Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Small Things

                Parents can strengthen their families, communities, and nations by taking care of the “small” things in life.  Sometimes we fall into the trap of thinking that we have to accomplish great things in order to have a big effect on our children, but we must understand that it is the “small and simple things” that have the greatest effect in our own lives and in the lives of our children.

                In ancient America a prophet named Alma was preparing his son Helaman to take his place as the leader in the church and included this principle.  “Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise.
                “And the Lord God doth work by means to bring about his great and eternal purposes; and by very small means the Lord doth confound the wise and bringeth about the salvation of many souls” (Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, Alma 37:6-7).

                What are some of the “small and simple things” that parents can do in their homes or with their children that would strengthen their children individually and the family as a whole?  Some of these “small and simple things” are kneeling together in family prayer each morning and evening, studying the scriptures together daily, and coming together each week in family home evening. 

                Another “small and simple” thing that we can do is to take our children and/or grandchildren to our Sabbath Day meetings each week.  I remember being a mother and taking my children to church each week.  There were numerous Sundays when I returned home totally exhausted and wondering why I made the effort to go.  Taking numerous young children to church is difficult and demanding work and not for the faint hearted!  I always felt that I had performed a major accomplishment if I was able to get them all ready and leave the house on time – and that was the easy part of the experience. 

                Somehow I knew I was accomplishing something great by taking my children to church, and I continued to do so every Sunday.  I understood then the importance for my children to learn to sit quietly and listen to the talks and participate in the music. Now it is many years later, and my children are fighting the very same battles with their own offspring.  I get a certain amount of satisfaction just watching them, but I know my children would not be taking my grandchildren to church today if I had given up and stayed home during those difficult times many years ago.  I am now seeing the fruit of my labors as my grandchildren are being taught proper principles by loving parents and teachers. 

                When my children seek counsel in how to handle similar problems in their families, I remind them that consistency is much more important than quality of performance at this stage of their lives because there is great power in establishing good habits.  As we consistently teach the “small and simple things,” our children learn what they need to know when they become parents.  Doing the “small and simple things” is one way we can strengthen our families, communities, and nations.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Willing Obedience

                We can bring the greatest of all liberties into our individual lives by living true and correct principles.  This liberty comes to us as we learn to live as though Jesus Christ were walking beside us.  We gain this freedom as we invite the Holy Ghost into our lives.

                  The liberty principle for today is number twenty in a series of true principles suggested by Elder Richard G. Scott in his book
21 Principles – Divine Truths to Help You Live by the Spirit.  I will merely introduce the principle and suggest that you obtain Elder Scott’s book in order to truly understand this principle.  Elder Scott explained that principles “are concentrated truth, packaged for application to a wide variety of circumstances.  A true principle makes decisions clear even under the most confusing and challenging circumstances.”  You can see principle #1 “True Principles of Freedom” here.  

                  Principle #20 is the simple fact that forced obedience does not aid anyone.  This is the reason that Heavenly Father and the Savior are so patient with us and so willing to help us understand Their messages.  They are “willing to entreat, to prompt, to encourage, and to patiently wait for us to recognize precious spiritual guidance from Them.”

                Elder Scott stated, “I have come to know that there are currents of divine influence in our life that will lead each of us along the individual plan the Lord would have us follow while on earth.  They are identified through the whisperings of the Holy Spirit. Seek through that Spirit to identify that plan and carefully follow the direction the Lord will provide.  It will come through answers to prayers and pondering or the counsel of others who are worthy mentors.  Align yourself with it.  Choose, willingly, to exercise your agency to follow it.  Do not be overcome by concentrating solely on today, its challenges, difficulties, and opportunities.  Those things are the relatively insignificant surface winds and waves of today.  Such preoccupations must not totally capture your interest and attention so as to consume your life.

                “The more closely you follow the current of divine guidance, the greater will be your happiness here and for eternity.  Moreover, your capacity to progress and serve will be greater.  I do not understand entirely how it is done, but this divine current does not take away your moral agency.  However, I do know that as you seek to know the will of the Lord in your life, you will more easily discern that divine current.  The right of moral agency is so important to our Father in Heaven that He was willing to lose one-third of His spirit children so that it would be preserved.  No enduring improvement can occur without righteous exercise of agency.

                “The Lord will not force you to learn.  You must exercise your agency to authorize the Spirit to teach you.  As you make this a practice in your life, you will be more perceptive to the feelings that come with spiritual guidance.  Then, when that guidance comes, sometimes when you least expect it, you will recognize it more easily” (pp. 95-96).

                Heavenly Father gave us our agency because He knew we could not progress without it.  He knew that we needed the ability to choose the path we would take in order for us to grow and develop.  He wants us to follow the path that He laid out for us, but He allows us to take which ever path we choose.  I really appreciate the freedom to choose because I am one person who does not enjoy being told what to do.  I appreciate having a choice, and I believe that most, if not all, people also desire the opportunity to choose for themselves.

                I know that we are here on earth to be tested and to be tried.  I know that the choices we make as we pass through the trials of life will determine where and how we spend eternity.  I know that we can travel His path safely and eventually return to His presence if we listen to the counsel of our loving Heavenly Father.  I truly enjoy feeling the confirmation of the Spirit when I make right choices.  I encourage you to put your trust in Heavenly Father and learn to follow His promptings because I know He will lead you safely to your heavenly home.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


                The House of Representatives is balking on new immigration laws because the President of the United States cannot be trusted to enforce current laws.  House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) recently said, “Listen, there’s widespread doubt about whether this administration can be trusted to enforce our laws.  And it’s going to be difficult to move any immigration legislation until that changes.”

                On January 30, 2014, the House released principles for immigration reform that would allow illegal immigrants to live “legally” in our nation.  They are, however, apparently backtracking on their plans.  Maybe their change of action came because they were called out on it.

                Derrick Morgan, vice president of domestic and economic policy at The Heritage Foundation, shot down the plan, claiming that “the framework is essentially the same as the Senate bill they say they will not go to conference with.  It includes everything from border security, to visa tracking, to employment verification and reform of the legal immigration system in additional to amnesty.
                “The standards follow the logic that it is best to address all immigration problems this session of Congress, even if in different bills.  The standards follow the Senate’s approach of promising border security and workplace enforcement (through typically meaningless `triggers’) in exchange for immediate amnesty of those here unlawfully.”

                Mr. Morgan reminded his readers that the United States tried amnesty in the 1980s when Congress passed a bill and President Ronald Reagan signed it into law.  The law was supposed to solve our immigration problems once and for all time.  It provided amnesty for about 3 million illegal immigrants while promising border security and workplace enforcement.  “Unfortunately, the promises were not kept.  Today more than 10 million unlawful immigrants reside in the United States.  Instead of repeating past mistakes, a truly step-by-step process would be to ensure border and workplace laws are being enforced, period.  The only real way to be sure that unlawful immigration has been stopped is to count the number of unlawful immigrants in the census.

                So many people are talking in circles about the immigration topic that I have a difficult time understanding exactly what they are saying.  I appreciate the following explanation given by Mr. Morgan:  “Some have confused the terms `amnesty’ and `path to citizenship,’ implying or stating that a new path to citizenship would be amnesty, but legal status is not.  Allowing those in the country unlawfully to stay and work in the United States, i.e. granting legal status, is amnesty.  Granting a path to citizenship is actually amnesty plus.  Others insist that because legal status is not automatic or has some conditions, it is not amnesty.  Some describe these proposals as `earned legalization.’  Their argument also falls short.”

                Mr. Morgan quoted other experts at Heritage to support his position.  In analyzing the term amnesty used in the 2007 debate over immigration reform, Heritage’s Matthew Spalding concluded that “the granting of legal status is still `amnesty’ even if it is conditional and not automatic or does not necessarily end in citizenship.”

                David Addington at Heritage explained the term “amnesty.”  “The term `amnesty’ is often used loosely with reference to aliens unlawfully in the United States.  Sometimes it refers to converting the status of an alien from unlawful to lawful, either without conditions or on a condition such as a payment of a fee to the government.  Sometimes it refers to granting lawful authority for an alien unlawfully in the U.S. to remain in the U.S., become a lawful permanent resident, or even acquire citizenship by naturalization, either without conditions or on a condition such as payment of a fee to the government or performance of particular types of work for specified periods.  Amnesty comes in many forms, but in all its variations, it discourages respect for the law, treats law-breaking aliens better than law-following aliens and encourages future unlawful immigration into the United States.”

                I believe that amnesty in any form is wrong for our nation.  How can we be a nation of laws when our own government rewards those people who break the law?  We should have learned from the amnesty program in the 1980s that amnesty does not work but in fact makes the problem worse.  I believe that our nation must stop granting citizenship to the children of those who come to our nation illegally.  If the parents are illegal, then the children should be considered illegal; therefore, the entire family should be deported.    If we insist on granting citizenship to the children of illegal aliens born on our soil, then we should still deport the entire family and allow the children to come back when they become adults and can prove they are capable of providing for themselves.  I believe that our nation must start using our brains to solve this problem and stop letting emotions make our decisions.  My bottom line is that we should enforce the immigration laws now on the books before we even consider new laws.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


                How important is trustworthiness in your family and social circles to you?  How important is trustworthiness in business circles?  How important is trustworthiness in government?  Trust is very important to me.  I need to be able to trust the people around me.  I need to believe they are speaking the truth.  When people prove themselves to be unworthy of trust, I no longer trust them to be honest.

                Barack Obama is no longer trustworthy as far as I am concerned.  I do not even listen to him speak or read about him.  I cannot trust him so why should I waste valuable time?

                Mr. Obama has apparently proven untrustworthy to other people also.  He took an oath to uphold the laws of the United States of America, but he enforces only those laws that he likes.  He goes around Congress when they fail to fulfill his demands.  His unwillingness to enforce U.S. laws makes many lawmakers weary of passing new immigration laws.

                House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio)  recently stated that this tendency is a roadblock to more legislation:  “Listen, there’s widespread doubt about whether this administration can be trusted to enforce our laws.  And it’s going to be difficult to move any immigration legislation until that changes.”

                Mr. Boehner’s reversal stunned conservatives as well as immigration rights groups.  Those people who are pushing for amnesty for illegal immigrants say there will be political consequences. 

                Representatives Raul Labrador(R-Idaho) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio)  recently indicated the trust issue is a big reason why there is support in the House for waiting on immigration reform.  Mr. Jordan said, “It’s just tough to work with this President when you’ve seen his track record on this issue and others.  It’s tough to negotiate with someone in good faith when they’ve done the things they’ve done.”

                What will Mr. Obama do when he realizes the House no longer trusts him?  Will he prove trustworthy or will he simply wield his mighty pen and sign more executive orders bypassing Congress?

                Mr. Obama and his administration have proven to be totally untrustworthy.  Americans cannot trust him to do what is best for our nation; however, other leaders in Washington have proven just as untrustworthy.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is as bad as or worse than Mr. Obama.  Mr. Boehner caves on so many issues that I do not trust him to stand strong on the immigration issue or anything else.

                Who CAN we trust in Washington to be honest and to work for the good of all Americans?  I trust Senator Mike Lee.  I believe that he is an honest man who sincerely desires to do right.  He appears to be more interested in his current job as Senator than seeking a higher office.  I believe we can trust Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rand Paul (R-Kentucky).  I like the way Representative Trey Gowdy(R-S.C.) shows courage in seeking truth.  I trust The Heritage Foundation because they stress conservative principles without being political.  I believe they are for what is good of our nation.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Clara Barton

                Clarissa Harlowe “Clara” Barton was born on Christmas Day, December 25, 1821, in North Oxford, Massachusetts.  Her parents were Capt. Stephen Barton, a member of the local militia and a selectman, and Sara Stone Barton, a homemaker.  Clara started school when she was three years old when she accompanied her brother Stephen; she excelled in reading and spelling but was very timid.  She became good friends with Nancy Fitts, her only known friend.  She attended Col. Stones High School but went home almost immediately due to a depression brought about by her timidness.

                Captain Barton relocated his family in order to help the widow of his nephew and his four children run a farm.  The house where the Barton family was to live needed to be painted and repaired, and Clara persistently offered her assistance.  The painter was grateful for the help, but Clara was at a loss of how to spend her time when the task was completed.  Clara began playing with her male cousins and kept up with them until she was injured.  Her mother decided that she needed to learn some femininity and invited female cousins over to help teach proper social skills.

                When Clara was ten years old, her brother David fell from the roof of a barn and was severely injured.  Clara assigned herself the task of nursing him back to health and continued to care for him after the doctors had given up.  David made a full recovery.

                In 1838 Clara began teaching in schools located in Canada and West Georgia and continued for about twelve years.  She excelled at handling “rambunctious children” because of her experience with brothers and male cousins.  In 1850 Clara “decided to further her education by pursuing writing and languages at the Clinton Liberal Institute in New York.”  When she completed her studies, she opened a free school in Bordentown, New Jersey, “the first free school to be opened in the state.  The attendance under her leadership grew to 603, but the board hired a man to head the school instead of Clara. 

                In 1855 Clara moved to Washington, D.C., and found work in the US Patent Office.  “This was the first time a woman had received a substantial clerkship in the federal government and at a salary equal to a man’s salary.”  There was political opposition to women working in the government; her position was reduced and eventually eliminated in 1856 during the James Buchanan administration.  She spent three years in Massachusetts with relatives and friends and then returned to Washington, D.C. after Abraham Lincoln was elected.  In the autumn of 1861, Clara returned to the patent office as a temporary copyist.  “She was probably the first woman to hold a government job in the US.”

                Before he passed away, Clara spoke about the war effort with her, and he convinced her that she had a Christian duty to help the soldiers.  Following his death, Clara returned to Washington, D.C. in April to gather medical supplies; in August she finally gained permission from Quartermaster Daniel Rucker to work on the front lines of the battle field.  Meanwhile, she enlisted Ladies’ Aid societies to help by sending bandages, food, and clothing for the soldiers.  She gained support from other people who believed in her cause, with Senator Henry Wilson of Massachusetts being the most supportive.

                Clara supported the soldiers by distributing stores, cleaning field hospitals, applying dressings, and serving food to wounded soldiers from several battles, including Cedar Mountain, Second Bull run, Antietam, and Fredericksburg.  In 1863 she became romantically involved Colonel John J. Elwell, a married officer. 

                Union General Benjamin Butler appointed Clara in 1864 as the `lady in charge’ of the hospitals at the front of the Army of the James.  She had some “harrowing experiences” including having a bullet go through the sleeve of her dress without hitting her and killing the man she was tending.  She is known as the “Angel of the Battlefield.”

                When the Civil War ended, Clara ran the Office of Missing Soldiers.  She then spent about a year traveling around the country giving lectures about her war experiences.  She became mentally and physically exhausted from her tour and received orders from her doctor to go somewhere far away from what she was currently doing.  She traveled to Europe for some rest and relaxation and met Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass.  From these two chance meetings, she “began a long association with the woman’s suffrage movement” as well as “an activist for civil rights.”

                Clara traveled to Geneva, Switzerland, in 1869 and was “introduced to the Red Cross and Dr. Appia.  Dr. Appia later “[invited] her to be the representative for the American branch of the Red Cross and even [helped] her find financial beneficiaries for the start of the American Red Cross.  She became involved in the Franco-Prussian War in 1870 when “she assisted the Grand Duchess of Baden in the preparation of military hospitals” and “gave the Red Cross society much aid during the war.  The German authorities and the Strasbourg Comite` de Secours asked her to supervise “the supplying of work to the poor of Strasbourg in 1871, after the Siege of Paris.”  She was also assigned to supervise “the public distribution of supplies to the destitute people of Paris.  When that war was over, she was given the Golden Cross of Baden and the Prussian Iron Cross.

                Upon her return to the United States in 1873, Clara began “a movement to gain recognition for the International Committee of the Red Cross by the United States government.”  Five years later “in 1878, she met with President Rutherford B. Hayes, who expressed the opinion of most Americans at that time which was the U.S. would never again face a calamity like the Civil War.”  During the administration of President Chester Arthur, Clara finally succeeded by “using the argument that the new American Red Cross could respond to crises other than war such as earthquakes, forest fires, and hurricanes.”

                The American Red Cross held its first official meeting at Clara’s apartment in Washington, D.C., on May 21, 1881, and she became the president of the organization.  The first local society was founded in Dansville, Livingston County, New York, on August 22, 1882, near Clara’s country home.

                During the Spanish-American War, the Red Cross “aided refugees and prisoners of the civil war.”  The society became involved domestically as well:  Ohio River flood in 1884, food and supplies to Texans during the famine of 1887, took workers to Illinois in 1888 after a tornado, and the yellow fever epidemic in Florida in 1888 when she had 50 doctors and nurses responding within days of the Johnstown Flood.

                When a humanitarian crisis in the Ottoman Empire erupted in 1897 after the Hamidian Massacres, Clara went to Constantinople.  There she negotiated with Abdul Hamid II long enough to gain permission for the first American International Red Cross headquarters in the heart of Turkey.  Clara traveled with five other Red Cross expeditions to the Armenian provinces in the spring of 1896 to provide relief and humanitarian aid.  At the age of 77, Clara worked in hospitals in Cuba in 1898.  Her last field operation as President of the American Red Cross was to aid victims of the Galveston hurricane in 1900 where she established an orphanage for children.

                Clara resigned as president of the American Red Cross in 1904 when she was 83 years old because her management of the society was being criticized.  She then founded the National First Aid Society.

                Retiring to Glen Echo, Maryland, Clara published her autobiography in 1907 with the title The Story of My Childhood.  She died on April 12, 1912, in Glen Echo at the age of 90.  She contracted tuberculosis two years previously and had been bedridden for a month before her death.

                “In 1975, Clara Barton National Historic Site, located at 5801 Oxford Road, Glen Echo, Maryland, was established as a unit of the National Park Service at Barton’s home, where she spent the last 15 years of her life.  One of the first National Historic Sites dedicated to the accomplishments of a woman, it preserves the early history of the American Red Cross, since the home also served as an early headquarters of the organization.  The North Oxford, Massachusetts, house in which she was born is now a museum also.

                “The National Park Service has restored eleven rooms, including the Red Cross offices, the parlors and Barton’s bedroom.  Visitors to Clara Barton National Historic Site can gain a sense of how Barton lived and worked.  Guides lead tourists through the three levels, emphasizing Barton’s use of her unusual home.  Modern visitors can come to appreciate the site in the same way visitors did in Clara Barton’s lifetime.”

                Clara H. Barton published three books:  1) The Red Cross – in Peace and War, Washington, D.C.:  American Historical Press (1898); 2) Story of the Red Cross – Glimpses of Field Work, New York:  D. Appleton and Company (1904); 3) The Story of My Childhood, New York:  Baker & Taylor Company (1907).

                Two fictional depictions honor Clara Barton.  1) Numbering All the Bones by Ann Rinaldi features Clara Barton and Andersonville Prison, a Civil War prison with terrible conditions.  2) Angel of Mercy (MGM, 1939) is a biographical short subject directed by Edward L. Cahn, starring Sara Haden as Clara Barton and Ann Rutherford as a woman whose brother’s death in a Civil War battle inspires her to join Barton in her work.

                Clara Barton also has the honor of having her likeness on a U.S. commemorative stamp issued in 1948 as well as having many places named after her:  schools, streets, subdivision, county, town, dormitory, lake, community center, and a crater on Venus.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Freedom of Religion

                The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution:  “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof….”  This provision guarantees that each American has the right to worship in their chosen way – or not to worship at all; the federal government cannot choose our religion for us.

                “There was some concern among the Founders lest this prohibition give the impression that the government was hostile to religion.  They wanted it clearly understood that the universal, self-evident truths of religion were fundamental to the whole structure of the American system.  This is such an important aspect of the nation’s original culture that a comprehensive discussion of religion from the Founders’ perspective might be helpful.”  (See W. Cleon Skousen in The Making of America – The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution, p. 675.)

                Skousen then proceeded to write more than twelve pages explaining the role of religion to our Founding Fathers.  I will probably revisit this topic in later posts on the Constitution.

                John Baker at The Heritage Foundation explained, “In recent years the Supreme Court has placed the Establishment and the Free Exercise of Religion Clauses in mutual tension, but it was not so for the Framers.  None of the Framers believed that a governmental connection to religion was an evil in itself.  Rather, many (though not all) opposed an established church because they believed that it was a threat to the free exercise of religion.  Their primary goal was to protect free exercise….

                “Nor did most of the Founding generation believe that government ought to be `untainted’ by religion, or ought not to take an interest in furthering the people’s connection to religion…” (The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, p. 302).

Saturday, February 22, 2014

True Teacher

                As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I have frequently heard the admonition to invite the Holy Ghost into my classroom to teach my students. This admonition comes because the Holy Ghost is the true teacher.  I am only an instrument through whom the Holy Ghost can work, and He does the teaching, testifying, comforting, and inspiring.  If I live my life in such a way that I am worthy to receive the promptings of the Spirit, I can pray for His guidance as I prepare and teach.  He can also help me create an atmosphere in the classroom so that others can also feel His influence.

                President Howard W. Hunter, then President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, counseled Seminary teachers:  “There is so much in our world that destroys the feeling of the Spirit and so much that would keep us from having the Spirit with us.  We need to do all we can for these young people who are assaulted and barraged by worldliness all around them.  We need to do everything possible to let them feel the sweet, reassuring presence of the Spirit of the Lord.  Your classrooms are weekday sanctuaries where they should be able to find that.
                “In one of the most basic revelations of this dispensation, the Lord said, `And the Spirit shall be given unto you by the prayer of faith; and if ye receive not the Spirit ye shall not teach’ (Doctrine and Covenants 42:14).
                “I take this verse to mean not only that we should not teach without the Spirit, but also that we really cannot teach without it.  Learning of spiritual things simply cannot take place without the instructional and confirming presence of the Spirit of the Lord” (“Eternal Investments” [address to religious educators, 10 Feb. 1989, 3).  

                We teach by the Spirit when the Holy Ghost is present and functioning is His role and carries the words of the lesson or the scriptures or the music to the heart of the student.  There is little or no actual teaching or learning without the Spirit; therefore, we must have the Holy Ghost present in our classrooms and other teaching opportunities.

                In order to teach by the Spirit, we must first keep the commandments and be clean before God because the Holy Ghost dwells only in moral cleanliness.  Our bodies are our personal temples, and we invite the Holy Ghost when we keep ourselves clean physically, mentally, and socially.

                President Joseph Fielding Smith taught:  “The Spirit of God speaking to the spirit of man has power to impart truth with greater effect and understanding than the truth can be imparted by personal contact even with heavenly beings.  Through the Holy Ghost the truth is woven into the very fiber and sinews of the body so that it cannot be forgotten” (Doctrines of Salvation, compiled by Bruce R. McConkie, 3 volumes [1954-56], 1:47-48).

Friday, February 21, 2014

Husband, Love Your Wife

                Husbands can strengthen their families, communities, and nations by simply and sincerely loving their wives.  When a husband truly loves his wife and shows her by his words and actions that he loves you, her love for him will grow deeper.  For a husband to truly love his wife, he must put her needs above his own.  Numerous apostles and prophets have repeatedly counseled husband to love their wives, and some of their counsel is as follows.  (See “Love Your Wife,” Ensign, January 2014, pp. 31-32.)  

                “It will take faith and humility to put her interests above your own in the struggles of life.  You have the responsibility to provide for and to nurture the family with her while serving others. That can at times consume all the energy and strength you have.  Age and illness may increase your wife’s needs.  If you choose even then to put her happiness above your own, I promise you that your love for her will increase” (President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency).

                “Priesthood offices, keys, callings, and quorums are meant to exalt families.  Priesthood authority has been restored so that families can be sealed eternally.  So brethren, your foremost priesthood duty is to nurture your marriage – to care for, respect, honor, and love your wife. Be a blessing to her and your children….
                “Be considerate and kind in the tender intimacies of your married life.  Let your thoughts and actions inspire confidence and trust.  Let your words be wholesome and your time together be uplifting.  Let nothing in life take priority over your wife – neither work, recreation, nor hobby.
                “… [E]xpressions of love and appreciation do more than acknowledge a kind thought or deed….  As grateful partners look for the good in each other and sincerely pay compliments to one another, wives and husbands will strive to become the persons described in those compliments….
                “… Above all, do not be selfish!  Generate a spirit of selflessness and generosity.  Celebrate and commemorate each day together as a treasured gift from heaven” (Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles).

                “Do you tell our wife often how very much you love her?  It will bring her great happiness.  I’ve heard men tell me when I say that, `Oh, she knows.’  You need to tell her.  A woman grows and is greatly blessed by that reassurance.  Express gratitude for what your spouse does for you.  Express that love and gratitude often” (Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles).

                “One of the great purposes of true love is to help each other….  We can endure almost anything if we have someone at our side who truly loves us, who is easing the burden and lightening the load.
                “… [L]ove is a fragile thing, and some elements in life can try to break it.  Much damage can be done if we are not in tender hands, caring hands.  To give ourselves totally to another person, as we do in marriage, is the most trusting step we take in any human relationship.  It is a real act of faith – faith all of us must be willing to exercise.  If we do it right, we end up sharing everything – all our hopes, all our fears, all our dreams, all our weaknesses, and all our joys – with another person.
                “… True love blooms when we care more about another person than we care about ourselves.  That is Christ’s great atoning example for us, and it ought to be more evident in the kindness we show, the respect we give, and the selflessness and courtesy we employ in our personal relationships” (Elder Jeffrey B. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles).

                “We should remember that saying `I love you’ is only a beginning.  We need to say it, we need to mean it, and most importantly we need consistently to show it.  We need to both express and demonstrate love.
                “Feeling the security and constancy of love from a spouse, a parent, or a child is a rich blessing.  Such love nurtures and sustains faith in God.  Such love is a source of strength and casts our fear (see 1 John 4:18).  Such love is the desire of every human heart” (Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles).

                “We know that the marriage of a man and a woman is necessary for the accomplishment of God’s plan.  Only this marriage will provide the approved setting for mortal birth and to prepare family members for eternal life” (Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles).

                A husband carries the responsibility to love his wife.  If he loves her unselfishly and follows the above counsel given by prophets and apostles, he can strengthen his marriage and his family.  Since the family is the core relationship in our society, he can strengthen his community and his nation by strengthening his marriage and family.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Faith and Character

                We can bring the greatest of all liberties into our individual lives by living true and correct principles.  This liberty comes to us as we learn to live as though Jesus Christ were walking beside us.  We gain this freedom as we invite the Holy Ghost into our lives.

                  The liberty principle for today is number nineteen in a series of true principles suggested by Elder Richard G. Scott in his book
21 Principles – Divine Truths to Help You Live by the Spirit.  I will merely introduce the principle and suggest that you obtain Elder Scott’s book in order to truly understand this principle.  Elder Scott explained that principles “are concentrated truth, packaged for application to a wide variety of circumstances.  A true principle makes decisions clear even under the most confusing and challenging circumstances.”  You can see principle #1 “True Principles of Freedom” here.  

                  Principle #19 is the simple fact that there is a relationship between faith and character.  Elder Scott stated, “The greater our faith in Jesus Christ, the stronger our character, and increased character enhances our ability to exercise even greater faith.”  That is a powerful statement, and it provides a map of how to gain greater faith.

                Elder Scott continued, “When faith is properly understood and used, it has dramatically far-reaching effects.  Such faith can transform an individual’s life from maudlin, common, everyday activities to a symphony of joy and happiness.  The exercise of faith is vital to Father in Heaven’s plan of happiness.
                “Faith is a foundation building block of creation.  I am confident that the Savior Jesus Christ uses faith in His capacity to act under the direction of Father in Heaven.  The Master used it to create the most remote galaxies as well as to compose quarks, the smallest elements of matter we know of today.

                “Faith and character are intimately related.  Faith in the power of obedience to the commandments of God will forge strength of character available to you in times of urgent need.  Such character is not developed in moments of great challenge or temptation.  That is when it is intended to be used.  Your exercise of faith in true principles builds character; fortified character expands your capacity to exercise more faith.  As a result, your capacity and confidence to conquer the trials of life is enhanced.
                “We become what we want to be by consistently being what we want to become each day….
                “Strong moral character results from consistent correct choices in the trials and testing of life.  Such choices are made with trust in things that are believed and when acted upon are confirmed.  Faith is an important element in developing that trust” (pp. 90-93).

                It takes faith to do many of the things that we do in life.  It takes faith in God to bring children into this life.  It takes faith in God’s plan of happiness to be consistent in prayer, scripture study, and family home evening.  It takes faith in God to keep the Sabbath Day holy when there are so many enticing and exciting things happening on Sunday.  I am currently in a situation where I have to exercise faith in a new church assignment.  The calling requires a lot of time, and it takes me out of my comfort zone.  It is my faith that I am doing what God wants me to do that keeps me going.  Faith in God is powerful, and it is necessary for us to become like our Heavenly Father.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

More Internment Camps?

                Do we have a government of law or of man?  Can we trust our laws?  Is it possible that our federal government will turn against Americans again?  U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia recently suggested that Americans must remain vigilant and not simply trust our laws to provide protection for us.

                Justice Scalia used the experience of Japanese-Americans during World War II to prove his point.  After the Japanese military bombed Pearl Harbor, the U.S. government violated the rights of Japanese-Americans and forced them into internment camps.  Justice Antonin Scalia told law students at the University of Hawaii that it could happen again.  According to Scalia, something similar could happen again today even though the Supreme Court was wrong to approve putting Japanese-Americans in internment camps.

                Justice Scalia told the law students that the 1944 decision “was wrong.  And I think we have repudiated in a later case.  But you are kidding yourself if you think the same thing will not happen again….
                “That’s what was going on – the panic about the war and the invasion of the Pacific and what not.  That’s what happens.  It was wrong, but I would not be surprised to see it happen again, in time of war.  It’s no justification, but it is the reality.”

                One way Americans can stay alert is to study history.  “We’ve got to learn from this because we’re about to repeat it again.”  (Miracles and Massacres).  Glenn Beck recently reminded his listeners “And we gave evidence….  We’re starting to do it again.  I know when I say it, it’s crazy.  And I’m sure because Scalia is crazy and a warmonger or whatever he is, I’m sure it’s going to be called crazy too.  But does it not wake anybody new up?”
                “The danger Justice Scalia discusses is not simply a big government, progressive problem; it is an inherent problem with human nature.  Whether you look back in history to the slavery debate and Manifest Destiny or look at today’s conversations about abortion, human nature hasn’t changed.
                “[It’s the feeling of] `we know we’re right, and if you don’t agree with us, there’s no place for you.’  That’s why Scalia is saying it’s going to happen again.  Because human nature doesn’t change.  I’m sorry.  The progressives are wrong.  Man does not progress.  Every human starts with the same problems, the same flaws.  We don’t progress past that.  We have that in our basic nature.  And it is for each individual to conquer that.  And so you have to conquer it over and over and over and over again.”

                So, who do you think “they” will come for next time?  Will it be Christians or Jews?  Will it be Catholics or born-again Christians?  Will it be Tea Partiers?  Are “they” already setting the stage?  Are the “FEMA camps” intended to be internment camps?  Why are the different federal agencies stocking up on ammunition?  

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Debt Ceiling

                The government of the United States of America spends too much.  This fact is shown by the fact that our nation will once again hit the debt ceiling this week.  Our debt is the main reason why the United States is no longer among the ten most economically free nations.

                President Ronald Reagan understood the cause of our debt:  “The problem is not that people are taxed too little; the problem is that government spends too much.”

                Amy Payne at The Heritage Foundation published a very good post about the debt ceiling in The Foundry.  “It is timely that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) put out new numbers on America’s financial situation this week.  By the end of the week, we’ll be hitting the debt ceiling again.
                “The CBO’s report, which dropped the bombshell that Obamacare is projected to push 2.3 million people out of the workforce, is chock full of other disheartening information. 
                “For starters, `The nation’s fiscal situation is much worse today than when President Obama first took office,’ says Romina Boccia, Heritage’s Grover M. Hermann Fellow.
                “The outlook on the debt is somber.  Entitlement spending continues to grow on autopilot, and `Washington’s failure to handle the problem responsibly means a higher tax burden and a slower economy for younger generations,’ Boccia explains.
                “The debt drags down the economy…."

                Stephen Moore, chief economistat The Heritage Foundation, is also concerned about the debt of our nation:  “The Washington press corps was all atwitter yesterday with the news that the budget deficit is shrinking and the red ink will hit a seven-year low of $514 billion this year and $478 billion next year.
                “Wait.  This is progress?  Half-trillion-dollar deficits would have been unthinkable a decade ago; now they are cheered as progress.  We are living in an Obama era of diminished expectations.
                “But what hasn’t been advertised is the disgraceful longer-term outlook for our fiscal future, which took a turn for the worse.  And Obamacare is the main culprit.  In the long run, the budget deficit will be slightly more than $1.5 trillion WORSE than previously estimated.  In 2015, the deficit starts exploding again – to $912 billion in 2020, and then above $1 trillion annually from 2022 until the end of days….
                “By the way, one of the biggest ballooning expenses is interest on the debt, which rises from about $250 billion a year now to more than $800 billion in a decade….
                “Meanwhile, the debt burden gets worse, not better.  Our debt as a share of national output skyrockets from 72 percent to just shy of 80 percent of GDP within a decade.  Obamacare contributes to this thanks to the massive costs of Medicaid expansion and driving an expected 2 million people from the workforce.  The budget deal that relaxed the budget caps and sequestration also has ratcheted up spending in every future year.”

                An ad from The Heritage Foundation asked a very important question, a question that we should think about as we ponder the debt of our nation:  “If your house was flooded, would you raise the ceiling or pump out the water?”  I would pump out the water, and I believe that we need to stop raising the debt ceiling and start pumping out the water.  Since the entitlement programs are causing the debt to skyrocket, we must bring them under control.  We cannot continue to spend money that we do not have!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Henry Clay

                Henry Clay was born on April 12, 1777, at the Clay homestead in Hanover County, Virginia.  His parents were Reverend John Clay and Elizabeth Hudson Clay, and he was the seventh of nine children. The Clay family lived in a story-and-a-half frame house – “an above-average home for a common Virginia planter of that time.

                Henry’s father, a Baptist minister nicknamed “Sir John,” died in 1781, four years after Henry’s birth.  Sine he owned more than 22 slaves at the time of his death, he was part of the “planter class” in Virginia, meaning he owned 20 or more slaves.  He left two slaves to each of his sons.  He left 464 acres of land and 18 slaves to his widow.

                Elizabeth Clay married Capt. Henry Watkins, and Watkins was “an affectionate stepfather” to the widow’s children.  He moved the family to Richmond, Virginia, where he and Elizabeth had seven children together – making a total of sixteen children for her.

                With the help of his stepfather, Clay obtained employment in the office of the Virginia Court of Chancery where he showed an aptitude for law and became friends with George Wythe.  Wythe had a crippled hand and chose Clay to be his secretary.  After working closely together for four years, “the chancellor took an active interest in Clay’s future … [and] arranged a position for him with the Virginia attorney general, Robert Brooke.  Clay had no formal legal education but “read the law” by working and studying with Brooke and Wythe, who was the Chancellor of the Commonwealth of Virginia and also a mentor to Thomas Jefferson, John Marshall, and others.  Clay was admitted to the bar in 1797 and started his law career.

                Clay married Lucretia Hart on April 11, 1799, at the Hart home in Lexington, Kentucky.  (Her brother, Captain Nathaniel G.S. Hart, died in the Massacre of the River Raisin in the War of 1812.)   The couple became the parents of eleven children (six daughters and five sons):  Henrietta (1800-1801, Theodore (1802-1870), Thomas (1803-1871), Susan (1805-1825), Anne (1807-1835), Lucretia (1809-1823), Henry, Jr. (1811-1847), Eliza (1813-1825), Laura (1815-1817), James Brown (1817-1864), and John (1821-1887).

                Seven of the children preceded both their parents in death.  In fact, all six of their daughters died by 1835:  two died as infants or toddlers, two s children, and two as young adults.  Their deaths were of varying causes, whooping cough, yellow fever, and complications of childbirth.  Henry Clay, Jr. was killed in the Mexican-American War in the Battle of Buena Vista.

                Lucretia Hart Clay died in 1864 at the age of 83 and was interred with her husband in the vault of his monument at the Lexington Cemetery.  They are the great-grandparents of Madeline McDowell Breckinridge, the suffragette.

                Clay relocated his law business in November 1797 to Lexington, Kentucky, near where his family resided in Woodford County.  His legal skills and courtroom oratory helped establish a good reputation.  He was paid by some of his clients with horses and/or land, and he soon owned town lots and the Kentucky Hotel.  He owned a productive 600-acre plantation with slaves by 1812.  He called his plantation “Ashland” where he owned as many as 60 slaves.  He probably produced tobacco and hemp as they were the two chief commodity crops of the area known as the Bluegrass Region.

                Among Clay’s numerous clients was his father-in-law, Colonel Thomas Hart, a prominent businessman and early Kentucky settler.  His most well-known client was Aaron Burr in 1806.  Burr was indicted by US District Attorney Joseph Hamilton Daviess for planning an expedition into Spanish Territory located west of the Mississippi River.  With the help of his law partner John Allen, Clay successfully defended Burr.  The case left a bad taste in his mouth some years later when Thomas Jefferson convinced him that Daviess had been right in his charges.  When they met again many years later, Clay refused to shake Burr’s hand.

                Clay began his political career in 1803 when he was elected to serve in the Kentucky General Assembly as the representative of Fayette County.  In 1806 Clay was elected by the Kentucky legislature to complete the term of Senator John Breckinridge who had been appointed as US Attorney General.  He was sworn in as senator on December 29, 1806, and served for less than one year.  He was not constitutionally old enough to serve as Senator, a fact that no one seemed to notice, but he reached the age of eligibility three months and 17 days into his service in the Senate.

                Returning to Kentucky in 1807, Clay was elected to the office of Speaker of the state House of Representatives.  “On January 3, 1809, Clay introduced a resolution to require members to wear homespun suits rather than those made of imported British broadcloth.  Two members voted against the measure.  One was Humphrey Marshall, an `aristocratic lawyer who possessed a sarcastic tongue,’ who had been hostile toward Clay in 1806 during the trial of Aaron Burr.

                “Clay and Marshall nearly came to blows on the Assembly floor, and Clay challenged Marshall to a duel.  The duel took place on January 9 in Shippingport, Kentucky.  They each had three turns.  Clay grazed Marshall once, just below the chest.  Marshall hit Clay once in the thigh.”

                When US Senator Buckner Thurston resigned in 1810 to serve as a judge on the United States Circuit Court, Clay was again selected to fill his seat.  Clay was elected to the US House of Representatives in the summer of 1811.  On the first day of his first session in the House, he was chosen to be Speaker of the House – “something never done before or since.”  During the next fourteen years, “he was re-elected five times to the House and to the speakership….
                “Before Clay’s election as Speaker of the House, the position had been that of a rule enforcer and mediator.  Clay made the position one of political power second only to the President of the United States….”

                A dispute arose in 1820 over the extension of slavery in Missouri Territory; it was settled when Congress – with help from Clay - approved a plan known as the “Missouri Compromise.”  This compromise “brought in Maine as a free state and Missouri as a slave state” and forbade slavery north of Arkansas except in Missouri.  This compromise kept the number of slave states and the number of free states equal.

                By 1824 there was only one political party but four major candidates for the office of President, including Clay.  “Because of the unusually large number of candidates receiving electoral votes, no candidate secured a majority and the tie between the two front runners, Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams, was broken in the House of Representatives.

                “Clay used his political clout to secure the victory for Adams, who he felt would be both more sympathetic to Clay’s political views and more likely to appoint Clay to a cabinet position.  When Clay was appointed Secretary of State, his maneuver was called a `corrupt bargain’ by many of Jackson’s supporters and tarnished Clay’s reputation."

                In 1831 Clay was once again elected by Kentucky to serve in the U.S. Senate.  “His return to the U.S. Senate, after 20 years, 8 months, 7 days out of office, marks the fourth longest gap in service to the chamber in history.”

                After Andrew Jackson was elected to the office of President of the United States, Clay led the opposition to his policies.  Clay’s “supporters included the National Republicans, who were beginning to identify as `Whigs’ in honor of ancestors during the Revolutionary War.  They opposed the `tyranny’ of Jackson, as their ancestors had opposed the tyranny of King George III….”

                The National Republicans unanimously nominated Clay for the office of President, and the Democrats nominated Jackson.  Jackson was “highly popular” and won by a big margin of 55% to 37%.  Clay was nominated for the Whig Party in 1840 but lost at the party convention to William Henry Harrison, a war hero who was seen as more likely to win the election. 

                Clay was nominated in 1844 to run against James K. Polk of the Democrat Party but lost the election.  Clay opposed the admittance of Texas to the Union for fear “it would reawaken the slavery issue and provoke Mexico to declare war…. [Clay’s] warnings about Texas proved prescient.  The US annexation of Texas led to the Mexican-American War (1846-1848) (in which his namesake son died).  The North and South came to increased tensions during Polk’s Presidency over the extension of slavery into Texas and beyond.”

                After unsuccessfully campaigning for the Whig Party nomination for President and losing to Zachary Taylor in 1848, Clay made the decision to retire and go back to his Ashland estate in Kentucky.  He was there for less than a year, when he was once again elected to the U.S. Senate from Kentucky in 1849.  There was a new controversy over slavery in the area ceded to the United States by Mexico at the end of the Mexican-American War.  Clay proposed a series of resolutions on January 29, 1850, which became known as the Compromise of 1850.  The resolutions were put into one bill and included the following: 1) Admit California to the Union as a free state even though it would end the balance of free and slave states in the Senate; 2) Organize the Utah and New Mexico territories without any slavery provisions and allowing the populations of the territories to make the decision; 3) Prohibit slave trade – not slave ownership – in the District of Columbia; 4) Strengthen the Fugitive Slave Act; 5) Establish “boundaries for the state of Texas in exchange for federal payment of Texas’s ten millions dollar debt;” 6) Congress make a declaration that “it did not have the authority to interfere with the interstate slave trade.”

                Clay’s bill was opposed by the majority of the Whig Party and failed to pass.  He announced the next day that he intended to pass each part of the bill individually but was too physically exhausted to do it.  He “left the Senate to recuperate in Newport, Rhode Island, [and] Stephen A. Douglas separated the bills and guided them through the Senate.

                “Clay was given much of the credit for the Compromise’s success.  It quieted the controversy between Northerners and Southerners over the expansion of slavery, and delayed secession and civil war for another decade.  Senator Henry S. Foote of Mississippi … late said, `Had there been one such man in the Congress of the United States as Henry Clay in 1860-61 there would, I feel sure, have been no civil war.’"

                Even though he was ill, Clay continued to serve both the Union and Kentucky.  He died of tuberculosis on June 29, 1852, in Washington, D.C., at the age of 75.  He was survived by two sons, James Brown Clay and John Morrison Clay, who inherited his estate.  He was the “first person to lie in state in the United States Capitol.  He was buried in Lexington Cemetery.  His headstone reads:  “I know no North – no South – no East – No West.”  The “1852 pro-slavery novel Life at the South – better known as “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”As It Is, by W.L.G. Smith, is dedicated to his memory.”  His “Will freed all the slaves he held.”

                Clay named his plantation and mansion Ashland “for the many ash trees on the property.”  He owned as many as 60 slaves at peak of his operations.  He also “introduced the Hereford livestock breed to the United States.”  Clay is honored by a submarine, a dormitory, many schools, streets, towns, counties, etc. being named after him as well as several statues and stamps bearing his likeness.