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.

Friday, July 29, 2016

All Women Are Mothers

                Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when girls and women realize they are all mothers whether or not they ever bear children in mortality. Heavenly Father gave the gift of motherhood to his daughters before they came to earth. This gift is observed in toddlers as they care for their dolls. This gift is a divine calling as important as priesthood.

                After God created the earth and everything upon it, He created Adam. All the beasts and birds were brought to Adam to be named, and whatever Adam called every living creature, that was their name. Then God created a helpmeet for Adam and brought her to him. Adam called his helpmeet “Woman” because “she was taken out of Man” (Genesis 23). “And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living” (Genesis 3:20). Adam said that Eve was the “mother of all living” before she bore any children. That means she brought the ability to be a mother with her to earth – just as all females do.

                Sister Sheri L. Dew, then Second Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency, spoke to the sisters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in a talk titled “Are We Not All Mothers?” (Ensign, November 2001). She shared a story of taking four nieces to one of her speaking appointments and needing to walk through “an enormous mob of drunken parade-goers.” She “better understood how mothers who forgo their own safety to protect a child must feel. My siblings had entrusted me with their daughters, whom I love, and I would have done anything to lead them to safety. Likewise, our Father has entrusted us as women with His children, and He has asked us to love them and help lead them safely past the dangers of mortality back home….

                “Motherhood is not what was left over after our Father blessed His sons with priesthood ordination. It was the most ennobling endowment He could give His daughters, a sacred trust that gave women an unparalleled role in helping His children keep their second estate. As President J. Reuben Clark Jr. declared, motherhood is `as divinely called, as eternally important in its place as the Priesthood itself.’…

                “For reasons known to the Lord, some women are required to wait to have children. This delay is not easy for any righteous woman. But the Lord’s timetable for each of us does not negate our nature. Some of us, then, must simply find other ways to mother. And all around us are those who need to be loved and led….

                “… Every time we build the faith or reinforce the nobility of a young woman or man, every time we love or lead anyone even one small step along the path, we are true to our endowment and calling as mothers and in the process we build the kingdom of God. No woman who understands the gospel would ever think that any other work is more important or would ever say, `I am just a mother,’ for mothers heal the souls of men….

                “As mothers in Israel, we are the Lord’s secret weapon. Our influence comes from a divine endowment that has been in place form the beginning….”

                Righteous women and girls can love and lead others to Christ by using their God-given gift of motherhood. They can use this great gift to strengthen families, communities, and nations. 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Religious Freedom and Eternal Identity

                School districts all over the United States are changing their curriculum to include topics such as the changing of the roles that family and gender play in the lives of students. As the curriculum changes become public knowledge, religious leaders are taking steps to help the members of their congregations know how to deal with the changes. For example, leaders in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – local or otherwise – are holding a multi-stake youth fireside in my area to discuss the topic “Religious Freedom and LGBT Rights.”

                Consider what you would do if your local school board made this decision, confusing the youth in your ward or stake. What counsel would you give to your bishop in discussing the situation with parents who are concerned about what to tell their children? Imagine that your bishop is preparing to present a talk to the parents in your ward on the topic of “Teaching our children the importance of Gender and Eternal Identity,” and he asked for input from you. What would you tell him?

                I would suggest that Bishop Sinclair read and discuss the second paragraph of “The Family – A Proclamation to the World." “All human beings – male and female - are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.”

                This paragraph would lay the foundation for the rest of the presentation and show exactly what the Lord’s doctrine is as proclaimed by modern prophets and apostles. It explains plainly that the gender of each of us was determined in our premortal life, is important in our mortal life, and will continue to be “essential” in eternity.

                I would suggest to the bishop that he encourage the members of his ward to stand for correct principles in a kindly way. He might weave some counsel given by the Apostle Paul into his talk: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16). Paul is saying that we do not need to apologize for our beliefs because the gospel of Jesus Christ will lead us to salvation.

                I would recommend Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson’s talk “Defenders of the Family Proclamation to the bishop. She lists three principles in the proclamation on the family that are “especially in need of steadfast defenders” and gives some good reasons why she believes we should defend them. The first principle is “marriage between a man and a woman” (paragraph 10). The second principle is “elevating the divine roles of mothers and fathers” (paragraph 11). The third principle is the “sanctity of the home” (paragraph 17).

                I would suggest that the bishop show the video titled “Respecting Our Differences While Defending Religious Freedom.” This video was published by the Church on June 27, 2016, in an effort to seek fairness for all. It is one of “a new series of dramatized videos” that “shows members how to navigate the landmine-laced terrain of the sensitive social and religious issues of the day.” The video would teach the parents how to have open and honest discussions with people who have different beliefs without becoming angry and making the situation worse.

                I would also suggest that the bishop use Elder Dallin H. Oaks’ talk “Truth and Tolerance” as part of his presentation. Elder Oaks said that Truth and Tolerance are “twin ideas” (paragraph 2). In the next paragraph Elder Oaks speaks first of Truth: “We believe in absolute truth, including the existence of God and the right and wrong established by His commandments.”

                Elder Oaks also spoke of “three absolute truths” for tolerance. The first absolute truth is that “all persons are brothers and sisters under God, taught within their various religions to love and do good to one another” (paragraph 20). The second absolute truth is that “living with differences is what the gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us we must do” (paragraph 23). The third absolute truth is that we “do not abandon the truth and our covenants” (paragraph 31).

                Additionally, Elder Oaks gave four principles of truth and tolerance that we can use when seeking government action: (1) Seek the inspiration of the Lord to be selective and wise in choosing which true principles [we] seek to promote by law or executive action (paragraph 54). (2) Always be tolerant of the opinions and positions of others who do not share [our] beliefs (paragraph 57). (3) Do not be deterred by the familiar charge that [we] are trying to legislate (paragraph 59). (4) Do not shrink from seeking laws to maintain public conditions or policies that assist [us] in practicing the requirements of [our] faith where those conditions or policies are also favorable to the public health, safety, or morals.

                Elder Oaks closed his remarks by reminding his listeners/readers that he is one of the Lord’s watchmen on the tower who has seen the dangers ahead and is warning us how to avoid them. He said that he had delivered the message that the Spirit directed him to give, and that we can obtain answers to our questions or doubts by going to the same source (the Holy Ghost) (paragraph 66).

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

This Is Why

                Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) may be the only person in Washington, D.C., that can be trusted. He stands tall and steadfast on his principles. He recently published a book titled Our Lost Constitution, which I highly recommend. 

               Glenn Beck interviewed Senator Lee during the Republican National Convention. Beck reminded the Senator that “people on both sides of the aisle – and a lot of Americans” are suggesting that some of the Amendments to the Constitution be curtailed. He then asked, “How do you save [the Constitution] when people don’t even know what their rights are and are so willing just to give them up?”

                Senator Lee said that it will come down to three words, “This is why.” He said, “We can still win this. But we’ve got to win the conversation. We have to have the conversation in the first place…. That conversation hasn’t been taking place because our schools don’t teach civics anymore like they used to. They don’t teach the stories behind our Constitution.”

                The Senator said that we need to be able to trigger the three words, “This is why.”  “This is why we have the Fourth Amendment. This is why we have the Legislative Powers Clause. This is why we have the Origination Clause.”

                This is why Americans need to study the Constitution. We need to know what is in the Constitution, why it is there, and why it is relevant today.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Samoa 2

                One of the requirements for my basic writing class was to learn about another culture. Many Pathway students do not speak English and are assigned to visit for 30 minutes every week with an English-speaking student. I did not receive a speaking partner and was given an alternate assignment. This is the second of two reports for my assignment that is included on my blog.

                I did not receive a speaking partner and chose to learn about Samoa as an alternative assignment. I visited with friends about their lives in Samoa and researched in books and on the Internet about Samoa. I have learned much about my friends and their native land.

                There are actually two places called Samoa. One is American Samoa, a territory of the United States, and the other is Western Samoa, an independent nation. Both places experience high emigration due to the low standard of living, and there are huge populations of Samoans in other places, such as Hawaii, California, and other western states. Alaska has its own group of Samoans. I find it interesting that American Samoa is the only place in the United States that does not automatically bestow citizenship on newborns.  Samoans can claim citizenship only if they have a parent that is a citizen of the United States. Otherwise, they must follow the same immigration rules as other foreigners.

                An interesting cultural fact I learned from my friends is about rudeness. Apparently, the rudest thing a person can do in the Samoan culture is to walk around the room at an event while eating and visiting. People can visit while seated at a table to eat or drink, but doing the same while walking around is wrong.

                Samoans enjoy a variety of activities. Cricket is so popular in Samoa that there is a cricket pitch in the middle of every village green. Rugby, American football, boxing, and wrestling are also popular in Samoa. Samoan men enjoy playing Dominoes.

                Samoans have their own standard for time. It is known as “Samoan time” and is based on the concept that time runs in cycles. This is probably because time traditionally was oriented at events, signs of nature such as sunrise and sunset, or the stars. Samoan time means that if an event is delayed, it simply gets postponed to a later cycle. Samoans would rather get things right than rush to get results. The details of the event are more important to Samoans than time commitments. It seems to me that Americans could learn something from Samoan time. We could learn to stop rushing around and multi-tasking and simply take time to enough life.

                Most Samoans speak English as well as their native language. It is important for Samoans to learn English because it is the language used in schools, tourism, and government work. It is important for all people to learn English because it is the universal language and knowledge of it leads to better employment opportunities.

                I thoroughly enjoyed learning about Samoa and the Samoan culture. I gained greater love for and understanding of my Samoan friends. I like the concept of Samoan time and hope to make it a part of my life. It will help me remember that strengthening relationships is more important than completing tasks. I plan to continue learning about Samoa and other nations because I know learning about other cultures will enrich my life.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Sheriff David Clark

                Milwaukee Sheriff David Clark continues to stand tall for the right. He spoke at the Republican National Convention last week and received “rousing applause” when he said, “Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to make something very clear: Blue lives matter in America.”

                The sheriff continued, “What we witnessed in Ferguson, and Baltimore, and Baton Rouge was a collapse of the social order…. So many of the actions of the Occupy Movement and Black Lives Matter transcends peaceful protests and violates the code of conduct we rely on – I call it anarchy.”

                Tre Goins-Phillips at The Blaze explains that “Clarke went on to say police understand the racial tension that exists in the country and `appreciate the vital need for thoroughness and transparency and pursuit of the greater good in their actions and in their investigations.’” 

                I have a lot of respect for Sheriff Clark because he stands for the principles that made America great. I hope he continues to stand tall and be a leader in the cause of liberty.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Study the Constitution

                I believe that Americans should study the Constitution of the United States. I believe they should make a study of the Supreme Law of our nation a lifelong endeavor. I believe their study of the Constitution should begin in elementary school, continue in middle school, high school, and college, and then continue for the rest of their lives. By studying the Constitution, Americans will know what is in the document and what is not, will be better prepared to protect and preserve the document, and will be more capable of teaching the contents of the document to the rising generation.

                I do not remember studying the Constitution in school. In fact, I lived most of my life without knowing much about it. I was the type of American that went about living my life and letting politicians worry about running the nation. Then Barack Obama was elected as the President of the United States, and he started doing things that I had not seen previously, such as taking over General Motors.

                I became more interested in politics and began studying the Constitution. I studied books, such as The Making of America – The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution by W. Cleon Skousen and The Heritage Guide to the Constitution by Edwin Meese III, Matthew Spalding, and David Forte. I took some courses on the Constitution from Hillsdale College. I was astounded by how much I did not know about the Constitution, and I was determined to learn as much as I could about it.

                I was concerned that my posterity would ask me, “What were you doing while the freedom, independence, and liberty of Americans were being destroyed.” I began writing this blog in September 2009 in order to share what I was learning with my children, grandchildren, and others who might be interested in writing my words. I wanted to be part of the movement to stop Obama from gaining another term as POTUS and was very disappointed when he was elected once again. I worried that our nation was on the slippery slope to destruction, and I changed my writing to focus on strengthening faith in God and my family as well as sharing knowing about the Constitution and freedom. I believe that my posterity is pleased with my efforts.

                Yes, I believe Americans should study the Constitution. They should know why it was written and why it is relevant in our day. They should share their knowledge with the rising generation. I came to this realization very late in my life, and I believe that my children and grandchildren are doing better than I. I believe that my interest in the Constitution and politics has encouraged the same in my husband and children. I believe that all my children and their spouses study the candidates and issues of each election, are responsible voters, and some are even involved in politics on the local level. My posterity may not vote for the same candidates or issues, but they are at least informed voters and involved in the process.

                I hope that my readers will also make studying the Constitution a lifelong endeavor and teach their posterity the greatness of the Supreme Law of our land. America is great because America is good. As long as Americans worship Jesus Christ, who is the God of this land, America will continue to be great. May God continue to bless America!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Pioneer Day

                Pioneer Day has always had extra special meaning to me. Pioneer Day is a holiday for both the State of Utah and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and is celebrated widely in the State and commemorated by members of the Church all over the world.

                Pioneer Day was always a family day when I was a child. Our family often celebrated it by going to the mountains. We would arise very early in the morning – usually to the sound of dynamite blowing up a tree trunk – to milk the cows and feed the animals. Then we would haul one load of hay to the pasture for the cows to munch on all day. We would gather picnic supplies and climb into our old truck. On this special day our mother gave us white “Bakers Bread” and puffed wheat, two foods we seldom ate.

                I also celebrated Pioneer Day in Primary. Our meetinghouse sat on a large piece of land, maybe an acre. I remember dressing up in pioneer-type clothes, decorating bikes and wagons, and walking around the property. As we walked we sang a pioneer song. “Pioneer children sang as they walked and walked and walked….”

                There were only a few days each summer that my family did not work in the fields. Those days were usually Independence Day, Pioneer Day, and Labor Day. Of course, we never worked in the fields on Sundays.

                I am very proud of my pioneer heritage as seven of my eight great-grandparents crossed the plains with the pioneers, and the eighth crossed a few years later on the train. I have often wondered how members of the Church without pioneer ancestors feel about Pioneer Day, and I appreciate the counsel of the Brethren who remind us that there are pioneers today.

                The word pioneer is both a noun and a verb. As a noun, it means to go ahead of others to explore or settle a new area, as in the Utah Pioneers. As a verb, it means to be the first to use something, a new method, activity, or area of knowledge. By this simple definition, all converts to the Church are pioneers.

                President Dieter F. Uchtdorf was reared and joined the Church in Germany. He had no ancestors among the Utah Pioneers, but he still loves and honors “the faith and courage of those early pioneers of the Church. My own ancestors were living an ocean away at the time. None were among those who lived in Nauvoo or Winter Quarters, and none made the journey across the plains. But as a member of the Church, I claim with gratitude and pride this pioneer legacy as my own.
                “With the same joy, I claim the legacies of today’s modern-day Church pioneers who live in every nation and whose own stories of perseverance, faith, and sacrifice add glorious new verses to the great chorus of the latter-day anthem of the kingdom of God” ("Faith of Our FatherEnsign, May 2008, 70).

                Today I honor all pioneers, my ancestors and others who crossed the plains to Utah as well as those who are forging new paths today. Happy Pioneer Day to all of you!