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.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Two Elizabeth Haywards

                    Thomas Hayward, signer of the Declaration of Independence, married twice.  He married Elizabeth Mathews about 1767 or 1768 - soon after he returned from studying law in Europe.  His father was Colonel Daniel Hayward, a wealthy planter who sent his son to Europe to study and travel to gain an education.  Thomas came home a very patriotic American who later served in the Continental Congress and as well as being a member of the military.  After being shot in the leg, he was captured by the British and taken to St. Augustine, Florida, where he remained in prison for nearly a year.
                    While Thomas was in prison, a military detachment went to his plantation to plunder it.  His family fled for their lives, and his home was looted.  The military took almost 200 slaves from his plantation and took them to Jamaica where they were sold.  Although some slaves were returned, he never regain about 180 of them.  The loss of the slaves alone cause the Hayward family approximately $50,000.  Elizabeth became ill from the shock of this experience and never recovered her health.  She died in 1781, about the time that Thomas was released from prison.  She was the mother of five children, but she lost all of them in infancy except one son named Daniel.  (Daniel married Anne Sarah Trezevant; they had a daughter named Elizabeth who married Captain James Hamilton.)
                    Thomas later married Elizabeth Savage and had three more children:  Thomas (married Ann Elisa Cutbert), James Hamilton (married Decima Shubrick), and Elizabeth Savage (married Henry Middleton Parker).  When Thomas passed away in 1809 at age 63, he was survived by his widow and four living children.
                    Facts are from Wives of the Signers:  The women behind the Declaration of Independence, pp. 266-268.   

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Grateful Heart

                    The topic of gratitude has weighed heavily upon my mind in recent days and weeks, and it was for a very good reason.
In late October I presented a lesson in Sunday School about developing Christlike attributes and had my students write many of the attributes of Christ on the boards.  I challenged my students to choose one of them to work on until we met again, but I failed to choose one for myself. 
The subject of Christlike attributes came up the very next Sunday when our Stake President challenged us to develop Christlike behaviors and aptitudes.  I decided to stop procrastinating and to choose an attribute to develop more fully.  I went down the list from my class, wondering which one I most needed to practice, but I could not make a decision.  I said a little prayer asking the Lord to help me and then started down the list once more.  I felt the Holy Ghost inspiring me to work on the aptitude of being grateful, which was near the end of the list.  It was very humbling to be told by the Spirit that I needed to be more grateful.  It was especially so because I set a goal this year of having more gratitude - and thought I was being grateful!  I have even written several blog posts about being grateful.

In November 2009 I quoted the Apostle Paul who wrote, "In everything give thanks:  for this is the will of God" (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

This message was repeated by the Prophet Joseph Smith when he wrote, "In nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things" (Doctrine and Covenants 59:21). 

The late Gordon B. Hinckley, while President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, wrote, "The habit of saying thank you is the mark of an educated man or woman.  Express appreciation to everyone who does you a favor or assists you in any way.  Thank the Lord for His goodness to you.  Thank the Almighty for His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, who has done for you what none other in all this world could do.  Thank Him for His great example, for His tremendous teachings, for His outreaching hand to lift and help.  Thank Him for His marvelous atonement.  Confess His hand in all things" (Stand A Little Taller, p. 338).

I knew in 2009 that an attitude of gratitude could make a big difference in my life.  I knew then that focusing on the abundance of my blessings could add much beauty to my life.  I thought I was being grateful in 2009!

I wrote another blog post in 2010 about gratitude.  At that time I retold the story of the ten lepers from the New Testament.  Jesus Christ was traveling to Jerusalem and "passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee."  He was met by "ten men that were lepers."  People with leprosy in that day had to stay far away from other people as well as to call out warnings to them to stay away.
"And they lifted up their voice and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.
"And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew [show] yourselves unto the priests [who had the authority to declare them cleansed].  And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.
"And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God,
"And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks:  and he was a Samaritan.
"And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed?  But where are the nine?
"There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.
"And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way:  thy faith hath made thee whole."  (See Luke 17:11-19.)

Leprosy caused a cruel and lingering death.  All ten lepers were given a new kind of life, but only one of them was grateful.  He received the blessing of being made whole while the nine were simply healed of the leprosy.  "Sincerely giving thanks not only helps us recognize our blessings, but it also unlocks the doors of heaven and helps us feel God's love."  (See Thomas S. Monson, "The Divine Gift of Gratitude," Ensign, Nov. 2010, p 87.)

In January 2011 I wrote again about gratitude and quoted Thomas S. Monson, President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:  "Our realization of what is most important in life goes hand in hand with gratitude for our blessings" (Ensign, Nov. 2009, p 87).

about the importance of counting our blessings and shared some information that scientists are discovering about the effects of gratitude.  "Positive psychology" studies "health-promoting behavior" instead of "focusing on illness and other problems."  Scientists are discovering something that prophets, other spiritual leaders, and even singers have known for many years:  counting our blessings makes us happier.  

                    This week the speakers in sacrament meeting spoke on the topic of gratitude and the lesson in Relief Society was about gratitude.  I listened very carefully to every talk and lesson because I am very tuned in to the topic after studying it for the past month.  I gained more understanding about what true gratitude is and how to develop it. 

President Joseph F. Smith, the sixth President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, told us how to cultivate an attitude of gratitude within our hearts.  "The grateful man sees so much in the world to be thankful for, and with him the good outweighs the evil.  Love overpowers jealousy, and light drives darkness out of his life."  He continued:  "Pride destroys our gratitude and sets up selfishness in its place.  How much happier we are in the presence of a grateful and loving soul, and how careful we should be to cultivate, through the medium of a prayerful life, a thankful attitude toward God and man!"  (See Gospel Doctrine, p 263.)

According to President Smith and in very simple words, the key to possessing gratitude is to live a prayerful life.  This statement by President Thomas S. Monson agrees:  "A grateful heart … comes through expressing gratitude to our Heavenly Father for His blessings and to those around us for all that they bring into our lives.  This requires conscious effort - at least until we have truly learned and cultivated an attitude of gratitude.  Often we feel grateful and intend to express our thanks but forget to do so or just don't get around to it.  Someone has said that `feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.'
"When we encounter challenges and problems in our lives, it is often difficult for us to focus on our blessings.  However, if we reach deep enough and look hard enough, we will be able to feel and recognize just how much we have been given….
"My brothers and sisters, to express gratitude is gracious and honorable, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live with gratitude ever in our hearts is to touch heaven."  (See Thomas S. Monson, "The Divine Gift of Gratitude," Ensign, Nov. 2010, pp 88-89.)

I have learned that attitude truly does determine gratitude.  It determines how I look at life.  Is the cup half full or half empty?  Do I focus on what I have or what I don't have?  Do I see the things that my husband does well or do I see the things that he doesn't do well?  Am I happy when my children call home weekly or do I get upset because they don't call every day?  I am amazed at how difficult it is for me to develop an attitude of gratitude, a heart-felt thankfulness for the blessings I receive by living a prayerful life, but I continue to work at it..      

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thomas Hayward

                    Thomas Hayward, signer of the Declaration of Independence, was born in 1746 in St. Luke's parish, South Carolina.  His father was Colonel Dame Hayward.  Colonel Hayward was "one of the wealthiest planters" in South Carolina who also possessed a high appreciation of the importance of education.  Colonel Hayward put Thomas "in the best classical school in that region."  Thomas was "a thoughtful and industrious student;" he mastered Latin so well that he was able to "read with fluency the works of the Roman historians and poets, in that language."

                    After Thomas completed his preparatory studies, he began studying law in the office of Mr. Parson.  Thomas did so well by the time he was 20 years old that his father sent him to England to finish his legal education.   "He entered one of the Inns of court at the Temple" and was an ardent student there.  He left that institution with "valuable treasures in the form of a well-stored mind" and as "a polished lawyer."

                    Thomas detected in England that the British people considered British subjects born in America to be inferior to those who were born in England.  Since this was the feeling in society as a whole, the government seemed to follow the same sentiment in appointments to office in America where few colonists served in high offices.  The British government was also partial in its protection of "rights and privileges."  Even though Thomas was quite young, he became "alienated … from his mother country."  He returned to America with a great desire for the Colonies to become independent from "the bondage of trans-atlantic rule."

                    While he was still abroad, Thomas visited other European nations.  He was not "dazzled by the pomp and trappings of royalty and its minions" but considered them to be "costly and bloodstained fruit of wrong and oppression."  Even as he stood in front of thrones, his patriotism for his country "took deep root" as he compared the "toiling, down-trodden millions of the producers" to the "happy laborers of his own dear land."

                    Upon his return to America, Thomas opened his law practice and married Elizabeth Matthews, "a most amiable and accomplished young lady."  Thomas had a "sedateness and energy of purpose" even as a young man entering into his chosen profession.  He was among the early South Carolinians to resist "the oppressive measures of the Home Government, and from the passage of the Stamp Act, until the battle of Lexington, he consistently and zealously promoted the patriot cause" of liberty.  He was open and frank in his feelings and thoughts about the cause and became a leader in the revolutionary actions of South Carolina.  He was appointed to the first General Assembly and to the first "Committee of Safety" in South Carolina.

                    Thomas was elected as a delegate to the General Congress in 1775, but he modestly declined the honor until his fellow citizens convinced him to go.  He was seated in early 1776 and "warmly supported" the motion of Richard Henry Lee for independence from British rule in June.  He was present and voted for - and later signed - the Declaration of Independence.  He continued serving in the General Congress until 1778 when he was appointed to be "Judge of the criminal and civil courts of South Carolina."  His first offence of signing the Declaration of Independence and his second offence of accepted the judgeship "made him very obnoxious to the enemy."  Using Americans loyal to the throne, the British tried very hard to capture Thomas.

                    Because of Thomas's position as judge, he was in "great danger."  It was his "pure patriotism" that kept him in the position because his profession in law could have insured a retirement of ease in private life.  "At the time he was appointed Judge, the enemy were in force at Charleston and vicinity.  But this had no effect upon him, for he tried, and caused to be executed, virtually within sight of the British lines, several persons who were found guilty of treason."

                    At the same time that Thomas served as Judge, he also held a military commission.  He was with Edward Rutledge when the colonists fought the British at Beaufort in 1780.  He was shot during that skirmish and was scarred for life from the wound.  Thomas was taken prisoner when Sir Henry Clinton and Admiral Arbuthnot captured CharlestonHayward, Rutledge and other prisoners were sent to St. Augustine, Florida, where Hayward stayed for nearly a year.

                    While Thomas was in Florida, a detachment of British soldiers went to his plantation and took all his slaves - about 200.  The slaves were sent to Jamaica and sold to sugar planters there.  Although he later recovered some of his property, he lost about 130 slaves valued at $50,000.00.  Along with the loss of his property, he suffered a greater loss when he lost his wife.  She became ill from the shock and never recovered.  She died in 1781 about the time he was released from prison.

                    Judge Hayward resumed his seat on the bench soon after his return to South Carolina and was an active judge until 1798.  He was a member of the South Carolina convention when it framed the state constitution in 1790.  He married a second time to Elizabeth Savage and greatly desired to retire and live in domestic happiness.  He retired from public service in 1799 and died in March 1809 at age 63.  He was survived by his widow and four children - Daniel (by his first wife), Thomas, James Hamilton, and Elizabeth Savage.

                    Facts and quotes are from Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, pp. 215-218.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Organizing the Militia

                    The topic of discussion for this Constitutional Monday comes from Article I.8.16:  "The Congress shall have Power … To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States…."  This clause in the Constitution lays upon Congress the authority and responsibility to equip, arm, train, and control the state militia if and when they are called to serve the United States.

                    Many of the Founders were concerned about the idea of having a standing army in times of peace.  They considered the militia - an army of the people - to be the best guardian of freedom.  They meant for the militia to protect the people from aggression from their fellow Americans, from an oppressive government, and from attacks by foreign nations.

                    "The militia of a state is actually the official army of the state.  It consists of all able-bodied male citizens who are between the ages of eighteen and forty-five and are not already members of the armed forces of the United States.  Under the National Defense Act of 1916, the Congress organized the militia of each state into special reserve units of the Army, Navy, and eventually the Coast Guard, Marine Corps, and Air Force.  These constitute the National Guard or the organized militia of the state.  All other men between the ages of eighteen and forty-five inclusive are members of the unorganized militia.  They are subject to call by both the governor of the state and the Congress of the United States if circumstances warrant it."  (See W. Cleon Skousen in The Making of America:  The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution, pp. 450-451.

                    From the time of the Founders to the present day, there have been many demands on the state militias, and federal control of the militias continued to encroach upon state control.  "The transition of the Nation Guard into a national reserve reached its completion during the Cold War.  Despite the existence of a large regular army, Guard units were included in most war plans.  But with federal funding, which covered about ninety-five percent of the costs, came federal control.  While governors continued to call up the Guard to quell domestic disturbances and to aid in disaster relief, they discovered that their control was trumped by federal demands….
                    "With the end of the Cold War, the National Guard's role as a national reserve was called into question.  As a result of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, some observers believed that the Guard could return to a domestic constabulary role.  One the other hand, extensive military commitments abroad have required the Guard to remain an active element in the United States armed forces."  (See Mackubin Owens  in The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, p. 142.)

                    "Under the National Defense Act of 1916, the militia, which hitherto had been an almost purely state institution, was brought under the control of the National Government.  The term `militia of the United States' was defined to comprehend `all able-bodied male citizens of the United States and all other able-bodied males who have … declared their intention to become citizens of the United States,' between the ages of eighteen and forty-five.  The act reorganized the National Guard, determined its size in proportion to the population of the several States, required that all enlistments be for `three years in service and three years in reserve,' limited the appointment of officers to those who `shall have successfully passed such tests as to … physical, moral and professional fitness as the President shall prescribe,' and authorized the President in certain emergencies to `draft into the military service of the United States to serve therein for the period of the war unless sooner discharged, any or all members of the National Guard and National Guard Reserve,' who thereupon should `stand discharged from the militia.'
                    "The Militia clauses do not constrain Congress in raising and supporting a national army.  The Court has approved the system of `dual enlistment,' under which persons enlisted in state militia (National Guard) units simultaneously enlist in the National Guard of the United States, and, when called to active duty in the federal service, are relieved of their status in the state militia.  Consequently, the restrictions in the first militia clause have no application to the federalized National Guard; there is no constitutional requirement that state governors hold a veto power over federal duty training conducted outside the United States or that a national emergency be declared before such training may take place."

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Signs of the Second Coming

                    The Second Coming of Jesus Christ to the earth has been foretold for hundreds and thousands of years.  No person besides Heavenly Father knows when the Savior will come back to the earth to rule and reign, but God has revealed through His prophets how we can know when the coming of the Savior is near.  The Savior likened His return to the earth to a pregnancy.  Women recognize the signs that foretell the birth of their babies, but they do not know - unless surgery is scheduled - the exact day, hour, or minute that their babies will be born.  The key in any of these situations is to watch for the signs.  I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that He will return to earth to rule and reign for one thousand years.  I believe that His Second Coming is near and may even occur during my lifetime.  I look forward to this event with great excitement and wonder.

The Savior told Joseph Smith, “I will reveal myself from heaven with power and great glory … and dwell in righteousness with men on earth a thousand years, and the wicked shall not stand” (Doctrine and Covenants 29:11). Jesus has also given numerous signs and events that will warn us when the time of His coming is near.

Followers of Jesus Christ look forward to His coming again and have done so for thousands of years.  We expect it to be a time of peace and joy and yet understand that we will experience great trials and calamities before He returns.  Heavenly Father has forewarned us about these difficult times because He wants us to be prepared to survive them.  He also expects us to prepare ourselves spiritually in order to be ready when the Savior comes in His glory.  This is the reason He has revealed these signs to His prophets throughout the ages.  He said that all of the Savior’s faithful followers will know what the signs are and will be watching for them (see Doctrine and Covenants 45:39).  Studying the scriptures will help us to know the signs and to be obedient and faithful.

Some of the signs of the Savior’s Second Coming have already been fulfilled or are in the process of being fulfilled.  The rest will be fulfilled in the future.  These signs are always revealed through the prophets, and many of them will be dreadful and terrifying.  We have been warned that the earth will experience great turmoil, wickedness, war, and suffering.  The prophet Daniel said that the time before Christ comes again will be a time of trouble such as the earth has never previously known (see Daniel 12:1).

The Lord said, “The love of men shall wax cold, and iniquity shall abound” (Doctrine and Covenants 45:27).  “And all things shall be in commotion; and … fear shall come upon all people” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:91).  We can expect earthquakes, disease, famines, great storms, lightning, and thunder (see Matthew 24:7; Doctrine and Covenants 88:90).  Hailstorms will destroy the crops of the earth (see Doctrine and Covenants 29:16).

When the disciples of Jesus Christ asked Him about His Second Coming, the Lord told them, “Ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars….  For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom” (Matthew 24:6-7).  The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “Be not discouraged when we tell you of perilous times, for they must shortly come, for the sword, famine, and pestilences are approaching.  There shall be great destructions upon the face of this land, for ye need not suppose that one jot or tittle of the prophecies of all the holy prophets shall fail, and there are many that remain to be fulfilled yet” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church:  Joseph Smith [2007], 252).

Many of these signs are currently in the process of being fulfilled.  Wickedness is everywhere – in every city, state and nation of the world.  At any given time, two or more nations are at war.  Earthquakes and other calamities are occurring regularly.  Millions of people are now suffering from terrible storms, drought, hunger, and diseases.  These calamities will certainly become more severe before the Lord comes.

Some of the events of the Second Coming bring joy to the world.  Some of the joyful events are:  the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, the gospel of Jesus Christ being preached in the entire world, the coming of Elijah, the Lamanites becoming righteous and respected, and the building of the New Jerusalem.

The Lord explained, “Light shall break forth among them that sit in darkness, and it shall be the fullness of my gospel” (Doctrine and Covenants 45:28).  Prophets of old foretold the Restoration of the gospel, and the Apostle John saw in vision that the gospel would be restored by an angel (see Revelation 14:6-7).  The angel Moroni and other heavenly beings brought the gospel of Jesus Christ to Joseph Smith and fulfilled this prophecy.

When Jesus Christ visited the Nephites, He gave them another sign of His coming:  the Book of Mormon would come to their descendants (see 3 Nephi 21).  The Old Testament prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel foresaw the coming forth of the Book of Mormon (see Isaiah 29:4-18; Ezekiel 37:16-20).  These prophecies are being fulfilled in our day.  The Book of Mormon was brought forth and is currently being taken to the entire world.

Jesus Christ told His disciples that the “gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the entire world for a witness unto all nations” (Matthew 24:14; see also Joseph Smith – Matthew 1:31).  He has also revealed that all people will hear the fullness of the gospel in their own language (see Doctrine and Covenants 90:11).  Ever since the Restoration of the Church, missionaries have been preaching the gospel, and tens of thousands of missionaries are now preaching the gospel in many countries of the world in many different languages.  Before Christ returns to earth and during the Millennium, the truth will be taken to all nations.

The prophet Elijah held the sealing power during his life on earth, and the prophet Malachi prophesied that Elijah would bring that power back to earth before the Savior comes:  “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord:
“And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse” (Malachi 4:5-6).

Elijah the prophet came to Joseph Smith in April 1836.  Soon after his visit, people began to take greater interest in genealogy and family history.  Sealing ordinances are performed in the temples for both the living and the dead.

The Lord said, “Before the great day of the lord shall come, … the Lamanites shall blossom as the rose” (Doctrine and Covenants 49:24)  He meant that the Lamanites would become a righteous and respected people when His coming was near.  There are great numbers of the descendants of Lehi who are receiving the blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

As the coming of Jesus Christ draws near, faithful Saints will build the New Jerusalem – a righteous city of God where Jesus Christ Himself will rule.  (See 3 Nephi 21:23-25; Moses 7:62-64; Articles of Faith 1:10.)  In the latter-days, the Lord revealed that the city would be built in the state of Missouri in the United States (see Doctrine and Covenants 84:2-3).

There are many signs given in the scriptures for the Second Coming, and these are just a few of them.  I encourage you to go to the scriptures and find other signs.

The exact time of the Second Coming has not been revealed.  The Lord said, “The hour and the day no man knoweth, neither the angels in heaven” (Doctrine and Covenants 49:7).  Christ taught this principle when He gave the parable of the fig tree.  He explained to His disciples that when we see leaves coming out on a fig tree, we can know that summer is near.  He then explained that we can know that His coming is near when we see the signs described in the scriptures.  (See Matthew 24:32-33.)

I believe that Heavenly Father loves all of His children and wants us to be prepared.  Because we know these signs, we can put our lives in order and prepare for those times yet to come.  We know that we must be prepared spiritually in order to survive the calamities of the great and dreadful day, but we can also look forward with joy to the coming of the Savior.  The Lord said, “Be not troubled, for, when all these things [the signs] shall come to pass, ye may know that the promises which have been made unto you shall be fulfilled” (Doctrine and Covenants 45:35).  He said that those who are righteous when He comes will not be destroyed “but shall abide the day.  And the earth shall be given unto them for an inheritance; … and their children shall grow up without sin….  For the Lord shall be in their midst, and his glory shall be upon them, and he will be their king and their lawgiver” (Doctrine and Covenants 45:57-59).

Friday, November 25, 2011

Teaching in the Home

                    Families grow stronger as fathers and mothers understand that they are the most important teachers in the lives of their children.   The willingness of parents to be actively involved in the education of their children determines the quality and quantity of the material that their children learn.  God planned for His eternal children to have families to love them and to teach them, and then He sent His spirit children to mortal mothers and fathers on earth for this very purpose.

                    The National Assessment of Educational Progress reported recently on the accomplishments of our school children.  The "report card" showed progress in some areas while it also showed room for improvement in other areas.  Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education, stated:  "The modest increases in NAEP scores are reason for concern as much as optimism.  It's clear that achievement is not accelerating fast enough for our nation's children to compete in the knowledge economy of the 21st century."  (Kimberly Hefling, Associated Press)

                    According to the report, fourth grade students and eighth grade students received their "best scores ever in math" and eighth graders were making "some progress in reading."  With such statistics there is much room for improvement.  "Just a little more than one-third of the students were proficient or higher in reading.  In math, 40 percent of the fourth-graders and 35 percent of the eighth-graders" were proficient.  Other statistics and comments showed that students had more difficulty becoming proficient in reading than in math.  (Hefling)

                    When parents recognize the importance of learning in the lives of their children, they put more emphasis on helping their children to develop the skills of education.  When approximately 35 percent of school children in the United States are considered to be "proficient," more effort must be put forth.  The ability to read proficiently is probably the most important academic skill that anyone can have.  This skill or lack thereof will affect every part of the student's academic career and continue throughout his life.  The ability to do basic mathematics is also important in a person's life whether it is used to double recipes, to balance checkbooks, or to figure gas mileage.  Higher mathematical skills add much more to a person's life.  Children also need to be taught correct historical facts about their nation, church, state, community, and family.  History is best taught by stories of real people in real situations.

                     How a child does in school will often affect their attitude and success in the working field.  When children learn good attitudes about attendance and assignments in school, they usually carry these same attitudes into the professional world.  Mothers and fathers can help children memorize spelling words, arithmetic facts and times tables and bring multiple blessings into the lives of their children.  The simple act of reading regularly to a child can instill a love of reading in his or her heart; an ability to read and a love of reading are essential to success in life.  Wise parents insist that their children spend part of each evening immersed in a book. 

                    As valuable as it is for parents to help their children learn secular material, there is much more value to learning spiritual lessons.  Parents can bring heavenly light to their children when they help them learn and/or memorize scriptures, Articles of Faith, and the words of prophets, seers, and revelators.  Wise parents use every available moment to teach faith, values, and moral and ethical standards to their children.  This teaching can be accomplished in any place or at any time when parents recognize the importance of it.

                    "Teaching in the home is becoming increasingly important in today's world, where the influence of the adversary is so widespread and he is attacking, attempting to erode and destroy the very foundation of our society, even the family.  Parents must resolve that teaching in the home is a most sacred and important responsibility.  While other institutions, such as church and school, can assist parents to `train up a child in the way he [or she] should go' (Proverbs 22:6), ultimately this responsibility rests with parents.  According to the great plan of happiness, it is parents who are entrusted with the care and development of our Heavenly Father's children.  Our families are an integral part of His work and glory - `to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man' (Moses 1:39).  On God's eternal stage, it is usually intended that parents act as the central cast members in their children's lives.  Fortunately, there are understudies involved in the production who may step in when parents can't.  It, however, is parents who have been commanded by the Lord to bring up their children in light and truth (see Doctrine and Covenants 93:40).

                    "Parents must bring light and truth into their homes by one family prayer, one scripture study session, one family home evening, one book read aloud, one song, and one family meal at a time.  They know that the influence of righteous, conscientious, persistent, daily parenting is among the most powerful and sustaining forces for good in the world.  The health of any society, the happiness of its people, their prosperity, and their peace all find common roots in the teaching of children in the home" (Elder L. Tom Perry, "Mothers Teaching in the Home," Ensign, May 2010).

                    Both mothers and fathers are responsible to teach their children in the home.  We however recognize that most of the responsibility for teaching falls upon mothers because fathers are most often away from home in their employment.  The inspired document "The Family:  A Proclamation to the World" states:

                    "Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children.  `Children are an heritage of the Lord' (Psalm 127:3).  Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live….
                    "… By divine design, fathers are responsible to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families.  Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children.   In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners."  

                     God's plan for the happiness of His children included families where children could grow and develop in love and righteousness.  When parents recognize that they are partners with God in teaching and training His children, they more likely understand the importance of teaching in their home.  Families are strengthened when parents are their children's most important teachers.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Lessons for America

                    The topic for this Freedom Friday is that Americans must learn some economical lessons in order to escape our fiscal troubles.  If we do not learn these lessons, we will be following Greece and other European nations in our own economical downward spiral of taxes, spending, and debt.

                    Dan Mitchell, a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute, Washington's premier free-market think tank, has written several articles about the European fiscal crisis and how America is following in thefootsteps of the European welfare states.    

Mitchell recently wrote an interesting article for Big Government and included a very educational video that is simple enough for children to understand.  All members of government - local, state, and national - should be required to watch it.  The video is entitled "Economics101:  The European Fiscal Crisis and Lessons for America."  It is from the Center for Freedom and Prosperity and is narrated by a beautiful, young Italian woman by the name of Miss Silvia Morandotti, a student at the University of Milan and a former intern at the Cato Institute. 

                    The five lessons from the mini-documentary that America must learn in order to escape our present fiscal trouble and avoid the downward spiral of taxes, spending, and debt of European nations:  1) Higher taxes lead to bigger government and higher spending, not lower deficits.  2) Do not allow politicians to impose a value-added tax (VAT) because a VAT would be a disaster.  In order to "impose a European-style welfare state in the United States" our statist leaders must first impose a "European-style money machine for big government."  3) Big Government not only slows growth by creating a welfare state, but it also cripples the human spirit.  4) Nations reach a point of no return when there are more people eating from the governmental trough than there are workers producing the food.  The video has two cute cartoons to teach this concept.  5) Bailouts don't work but only make things worse.  Would Portugal, Italy, and Spain be in such fiscal trouble if Greece had never been given a bailout?  Would our nation have such terrible fiscal problems if General Motors and Chrysler had not been bailed out?  Mitchell wrote in his article that he would add one more message:  "The private sector should grow faster than the government."

                    Mitchell writes very informative articles, and I recommend that you study a few of them.  For some cute cartoons about what a welfare state looks like at the beginning andthe end, check out this article by Mitchell.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Day

                    Thanksgiving Day is here again.  Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!  I thought that I would share a history lesson with you about how Thanksgiving Day came to be.  This special day, celebrated in both the United States and Canada, probably descended from festivals held in England.

                    The first Thanksgiving in America was exactly what the words describe - a simple expression of gratitude and a day of thanksgiving.  It took place on the banks of the James River near where Charles City, Virginia, now stands and was held to commemorate the arrival of 38 English settlers on December 4, 1619.  The day of arrival was to be observed yearly.

                    The first Thanksgiving in New England took place three years later in 1621 in Plymouth, Massachusetts, less than a year after the settlers landed in America.  About half of the settlers died during their first winter at Plymouth, but the summer of 1621 brought new hope for the settlers.  Governor William Bradford organized a celebration to give thanks to God for the blessings received.

                    The festival was held in early autumn and lasted for three days.  The menu included ducks, geese, turkeys, clams, fish, plums, leeks, watercress, and corn bread.  The cooking was done over outdoor fires, and large tables were set up for eating.  About ninety Indians came to the celebration and brought deer to share.

                    Similar celebrations were held in Plymouth annually, but no particular day was set.  The custom of celebrating Thanksgiving Day spread to other New England colonies.  There was no regular national Thanksgiving Day for many years even though numerous states held regular Thanksgiving holidays.  Numerous presidents tried to promote Thanksgiving Day.  George Washington proclaimed November 26, 1789, a day of national thanksgiving.  Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November 1863 as a "day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father."  For seventy-five years the President proclaimed the last Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day.  In 1939 Franklin D. Roosevelt - good ole FDR - proclaimed Thanksgiving to be a week earlier.  Congress finally passed a law that after 1941 the fourth Thursday in November would be observed as Thanksgiving Day and would be a legal federal holiday in the United States.

Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving on the second Monday in October.  I have driven through Canada several times as the Canadians were celebrating Thanksgiving.  One particular year I had the opportunity to ask some questions about their celebration.  I came away from those discussions with the understanding that Thanksgiving is a low-key holiday in Canada and not the big production we make of it in the United States.  I saw the Canadians purchase lovely fall flowers to decorate their tables and listened to their plans to visit with family members, but I quickly understood that they don’t spend all week cooking enormous meals that are gone in half an hour.  It seems to me that Americans can learn something from the Canadians:  Thanksgiving is a time to show gratitude for our many blessings as well as to prepare ourselves for the celebration of the birth of Christ. 

Facts for this post came from an article by Joan R. Gundersen, World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 19, 229-230. 

Two Mrs. Rutledge

                    Edward Rutledge, signer of the Declaration of Independence, married twice.  His first wife was Henrietta Middleton; after Henrietta's death, Edward married Mary Shubrick Eveleigh, the widow of Col. Nicholas Eveleigh, formerly Comptroller of the U.S. Treasury appointed by President George Washington.

                    Henrietta Middleton was born in Charleston in 1750 and married the "brilliant young lawyer" Edward Rutledge when she was 24.  Edward was newly returned from England where he completed his legal education.  Edward later became a member of the Continental Congress and Governor of South Carolina.

Henrietta was described as a "noted woman of a notable family."  Her father was Henry Middleton, President of the Provincial Council and later a member of the Continental Congress.  He was most likely the largest landowner in South Carolina because he owned more than 50,000 acres, 20 plantations, and 800 slaves.  Henrietta's mother was Mary Williams, the only child of John Williams.  Henry and Mary were parents of seven children - two sons and five daughters.  Mary died at age 46 on January 9, 1761.

                    Henrietta became ill soon after her marriage; she "lived quietly, and took no part in social or political life."  She had great wealth of her own, she was the "wife of the most successful lawyer" in South Carolina, and she was "well fitted by birth and education to grace any society; however, she did not have great physical strength and died in 1792, leaving two children.  Her son, Henry Middleton Rutledge, became a prominent citizen of Tennessee; her daughter, Sarah, never married.

                    Some time after Henrietta's death, Edward married Mary Shubrick Eveleigh.  Mary was apparently Edward's first choice for a wife, but there was great opposition to their courting.  Mary's father, Thomas Shubrick, opposed the match, and Edward's father, Andrew Rutledge, would not "allow his son to pay his addresses to Miss Shubrick."  Mary and Edward were obedient and married according to the wishes of their parents - the usual custom of that day.  Mary and Edward remained friends.  When Edward's wife and Mary's husband both died within the same year, the two came together again and married.  They "lived most happily" together, but they did not have any children.

                    Mary was a "devoted step-mother and friend to Sarah Rutledge."  After Edward's death, Mary and Sarah lived together and devoted their time to charitable work - caring for the poor, befriending the friendless, etc.  Sarah was most devoted to carrying for orphans and homeless girls, and she looked after their "maintenance and education."

                    Facts and quotes are from Wives of the Signers, pp. 264-266.          

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Spirit of Thanksgiving

                    We all have bad days - days when things just don't go right.  Sometimes those days lengthen into bad weeks or even bad months.  When I was young, my father often sang hymns as he worked.  One of the hymns I learned from my father is entitled "Count Your Blessings" (Hymns, 241) written by Johnson Oatman, Jr. (1856-1922) with music by Edwin O. Excell (1851-1921).
                    When upon life's billows you are tempest-tossed,
                    When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
                    Count your many blessings; name them one by one,
                    And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.

                    Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
                    Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
                    Count your many blessings; every doubt will fly,
                    And you will be singing as the days go by.
                    When you look at others with their lands and gold,
                    Think that Christ has promised you his wealth untold.
                    Count your many blessings; money cannot buy
                    Your reward in heaven nor your home on high.

                    So amid the conflict, whether great or small,
                    Do not be discouraged; God is over all.
                    Count your many blessings; angels will attend,
                    Help and comfort give you to your journey's end.

                    Chorus:  Count your blessings; Name them one by one.
                    Count your blessings; See what God hath done.
                    Count your blessings; Name them one by one.
                    Count your many blessings; See what God hath done.

                    There are many problems in our world today.  It is easy to get discouraged and think that all is lost.  It is easy to think that our load is too heavy to bear any longer.  It is easy to be envious of others who have more worldly goods than we have.  No matter how bad life is for any of us, we each receive many blessings.  Some of those blessings may be general blessings such as wonderful sunshine; other blessings are very individual.  When I am discouraged or feeling unloved or unappreciated, I return to the hymn "Count Your Blessings."  When I start counting my blessings, I realize that my life is very good.

                Researchers at the University of California at Davis are pioneering research about gratitude.  Their research is "part of a larger movement calling positive psychology.  Positive psychology, instead of focusing on illness and other problems, studies health-promoting behavior and the pleasurable parts of parts of life."  The studies are summarized in Robert Emmons' book, How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier (Houghton Mifflin, 2007).  More information about these studies can be found here.  

The Thanksgiving season is a great time to count our blessings.  Thanksgiving can fill us spiritually, emotionally, and mentally as well as physically if we cultivate the spirit of thanksgiving.  The spirit of thanksgiving is to “Live in thanksgiving daily, for the many mercies and blessings which he doth bestow upon you” (Alma 34:38).

Thanksgiving Day marks the beginning of what has been called “the big holiday trilogy – Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.  By celebrating this holiday trilogy appropriately, we can be better prepared to receive the “renewal of Easter.”

Thanksgiving is a time to express gratitude for our many blessings.  It is a time to look forward to spending time with family and special friends.  It is a wonderful excuse to gather together and remind ourselves that our families are the foundation upon which we build our lives.  Our families are what enable us to be the very best version of ourselves.  We should give thanks for our families for they truly are the foundation of our lives.

Christmas is a time of love.  Heavenly Father loves His children so much that He sent His Beloved Son to earth on a mission to save all of His other children.  Jesus Christ accepted and fulfilled that mission because of His love for His Father and for all of us.  We celebrate the birth of the Son because we love Him and because we love the Father.  We give gifts to our family members and friends because we love them.  Christmas is a gift of redemption, a gift that can transform us.  It is a wonderful present given to all mankind.  Once we open the gift, we can better understand how our lives can be truly fulfilling and rich.

New Year’s Day is a holiday that is often meant to end the Christmas season.  It marks the time when children go back to school, adult children leave for college, and family members return to their own homes, careers, jobs, and lives.  It is also an excellent time to set goals for self-improvement.  It is truly a clean page in our lives.  It gives us a fresh start and a new beginning with endless possibilities.

Easter is a time when we celebrate the Atonement and Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.  When we make family the foundation of our lives, learn to love others as God loves us, and learn to use the new year as an opportunity to improve, we are better prepared to truly celebrate Easter.

This wonderful experience begins with Thanksgiving Day and the true spirit of thanksgiving.  So how do we go about gaining this special spirit?  President Gordon B. Hinckley stated, “How magnificently we are blessed!  How thankful we ought to be!  Cultivate the spirit of thanksgiving in your lives.  Make it of the very nature of your lives.  It will impart an added dimension to your character that will give depth and strength” (Stand A Little Taller, 347).

We can gain the spirit of thanksgiving by being grateful for the many blessings that we receive.  It is so easy to get caught up in complaining about what we do not have instead of expressing thanks for what we do enjoy.  Some of the many blessings for which I am grateful include:  life itself and the opportunity to live in this beautiful world, the ability to walk, run, and do whatever I desire, clean water to drink, a house to provide warmth and comfort, food to eat, clothes to wear, freedom to go wherever I desire, family, friends, and knowledge.  I know that I am truly blessed.

 Helene Rothschild wrote about Thanksgiving, “… the essence of the holiday is to acknowledge and celebrate all the positive things in your life.  It is a time that reminds us to be grateful and appreciate everything and everyone, including ourselves….”

Sean Carter wrote:  “… However, we excel most in keeping the spirit of Thanksgiving alive even today through our undying faith in what our forefathers believed in, the freedom of the soul to choose between what is right and what is wrong and our inner strength to practice this faith in God and ourselves openly.  In our national songs, `In God We Trust,’ or `one nation under God,’ this faith finds special attention as well.
“… Thanksgiving is a time to rediscover the spiritual being within and draw strength from our founders and political zealots whose prolific faith has created a nation that we as well as our progeny will be proud of.”

We are all individuals and will each be thankful for specific items and people.  We can strengthen ourselves and each other by cultivating the spirit of thanksgiving.  We will become more happy and content if we will live in the spirit of thanksgiving.  


Monday, November 21, 2011

Edward Rutledge

                    Edward Rutledge, signer of the Declaration of Independence, was born in November 1749 in Charleston, South Carolina, the youngest of seven children.  His father, Doctor John Rutledge, emigrated from Ireland in 1735 and settled in Charleston.  There he started a successful medical practice.  A few years later he married a Miss. Hert who brought "an ample fortune" into the marriage as her marriage dowry.  She was only 27 years old when Dr. Rutledge died, leaving her a widow with seven children.

                    Edward received a "good English and classical education" and then started to study law with his elder brother John, a "distinguished member of the Charleston bar."  When Edward was 20 years old, he traveled to England to become a student at the Inner Temple, London.  "A number of Inns of Court, or sort of colleges for teaching the law were established in London at various times.  The Temple (of which there were three Societies, namely, the Inner, the Middle, and the Outer) was originally founded, and the Temple Church built, by the Knights Templar, in the reign of Henry II, 1185.  The Inner and Middle Temple were made Inns of Law in the reign of Edward III, about 1340; the Outer, not until the reign of Elizabeth, about 1560."

                    At the Inner Temple, Edward had the opportunity to witness "the forensic eloquence" of masters of the law.  He returned to Charleston near the end of 1772 where he was admitted to the bar and started practicing law in 1773.

                    While still very young, Edward was interested in politics; when he was old enough, he became active in the patriot cause of liberty.  His patriotic zeal and his "distinguished talents" in law put him in the eye of the public.  When he was 25 years old, he was elected to be a delegate to the first Continental Congress and was present when the Congress opened on September 5, 1774.  He was "active and fearless" in his duties and was re-elected as a delegate in 1775 and 1776.  Edward was an associate of Richard Henry Lee and John Adams when they recommended that each Colony form a permanent government.  Edward "warmly" favored independence and "fearlessly" voted for the Declaration of Independence even though many people of South Carolina were opposed to it.

                    Edward was appointed to a committee with Dr. Benjamin Franklin and John Adams to meet Lord Howe in a conference on Staten Island in the summer of 1776 to discuss the American situation.  "The commissioners were instructed not to enter upon negotiations for peace, except in the capacity of representatives of free states, and having independence as a basis."  The conference "failed to produce any important results" because Lord Howe could not "receive them, or listen to such proposals."

                    Due to personal ill health and the "disturbed condition" of South Carolina, Edward "withdrew" from the Congress in 1777, but he returned again in 1779.  He spent the time out of Congress in efforts to defend South Carolina and to repel invasion.

                    Edward led a corps of artillery.  When Charleston was under siege in 1780, Edward was actively supporting General Lincoln.  In an operation to put troops into the city, he was taken prisoner and sent to St. Augustine, Florida, where he remained a prisoner for about a year before being exchanged and set free.

                    After General Lincoln and the American army were captured and Charleston fell, Cornwallis was "fearful of the influence of many citizens."  Lieutenant Governor Gadsden, civil and military officers, and other citizens were taken from their "beds and houses" by armed guards; they were put on a guard-ship and sent to St. Augustine.  Cornwallis feared the "talents and influence" of Edward's mother and forced her to move from her country residence into the city where she could be watched more closely.

                    Even though most of the southern army was captured with General Lincoln, Americans did not lose hope.  General Greene had several successes, and Americans were victorious in battles at Marion and Sumpter.

                    Edward retired from military service and resumed his law practice after the British left Charleston in 1781.  He spent the next 17 years dividing his time between the duties of his business and service in the South Carolina Legislature.  In the Legislature he "uniformly opposed" every attempt to extend the "evils of slavery."

                    In 1794, Edward was elected as a Senator in the United States Senate to fill the seat vacated by the resignation of Charles Cotesworth Pinckney.  In 1798, Edward was elected to be Governor of South Carolina, but he did not live long enough to serve out his term of office. 

                    Edward suffered from "hereditary gout" and caught a bad cold that "brought on a paroxysm of his disease."  He died on January 23, 1800, at age 60.

                    Facts and quotes are from Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, pp. 211-214.