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 31, 2015

Family Reunion Time

                Families, communities, and nations are strengthened by holding meaningful and fun family reunions.  Family unity can develop and love for each other can grow by holding positive and enjoyable reunions.

                I have gone to family reunions for as long as I can remember.  My parents made great sacrifices in time and money to take their children and gather with their respective families once each year.  My husband’s parents also took their children to family reunions.

                It is time once again for the reunion of the posterity of my father and mother.  We have been holding annual family reunions for nearly forty years.  With twelve children and their spouses, seventy grandchildren and their spouses, and over two hundred great-grandchildren (some with spouses and children), we have a large family.  We cannot all come to every reunion, but we usually number well over one hundred people in attendance.  I could not attend the family reunion on numerous occasions.  Oh!  How I missed being there!  Yet, I drew great strength from simple fact of knowing that my family was gathered together once again.  

                Alma Heaton wrote a wonderful article entitled “Really Getting Together: Your Family Reunion” and gave some great ideas about why reunions are important, how to organize a reunion, and even some games to play at a reunion.

                “I suppose all of us have our own favorite reason for having family reunions.  In a way, they are extensions of family home evenings.  Family reunions are an opportunity to gather our larger, eternal families together to learn to understand and love one another, and to unite ourselves in the work of the Lord, just as we do in family home evenings.
                “Having positive, enjoyable experiences together cements family relationships.  Having fun together is a powerful and effective way to draw a family together.  The lasting memories that are formed in well-planned family reunions will add to the respect and love that we hope to have for each other throughout eternity.

                “In addition, family reunions provide an opportunity for the younger family members to become acquainted with their relatives and their heritage.  Perhaps this heritage is part of the sealing force between the children and the fathers to which Elijah referred.  Through this heritage everyone has a chance to tie himself to a family in a patriarchal order.
                “Reunions are an excellent way to organize and gather genealogical information and to stimulate genealogical research.  Often we spend a great deal of time researching our ancestors, while failing to record the marriages, new babies, temple endowments, and other information of our own family.”

                Brother Heaton continued his article with an explanation of how to plan a family reunion.  He said that the first step is to organize the family and to choose a chairman to direct the family.  This chairman is usually the patriarch of the family.  My father held this position in our family until his death; now my older brother holds the position.  We all look to him with respect for counsel and guidance. 

                Brother Heaton suggests that a reunion director be chosen by the chairman.  In our family the director of the reunion is one of the twelve children – the Big Twelve as we have been called.  Since some of the twelve have passed away and others have ill health or other problems preventing them from carrying the load of directing the reunion, there are only five of us at the present time rotating the position of director.  In previous years we have simply made sure all five have the opportunity before the responsibility returned to the first one.  Last year we decided to go by age and thereby preventing confusion.  Since I was the director last year, my younger sister is the director this year.  Next year our baby sister will be the director followed the next year by our oldest sister.

                The Big Twelve hold a business meeting at each reunion.  At this meeting we make plans for the next reunion, including notifying the new director and choosing the date and place.  The new director chooses the theme for the next reunion and makes assignments.  My assignment for this year is games.  Other assignments include planning a temple session, making food assignments, doing a silent auction, preparing a service project, setting up the tables, arranging for the park, etc.  Everyone carries a small assignment but works with others to make the reunion a success.

                Brother Heaton concluded his article:  “A good way to learn to love our relatives is to spend time together in well-planned family reunions.  A family reunion can be a very personal and privileged gathering.  If you have never organized your family for a reunion, start now – you will receive joy far beyond your expectations.  Yes, there will be discouragements.  Some family members will say they don’t have time or that they are too busy.  But the rewards more than compensate for the discouragements.

                “It was our Father in heaven who first gathered us together in a great family reunion.  Certainly we must have discussed our future, our leaders, and many other aspects of our life ahead.  If our future families are to be together for eternity, why not start now to establish firm, loving, and powerful relationships in our own patriarchal orders through family reunions?”

                It may be too late for you to plan a family reunion for this summer or even this year, but it is never too late to hold a family reunion.  I encourage you to take some steps now to organize a reunion of your family – write some letters, make some telephone calls, etc. – and make your family stronger by doing so.  I know that holding meaningful and fun family reunions can strengthen families, communities, and nations.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Defend Traditional Marriage

                The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is the simple fact that we can defend traditional marriage by being enthusiastic and committed to it.  We must show by our own lives and experiences that traditional marriage is good and something we want.  Even though none of us will actually have the “ideal marriage,” we must make our own marriages as close to the ideal as possible.

                Linda and Richard Eyre posted an interesting article about this subject entitled “What defenders of traditional marriage may be forgetting.”  A summary of their article is “The largest threat to our society and to our economy is not the way people define marriage, but how enthusiastically and committedly they participate in it.” 

                Here is a quote that I found very interesting.  “… Commitment is the start of a relationship that lasts, not the culmination of it.  And the commitment of marriage is what lends security both to husband and wife and to the children who join them.
                “If defenders of marriage are consumed and preoccupied in fighting against same-sex marriage, they are like a sports team that tries to shut down the opposing team but does not score any points for itself.  People vigorously fighting same-sex marriage but doing little or nothing to advocate for promote traditional marriage are like a defense with no offense.

                “The best way to make a difference is to celebrate commitment – the commitment of marriage.
                “The debate over same-sex marriage will go on, just as the abortion debate goes on.  A Supreme Court ruling does not put an end to either issue.  Society may still be divided over same-sex marriage in 50 years, just as we are still divided now on the abortion issue 50 years after Roe vs. Wade.

                “We personally believe the institution of marriage was instituted by God and that he defined it and continues to define it as a potentially eternal union between one man and one woman.
                “But whatever our personal position, each of us should ask the question of what we should be most concerned about – the emergence of same-sex marriage or the disappearance of traditional marriage.”

                President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gave a 15-minute talk – witness or testimony – of traditional marriage at a conference convened by Cardinal Gerhard Muller, a prefect at the Vatican - Humanum:  An International Interreligious Colloquium on the Complementarity of Man and Woman.  He bore person witness of “the power of the union of a man and a woman in marriage to produce happiness for each other and for their family.”  

                President Eyring explained the Latter-day Saint belief of eternal marriage – a marriage ordinance that blesses the couple and their posterity through time and throughout eternity.  “We were promised that after this life, we could continue to enjoy whatever loving family sociality we could create in life.”  He emotionally shared how his own marriage has brought great fulfillment.  “I have become a better person as I have loved and lived with her…. We have been complementary beyond anything I could have imagined.  Her capacity to nurture others grew in me as we became one.  My capacity to plan, direct and lead in our family grew in her as we became united in marriage.  I realize now that we grew together into one – slowly lifting and shaping each other, year by year.  As we absorbed strength from each other, it did not diminish our personal gifts. 

                “Our differences combined as if they were designed to create a better whole.  Rather than dividing us, our differences bound us together.  Above all, our unique abilities allowed us to become partners with God in creating human life.  The happiness that came from our becoming one built faith in our children and grandchildren that marriage could be a continuing source of satisfaction for them and their families.”

                After reading from the Proclamation on the Family, President Eyring said, “Those are things people must do for us to have a renaissance of happy marriages and productive families.”  He encouraged couples to be persistent in strengthening their marriages because future generations will build upon whatever foundation is placed.  “Such a renaissance will require people to try for the ideal – and to keep trying even when the happy result is slow to come and when loud voices mock the effort.” 

                We can defend traditional marriage by following the principles in the Proclamation on the Family and by trying to make our own marriage as close to the ideal as possible.  We must be enthusiastically committed to traditional marriage and let our example show for others to follow, particularly our own children and grandchildren.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

More on Planned Parenthood

                Congress is now involved with the fiasco with Planned Parenthood about harvesting and selling body parts from aborted unborn babies.  Senator Rand Paul (Kentucky) said he is preparing a bill to defund Planned Parenthood in the U.S. Senate.  Several House Republicans took steps to immediately defund Planned Parenthood after the video controversy. House Speaker John Boehner did immediately commit to blocking funding for the abortion provider.  He insisted that he wanted “Facts first.”  

                Sarah Torre of The Heritage Foundation seems happy to provide eight facts to the Speaker of the House.  Her eight facts are briefly as follows.

                “Fact #1:  Planned Parenthood Has Become a Billion-Dollar Organization on the Backs of Taxpayers.  Planned Parenthood has ridden the waves of taxpayer funding to millions of dollars in annual surpluses….”

                “Fact #2:  Planned Parenthood Performs 1 in 3 Abortions in the U.S. n the 2013-2014 reporting year alone, Planned Parenthood reported performing 327,653 abortions – and nearly 1 million abortions over the past three years….”

                “Fact #3:  Parenthood has Decreased Preventive Care, While Increasing Abortions.  While, according to the organization’s most recent report, Planned Parenthood affiliates performed 327,653 abortions during the last reporting year, they made only 1,880 adoption referrals and provided just 18,684 prenatal services….”

                “Fact #4:  Planned Parenthood Has Been Accused of Financial Fraud with Taxpayer Dollars….”

                “Fact #5:  Planned Parenthood Fights Commonsense Laws that Protect Women and Children….”

                “Fact #6:  Planned Parenthood Stands Accused of Jeopardizing the Safety and Health of Women and Girls….”

                “Fact #7:  Women Can Receive Wider Range of Care at Other Centers….”

                “Fact #8:  Planned Parenthood Advances a Culture that Devalues Life….”

                Ms. Torre urged Congress to stop funding Planned Parenthood:  “Regardless of the outcome of the very necessary congressional inquiry, there is no reason to continue entangling federal money with an organization nearly all of whose pregnancy-related services are abortion procedures.

                “There is nothing stopping individuals, organizations and businesses from continuing to fund Planned Parenthood with private dollars (although, requests by Coca-Cola, Ford and Xerox to remove their names from Planned Parenthood’s corporate donors list may be indication that even the private sector isn’t too happy with the latest, horrific revelations about the non-profit).

                “Policymakers looking to put limited taxpayer funds to more efficient and effective use should redirect those dollars to centers and clinics that can provide more comprehensive care for women.  All women – but especially those facing difficult circumstances – deserve better care for their health and more options than the cold doors of an abortion facility.

                “No society that is truly committed to protecting basic human rights can continue funding an industry that harms women, takes the lives of the most vulnerable children and cheapens our respect for life – especially when its leader allegedly harvests and sells tiny organs for profit.

                “Those should be all the facts Congress needs to end funding of Planned Parenthood.”

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Planned Parenthood

                Earlier this month the Center for Medical Progress released a video – the first in its “Human Capital” series – “a nearly 3-year-long investigative journalism study of Planned Parenthood’s illegal trafficking of aborted fetal parts.”  The video shows an executive from Planned Parenthood describing the sale of fetal body parts – and doing it over lunch.  

                A week ago the Center for Medical Progress released another video.  This video allegedly shows a senior executive at Planned Parenthood negotiating the price of body parts from an aborted baby.  This video adds to allegations of Planned Parenthood profiting from abortions.

                Amid these allegations, black pro-life leaders are calling for the organization to be defunded.  One reason for their demand is what they call “targeting” of their community.  Catherine David of the National Black Pro-Life Coalition told The Daily Signal:  “It’s an open secret that they are targeting the black community, that they have located their facilities within a two-mile walking radius of a black or Latino neighborhood … and they are coming after black women.”

                I have long been a critic of Planned Parenthood and am not surprised by the information coming out.  I am appalled at the depravity of the people at Planned Parenthood but not surprised.  Besides receiving taxpayer money, Planned Parenthood receives direct donations from more than three dozen companies.  The first report I read listed 41 companies, but now there are 39.  Two of the companies – Xerox and Ford Motor Company claim they have not made any donations and requested Planned Parenthood remove their names from the list.  Get the complete list here.  

                I am surprised at some of the companies listed as donors to Planned Parenthood.  I am disappointed to find many of the names on the list because I do business with them.  I have a dilemma – do I stop doing business with them now and uproot a big part of my life or do I wait to see what they do now that they know what Planned Parenthood really does with their money and why?

                I am very much pro-life and anti-abortion.  I hope Planned Parenthood gets shut down entirely; at the very least, I hope they abandoned by any government unit whether it be local, state or federal.  I do not want any of my tax money going to an organization that kills babies and especially when they do it in order to sell the little body parts.  How disgusting can they get?

Monday, July 27, 2015

Noah Webster

                Noah Webster, Jr. was born on October 16, 1758, in the Western Division of Hartford (later West Hartford), Connecticut.  His parents were Noah Sr. (1722-1813) and Mercy (Steele) Webster (1727-1794), and their family was well “established.”   Noah Webster, Sr. descended from Connecticut Governor John Webster, and Mercy Webster descended from Governor William Bradford of Plymouth Colony.

                Noah Webster, Sr. did not have a college education, but he prized education and was curious intellectually.  He was a farmer but was also a deacon in the local Congregational church, captain of the town’s militia, and a founder of a local book society – now known as a public library.  He was appointed a justice of the peace after Americans achieved independence.

                Mercy Webster home schooled her children in spelling, mathematics, and music – at least in their early years.  Noah Webster, Jr. began school at age six years in a “dilapidated one-room primary school built by West Hartford’s Ecclesiastical Society.  He did not appreciated the teachers and later called them the “dregs of humanity” while complaining that the “instruction was mainly in religion.”  One very important result of Webster’s experience was his motivation to “improve the educational experience of future generations.”

                When Webster was fourteen years old, his pastor at church began teaching him Latin and Greek to prepare him to enter Yale.  His father mortgaged his farm to send his son to Yale.  Young Webster enrolled at Yale just before he turned sixteen years old; during his senior year he studied with Ezra Stiles, the President of Yale.  Webster was at Yale for part of the Revolutionary War and attended many of his classes in other towns due to threatened British invasions and food shortages.  Webster served in the Connecticut Militia; he was on his own and “had nothing more to do with his family.”

                Although he had a degree from Yale after graduating in 1778, Webster lack any plans for a career.  He later wrote that an education in liberal arts “disqualifies a man for business.”  He tried teaching school in Glastonbury but found the working conditions to be “harsh and the pay low.”  He began studying law under future U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Oliver Ellsworth while teaching full time but found he could not continue.  He quit studying the law for a year and then found another attorney to teach him.  He completed his studies and passed the bar examination in 1781 but could not practice law due to the Revolutionary War.  He gave an oral dissertation to the Yale graduating class and received a master’s degree from the school.  Later in 1781 he opened a successful but small private school in western Connecticut.  He soon closed the school and left town, probably from a broken heart.

                In an effort to “overcome his losses and channel his ambitions,” Webster began writing for a prominent New England newspaper.  In his “series of well-received articles” he justified and praised the American Revolution and “argued that the separation from Britain was permanent.”  He founded a private school for the children of wealthy parents in Goshen, New York.  By 1785 he had written and published a speller, a grammar book and a reader for elementary schools.  “Proceeds from continuing sales of the popular blue-backed speller enabled Webster to spend many years working on his famous dictionary.”

                Noah Webster, Jr. became a “lexicographer, textbook pioneer, English-language spelling reformer, political writer, editor, and prolific author.  He has been called the `Father of American Scholarship and Education.’  His blue-backed speller books taught five generations of American children how to spell and read, secularizing their education.  According to Ellis (1979) he gave Americans `a secular catechism to the nation-state.’”

                The name Webster became “synonymous with `dictionary’ in the United States, especially the modern Merriam-Webster dictionary that was first published in 1828 as An American Dictionary of the English Language.  He was one of the Founding Fathers of the nation.”

                Webster “married well” when he married Rebecca Greenleaf (1766-1847) on October 26, 1789, in New Haven, Connecticut.  The couple became the parents of eight children:  Emily Schotten (1790-1861) (married William W. Ellsworth; he was the executor of Webster’s will; their daughter Emily married Rev. Abner Jackson, president of Trinity College and Hobart College); Frances Julianna (1793-1869); Harriet (1797-1844); Mary (1799-1819); William Greenleaf (1801-1869); Eliza (1803-1888); Henry (1806-1807), and Louisa (b. 1808).
 Webster never had much money but was among the elite in Hartford.

                Webster moved his family to Amherst, Massachusetts, in 1812, and there helped to found Amherst College.  He moved his family back to New Haven in 1822; the following year he was awarded an honorary degree from Yale. 

                Noah Webster, Jr. passed away on May 28, 1843.  He is buried in New Haven’s Grove Street Cemetery.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Congress Decides

                The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from Section 4 of the Twenty-fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States:  “[In case of a dispute between the President and the Vice President about the President’s ability to assume the duties of the office of President] Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session.  If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter [Vice President’s] written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.”

                This provision gives Congress the power and authority to decide whether or not the President is fit to resume the duties of his office.  It also sets a fairly high bar for the Vice President to jump over in order to keep the power and authority of the office.  Two-thirds vote of both the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives is fairly hard to obtain.  If Congress were to vote against the President, it would probably have a good reason to do so.

                W. Cleon Skousen shared his concerns about this provision:  “The requirement of a two-thirds vote to keep the President form resuming his office was designed to overcome the possibility of the vote dividing along partisan lines.  There must be a strong feeling in both parties that the President is still disabled or he will be allowed to resume his office.
                “The glaring fallacy in all of this is that an ambitious Vice President, who may have initiated this unseating of the President in the first place, is still acting as President during the time the matter is being adjudicated.  An interval of this kind could be contrived by a Vice President and a dominant bloc in Congress to get through a critical bill which they know the elected President would veto.  Such contriving to manipulate the machinery of government is an established segment of federal political history and should not be overlooked.”  (See The Making of America – The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution, p. 761.)

                If I had not lived through the previous seven years of the Obama Administration, I would think Mr. Skousen was paranoid when he wrote those words.  Now, I too am concerned a possible hostile takeover of the powers of the President of the United States!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Lord's Law of Health

                We lived in heaven a long time ago with our Heavenly Father and learned of our Father’s plan of happiness for His children.  Part of that plan was coming to earth to receive a physical body because we needed bodies in order to become like our Father.  Our physical bodies are great and important blessings, and the Lord calls them temples of God (see 1 Corinthians 3:17). 

                Our bodies are holy and important to the plan of God.  Our Father in Heaven commands us to take good care of our bodies in a pleasing manner before Him.  He knows that we will be happier and better people if we are healthy.  The Spirit of God can be with us if our bodies are clean.

                Our Father knows that we face many temptations with regard to our bodies; we are tempted to do things to our bodies and to take harmful substances into our bodies.  To help us keep our bodies healthy, He told us which things are good for our health and which things should be avoided.  Much of this information concerning good health is found in Doctrine and Covenants 89, which is known as the Word of Wisdom or the Lord’s law of health.    If we do not live the Word of Wisdom, we lose two great blessings – (1) The Lord’s Spirit cannot dwell with us and (2) we cannot enter the temple.

                In the Word of Wisdom the Lord commands us to avoid wine and strong drinks – meaning drinks that contain alcohol.  President Heber J. Grant taught that strong drink brings serious problems into the home; these problems include cruelty, poverty, disease, plague, dishonesty, loss of chastity, and loss of good judgment (see “Message of the First Presidency,” Improvement Era, Nov. 1942, p. 686, as quoted in Gospel Principles, pp. 138-139).  Expectant mothers are counseled strongly to avoid alcohol because physical and mental damage to their children.  Many car accidents are caused by people who drink alcohol and then drive.

                The Lord also commands us to avoid the use of tobacco because it is harmful to our bodies and spirits.  We should not smoke cigarettes or cigars or use chewing tobacco.  Scientists have proven that tobacco use causes cancer and other diseases.

                The Lord also commands us to avoid the use of “hot drinks.”  Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have said this means coffee and tea.  Coffee and tea contain harmful drugs and should be avoided.  We should also avoid all drinks that contain harmful drugs.

                Through modern prophets the Lord has commanded us to avoid all drugs except those necessary as medicine.  President Spencer W. Kimball warned that the drug habit is often more harmful than the use of alcohol.  He said that people who misuse drugs – including legal, prescribed drugs – should repent of this habit.

                In fact, we should avoid the use of anything that is harmful to our bodies or substances that are habit forming.  The Word of Wisdom does not tell us all things to avoid, but it gives us guidelines to follow.  The Word of Wisdom is both a valuable temporal law and a great spiritual law.  We can become stronger spiritually by obedience to the Word of Wisdom because our bodies are purified when the Spirit of the Lord dwells in us.

                The Word of Wisdom also tells us that certain things are good for our bodies.  It lists fruits, vegetables, and wholesome herbs as being good for us as we use them with wisdom and thanksgiving.  The flesh of birds and animals is also provided for us to eat “sparingly” (see Doctrine and Covenants 89:12 and 49:18) and fish is good for man.  Grains are good for us, particularly wheat, and can be used to make mild drinks.

                The Word of Wisdom does not contain all the counsel of the Lord that helps us to be healthy.  Other scriptures tell us to “cease to be idle; cease to be unclean; … cease to sleep longer than is needful; retire to thy bed early, that ye may not be weary; arise early, that your bodies and minds may be invigorated” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:124).  We are also told “Six days shalt thou labour and do all thy work” (Exodus 20:9) and to not labor more than we have strength (see Doctrine and Covenants 10:4).

                President Joseph F. Smith told us that we “should learn to keep their bodies healthy by right living…, by inhaling pure air, taking plenty of exercise, and bathing … often in fresh water” (Gospel Doctrine, p. 241, as quoted in Gospel Principles, p. 140).

                God gave us laws concerning our physical health to teach us how to take good care of our bodies.  His scriptures tell us, “No temporal commandment gave I … for my commandments are spiritual” (Doctrine and Covenants 29:35).  This means that all scriptures concerning our physical bodies are for our spiritual good.

                The Lord blesses us physically and spiritually when we keep His law of health and obey all His commandments.  He promises us good physical health and the ability to “run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint” (Doctrine and Covenants 89:18, 20).  This is truly a great blessing, but spiritual blessings are even greater.

                The Lord promises us that we “shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures” (Doctrine and Covenants 89:19) and taught important truths by the Holy Ghost through revelation.  Another blessing of obeying the Word of Wisdom is the promise that the destroying angel shall pass us by.  President Spencer W. Kimball taught that this means that we will be saved from spiritual death:  “For observing the Word of Wisdom the reward is life, not only prolonged mortal life but life eternal” (The Miracle of Forgiveness, p. 211, as quoted in Gospel Principles, p. 141).

Friday, July 24, 2015

Do Hard Things

                Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when we teach the help the rising generation to do hard things.  No one should expect everything in life to be fun and exciting; no one should think that everything in life is funny.  We must teach the rising generation that they can do hard things.

                To members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, July 24th is Pioneer Day.  This is a very important holiday when we remembered the people who crossed the plains in order to follow their beliefs and live their religion.  I was reared on stories of the Mormon Pioneers and their trek across the United States from Illinois to the Great Salt Lake Valley.  I learned many of the stories of my own ancestors – grandparents and great-grandparents – who made that trek under very difficult situations.  I learned that children and teens can do hard things.  

                My father’s paternal grandfather’s parents were drive out of their home in Nauvoo, Illinois, soon after they were married.  John crossed the plains with his parents when he was one year old and arrived in the Great Salt Lake Valley after being caught in a snow storm.      

                My father’s paternal grandmother was only five years old when she learned to milk cows.  She helped with the work on the farm – raking and piling the hay with hand forks, drying applies and peaches for food to eat during the winter.  As a child she knelt with her family around the bed of her ill mother and asked the Lord to let her mother live.  When mother heard the prayers and witnessed the faith of her children, she gained the strength to live. 

                My father’s maternal grandfather was only 7 years old when he began herding the neighbor’s cows for a piece of bread or a biscuit.  If he received nothing for his work, he dug Sego Lily bulbs to eat and then took some home to his family to eat for supper.  He also trapped wild animals to provide food.

                My father’s maternal grandmother was expected to work to help the family.  One of her chores was to go to the neighbor’s home in morning to borrow a live coal to start their fire if it had gone out during the night.  She helped to drive grasshoppers into piles of straw to be burned in order to save their crops.  She gleaned wheat from the fields, flailed the grain out and saved it to buy her shoes for winter.  She also spent a lot of time caring for babies and young children.

                My mother’s paternal grandfather working in the mines in Scotland as a young child and was still working in there as an adult when he immigrated to the United States.  My mother’s paternal grandmother left her home and family to come to America.

                My mother’s maternal grandfather left England with his parents to travel to Australia when he was about ten years old.  Before he was eighteen, his family left Australia for California and then on to Utah.  We do not know very much about the childhood of my mother’s maternal grandmother, but we know she was brave and protected her children from the Indians while her husband was hauling freight.  She even saw Geronimo after he was captured.

                My parents also did hard things and taught their children to do hard things.  I grew up on a farm and learned to do many of the farm chores.  None of the work was easy, but it was satisfying.  I learned to work hard and to do hard things as a child and carry that capacity with me to this day.  I am not afraid to work hard or to do hard things.  I know that life is not easy or even fun most of the time, but I also know that it can be rewarding.  I also know that we can strengthen our families, communities and nations by learning to do hard things.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Freedom to Live Your Life

                For more than 200 years Americans have enjoyed the freedom to live their own lives.  We have had the freedom of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness because the Constitution of the United States has protected those freedoms.  Our freedoms have been slowly but surely eliminated.  That elimination seems to have accelerated in recent years.

                America needs a new champion of liberty, and numerous people are vying for the right to be that champion.  I have made no secret of the fact that I think Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker could be that champion.  He has shown over the past years that he talks the talk and walks the walk of conservatism.  He has proven that he can govern on conservative principles and is willing to stand up to liberal interests.  Governor Walker recently announced that he is running for the office of President of the United States.

                Governor Walker spoke about his plans for helping Americans reach the American dream.  I liked his speech and found his words very comforting.  I particularly liked this statement:  “Our goal should be peace, but there will be times when America must fight.  If we must, America must fight to win.”  I encourage you to listen to Governor Walker to learn more about him and his plans for America.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Cycles of the Sun

                I am very interested in the latest news about the cycle of the sun. Professor Valentina Zharkova recently presented results of the studies done by their team at the National Astronomy Meeting in Lladudno.  The new study claims to know more about predicting solar cycles .and predicts a cooling period – a ‘mini ice age’ – taking place between 2020 and 2030.  The last such event hit between 1645 and 1715 – and caused the River Thames in London to freeze over.

                The scientists have a “new model of the Sun’s solar cycle” that is “producing unprecedentedly accurate predictions of irregularities within the Sun’s 11-year heartbeat.  It draws on dynamo effects in two layers of the Sun, one close to the surface and one deep within its convection zone.  Predictions from the model suggest that solar activity will fall by 60 per cent during the 2030s to conditions last seen during the `mini ice age’ that began in 1645….”

                The reason I am so interested in this news is the fact that I believe it could be signaling the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.  I look forward to this event, and yet I am a little fearful of the circumstances between now and then.  You may ask how I connect this report from scientists with the coming of the Lord.  I have heard and later read numerous prophecies such as the following scriptures.

                The Lord revealed the following to the Prophet Joseph Smith in March 1831:  “And they shall see signs and wonders, for they shall be shown forth in the heavens above, and in the earth beneath.
                “And they shall behold blood, and fire, and vapors of smoke.
                “And before the day of the Lord shall come, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon be turned into blood, and the stars fall from heaven” (Doctrine and Covenants 45:40-42).

                In December 1832 the Lord revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith:  “For not many days hence and the earth shall tremble and reel to and fro as a drunken man; and the sun shall hide his face, and shall refuse to give light; and the moon shall be bathed in blood; and the stars shall become exceedingly angry, and shall cast themselves down as a fig that falleth from off a fig-tree” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:87).

                After quoting the above scriptures President Ezra Taft Benson spoke of some of the signs of the Second Coming of the Savior:  “I realize this is an unpleasant topic on which to dwell.  I take no delight in its portrayal, nor do I look forward to the day when calamities shall come upon mankind.  But these words are not my own; the Lord has spoken them.  Knowing what we know as His servants, can we hesitate to raise a warning voice to all who will listen that they may be prepared for the days ahead?  Silence in the face of such calamity is sin!
                “But to an otherwise gloomy picture there is a bright side – the coming of our Lord in all His glory.  His coming will be both glorious and terrible, depending on the spiritual condition of those who remain.”

                President Benson spoke of several appearances of the Lord before adding counsel:  “You will live in the midst of economic, political and spiritual instability.  When you see these signs – unmistakable evidences that His coming is nigh – be not troubled, but, `stand… in holy places, and be not moved, until the day of the Lord come’ (Doctrine and Covenants 87:8).  Holy men stand in holy places and these holy places include our temples, our chapels, our homes, and the stakes of Zion, which are, as the Lord declares, `for a defense, and for a refuge from the storm, and from wrath when it shall be poured out without mixture upon the whole earth’ (Doctrine and Covenants 115:6).
                “Heed the Lord’s counsel to the Saints of this dispensation:  `Prepare yourselves for the great day of the Lord’ (Doctrine and Covenants 133:10).

                “This preparation must consist of more than just casual membership in the Church.  You must learn to be guided by personal revelation and the counsel of the living prophet so you will not be deceived.  Our Lord has indicated who, among Church members, will stand when He appears:
                “`And at that day, when I shall come in my glory, shall the parable be fulfilled which I spake concerning the ten virgins.
                “For they that are wise and have received the truth, and have taken the Holy Spirit for their guide, and have not been deceived – verily I say unto you, they shall not be hewn down and cast into the fire, but shall abide the day” (“Prepare Yourself for the Great Day ofthe Lord”)

                According to President Benson, I can be ready for the coming of the great day of the Lord by standing in holy places and taking the Holy Spirit for my guide.  This sounds very simple, and it is – but it could be difficult in the worsening conditions in the world.  For now, I will continue to watch for the prophesied signs and try to be prepared by following the Prophet’s counsel.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Think Again

                Silly me!  I thought the ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court legalizing same-sex marriage was a done deal.  Maybe not.  Herbert W. Titus and William J. Olson seem to believe other action could be taken. 

                Mr. Titus taught Constitutional Law for 26 years, and concluded his academic career as the Founding Dean of Regent Law School.  Mr. Olson served in three positions in the Reagan Administration.  “Together they have filed over 80 briefs in the U.S. Supreme Court, and dozens more in lower courts, addressing important public policy issues.  They now practice law together at William J. Olson, P.C.  They can be reached here or”

                Mr. Titus and Mr. Olson authored an interesting article entitled “States Have Constitutional Duty to Seek Rehearing of Same-Sex Marriage Decision.”  The article is about action the four states involved in the decision could take and urged the states to do so before July 21, 2015.  They had two reasons for why at least one of the four stakes must file a Petition for Rehearing.  Their summary of the situation is as follows:  “Since the Supreme Court’s decision, it has been assumed that the `rule of law’ requires not just your four states, but every State, to recognize the `fundamental right’ of same sex couples to marry.  However, this assumption overlooks two critical factors:  (i) whether some of the Justices who participated in issuing that decision did so unlawfully; and (ii) the nature of the express limitations set out by Justice Kennedy in that decision.  Because of these two critical factors, we urge all of you as Attorneys General, or at least one of you, file a Petition for Rehearing of this decision.  Additionally, we urge all elected officials in those four states to impress on you the need to file a Petition for Rehearing.  Although the Court’s decision purports to apply to all states – including the states that did not have an opportunity to present their arguments to the Court – only your four states can seek rehearing.”

                Read the article and decide for yourself whether or not one or more of the four states should file a Petition for Rehearing.  For myself, I can tell you that I think they should do it – and do it yesterday.  As I write this, I have not heard if a Petition for Rehearing was filed.  I certainly hope so.!


Monday, July 20, 2015

James Gordon Bennett, Sr.

                James Gordon Bennett, Sr. was born on September 1, 1795, to a prosperous Catholic family living in Newmill, Banffshire, Scotland.  He was cross eyed for most of his life.  When he was 15 years old, he began his four year journey through the Catholic seminary in Aberdeen.  He left the seminary and began reading “voraciously on his own;” he also traveled throughout Scotland.  

                In 1819 Bennett and a friend sailed to North America, landing in Halifax, Nova Scotia after a four week trip.  Bennett worked briefly teaching school until he earned enough money to sail to Portland, Maine.  He taught school in the village of Addison but moved to Boston prior to New Year’s Day in 1820.  He found work there “as a proofreader and bookseller before the Charleston Courier hired him to translate Spanish news reports.”  In 1823 Bennett moved to New York City and took a job as a freelance paper writer; later he became assistant editor of the New York Courier and Enquirer.

                Bennett began the Herald in May 1835, after years of trying to start a paper.  “In April 1836, [the Herald] shocked readers with front-age coverage of the murder of prostitute Helen Jewett; Bennett conducted the first-ever newspaper interview for it.  The Herald initiated a cash-in-advance policy for advertisers, which became the industry standard.  Bennett was also at the forefront of using the latest technology to gather and report the news, and added illustrations produced from woodcuts.  In 1839, Bennett was granted the first ever exclusive interview to a United States President, Martin Van Buren.”  James Gordon Bennett, Sr. was a major figure in the history of American newspapers."

                While claiming to be officially independent in its politics, the Herald endorsed William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor, James K. Polk, Franklin Pierce, and John C. Fremont.  “… Although he opposed Abraham Lincoln, Bennett backed the Union, then took the lead to turn the president into a martyr after his assassination.  He favored most of Andrew Johnson’s Reconstruction proposals.”

                Bennett married Henrietta Agnes Crean on June 6, 1840, in New York.  The couple became parents of three children; two of the children were James Gordon Bennett, Jr. and Jeanette Gordon Bennett (married Isaac Bell, Jr.).

                In 1866 Bennett turned control of the Herald  over to his son James Gordon Bennett, Jr.  At that time the paper had the highest circulation in America; however, the paper declined under the stewardship of young Bennett and merged with the New York Tribune after the death of Bennett, Sr. 

                James Gordon Bennett, Sr. passed away on June 1, 1872, in New York.  He is interred at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Vice President Holds Power

                The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from Section 4 of the Twenty-fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States:  “… Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office….” (Emphasis added.)  This provision includes instructions as to what should be done if the President and Vice President disagree about the ability of the President to resume the duties of Chief Executive of the nation.  It states that the Vice President will lead the nation if there is disagreement.

                W. Cleon Skousen explained, “This provision gives the President the RIGHT to advise the officials of Congress that he believes himself capable of resuming his duties, but it gives the Vice President and a majority of the Cabinet the RIGHT to prevent the President from assuming his duties if they advise the congressional officials that this is their opinion.
                “Notice that the Vice President is acting as President at the time the President tells the congressional leaders he is ready to again take over his office.  Notice also that the Vice President continues to occupy the President’s desk simply by advising the congressional leaders that he and the majority of the Cabinet do not believe the President is yet capable of performing his duties.  Once again the power to make the immediate decision lies in the hands of the one who has the most to gain politically by preventing the President from returning to his official duties.”
(See The Making of America – The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution, p. 760.)

                I sort of gulped when I read this Section of the Twenty-fifth Amendment and agreed with Mr. Skousen that the situation does not look good.  I suppose the framers of this Amendment showed faith in the person holding the office of Vice President, but I can see a big problem if the Vice President is not worthy of that trust.  The whole thing sounds a lot like setting the stage for a hostile takeover of the office of President.

                John Feerick of The Heritage Foundation further explained, “… For situations where the President is unable to declare his own inability, the amendment authorizes the Vice President, acting with a majority of the Cabinet, to do so and then act as President.  If the President disagrees, Congress resolves the issue….”  (The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, p. 431.)

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Service to Others

                Jesus Christ taught service by both word and actions.  He said, “I am among you as he that serveth” (Luke 22:27).  All true followers of Jesus Christ understand that we must also serve other people, meaning we must help others who need assistance.  In order to make the most of our service, we should do it with Christ-like love.

                All of us are capable of serving others; in fact, we have no excuse for not serving in spite of our income, age, health conditions, or social position.  The poor as well as the rich, the young as well as the old, male and female, all races are required to serve others.

                There are many ways to serve others – economically, spiritually, socially, or physically.  To the needy, we can donate food, clothing, money, etc.  To the stranger, we can offer welcome.  To the elderly, we can offer an ear for listening.  To the ill, we can offer support in getting to doctors, providing meals for the family, child care, etc.  To the spiritually needy, we can share the blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  We do not need to stand back and wait for a great need for service.  Even small acts of service – such as a smile – can strengthen others.

                The Savior asks – and even commands – us to serve other people because it is through service to His sons and daughters that the work of God is accomplished.  President Spencer W. Kimball once said, “God does notice us, and he watches over us.  But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs” (Ensign, Dec. 1974, p. 5).  

                The righteous King Benjamin served his people all of his life and earned his own living rather than requiring his people to pay for it.  He taught the importance of service to his people when he said, “When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God … and if I, whom ye call your king, do labor to serve you, then ought not ye to labor to serve one another?”  (Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, Mosiah 2:17-18).

                We gain great blessings by giving service to other people.  One of the greatest blessings we can receive is an increased capacity to love others and become less selfish as we think of others.  Another great blessing that comes through serving others is a realization that other people have problems also and most of those problems are greater than our own.  God commands us to serve others and makes service a requirement in obtaining eternal life.

                We should serve everyone and not just those people we feel comfortable with or enjoy being around.  The most important place for us to serve others is within the walls of our own homes.  As we serve our spouse, children, and grandchildren – or parents and grandparents, our love for them grows stronger.  Serving children means more than feeding and clothing them; it also means teaching them correct values, correcting them with love, playing with them and working with them.  Children can serve by helping with the family chores.

                Husbands can serve their wives by helping with household chores and caring for sick children, and wives can serve their husbands by preparing favorites dishes and showing gratitude for all they do for the family.  Older siblings can help younger children, and young children can help older children.  We can serve in our communities in many ways.  We also have many opportunities to serve within our faith communities.

                The Savior gave us the perfect example of service.  He understood and explained to others that He came to earth to serve other people and to give His life for us (Matthew 20:28).   Jesus Christ is our Elder Brother, and He loves each one of us with a perfect love.  He served the poor, the unlearned, the sinner, and the despised.  He taught His gospel to all who would listen; He fed crowds of hungry people; He healed many, and He raised the dead.  He performed many acts of service in spite of the fact that He is our God, Savior, and Lord of the universe.  The evening before His crucifixion, the Son of God bent and washed the feed of His disciples (John 13:4-10).  We can become more like the Savior by following His example of serving others.