation that restricts freedom of action. It also means a promise of loyalty to a person or cause.

            Marriage is a commitment. When a person marries, they make a commitment to be loyal to their spouse and to willingly give time and energy to the marriage. Many marriages are made “until death do ye part,” but some are made “for time and eternity.” Either type of marriage is a long-term commitment.

            A marriage for time and eternity must be performed in the right place by a person having the right authority. Such a marriage can last for eternity if the two people involved keep their covenant with each other and God. That is the type of marriage that I entered, and that is the type of marriage I strive to obtain.

            Marriage is not easy for most couples because it takes time, effort, unselfishness, and commitment to bridge the gap between two individuals and make them one. A marriage for time and eternity requires a great and continuing commitment on the part of both husband and wife.

            My husband and I come from long lines of people who made eternal commitments to each other. Both sets of parents were married for time and eternity in the Salt Lake Temple. My mother passed away about five months before the planned celebration of my parents’ golden anniversary. My husband’s parents celebrated their fifty years together and then some additional years. I have six older siblings who have celebrated fifty years together, and a seventh who would have if he had not died at age 65.

            My husband and I are celebrating our fiftieth wedding anniversary this week. All six of our children and their spouses, plus our seventeen grandchildren have joined us in our celebration. I went to my husband about two years ago and asked him for a favor. I told him that I did not want him to just tell me no but to help me find a way to take the family on a cruise for our fiftieth anniversary. I was aware that he was not enthusiastic about my idea, but he did not tell me no.


            The planning for this celebration also took long term commitment. We contacted our children and enlisted them in the idea. Even though it costs each of them lots of time and money as well as a sacrifice of activities that they would rather do, they have supported and helped us to make this celebration a reality. Creating a family that lasts for eternity is a long-term commitment!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Climbing Higher and Higher

            The news in our nation and world gets so heavy at times that I can barely think about it. As my regular readers have probably noticed, I am writing less and less about political subjects and more and more about more pleasant ones. To lighten the mood today, I decided to share a personal story from many years ago.

            My husband is an avid outdoorsman. He is also a private pilot, hunter, and fisherman. I cannot tell whether he flies in order to hunt and fish, or whether he goes hunting and fishing as an excuse to fly. Either way, he enjoys all three activities. I am my husband’s first choice for a companion in his adventures. I do not particularly relish the actual shooting or fishing, but I do enjoy the flying and hiking. Our quests have included numerous hunts. I was the shooter on several occasions because I was the lucky (maybe unlucky) recipient of the permit. My husband never asked me to hunt Dall sheep with him, and I was content to stay home. Then I made a fateful mistake, and I do not know why I did it. I merely mentioned that I was getting in such good condition with my exercise that I could go sheep hunting, and my husband accepted my statement as an agreement to go with him. Several months later he was still expecting me to hunt sheep with him, and I could find no reason why I should not go.

            The hunting season for Dall sheep in Alaska starts on August 10 every year. Several days previous to the opening day of the season, my husband and I began collecting the gear and supplies needed for the trip. We laid everything out on the floor of the family room, and my husband began checking my stuff. As this was my first backpacking trip, I understood that he was much more qualified than I was to decide what should go and what should not. I agreed when he eliminated many of my items, such as the extra pair of socks and a book to read, but I put my foot down when he wanted to eliminate my lip balm. I reasoned, “This does not weigh very much, not even half an ounce.” He replied, “Every half an ounce counts when you are climbing a mountain.” Trusting in his experience, I eliminated numerous other things, but I held tight to my lip balm. We were finally ready for an adventure in the great Alaska wilderness.

            Awaking early on August 9, my husband and I made preparations to leave for the hunt. The sky was clear with beautiful sunshine all around us, and the temperature was a balmy 65 degrees. We were pleased with the perfect conditions. We knew that we could safely fly through the mountain passes and around the high mountain homes of the Dall sheep. After putting our hunting gear and supplies in the truck, we drove to Lake Hood, which is located next to the Anchorage International Airport. There we secured all the items in the blue Cessna 180 on floats and prepared the aircraft for takeoff. We settled into our seats and tightened our seatbelts. We soon lifted off the smooth, brownish-green water of the busiest seaplane base in the world.   
 
            We left civilization behind a short time after lifting off the lake. We flew over several blue-gray rivers filled with silt from melting glaciers, and we saw numerous sparkling waterfalls tumbling down mountainsides. I was amazed at the lush green Alaska wilderness and the beauty of the mountains and valleys. When we arrived in the area where we should see some sheep, we descended a little to look for the small white spots near the tops of the mountains. When we found the sheep, we dropped a little lower in order to see if they were full-curl rams. We finally found what we were looking for on Black Mountain. We circled a few more times to be sure and then landed on a high mountain lake with beautiful turquoise-blue water. Ironically, the lake is called Sheep Lake. We tied the airplane to some trees and brush along the shore of the lake, changed our hip waders to hiking boots, put on our backpacks, and started up the mountain.

            My backpack did not seem heavy as I began climbing, but it became heavier and heavier as I fought my way through the trees and brush on the lower part of the mountain. I was particularly grateful that I had listened to my husband when he insisted that I keep my load as light as possible. My pack became exceedingly heavy by the time we reached a mountain meadow about four hours after leaving the lake. There we set up our camp for the night, beginning with the tent.

            I could not believe the size of the tent, which was so small that two sleeping bags barely fit inside. We had no choice but to leave our packs outside, covered with black garbage bags to keep them dry from the dew. I was a little concerned about bears, but we had seen no sign of them as we climbed. We cooked our freeze-dried food and ate dinner before preparing our backpacks for the morning. We packed everything needed for a day on a high mountain - but nothing else. Our lunch for the next day consisted of jerky, granola bars, candy bars, nuts, dried fruit, and plenty of water. The evening was pleasant, warm enough to be comfortable and without mosquitoes. We climbed into bed early and were asleep before the sun went down about 10:00 that night.

            My husband shook me awake early the next morning as light was coming into the tent. We dressed, ate a quick breakfast of warm, homemade granola, and hoisted our packs once again. We hoped that the sheep were in the same place that we saw them the previous afternoon. We moved to the back side of the mountain, so the sheep would not see us coming. My husband was carrying the Winchester Model 70 Featherweight rifle and hiking in front of me. I had a fairly easy climb at first because my backpack was nearly empty. The situation changed quickly.

            The mountain became steeper, and the footing was less secure. The numerous patches of shale rock were difficult to cross without losing stability on the steep side of the mountain. I stopped often to rest and to enjoy the beautiful mountain scenery surrounding me. I kept thinking that we were nearing the top of the mountain. However, each time we reached the “peak” I saw another one just ahead. After a couple of hours of steady climbing, we arrived at the top of the mountain and saw the sheep about 80 yards below us. They were grazing on the sparse mountain grass and were totally unaware of us. We were in an ideal position for shooting.

            Hastily getting into position, I took the first shot and missed. I aimed too high. The bullet went over the ram’s head, and all the sheep started running down the mountain. I quickly handed the rifle to my husband, who shot and hit a big ram. The sheep started tumbling head over heels down the mountain. I wondered how far it would roll but soon saw that it stopped behind a boulder. We slowly made our way down to him through the patch of large rocks. We cleaned the animal, skinned it, and boned it out, a job that took several hours. I appreciated the surgeon gloves that allowed us to work and still keep our hands clean from the yucky mess. We divided the weight between our packs. Then we ate lunch on the side of the mountain before heading down to camp, an ordeal that hurt our knees. We traveled slowly, but we eventually arrived back in the meadow about two hours later. We broke camp, loaded our gear, and prepared the airplane. We headed home to Anchorage, having achieved another successful hunt.

            As I reflect on our adventure of hunting Dall sheep, I see a great comparison to the fifty years since our marriage. Just as I trusted my husband to advise me in preparation for the hunt and to take me safely to and from the hunting site, I trusted him in many other areas of our marriage. These areas included providing for our family in order for me to be a stay-at-home mother and making good decisions on our investments in order for us to have enough money for retirement. We worked as a team in order to hunt the sheep, and we work together as marriage partners to make our household and family run smoothly. The difficult climb up Black Mountain resembles marriage and life in general. Just as I thought that I was nearing the top of the mountain and then seeing another “peak” just ahead, we face one challenge after another in real life. Even though our trials changed over the years, they kept coming. We continue to work together as we move onward and upward, even through difficult times.

            My husband and I had a goal to find a Dall sheep and bring it home. We scheduled and organized for the hunt. We climbed higher and higher up a very steep and difficult mountain until we found the sheep. We also planned and prepared for an eternal marriage. We work extremely hard and go through many tough places as we climb higher and higher towards the celestial kingdom and eternal life together. We know that the reward comes only after the climb.

            

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Self-Assessment

            I recently completed my first semester at Brigham Young University-Idaho. My writing class required a self-assessment of skills at the beginning of the course and another one at the end of the course. An additional requirement was an essay explaining the progress made during the class. I felt overwhelmed at the beginning of the course. The course outcomes seemed really powerful, and I wondered at my ability to meet them. I gave myself fairly low grades on the first assessment.

            I worried about all the requirements, but I was particularly concerned about two of them. The first one was doing peer reviews. I had no idea how the reviews would be done, so I worried about doing them right and what technology skills I would need to learn. I had a difficult time learning how to upload and download the first assignment, but I found the peer reviews to be easy, enjoyable, and beneficial. I learned that my writing skills were probably better than several students in the class and that I could be helpful to them. I also learned the importance of having my own work reviewed by others. The second requirement that concerned me was learning the principles of analysis and synthesis. I did not actually know the meaning of the terms. When I began my actual writing, I discovered that analyzing and synthesizing came fairly natural to me.

            I am pleased with my new ability to use technology in my writing and reasoning. In fact, I am delighted with my increased skills. One of the first things I learned was which function on the computer to use in order to have true double-spaced lines. I struggled with learning how to make a moving header, but I eventually mastered it. Another technology skill that I learned was how to make indented quotes and when to use them. I struggled with Acrobat Reader, but I learned how to use it and enjoyed the annotation assignments.

            I am thrilled with the writing skills that I acquired. I learned how to find credible sources for my research and how to frame the quotes. I learned the difference between quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing. I learned to write better thesis statements and the importance of having a single topic sentence in each paragraph. I learned to connect the sentences to each other in each paragraph as well as one paragraph to the next. I learned about the ladder of abstraction, a new concept for me. In short, I gained a new appreciation for writing because I had more knowledge and better skills. 


            I thoroughly enjoyed taking the class and learned many skills. I can use these skills in my daily life as I write essays for my blog, and I will definitely use them in future classes. I am grateful for the new awareness I have of how to write interesting essays. I especially appreciate learning the principles of analysis and synthesis because they can help me in discerning this crazy world we live in. I feel that I mastered the skills listed on the self-assessment sheet. 

Monday, June 19, 2017

Gordon B. Hinckley

            My VIP for this week is Gordon B.Hinckley who served the Lord from the time that he was a young man until his death. He served in many offices in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, serving as Stake President, Assistant to the Twelve Apostles, Apostles, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, counselor to several Presidents, and as President of the Church from March 12, 1995, until his death.

            President Hinckley was born on June 23, 1910, and he passed away on January 27, 2008, at the age of 97. There are many reasons why I honor President Hinckley, and one of those reasons is his faith in God and his enthusiasm for life. No matter the problem that arose, he had the attitude that everything would work out. He prayed as though everything depended on God, and then he worked as though everything depended on him.

            Recognizing the need for members of the Church to have temples within easy traveling distance, he took the problem to the Lord and came away with an idea to build smaller temples in areas where Church membership is smaller. On October 4, 1997, he announced the plan for smaller temples to be built throughout the world, and on October 1, 2000, he dedicated the Boston Massachusetts Temple, the 100th temple in operation. The Anchorage Alaska Temple was one of the first smaller temples built, and it was dedicated on January 9, 1999. I am especially grateful for this temple because it is within a mile of my home, and I can attend it weekly. This has been a great blessing in my life.

            I remember many of the teachings of President Hinckley and appreciate the opportunity to study his life and teachings during 2017. One experience of listening to him speak was in the October 2001 general conference of the Church. Terrorists attacked the United States on September 11, 2001, and killed approximately 3000 people in the attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C. Everyone was concerned about what would happen next. Just prior to President Hinckley’s remarks, he received word that the United States was at war in Afghanistan. He spoke about the nature of terrorism and evils found in the world, and then he told us how we could find peace even in a wicked world. I remember the feeling of peace that swept over me as I listened to his words and again whenever I listen to them. These words from the prophet of God continue to bring solace to my soul and can help others in times of turmoil and war.

Now, brothers and sisters, we must do our duty, whatever that duty might be. Peace may be denied for a season. Some of our liberties may be curtailed. We may be inconvenienced. We may even be called on to suffer in one way or another. But God our Eternal Father will watch over this nation and all of the civilized world who look to Him. He declared, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” (Psalm 33:12). Our safety lies in repentance. Our strength comes of obedience to the commandments of God.

Let us be prayerful. Let us pray for righteousness. Let us pray for the forces of good. Let us reach out to help men and women of goodwill, whatever their religious persuasion and wherever they live. Let us stand firm against evil, both at home and abroad. Let us live worthy of the blessings of heaven, reforming our lives where necessary and looking to Him, the Father of us all. He has said, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

Are these perilous times? They are. But there is no need to fear. We can have peace in our hearts and peace in our homes. We can be an influence for good in this world, every one of us.


            As a prophet of God Gordon B. Hinckley led the Church through difficult times, but he was always full of faith in God and enthusiastic about the future. He is a very important person in the eyes of God and the people who love him.