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, May 30, 2016

Lehi

                I had a difficult time selecting a VIP for this week from what is happening in the news, so I decided to go back in history to 600 years before the birth of Jesus Christ. Lehi lived in Jerusalem with his wife, Sariah, and four sons and some daughters. We know that the sons were Laman, Lemuel, Sam, and Nephi, but we do not know the names of any of the daughters.

                Lehi was a wealthy business man and did some traveling with his work. He had heard prophets call the people to repentance and warn them about being destroyed if they did not change. He was praying as he traveled one day and received a vision. He returned to his home and cast himself on his bed because he was overcome by what he had seen.

                While Lehi was lying on his bed, he received another vision in which he saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. He saw Christ descending to the earth and twelve other men following Him. They gave Lehi a book, which he read and was filled with the Spirit. The Lord showed him many wonderful things concerning the destruction of Jerusalem.

                After the vision was over, Lehi went out among the people and began to prophesy and declare the things he had seen and heard. The Jews did not like what Lehi was saying and began to mock him because he had testified of their wickedness. He tried to tell them of the things he had read in the book about the coming of the Messiah and the redemption of the world.

                The Jews became angry with Lehi and sought his life, just as they had cast out, stoned and slain other prophets. Lehi escaped from the Jews and went home. There he had a dream in which the Lord told him to take his family and depart into the wilderness. Lehi was obedient and left Jerusalem, along with his home, inheritance, gold, silver and precious things.


                Lehi ad Sariah had two more sons in the wilderness, Jacob and Joseph. Another family eventually joined Lehi’s family in the wilderness, and the two families made their way to the coast. There they built a ship and sailed to the Americas. The descendants of the two families became the Nephites and the Lamanites and are the principle ancestors of the Native Americans. Their story is told in the Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ. I encourage you to read the Book of Mormon because it is the word of God and will bring you closer to God than any other book (Joseph Smith). I know for myself that the Book of Mormon is the word of God.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Time of Remembering


                It is Memorial Day once again, a day for remembering those who are no longer with us. It is a day for visiting grave sites and placing flowers on the tombs of our loved ones.

                Memorial is observed in the United States on the last Monday in May. It originated after the Civil War was known as Decoration Day, a day set aside to honor men and women who gave their lives while serving in the U.S. military. It became an official federal holiday in 1971.

                Peter Brookes shared some of his thoughts about Memorial Day on The Daily Signal.   Here are some of his thoughts, which I echo:

            “Whether you’re spiritual or not, it’s right for this country to take this day to remember those who have fallen, those who have returned, those who are hurting and suffering wounds both visible and invisible, and those who are serving today.
            Nor should we forget their families, who have shared their most prized possessions with our armed forces for the good of this country. `They also serve who only stand and wait,’ as the poet John Milton noted.
            Memorial Day is but a brief moment in time every year when a great country takes pause to rightfully and reverently thank those both living and dead who have served for their courage and sacrifices on our behalf.

            We must never—ever—forget that America is the home of the free because of the brave.”
            Take a few minutes on this day for remembering to watch this video “I’m Going to Miss You.” http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2016/05/28/army-rangers-deployed-in-afghanistan-release-the-5-minute-video-you-should-watch-this-memorial-day/  

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Covenant Marriage

                Covenant marriage is more than a simple contract to be broken at will. A covenant marriage is one in which the husband and wife are bound by covenants to help each other grow and reach their individual potential. A covenant marriage is one in which each companion gives 100 percent to the marriage.

                Elder Bruce C. Hafen of the Quorum of Seventy states, “Marriage is by nature a covenant, not just a private contract one may cancel at will. Jesus taught about contractual attitudes when he described the `hireling,’ who performs his conditional promise of care only when he receives something in return. When the hireling `seeth the wolf coming,’ he `leaveth the sheep, and fleeth … because he … careth not for the sheep.’ By contrast, the Savior said, `I am the good shepherd, … and I lay down my life for the sheep’ (John 10:12-15). Many people today marry as hirelings. And when the wolf comes, they flee. This idea is wrong. It curses the earth, turning parents’ hearts away from their children and from each other (Doctrine and Covenants 2).

                What are the “wolves” that threaten marriage? Elder Hafen describes them as being (1) natural adversity – things that happen simply because we are human, (2) personal imperfections – weaknesses, faults, and (3) excessive individualism – selfishness.

                Elder Hafen further explains, “The adversary has long cultivated this overemphasis on personal autonomy, and ow he feverishly exploits it. Our deepest God-give instinct is to run to the arms of those who need us and sustain us. But he drives us away from each other today with wedges of distrust and suspicion. He exaggerates the need for having space, getting out, and being left alone. Some people believe him – and then they wonder why they feel left alone…. When we observe the covenants we make at the altar of sacrifice, we discover hidden reservoirs of strength.” (See Bruce C. Hafen, “Covenant Marriage,” Ensign, November 1996.) 


                How are you doing in your marriage? Are you a “hireling” in your marriage, ready to flee at the first sign of trouble?  Do you consider your marriage to be a covenant, and are you giving 100 percent to your marriage? I encourage you to treat your marriage as a sacred, three-way covenant between husband, wife, and God. As husband and wife each draw closer to God, they automatically draw closer to each other. Healthy and happy marriages can happen when each partner forgets themselves and works for the good of the marriage. 

Friday, May 27, 2016

Eternal Families

                Families, communities, and nations are strengthened by following the counsel given in “The Family:  A Proclamation to the World, which was published by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The third paragraph of the proclamation is as follows.

                “In the premortal realm, spirit sons and daughters knew and worshipped God as their Eternal Father and accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize his or her divine destiny as heirs of eternal life. The divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave. Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally.”

                Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness for His spirit sons and daughters provides for marriage between a man and a woman and the children that are born to the couple or adopted by them. As this paragraph in the proclamation states, every human being born on earth was with Heavenly Father in the premortal life. All listened as He presented His plan for happiness and then accepted His plan. All mortals came to earth to gain a physical body and to gain experience that could be obtained in no other way. Heavenly Father sends His spirit children to earth to live as families and to prepare to live together for all eternity.

                The plan of happiness includes covenants and ordinances that are available in temples. The most important covenant is “the new and everlasting covenant of marriage.” Marriages performed by proper authority can be eternal, and children born into those marriages belong to their parents for eternity. Marriage is part of God’s “laboratory on earth.”


                Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles states, “Perhaps it helps to emphasize – more than we sometimes do – that our first estate [pre-mortal life] featured learning of a cognitive type…. The second estate [earth life], however, is one that emphasizes experiential learning through applying, proving, and testing. We learn cognitively here too, just as a good university examination also teaches even as it tests us. In any event, the books of the first estate are now closed to us, and the present test is, therefore, very real; we have moved, as it were, from first-estate theory to second-estate theory laboratory. It is here that our Christ-like characteristics are further shaped and our spiritual skills are thus strengthened” (Neal A. Maxwell, All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience, pages 19-20).

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Freedom to Choose Our Leaders

                The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday concerns our liberty to select our own leaders. A principle that goes with the freedom to choose, is the responsibility to choose well. A third principle is the fact that when we make a choice, we also choose the consequence of that choice.

                As my regular readers understand, I am not certain of my feelings for Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, but I do from time to time write about him. It seems to me that he is showing some real leadership skills and espousing principles at the present time. Here is his most recent statement. http://www.speaker.gov/video/choice

"I've not seen the kind of bitterness in our politics like we have today. And I've got to say, I think it's both sides. It's not—you know, I'd love to say it's just Democrats, but it's not—it's both. And it doesn't have to be that way. 
"This anxiety has got to be channeled and dealt with [and] with solutions instead of just amplified and accelerated and exacerbated. How do you fix that? I think leaders fix this, and we haven't had that kind of leadership lately.
"Leaders need to say: 'here's my principle; here's my solution.' And let's try and do it in a way that is inclusive, that's optimistic, that's aspirational, that's focusing on solutions.

"And so, that's the choice you'll have, far more than a personality. Republicans lose personality contests anyway. We always do. But we win ideas contests. We owe you that choice."

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Life Is An Adventure

                I believe in adventure. I believe life is an adventure, which started the day I was born and will continue until the day I die. I did not realize until lately that I had this belief, but I now know it has directed my path throughout my life.

                Since an adventure is any experience or activity that is unusual and exciting, mortality offers us countless opportunities to find such a quest. If we are willing to accept life’s interesting undertakings and have a positive attitude, we will find unlimited vistas and enjoy boundless experiences.  Each day brings adventure, whether it is reading a new book, going someplace different, meeting diverse people, or learning a fresh skill. Life is to be lived fully, getting out of it all that we can. It is a journey in search of greater experiences, knowledge, and relationships.

                When I was a child, my siblings and I would often go on little jaunts. Our exploits would usually take us into the sandy hills located just north of our farm. The usual object of our escapades was to find the elusive arrow head. We had the understanding that someone once found one in those hills, and we wanted to find some for ourselves. We were unsuccessful in our quest, but we did find lots of other treasures:  fascinating rocks, skeletons of small animals, snake skins, pieces of glass with beautiful colors, and other bits of rubbish dumped in the area.

                After I was married and had one very young daughter, my husband suggested that we move to Alaska. A fellow employee was moving to the Great Land and offered us a place to stay until my husband found work. The entire idea upset my sense of peace and tranquility! I pondered the notion for some time and then had to agree. Since he had dreamed for several years of living in Alaska, how could I deny his fantasy? I did, however, insist on staying put until our second child arrived a few months later. Several weeks after our daughter’s birth, we loaded our necessary household goods into our blue, 1970 Chevrolet pickup truck with its small camper and our thirteen-foot, well-worn camp trailer. We said goodbye to our families in late-August and headed north. We drove up the muddy Alaska Highway with our little girls, taking two weeks to make the trip due to the demands of our toddler. I left Utah with the idea that we would be in Alaska for a year and then return to move on with our lives. I fell in love with Alaska because of its charming people and magnificent scenery and stayed to make it my home.


                More than forty years later, I am the grandmother of seventeen delightful grandchildren and am embarking on another adventure – going to college. I did not plan to take this journey but am enjoying it immensely. I am bursting with a sense of great accomplishment because I finally learned how to do basic algebra last semester, and I currently find pleasure in stretching my abilities to share my thoughts through writing. I look forward to the coming years as I learn new skills, gain considerable knowledge, and make numerous friends. I expect that this undertaking will add abundant excitement to my remaining years, and I am grateful for my belief that life is an adventure!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Whose Plan?

                I do not know how I really feel about Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. I like some of the things he does, but I question others. I do, however, like the commencement address he gave on Sunday, May 22, 2016, at Carthage College. I want my readers to read the entire speech, but I will share just a part of it.


            “The biggest piece of advice that I’d give to all of you is this: Don’t worry too much about the plan. Go where you can make a difference. Sometimes fulfillment lies in very unpredictable places. All your life people are going to hound you about the plan, the plan, the plan . . . Have you found a job? Are you going to graduate school? Where do you see yourself in 20 years? It will seem like nobody cares what you do so much as where you end up. And you will start to wonder whether you shouldn’t care either. But beware: Careerism, in the wrong way, is cynicism in perpetual motion.

            “Before donor services drags me off the stage, let me clarify what I'm saying here: I am not telling you to reject that job offer and move into your parents’ basement. What I am saying is, wherever you end up, the work itself is the reward. Treat it that way. Because the truth is, life can put your best-laid plans through the paper shredder. You may never get that dream job—or if you do get that dream job, it may turn out to be a nightmare. But maybe you’re meant to do something else. What seems to you like catastrophe could end up becoming opportunity. Don’t be so quick to dismiss that opportunity if it doesn’t fit into the plan. When you come to a fork in the road, and you are deciding between two paths, instead of thinking, “How do I stay on course?” think to yourself, “Where can I do the most good? Where do I get real fulfillment?" If you realize it is the detour, then take it.”


            Speaker Ryan added a three part postscript that I endorse also:  (1) Do not fear failure, but “learn from it” and “forgive it.” (2) “Read as much as humanly possible… The greatest asset you have is your mind. But it really is like a muscle. You have to keep it in shape.” (3) “If you’re [a] believer, keep going to church… Prayer has sustained me in many difficult moments of my life. I think it will do the same for you. Because as you get older, you realize that life does actually follow a plan. It just may not be your plan. It is God’s plan. And coming to accept that fundamental fact … is the essence of faith…. So if you remember one word from this speech, let it be `faith.’ That should be all the planning you need.”