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.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

First Job

            I received a different but interesting and appropriate gift for Mother’s Day. One of my daughters gifted me with a subscription to “StoryWorth.” The idea behind the subscription is to help me to write the stories of my life. Each week my daughter will select a question, and the company will email it to me. I am supposed to write the answer to the question and send it back. The company will send the answer to my daughter as well as combining the answers into a book at the end of the year.

            This is my first question: How did you get your first job? The following information is my answer to the question. I included more than a simple answer to the question because it is part of the story of my life and will be included my life history.

            My first paying job was babysitting a toddler when I was approximately twelve years old. There were not many babysitting jobs in the farming community where I lived. Most of the families were well established and had in-house babysitting services. Ruth, a friend to my older sister Bettie, asked me to watch her son while she went on a date with her husband. Ruth’s parents lived about half a mile from my home. Our families belonged to the same congregation, and Ruth’s father was our bishop. When Ruth married, she and her husband moved into a small house about half the distance between my home and her family home. I think that the going rate for babysitters at that time was 25 cents or less per hour. I might have received one dollar.

            I remember receiving much praise from Ruth and her husband upon their return home when they found their child in bed asleep and the house clean. I had washed the dishes, swept the kitchen, and generally tidied the living area. There was not much for me to do after putting the child to bed because there was no television in the area yet and I had not thought to bring a book. However, I remember thinking that I was being paid for my time in the home, and I should not be lazy while there. So I worked. I had one other babysitting job in the area.  
            When I was seventeen I went to my older brother’s house to help with his five children for the summer. I wanted to purchase a school sweater and a class ring, so he invited me to live with him for the summer. A sister in our congregation asked me to babysit for her, but she withdrew the offer when I told her that I charged 35 cents per hour. Soon afterwards, a neighbor down the street hired me to watch her children during the day. This job lasted for several weeks. I do not remember how much I was paid or why the job ended. Was it temporary while the regular sitter was out of town? Did I simply move on?

            My next job was working as a car hop at the Dairy Queen, moving inside to be a cook after several months. Buddy and Arlene were nice enough people, but they did not pay regularly. I remember receiving only one pay check from them, and I received it only because my sister-in-law asked for a loan to buy a new water heater or something. Maybe she knew more than I did because Buddy and Arlene declared bankruptcy soon afterwards. They sold the Dairy Queen to Kent and Thelma, and I started working for them and receiving regular pay checks.

            Kent and Thelma had five young children, so Thelma was usually home with them while Kent managed the business. When they purchased the Frost Top at the other end of town, I started working there. Kent was an interesting employer. He was as round as he was tall and very jolly. He was also a big tease and kept asking me to “belly bump” with him. I, of course, would turn red with embarrassment, and he would laugh.  I suppose that it would be called “sexual harassment” today, but I never felt threatened at any time. Kent started a side business while I worked for him. He made delicious onion rings to sell at the Dairy Queen and Frost Top. Apparently other restaurant owners started asking for them, and his business was born. I helped make onion rings when business was slow.

            There were two incidents that happened at the Frost Top. The first happened while I worked as a car hop and carried a tray full of drinks or shakes to a car. While attempting to hang the tray on the window of the car, one or more drinks tipped over. Some – or all - of the drink(s) went in the lap of the driver, but I cannot remember how much. I do not remember what happened after the accident. I just remember being quite embarrassed.

            The second incident happened while I was a cook. The other cook and I were assigned to change the oil in one of the fryers. We drained the used oil out of the fryer okay, but we had problems when we put the new oil in it. Apparently, we did not work fast enough because the fryer was too hot and caught fire as soon as the new oil hit it. I immediately called Kent, who was working at the Dairy Queen, but I did not think to call the fire department. I am grateful that a guy at the service station next door saw the smoke and called the fire department. The firemen were about to chop a hole in the ceiling when Kent arrived and persuaded them to stop. The fire was quickly extinguished, and there were no further problems. Kent said that it made him feel good to know that I thought to call him rather than the fire department.

            I worked for Kent for nearly two years before I was hired at Hill AFB as a clerk-typist. I had taken business classes – typing, shorthand, etc. – during high school and wanted to work in this field. I advanced to secretary to a major who was the Army liaison with the Air Force and later for his replacement. While working for the second Army major, I also became the secretary to an Air Force colonel and his deputy. I worked for them until my husband graduated from college, and I transferred to a Navy base in California where I worked for six months.

            When my husband was transferred to the oil fields of Utah, I was hired as a secretary at the First Security Bank. I took lots of shorthand and transcribed it into letters. I also opened many new accounts. I was there for about two years before we moved again. I went back to Hill AFB until my first child was born.

            Many years later when my youngest child started school, I worked part time and handled the money for the Barratt Inn in Anchorage, Alaska. When my job was eliminated, I became a teachers’ aid for the Anchorage School District. That was my last paying job and ended when I started making a wedding dress and doing other preparations for an older daughter’s wedding. I never looked for another job because I knew that my favorite job was being a stay-at-home mother!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Young Judge Nominees

            More than 100 vacancies occur throughout the federal circuit and district courts at the present time. The Federal Bar Association  says that the Senate must “act promptly” on confirming the President’s nominees because “the increasing number of federal judicial vacancies throughout the federal court system is straining the capacity of the federal courts to administer justice in an adequate and timely manner.” The association also says that this lack of judges causes “unnecessary hardship and increased costs on individuals and businesses” with pending lawsuits.

            President Donald Trump recognizes the need to fill the judge positions. After seeing Judge Neil Gorsuch successfully confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court, he turned his attention to filling other positions. He recognizes his opportunity to leave a “mark” on the lower courts of the federal court system as he fills the lifetime appointments.

            In keeping with his responsibility, President Trump named ten nominees for the federal judiciary on Monday, May 8, 2017. Many of the nominees are still in their 40s. Fred Lucas at The Daily Signal quotes legal scholar John Malcolm as saying, “They all appear to be bright, young, capable conservatives who promise to be outstanding judges; some are already judges.”
Lucas also quotes Sean Spicer, White House press secretary, as saying:

These 10 individuals the president has chosen were chosen for their deep knowledge of the law and their commitment to upholding constitutional principles. Two of the nominees today came from the list of potential Supreme Court nominees that the president released during the campaign. … The president followed the principles that were used to guide that list to select the additional eight individuals…. I think you will continue to see a very robust amount of announcements on not just the judicial front, but on several fronts.

            Since most of the Justices on the Supreme Court came from the Appeals Court, we may see some of these same people nominated to fill future openings there. They may not be on the short list simply by confirmation to an Appeals Court, but they will definitely be on the long list. The Appeals Courts hear hundreds, maybe thousands, of cases each year, while the Supreme Court takes about seventy-five cases annually.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Fair and Balanced Courts

            The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday concerns the court system of the United States. When the Founders of the nation organized the government, they structured it with three branches – executive, legislative, and judicial. The three branches were meant to be independent in order to “check” each other. The executive and legislative were political in nature, but the judicial was supposed to remain neutral in order to judge fairly by the law. This is no longer the case.

            President Donald Trump signed several executive orders to limit the numbers of refugees entering the nation and deny funding to cities that refuse to obey federal immigration laws. The executive orders were ruled unconstitutional by left-leaning judges. The San Francisco-based 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is well-known for its liberal decisions, and it struck the first blow to President Trump’s attempts to protect Americans. The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals also leans left. Both courts heard arguments about Trump’s orders.

            How did we end up with so many courts with liberal judges? According to an article posted by Josh Siegel, many of the judges were appointed during the Obama administration. “Today, nine of the 13 circuit courts have a majority of justices appointed by a Democrat, compared to only one when Obama took office.”

            Siegel’s article deals mostly with the changes to the 4th Circuit Court, but his chart shows that most of the courts have turned liberal under the Obama administration. The makeup of the courts clearly shows the importance of elections. President Trump was successful in appointment a strict constitutionalist to the Supreme Court, but he has much work to do with the circuit courts in order to make them fair and balanced once again.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Hope Is More Than a Wish

            Hope is an interesting word that is sometimes misunderstood and often misused. In everyday usage, we often hear “hope” used in uncertainty, such as “I hope that Grandma comes to visit this summer.” Used in this way, hope is more like wishing for something. To hope is more than simply to make a wish as the following scriptures illustrate.

But that ye have patience, and bear with those afflictions, with a firm hope that ye shall one day rest from all your afflictions (Alma 34:41).

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Peter 1:3).

Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abound in good works, being led to glorify God (Ether 12:4)

            These references tell us that hope is more than a wish. It is a firm, sure, and unwavering trust that we will gain a place in the kingdom of God. Hope is connected to faith and charity. As our faith increases, so does our hope, and as our hope increases, so does our charity. We must first learn about God and have faith in Him. As our faith increases, we began to hope that our faith is not in vain.

When we have hope, we trust God’s promises. We have a quiet assurance that if we do “the works of righteousness,” we “shall receive [our] reward, even peace in this world, and eternal life in the world (Doctrine and Covenants 59:23). Mormon taught that such hope comes only through the Atonement of Jesus Christ: “What is it that ye shall hope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise” (Moroni 7:41). (See True to the Faith, A Gospel Reference (p. 85).

            Anthony Sweat spoke about faith, hope, and charity at a recent Time Out for Women (TOFW) event held in Anchorage, Alaska. He said that “hope” is the big sister of “faith” and is centered in the promises of Jesus Christ. Hope has several powers: (1) Cleansing power, (2) Healing power, (3) Restoring power, (4) Identifying power, (5) Strengthening power, and (6) Transforming power. He emphasized that the first letter of each of these powers spells CHRIST. The gift of hope is our personal assurances of Christ’s promises in our lives.

            The opposite of faith is fear, and the opposite of hope is doubt. In order to exercise faith and develop hope, we must put our trust in the Savior, even Jesus Christ. Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke at Brigham Young University in 1995 and said the following.

A more excellent hope is mightier than a wistful wish. Hope, fortified by faith and charity, forges a force as strong as steel. Hope becomes an anchor to the soul. To this anchor, the faithful can cling, securely tethered to the Lord. Satan, on the other hand, would have us cast away that anchor and drift with the ebb tide of despair. If we will cling to the anchor of hope, it will be our safeguard forever. As declared in scripture: “Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast.” [Ether 12:4]
The Lord of hope invites all people to come unto him. Steps toward him begin with faith, repentance, and baptism. Mormon explained that “the remission of sins bringeth meekness, and lowliness of heart; and … the visitation of the Holy Ghost, which Comforter filleth with hope and perfect love, … until the end shall come, when all the saints shall dwell with God.” [Moroni 8:26] That destiny can only be realized when we “have faith unto repentance.” [Alma 34:15]
Insufficient hope often means insufficient repentance….

            In order to avoid doubt and despair, we must place our hope in Jesus Christ. As we do so, we will be filled with joy and peace. As we gain security in our hope, we then have charity or the ability to love others as God loves them.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Strengthening Marriage

            Strong marriages are essential for strong families, and strong families are the building blocks for strong communities and nations. There are many actions that we can take to strengthen our marriages. There are also a few actions that we should avoid in order to keep our spouses happy.

            Katelyn Carmen posted an interesting article titled “5 Ways You Are Unknowingly Destroying Your Husband and Killing Your Marriage.” She writes about a wife’s responsibility to “love and care for” her husband. Once the wedding vows have been spoken, each spouse is responsible to assist the other in their “well-being and happiness.” Yet, too often spouses let the small things ruin a wonderful relationship.

            Carmen lists “a few ways” that a wife might “unknowingly” destroy her husband and kill her marriage, but she adds that her article applies to men as well. These are the five ways that wives may be hurting their husbands and marriages: (1) Living outside of what you can afford,
(2) Constant negativity, (3) Putting everything else first, (4) Withholding physical affection, and (5) Not speaking his language.

            This list makes sense because all the items are important and work together with the others. Living outside our financial means brings stress into a marriage. Wives who are unsatisfied with the life provided by her husband makes him feel like a loser. Negativity is bad in any relationship, but it is especially damaging in a marriage where a husband and wife are supposed to become “one.” Negative comments and actions drive a wedge between the spouses and sometimes drive the spouses completely away. When we meet the needs of others or keep ourselves too busy, we do not have any time left for our spouse. The greatest way of showing love is to be available to the spouse whenever needed. This applies particularly in the physical affection and language departments. Frequent intimacy in a marriage strengthens the marriage and makes communication flow easier and better.

            Realizing that marriages consist of both a husband and a wife, Matt Walsh posted an article titled “4 Things That Are Hurting Your Wife and Killing Your Marriage.” He admits that he is “playing off a theme started by another blogger last week,” but he thinks it important to apply his article to men. He writes that this may be “the most important” of all the things he has recently written. He does not claim to be an expert in giving marriage advice but admits to being “very much in the thick of it, and very much struggling to be a good man and a decent husband in his own right.” He believes that “it’s more important to talk about these things than it is to talk about politics or world affairs.”

            Here are the most prevalent and most relevant ways, in Walsh’s view, that husbands are damaging their wives and destroying their marriages: (1) Pornography hurts both wives and marriages because it is the equivalent of adultery. The wife feels “betrayed, used, and violated.”
(2) Laziness: husbands should do their share around the home and not leave all the work and responsibilities to the wife. (3) Passiveness may accompany laziness, but not always. “Men are called to be leaders in the home.” A husband should not be “apathetic to the spiritual and emotional welfare of his family.” (4) Immaturity destroys marriages because marriage takes two mature adults to make it work. While a certain amount of recreation and play are necessary in our lives, there are other necessities to be considered also.

            The Lord said that we should “cleave” unto our spouses and love them with all our hearts. When we truly love another person, we do not treat them negatively or as if they do not matter. We make them feel special and wanted. We take care of their needs and make sure that they know they are important to us. Wise husbands and wives will pay attention to the suggestions made by Carmen and Walsh and used them to strengthen their marriages. Strong marriages make strong families, communities, and nations.


Thursday, May 18, 2017

Freedom from Arrogance of Illegal Immigrants

            The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday concerns the arrogance of some of the people who enter our nation illegally and then demand that we meet their ultimatums. They protest in our streets, refuse to assimilate by learning our language and customs, and take offense at our flag and national anthem.

            Recently Fox News host Tucker Carlson debated journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, an illegal immigrant from the Philippines, on the issues of immigration reform and the violent May Day protests. Carlson was curious about why liberals in America embrace violence so readily. 

            Vargas refused to answer the direct question and went on the attack: “I don’t know if we’ve talked to all of those people protesting and asked them if all of them are `from the left.’” He continued, “How do you know that? Did you talk to all of those people?”

            The arrogance of Vargas continued to be obvious when he turned the debate to immigration. “What I can tell you is that for many of us this issue is, not just political, it’s personal… We’re talking about millions of people who are related to undocumented immigrants that you call criminal every day. I, as a person, am not illegal.”

            Vargas, like so many people that enter our nation illegally does not appreciate the terms “illegal” and “alien.” Vargas is extremely open about the fact that he is illegal and even flaunts his illegal status. Why is he still here? Why hasn’t he been picked up by immigration authorities and deported?
            Another case in the news is about Silvia Avelar-Flores. An ICE spokesman told Deseret News that Avelar-Flores came to the United States when she was seven years old. She came legally “as a visitor for pleasure” with her parents in April 1993 and was supposed to leave within six months. She did not leave.

            In December 1995 Avelar-Flores, then ten years old, was ordered to leave the United States before the end of March 1996 or be removed. She did not leave. She is married to Juarez, a legal resident of the U.S., and has at least three children born in the U.S. Her parents were deported several years ago.

            Avelar-Flores was arrested recently and detained “pending her removal to Mexico.” Her “final orders of removal” are at least 20 years old. Why was she allowed to stay here so long? Why wasn’t she picked up and deported in April 1996 before she married and had children?

            I feel a lot of compassion for families that are separated or are threatened with separation or live under the fear of being separated. I cannot even imagine how terrible it must be. However, my compassion for the families of illegal immigrants does not satisfy the justice required for breaking the law of the land.

            The United States is a nation of laws, and every person within the boundaries of the United States is subject to those laws. It goes without saying that any person who is in the United States illegally does not belong here and should be deported as quickly as possible. If they are a one-time offender, I believe they should be given an opportunity to return legally and eventually become an American citizen; all others should be denied American citizenship forever.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Fake News, Fake Laws

            The media has been dishing up fake news for numerous months, probably years. Now the courts are dishing up fake laws. The fake news and fake laws both come from abuse of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

            Marc O. DeGirolami posted an article titled “Fake Law.” He claims that the fake laws come from a hatred for Donald Trump. He starts his article with the following paragraphs.

Something ugly is happening to the First Amendment. It is being contorted to enable judges to protest Donald Trump’s presidency. The perennial impulse of judges to manipulate the law to achieve morally and politically desirable ends has only been exacerbated by the felt necessity to “resist” Trump. The result: Legal tests concerning the freedoms of speech and religion that in some cases were already highly dubious are being further deformed and twisted.

Welcome to the rise of fake law. Just as fake news spreads ideologically motivated misinformation with a newsy veneer, fake law brings us judicial posturing, virtue signaling, and opinionating masquerading as jurisprudence. And just as fake news augurs the end of authoritative reporting, fake law portends the diminution of law’s legitimacy and the warping of judges’ self-understanding of their constitutional role.

Those who try to police the relentlessly transformational projects of constitutional progressives had much to dread from the Obama administration, an inveterate ally of the legal left that did what it could to graft the aspirations of progressives onto the Constitution. But Trump’s presidency may be even worse, because too many judges now feel called to “resist” Trump and all his works – no matter the cost to the law’s authority and to the integrity of the judicial role.

            It appears that the media and the courts have lost their integrity with their fake news and fake laws. Obviously, there are many people and organizations who do not understand the Constitution. If they understand it correctly, they may not trust it, or like it.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Talking to Yourself

            Do you talk to yourself? I talk to myself all the time. There was a time that I became embarrassed when someone walked into the room and asked, “Are you talking to yourself?” or “Who are you talking to?” I now feel comfortable replying that I am talking to myself or anyone else who wishes to listen to me.

            The turning point for me was a lesson given in Relief Society about talking to ourselves. A good friend named Terry gave the lesson and encouraged us to talk to ourselves with constructive comments. She emphasized that it is important for us to talk to ourselves positively for affirmation. We can tell ourselves “good job” when no one else is around or even cares. Studies show that reading out loud to oneself helps in learning.

            I recently read an article where psychologists at a university gave written instructions to 28 people and asked them to read the instructions either silently or out loud. Their concentration and performance were then measured. “They found when people read instructions out loud, their brains absorb more of the material than if they only use their inner dialogue.” 

            Talking to ourselves out loud may even be a sign of greater intelligence according to Dr. Paloma Mari-Beffa, a senior lecturer in neuropsychology and cognitive psychology.

Our results demonstrated that, even if we talk to ourselves to gain control during challenging tasks, performance substantially improves when we do it out loud.

Talking out loud, when the mind is not wandering, could actually be a sign of high cognitive functioning.

The stereotype of the mad scientist talking to themselves, lost in their own inner world, might reflect the reality of a genius who uses all the means at their disposal to increase their brain power.

            So, there you have it. Talking out loud and making positive comments to self can increase self-confidence and bolster self-esteem. It may also be a sign of intelligence, even genius, when a person does it.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Dakota L. Meyer

            Dakota L. Meyer is a United States Marine Corps veteran. He is the recipient of the Medal of Honor, which is the highest honor given by the military. He received the medal for actions during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. Meyer humbly believes that he did what any other Marine would have done, but the military believes his actions were extraordinary.

            Meyer is in the news again when he responded to a claim that ISIS “appreciates” the work of the National Rifle Association. Eric Levitz published an article titled “ISIS Appreciated the NRA’s Work,” on the New York Magazine’s website. He claims that ISIS likes the stance of the NRA concerning its stance on background checks at gun shows. He also suggested that “gun shows are a significant security threat because terrorists can use them to buy weapons to use against innocent American citizens.

            Dakota Meyer discussed the New York Magazine article on the Fox News Channel.
“Well, first off, I mean, how much lower can a journalist fall to be taking, using ISIS as their credible source, right? … I think it’s ridiculous. Once again, the media is going out and they’re using their First Amendment to try to go after the Second Amendment, by not looking at the facts.

Here’s the facts of the whole thing of it. … Right, you look at San Bernardino. Right? In California out there, they have … restricted AR-15s. You got [to] have a background check on every single weapon. You have to register all your weapons out there. You have a waiting period – all these things they want to implement even more. And what’s the shooting caused by? An AR-15 with high-capacity magazines. It doesn’t seem like it worked in that situation.

[The Second Amendment is] the thing that stands in the way [of terrorism].

The article should read … the thing that stands in the way of ISIS being able to come over … and do terroristic acts is the NRA standing there protecting our rights to be able to bear arms and stand up for ourselves.

            Dakota Meyer is a hero in my mind for what he did in Afghanistan as well as for standing up to the liberals who are attempting to destroy the Second Amendment. We need more people like him who are willing and able to stand for liberty.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Civics Education

            The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday concerns the lack of civics education in the United States. Once upon a time long ago, every high school student was required to take a class in civics in order to graduate. Obviously, school boards, educators, and parents understood the need for students to know the rights, duties, and responsibilities of being a citizen of the United States as well as how the government works. For whatever reason, the civics requirement was dropped from the curriculum some years ago.

            While every state still requires some civics studies, some states now require high school graduates to pass a civics test before receiving a diploma. The first states to make this a requirement were Arizona and North Dakota. That was in January 2015, and by June 2016, eleven other states had joined them. These states are mostly conservative and are Alaska, Idaho, Utah, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Missouri, Louisiana, Tennessee, New Hampshire, Virginia, and South Carolina. Supposedly, two more states have joined them, but I could not discover which ones.

            The latest state to consider the requirement is Texas. The Texas House of Representatives is considering a bill to make it mandatory for students to pass the same civics test that immigrants are required to take before they are granted citizenship.

            We need educated citizens in order to retain our freedoms. The fact that so many people living in the United States want sharia law, socialism, or even communism shows that we need to teach the rising general what it means to be a citizen of the United States. I support the civics requirement to pass a civics test!

Saturday, May 13, 2017


            Mother’s Day is here once again. It is a day that brings many mixed feelings to women. Some women wish they had loving feelings toward their own mother but do not. Some women with deceased mothers wish for another opportunity to spend time with their mothers. Some women are mothers, other women long to be mothers, and still others do not want to be mothers. Most girls and young women dream of the day when they will have children, and most mothers are grateful for the opportunity to have children. 
            Many mothers do not like the public observance of Mother’s Day because the loving words that are spoken about mothers make them feel guilty for not being better mothers. I certainly feel that I failed my own children in many ways, and I expect that the most perfect of mothers feels that she should have been a better one! I am comforted and strengthened in my role as a mother with the following words from Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

… There is no role in life more essential and more eternal than that of motherhood.
There is no one perfect way to be a good mother. Each situation is unique. Each mother has different challenges, different skills and abilities, and certainly different children. The choice is different and unique for each mother and each family. Many are able to be “full-time moms,” at least during the most formative years of their children’s lives, and many others would like to be. Some may have to work part-or full-time; some may work at home; some may divide their lives into periods of home and family and work. What matters is that a mother loves her children deeply and, in keeping with the devotion she has for God and her husband, prioritizes them above all else.

            All women are mothers at heart. Those who do not actually bear or adopt children are still mothers in their own way. They may mother step-children, nieces and nephews, siblings, aged parents, students in their classrooms, or even adults in their organizations. There are all kinds of people who need mothering. My oldest daughter does not have children of her own, but she “mothers” people throughout a large area of Alaska as she works to meet their health needs.   I marvel at the young mothers of my acquaintance, including my own daughters by birth and marriage. I am amazed at their abilities to meet the needs of their children and to bring excitement, learning, and culture into their lives. I am particularly mindful at this time of those mothers who have lost children, and my heart aches for them.

            No matter the age of the mother, she is a strange creature in that she cares more for her children than she cares for herself. I remember the many sacrifices that my own mother made in order than her children could have what they wanted or needed. One of my older sisters wanted to take her new doll to school for show-and-tell, but she had no clothes for the doll. My mother stayed up all night crocheting a set of doll clothing in order for my sister to take her doll to school the next day.

            Even though all of my children are grown and married, I had an opportunity to take on the role of mother to one of my daughters recently. She and her husband were asked to be the “parents” for a “family” on a pioneer trek, and she needed some pioneer clothing. She contacted me and asked if I would have time to make two skirts and an apron for her. Even though I had more tasks than I could possibly do in the limited time, I told her yes. My husband questioned why I would take on more work when I was already so busy, and my answer was, “This is what mothers do.” Most mothers willingly sacrifice for the benefit of their children, but some of those sacrifices are more serious than others. I often think of the following lines that are attributed to Victor Hugo.  

She broke the bread into two fragments and gave them to her children, who ate with eagerness. “She hath kept none for herself,” grumbled the sergeant.
“Because she is not hungry,” said a soldier.
“No,” said the sergeant, “because she is a mother.”

            I have seen these traits in my daughters as they make sure that their children have clean clothes on their bodies and food in their tummies but have not yet taken time to shower or eat. I have often watched as a daughter finally gets a chance to sit down to a meal, and a child suddenly appears with their mouth wide open, much like baby birds in a nest. Even though the child has just finished their own food, they want some of mom’s food, and she gives it to them because she is a mother.

            On this Mother’s Day I am grateful for my own loving, self-sacrificing mother, and I am grateful for my husband’s mother who lovingly accepted me as a daughter. I am grateful for my sisters by birth and marriage for mothering me both before and after the death of my mother.

I am grateful for the opportunity that I have to be a mother and grandmother, and I am grateful for my opportunity to watch my daughters in their motherhood. I wish a “Happy Mother’s Day” to all women, both those who have children and those who are mothering the children of other women. May God bless all of us in our motherhood.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Influence of Mothers

            Families, communities, and nations are strengthened by mothers who know God, who know their relationship to God, and who have made covenants with Him. These mothers have an eternal influence for good in the lives of their children for the responsibilities and blessings of parenthood are eternal.

            One of my favorite stories about mothers is found in the Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ. There was an enormous group of Lamanites who were converted to the Lord by the missionary efforts of the sons of King Mosiah. After their conversion they buried their weapons of war deep in the earth as a witness to God that they would never kill another person; the Nephite armies protected them in order to help them keep their covenant with God.

            This arrangement worked for a number of years until the Nephites were struggling to keep the Lamanites out of their land. The fathers who had made the covenant to never take up arms were about to break their covenant to help the Nephites. The prophet Helaman convinced the fathers to keep their covenant; however, there were 2000 sons of these fathers who had not made the covenant. They volunteered to join the Nephite army and fight if Helaman would lead them. They came into their first battle, and this is the report that Helaman submitted.

Therefore what say ye, my sons, will ye go against them to battle?
And now I say unto you, my beloved brother Moroni, that never had I seen so great courage, nay, not amongst all the Nephites.

For as I had ever called them my sons for they were all of them very young) even so they said unto me: Father, behold our God is with us, and he will not suffer that we should fall; then let us go forth; we would not slay our brethren if they would let us along; therefore let us go, lest they should overpower the army of Antipus.

Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them.

And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: We do not doubt our mothers knew it (Alma 56:44-48). 

            So, what can mothers today learn from the mothers of the 2000 stripling warriors? What did those mothers know that mothers today can adopt? Sister Julie B. Beck, then Relief Society General President, addressed this question in a talk titled “Mothers Who Know” in the October 2007 General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In the Book of Mormon we read about 2,000 exemplary young men who were exceedingly valiant, courageous, and strong. “Yea, they were men of truth and soberness, for they had been taught to keep the commandments of God and to walk uprightly before him” (Alma 53:21). These faithful young men paid tribute to their mothers. They said, “Our mothers knew it” (Alma 56:48). I would suspect that the mothers of Captain Moroni, Mosiah, Mormon, and other great leaders also knew.

The responsibility mothers have today has never required more vigilance. More than at any time in the history of the world, we need mothers who know. Children are being born into a world where they “wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12). However, mothers need not fear. When mothers know who they are and who God is and have made covenants with Him, they will have great power and influence for good on their children.

            The body of Sister Beck’s message shared the following characteristics of “mothers who know”: 

Mothers who know desire to bear children…. Faithful daughters of God desire children….

Mothers who know honor sacred ordinances and covenants….

Mothers who know are nurturers. This is their special assignment and role under the plan of happiness. To nurture means to cultivate, care for, and make grow. Therefore, mothers who know create a climate for spiritual and temporal growth in their homes. Another word for nurturing is homemaking….

Mothers who know are leaders. In equal partnership with their husbands, they lead a great and eternal organization. These mothers plan for the future of their organization. They plan for missions, temple marriages, and education. They plan for prayer, scripture study, and family home evening. Mothers who know build children into future leaders and are the primary examples of what leaders look like….

Mothers who know are always teachers. Since they are not babysitters, they are never off duty. A well-taught friend told me that he did not learn anything at church that he had not already learned at home. His parents used family scripture study, prayer, family home evening, mealtimes, and other gatherings to teach….

Mothers who know do less. They permit less of what will not bear good fruit eternally. They allow less media in their homes, less distraction, less activity that draws their children away from their home. Mothers who know are willing to live on less and consume less of the world’s goods in order to spend more time with their children – more time eating together, more time working together, more time reading together, more time talking, laughing, singing, and exemplifying. These mothers choose carefully and do not try to choose it all. Their goal is to prepare a rising generation of children who will take the gospel of Jesus Christ into the entire world. Their goal is to prepare future fathers and mothers who will be builders of the Lord’s kingdom for the next 50 years. That is influence; that is power.

Mothers who know stand strong and immovable. Who will prepare this righteous generation of sons and daughters? Latter-day Saint women will do this – women who know and love the Lord and bear testimony of Him, women who are strong and immovable and who do not give up during difficult and discouraging times….

            The children of the world need mothers who know the principles of motherhood known by the mothers of the 2000 stripling warriors. They need mothers who follow the counsel given by Sister Beck, then president of one of the largest and oldest organizations in the world for women. Children need mothers and fathers who understand the important responsibilities and joys of parenthood.

            An extremely well-prepared family home evening on this subject can be found at this site.  I encourage you to study the story of the 2000 stripling warriors in the Book of Mormon and how their faith in the teachings of their mothers brought every single one of them safely through numerous wars. I encourage you to follow the counsel of Sister Beck. We can strengthen our homes, communities, and nations by becoming mothers who know.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Freedom from Collusion

            The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday concerns the collusion that is rampant in our world today. Collusion means secret or illegal cooperation to deceive or cheat other people. Its synonyms are conspiracy, connivance, complicity, intrigue, plotting, collaboration, and scheming. My term for groups that practice collusion is “secret combinations.”

            Boyd C. Matheson is the president of Sutherland Institute, “a conservative think tank that advocates for a free market economy, civil society and community-driven solutions. He recently posted an article titled “Collusion, not conflict, is bankrupting the nation.” He reminds his readers that Americans complain loudly about the “conflict” in Congress between Democrats and Republicans, conservatives and liberals. He says that all the conflict makes good news stories, but it is not “the real problem in Washington.

Collusion is the silent but lethal force that has crippled the economy and strapped the nation with debilitating debt, and it ensures that power stays within the Beltway elite instead of with the American people.

You simply cannot get $20 trillion in debt through conflict. It is absolutely impossible. The only way to get $20 trillion in debt is through collusion.

            Collusion takes place when one Senator agrees to sponsor or support the bill of another Senator but requires a favor in return. One form of collusion was earmarks. The earmarks are no longer a part of the legislative procedures, but there are other forms of collusion. If you do not believe that collusion takes place, please answer this question: How do the politicians become so rich while in office? Almost every politician leaves government careers much richer than when they started “serving” in office.

            Matheson claims that state and local governments, as well as the American people, join the collusion by accepting “more and more money from the federal government, with all the strings that go with it.” American citizens do not seem to care about the price as long as they receive the services. Matheson says,

Amazingly few Americans acknowledge or even recognize the economic cost of such collusive spending today or the total societal price of that debt their grandchildren will pay tomorrow.

Over the past 40 years our national debt has skyrocketed from $1 trillion in the mid-1970s to $20 trillion and counting today. If the interest rate, which has been near historic lows, were to tick up just slightly toward historic norms, the annual interest payment on America’s debt would rapidly reach nearly $1 trillion. That is just the interest. No tax increase or spending cut would even come close to closing that gap. Such collusion-induced debt and rising interest payment would decimate the poor and the middle class in America.

            I do not understand the willingness of politicians to bring so much debt to our nation, and I do not understand why Americans continue to elect the politicians who vote for more debt. Matheson quoted the following statement from J. Reuben Clark, Jr. who was a member of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Interest never sleeps nor sickens nor dies; it never goes to the hospital; it works on Sundays and holidays; it never takes a vacation; … it has no love, no sympathy; it is as hard and soulless as a granite cliff. Once in debt, interest is your companion every minute of the day and night; you cannot shun it or slip away from it; you cannot dismiss it; it yields neither to entreaties, demands, or orders; and whenever you get in its way or cross its course or fail to meet its demands, it crushes you.

            Americans must understand that the conflict in Congress is not as bad as the collusion taking place there. The collusion is bringing ever increasing debt, not only to Americans living today but to our grandchildren and great-grandchildren. We must destroy the power of the secret combinations among us before they destroy us.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Replacing Obamacare

            The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Obamacare replacement bill known as American Health Care Act last week. On a vote of 217-213 the bill passed to the U.S. Senate where it faces major changes. The original bill did not come up for a vote because conservatives and centrist Republicans were against some provisions in it. The bill that passed the House included amendments that satisfied both groups.

            The House bill does not completely repeal Obamacare, but it does repeal the individual and employer mandates. It replaces the tax credits of Obamacare with “age-based, refundable tax credits.”

            The House bill faces some major opposition in the Senate. Republicans hold 52 seats in the Senate with 51 votes needed to pass the bill. The 51 votes are questionable on the House bill with several Senators voicing problems with it. There are the usual Senators – such as Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) – who are joined by several other Senators.

            Some conservative members in the House hope for Senate improvement of the bill and repeal of more of Obamacare. Representative Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) told The Daily Signal, “Let’s be honest, when we sent an Obamacare repeal legislation to the Senate, it got better because we had folks like Mike Lee and Sen. [Ted] Cruz and Sen. [Marco] Rubio and Sen. [Rand] Paul and all these conservative senators who pushed the so-called reconciliation rules, who pushed the envelope and made it a slightly better piece of legislation … So we’re hoping that’ll happen again.”

            The U.S. Senate is working on its own version of a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. This bill will most likely have numerous differences from the House bill. Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) seem to be determined to deliver on the promise to make healthcare more affordable. Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) says that the new House bill is an improvement but still needs work in order for him to vote for it. I feel more comfortable with Tea Party-supported Senator actively working on producing a healthcare reform bill that actually helps Americans.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Trump's Wall

            Donald Trump campaigned on building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, and he appears determined to build it. However, Congress is not cooperating very well. It seems that all Americans would want to protect the sovereignty of the United States, but Democrats and some Republicans are fighting against the wall. In order to fund the government and keep it from shutting down, Trump willingly withdrew his demand that funding for a wall be included in the 2017 spending plan, but I expect that he has another plan to fund the wall.

            Meanwhile, Hungary has shown the importance of building barriers along the border. In September 2015 thousands of migrants per day, sometimes up to ten thousands a day, were crossing Hungary to reach Austria, Germany, and Scandinavia. Laszlo Toroczkai, the mayor of Asotthalom, called it an “invasion” and “not a normal thing to break into a country.” He decided to do something about it, and he was supported by the government.

            Hungary built a fence to stop illegal immigration across their country. Their neighbors are not happy about it, but the fence protects Hungarians from illegal immigrants, which is the government’s responsibility to do. The first fence worked so well that Hungary built a second one, as reported by Jacob Bojesson, Foreign Correspondent at The Daily Signal. 

Hungary’s second border fence has just been completed in the southern town of Asotthalom. The 96-mile long, 14 ft. tall double-line of defense doesn’t look too intimidating from a distance. Go a little closer and you’ll notice several layers of razor-wire capable of delivering electric shocks, cameras, heat sensors and loud speakers ready to tell migrants they’re about to break Hungarian law if they as much as touch the fence.

            Hungary did not stop at building the fence. They added several hundred military officers and others to guard the border 24 hours per day. They set up temporary bases to house the military officers. Most police officers in the nation rotate through a program to protect the border at all times. Volunteers are being trained to deploy as “border hunters” and will be paid while on deployment. The guards are charged with keeping everyone without permission away from the fence for security reasons.

            Migrants who happen to get across the border are caught and deported without any opportunity to claim asylum. Bojesson claims that the “results were staggering. The influx went down from 6,353 one day to 870 the next. Illegal border crossings were steadily below 40 per day throughout the rest of the month.” 
            The United States has some experience with the effect of barriers along the border. The San Diego Border Patrol sector was once one of the busiest sectors along the border with Mexico. In 1986 this area accounted for nearly one-third of all the apprehensions along the border. A fence was built in the sector in the early 1990s, which has decreased the apprehensions there. The Daily Signal sent a reporter to the area to find out why the fence had such a dramatic effect. 

            Considering that approximately 4,000 illegal aliens cross the southern U.S. border each day, I would think that the United States would look to Hungary for an example. The leaders in Hungary decided that even one illegal immigrant was too many, and they cooperated to close the border. Wouldn’t it be nice if all the members of Congress would open their eyes enough to recognize the need for a barrier along the border and then work together to build one?