Declaration of Independence

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

Monday, February 29, 2016

Vote Tomorrow!

                Tomorrow is voting day in several states.  In Alaska it is called the Presidential Preference Poll and will be held from 3:00-8:00 p.m.  I heard a person on a national radio program today say that Alaska will go for Trump.  I certainly hope that my fellow Alaskans will see past this loud mouth and look at Ted Cruz.  I liked Ted from the start, but I hoped the conservative senators would stay in the Senate and a conservative governor would be elected president.  That is one reason my first choice was Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin and my second choice was former Governor of Texas Rick Perry.  When both of them dropped out of the race, I began looking at other candidates.

                I passed on Governor John Kasich of Ohio early on because I did not like some of the things I heard about him.  I looked seriously at Dr. Ben Carson and decided that he would be eaten alive in the Washington environment.  I have heard too many negative things about Marco Rubio to want him as President, and I believe Donald Trump is unfit for the office of President of the United States.

                I like what Rick Perry said today about Ted Cruz:  “If you’re a … Christian, if you are a supporter of our veterans, you need to go and you need to vote overwhelmingly for Ted Cruz…. He is the person that is going to take two checklists with him every day to the Oval Office.  One is the Bible.  And the other is the United States Constitution.”

                Rush Limbaugh declared on his program one day:  “I opened the program yesterday saying, `You will never, ever have to worry about that with Ted Cruz.’  And then I expanded on it.  And let me say one thing:  If conservatism is your bag, if conservatism is the dominating factor in how you vote, there is no other choice for you in this campaign than Ted Cruz, because you are exactly right:  This is the closest in our lifetimes we have ever been to Ronald Reagan.
                “In terms of doctrinaire, understandable, articulated, implementable conservatism, there’s nobody closer.  But I think the electorate at this point in time....”

                We cannot go far wrong with a President who loves the Bible and the Constitution.  I want a President that I won’t have to worry about.  I agree with Rick Perry and Rush Limbaugh:  If you are Christian and/or conservative, if you are one of the “anybody but Trump crowd, if you want a President that can be trusted, there is no one else besides Ted Cruz for you.  Please pray for our nation and about your choice.  I have prayed about my choice and feel strongly that I should support Ted Cruz.  I hope you will also!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

New Justice 2

                The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday is whether or not Barack Obama and the Senate should select a new justice for the U.S. Supreme Court.  The Constitution clearly states that the President has the right to nominate a new justice; it also clearly states that the Senate has the responsibility to vet any potential justice and vote on the nomination.

                The Senate Democrats in the past have delayed the selection process and thus have no right to find fault with Republicans doing the same.  The Daily Signal reports that none other than Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is calling for the Senate to follow “the Biden Rules.”  Basically, the Biden rules state that lawmakers should not fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court during a presidential campaign but leave the vacancy for the incoming President to fill.

                “In a floor speech June 25, 1992, Sen. Joe Biden, then chairman of the Judiciary Committee, argues that senators `should seriously consider not scheduling confirmation hearings on [any Bush] nomination until after the political campaign season is over.’
                “It wouldn’t be prudent, Biden said, for Bush to nominate someone to the Supreme Court during what he predicted would be `one of the bitterest, dirtiest presidential campaigns we have seen in modern times.’”

                During the presidential contest between George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, the records of roll call votes state that “the Senate confirmed only one circuit court judge” for the entire election year.

                Biden words are:  “It is my view that if a Supreme Court justice resigns tomorrow, or within the next several weeks, or resigns at the end of the summer, President Bush should consider following the practice of a majority of his predecessors and not – and not – name a nominee until after the November election is completed.”

                It sounds to me that what was good enough for the Democrats should be good enough for the Republicans.  Why should Republicans play nice with justices and judges while Democrats do not?

Saturday, February 27, 2016


                Jesus Christ visited ancient America after His resurrection.  He taught the Nephites many of the same things that He taught to the people in the Old World.  After speaking to the people, He prepared to leave in order to visit His “other sheep.”

                The Savior was aware that the people could not understand all that He had taught to them.  He gave them a pattern to follow in order to be prepared to learn more.  “Therefore, go ye into your homes, and they had upon the things which I have said, and ask of the Father, in my name, that ye may understand, and prepare your minds for the morrow, and I come unto you again” (3 Nephi 17:3).

                The first action He suggested was to go home and ponder what He taught them.  Ponder means to think deeply.  We are commanded in several places in the scriptures to ponder what we see, read, and hear.  President Marion G. Romney of the First Presidency explained that there is power in pondering.

                “As I have read the scriptures, I have been challenged by the word ponder, so frequently used in the Book of Mormon.  The dictionary says that ponder means `to weigh mentally, think deeply about, deliberate, meditate.’ …
                “Pondering is, in my feeling, a form of prayer.  It has, at least, been an approach to the Spirit of the Lord on many occasions.  Nephi tells us of one such occasion.
                “`For it came to pass,’ he wrote, `after, `after I had desired to know the things that my father had seen, and believing that the Lord was able to make them known unto me, as I sat pondering in mine heart I was caught away in the Spirit of the Lord, yea, into an exceeding high mountain. …’ (1 Ne. 11:1.  Italics added.)

                “Then follows Nephi’s account of the great vision he was given by the Spirit of the Lord, because he believed the words of his prophet father and had such a great desire to know more that he pondered and prayed about them” (“Magnifying One’s Calling in the Priesthood,Ensign, July 1973, 90).  

Teach the Children about Jesus Christ

                We can strengthen our families, communities, and nations by teaching the rising generation about Jesus Christ.  Knowledge of the Savior helps us to meet the stresses and strains of life and comforts us during adversity.  Our children and youth deserve the power that comes from knowing about the Savior.

                After the resurrection of the Savior, He visited among the inhabitants of ancient America.  On one occasion He commanded that the children to be brought forward and waited for all of them to come. Then “he took their little children, one by one, and blessed them, and prayed unto the Father for them.”  (See the Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, 3 Nephi 17:21.)

                The Savior later spent time with the children again.  He taught and ministered “unto the children of the multitude of whom hath been spoken, and he did loose their tongues, and they did speak unto their fathers great and marvelous things, even greater than he had revealed unto the people; and he loosed their tongues that they could utter.”  (See 3 Nephi 26:14.)

                Sister Michaelene P. Grassli spoke of the ability of little children to have spiritual experiences:  “It’s significant to me that … the Savior gave the most sacred teachings only to the children, then loosed their tongues so they could teach the multitude….
                “Is it any wonder that following the Savior’s visit to the Nephites, they lived in peace and righteousness for two hundred years?  Because of miraculous instructions, blessings, and attention they and their children received, righteousness was perpetuated by their children’s children for many generations.
                “Let us not underestimate the capacity and potential power of today’s children to perpetuate righteousness.  No group of people in the Church is as receptive to the truth” (“Behold Your Little Ones,” Ensign, Nov. 1992, 92-94).  

                A stake president described a similar experience taking place when President Spencer W. Kimball attended an area conference.  Fifteen thousand members of the Church from four countries met in a stadium in Chili.  “We asked President Kimball what he would like to do after the conference.  His eyes full of tears, he said, `I would like to see the children.’  One of the priesthood leaders announced over the microphone that President Kimball would like to shake the hands or bless each of the children in the stadium.  The people were astounded – there was a great silence.   President Kimball greeted about two thousand children one by one, crying as he shook their hands or kissed them or put his hands on their heads and blessed them.  The children were very reverent and looked at him and cried too.  He said he’d never felt this kind of spirit in his life.  It was a tremendous moment in the lives of all the Church members there.” (See Janet Peterson and Eduardo Ayala, “Friend to Friend,” Friend, Mar. 1996, 6-7.)

                We who love children and youth must do all that we can to strengthen against the darkness of our world.  The very best way to do so is to teach them about Jesus Christ.  When we have strengthened the rising generation, they will then have the power to strengthen their families, communities, and nations.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Truth and Lies

                The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is the simple fact that we must be able to discern between honesty and lies.  Some people believe that a politician is lying if he is talking.  Do any of us believe that there are honest politicians?  It does not help to have presidential candidates calling each other liars.

                I believe that Donald Trump is a liar; I believe that many Americans are so mesmerized by the lies Trump is telling that they cannot discern the truth of what he is saying.  Trump walked into a caucus area where Glenn Beck was speaking in support of Ted Cruz.  Trump said that there were “thousands of people” in the room but “not too many” people were listening to Beck.  He also claimed that Beck left the room.  Here is a picture that shows the truth of the “thousands of people" in the room and an article that explains what Beck did.  Check it out and see for yourself if Trump is an honest man.  

Let Your Light Shine

                My favorite part of the Book of Mormon is the book of Third Nephi, particularly the visit of the Savior to the Nephites after His resurrection.  I can just imagine how wonderful it was to have the Savior appear and then to listen to His teachings.  He taught similar information to the Nephites that He gave to the Jews.  Both groups were taught how to be disciples of Jesus Christ.

                The Savior taught the Beatitudes to both groups.  President Harold B. Lee suggested that the Beatitudes are the “constitution for a perfect life.”  The Beatitudes can be divided into two groups according to President Lee:  “Four of them have to do with our individual selves” while four “have to do with man’s social relations with others.”  (See Decisions for Successful Living [1973], 57, 60, as quoted in Book of Mormon Student Manual, Religion 121-122, p. 303.)

                The two groups suggested by President Lee have to do with self and with others.  The Beatitudes in the first group are:  (1) “Blessed are the poor in spirit who come unto me,” (2) “Blessed are all they that mourn,”
(3) “Blessed are all they who do hunger and thirst after righteousness,” and (4) “Blessed are all the pure in heart.”
The four in the second group are:  (1) “Blessed are the meek,” (2) Blessed are the merciful,” (3) “Blessed are all the peacemakers,” and (4) Blessed are all they who are persecuted for my name’s sake.”  (See Matthew 5:3-10 and 3 Nephi 12:3-10.)

                Another teaching of the Savior given to both Jew and Nephites concerns the commandment to be a good example.  “Verily, verily, I say unto you, I give unto you to be the light of this people.  A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.
                “Behold, do men light a candle and put it under a bushel?  Nay, but on a candlestick, and it giveth light to all that are in the house;
                “Therefore let your light so shine before this people, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”  (See 3 Nephi 12:14-16 and Matthew 5:14-16.)

                I was particularly touched when I read this quote in my Book of Mormon studies because I remembered the last address by President Thomas S. Monson on this subject.  In the last General Conference President Monson said, “Recently, as I have been reading and pondering the scriptures, two passages in particular have stayed with me.  Both are familiar to us.  The first is from the Sermon on the Mount:  `Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.’  The second scripture is one which came to my mind as I pondered the meaning of the first.  It is from the Apostle Paul’s Epistle to Timothy:  `Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.’ 
                “I believe the second scripture explains, in great part, how we can accomplish the first.  We become examples of the believers by living the gospel of Jesus Christ in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, and in purity.  As we do so, our lights will shine for others to see.
                “Each of us came to earth having been given the Light of Christ.  As we follow the example of the Savior and live as He lived and as He taught, that light will burn within us and will light the way for others” (“Be an Example and a Light,Ensign, November 2015). 

                As I listened to President Monson speak, I could not help but marvel at these words:  “Recently, as I have been reading and pondering the scriptures….”  When prophets read and/or ponder the scriptures, they very often receive inspiration from God.  I suspect that Heavenly Father desires us to share the light of Christ with others as the world grows darker and darker.  I believe that He inspired His prophet to counsel us to be good examples and let our lights shine brightly for others to follow.

                Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles explained the importance of light for those traveling in dark places.  When he was growing up on Long Island, New York, he recognized the value of lighthouses protecting ships from hitting the rocks.  “We who have the gift of the Holy Ghost must be true to its promptings so we can be a light to others….
                “We never know who may be depending on us…” (“Out of Darkness into His Marvelous Light,Ensign, May 2002.  

                This is the lesson I believe President Monson was giving us.  We do not know who may be watching us, “depending on us” to lead them to safety.  May each of us be good examples and hold our lights up high that all may see our “good works and glory [our] Father who is in heaven.”

Tuesday, February 23, 2016


                I am fairly certain that my regular readers are noticing some differences in my posts.  For the past six weeks I have been learning mathematics.  Since my grandchildren are learning the same material in grade school and middle school, we are all aware that it is not quantum physics.

                I have been able to do basic math since grade school.  I have no problems with addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.  I can handle decimals and percentages; I have been balancing my checkbook for more than fifty years.  I know how to do fractions and have used them extensively in cooking and sewing for many years. 

                This course has included all of the above types of math plus much more in an effort to build a firm foundation for learning higher math in college.  I have learned many new things such as exponents and spreadsheets, simplifying and solving.  I am definitely using my brain in expanding my knowledge.

                I have attempted to learn algebra numerous times over more than fifty years but always became frustrated because I could not keep all the steps straights.  This time I am committed to learn how to do algebra.  I am committed to put in the necessary time and make the effort to do, and I spend enormous amounts of time working problems.   I have the order of operations down pat now and am beginning to understand how to work with pluses and minuses. 

                Sometimes I am still working problems when I would otherwise be writing posts and am often late posting.  I hope my readers will hang with me through this class.  So far, I have an A in the class, but I am only half through the course.  I know that if God wants me to learn algebra, I can do it because He will help me!  

Monday, February 22, 2016

Time for Action

                I normally reserve Tuesday’s for VIPs, but I do not have anyone of whom I wish to write.  The United States are deep into a presidential election, including all the negative talk.  I do not believe this is not a normal election season.  In 2012 Americans had the opportunity to elect Mitt Romney as our president, but we – not I personally but Americans in general – chose to elect Barack Obama.  Our nation has since gone downhill quickly.

                We now have an opportunity to elect a President who can and will right the ship of state; however, Americans seem to be gravitating to politicians who do not have the desire or the ability to do so.  We have a self-declared socialist, a former Secretary of State who is a treasonous liar, and Republicans that rank from liberal to conservative.  As far as I am concerned, there is only one candidate who has the knowledge and ability to right our nation.

                I am far from the only one who thinks we are at turning point, a crossroads.  John W. Whitehead wrote an interesting article about our times.  “America is at a crossroads.  History may show that from this point forward, we will have left behind any semblance of constitutional government and entered into a militaristic state where all citizens are suspects and security trumps freedom.

                “Certainly, this is a time when government officials operate off their own inscrutable, self-serving playbook with little in the way of checks and balances, while American citizens are subjected to all manner of indignities and violations with little hope of defending themselves.”

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Supreme Court Vacancy

                This Constitution Monday finds our nation at a crossroads since the unexpected death of the late Justice Antonin Scalia.  The Democrats, led by Barack Obama, want to replace him with a liberal, and Republicans want to replace him with another conservative like him.  Conservatives are attempting to preserve the Constitution in order to protect the freedoms of all Americans. 

                According to Josh Siegel, the news editor for The Daily Signal, some prior cases could receive another look if Justice Scalia is replaced by a liberal justice; those cases involve issues “such as race, religion, voting rights, campaign finance, and the Second Amendment.”

                “While it is normal practice for the Supreme Court to rule again on law it already settled, legal experts say the outcome of such an effort if a liberal justice replaced Scalia would be especially dramatic.  Indeed, a move from Scalia, a staunch conservative, to a liberal would be the largest ideological shift in the court since 1991, when Thurgood Marshall retired and was replaced by Justice Clarence Thomas.”

                Cases that could come up for retrial could include:  (1) District of Columbia v. Heller (Second Amendment), (2) Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (political spending), (3) Shelby County v. Holder (voting rights), (4) Burwell v. Hobby Lobby (companies forced to provide contraception), (5) Town of Greece v. Galloway (public prayer), and (6) Glossip v. Gross (lethal-injection in executions).

Saturday, February 20, 2016

God Watches Over Us

                We are all children of a loving Heavenly Father who loves us.  He protects and comforts us when we have problems.  He will help us with our problems if we but exercise faith in Him. 

                If you will remember, King Herod was a very jealous king.  When the wise men went to Herod asking for guidance to the new king, Herod told them to let him know when they found Jesus.  Herod told them that he wanted to worship the new king also, but he really wanted to harm the Baby.  Heavenly Father told the wise men in a dream that they should go home by another direction and not return to Herod.

                At the same time Heavenly Father sent an angel to tell Joseph to take Mary and the Child to Egypt.  Herod sent soldiers to kill all baby boys under the age of two years.   The angel returned to Joseph after Herod died to tell him it was safe to go home to Nazareth.

                Heavenly Father watched over Baby Jesus and kept Him safe.  He also watches over each of us.  When we obey His commandments and ask for His help, Heavenly Father is very willing to help us.  He will always help us, but He might not help us as we expect.

                When David O. McKay was a boy, he heard noises around the house and thought burglars were in the house.  His father was not at home, and David thought his mother would be as frightened as he was.  As he lay there in bed frightened, he remembered that his parents had taught him to pray.  Since he had been taught to pray on his knees beside his bed, he thought that he needed to get out of bed to pray.  This was a great test for him, but he climbed out of bed, knelt beside it, and offered his prayer. 

                “As he knelt down by the side of the bed, he prayed earnestly and with real faith.  Then, just as clearly as one person speaks aloud to another, he heard a voice say to him, `Don’t be afraid.  Nothing will hurt you.’  David then climbed back into bed and fell fast asleep.” (See Marie F. Felt, “David:  A Boy of Promise,” Instructor, September 1969, p. 330.)  David O. McKay became an Apostle and then President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

                I know that Heavenly Father watches over us because He has watched over and blessed me.  I have been in several situations where serious harm could have befallen me but did not.  One such time happened when I was driving up a mountain road just outside Anchorage and the Spirit whispered to me that I should slow down.  I was obedient and slowed down; just a moment or so later I saw a moose cross the highway right in front of me.  Because I had already slowed down, I avoided a collision with the moose.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Protection Needed

                As parents and grandparents, we can strengthen our homes, communities, and nations by remembering that it takes only one generation for apostasy to take place.  Each generation of youth must be taught the gospel and assisted in their conversion to the teachings of Jesus Christ.  We must be vigilant in teaching the gospel in our homes and helping the rising generation to become truly converted to the teachings of Jesus Christ.

                We read in 3 Nephi 1:29 that “there was also a cause of much sorrow among the Lamanites; for behold, they had many children who did grow up and began to wax strong in years, that they became for themselves, and were led away by some who were Zoramites, by their lyings and their flattering words, to join those Gadianton robbers.”

                We do not have enemies by the name of “Zoramites” or “Gadianton robbers,” but we do have people in the world leading youth away by their “lyings” and “flattering words.”  Bernie Sanders is a self-proclaimed socialist, and millennials are flocking to hear him speak.  Since socialism is the direct opposite of democracy, we have great need to be concerned.  Sanders is not the only person attempting to lead our rising generation away into darkness.

                Presidency Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency taught:  “The young people of the Church … hold the future in their hands.  The Church has always been one generation away from extinction.  If a whole generation were lost, which will not happen, we would lose the Church.  But even a single individual lost to the gospel of Jesus Christ closes doors for generations of descendants, unless the Lord reaches out to bring some of them back.”  (See Church Educational System conference on the Book of Mormon, Aug. 14, 2001, as quoted in Book of Mormon Student Manual, Religion 121-122, p. 288.)  

                As the world darkens we must become lights for the rising generation and lead them in the paths of righteousness.  We can strengthen our homes, communities, and nations by assisting our youth in strengthening themselves against the temptations of Satan.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Capitalism vs. Socialism

                The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is the simple fact that capitalism protects freedom and socialism does not.  Economist Milton Friedman is known as an “intellectual giant and the father of economic freedom.”  He was a guest on The Phil Donahue Show in 1979 and explained the difference between socialism and capitalism.  I think it is a good explanation and hope you watch it.

                We are in the midst of a very important campaign for the office of the President of the United States.  The millennials are flocking to listen to Bernie Sanders, who is a self-declared socialist.  Sanders is strongly challenging Hilary Clinton for the Democrat ticket.  They are both liberals, but Sanders calls himself a socialist while Clinton calls herself a progressive.  Both would be bad for the United States and the world.

                Donald Trump has led the polls for numerous months on the Republican side.  He has an R in front of his name, but he is far from being a conservative.  I think of him as being a RINO – Republican in Name Only.  Several other Republicans are vying for the nomination of their party.  Most of them are center or center-left. 

                Only one Republican is a true conservative and has proven his standing in many different ways and on numerous occasions.  That one candidate is Ted Cruz, a true constitutional conservative.  He is not a handsome man, but he does have the ability to explain the Constitution and how certain bills, etc. will affect our liberties.

                I found this quote from James Garfield that seems to apply to our current situation even though he was speaking about Congress.  “Now more than ever before, the people are responsible for the character of the Congress.  If that body be ignorant, reckless, and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness and corruption.  If it be intelligent, brave, and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities to represent them in the national legislature…. If the next centennial does not find us a great nation … it will be because those who represent the enterprise, the culture, and the morality of the nation do not aid in controlling the political forces.”

                The same goes for the office of President:  If we tolerate a socialist or corrupt President, we lean socialist and corrupt.  I believe it is time that the people of the United States look deeply into their souls to see what kind of people we really are.  If we – the citizens of the United States - are to maintain our liberty, our Constitution, and our way of life, we must elect leaders who are honest and law-abiding and who will preserve and protect our Constitution.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Are You Prepared?

                Brother M, the instructor for my Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ class, gives wonderful insights into our lessons each week.  His past two screencasts have been exceptional and gave me much to ponder.  I thought I would share some of his insights with my readers.

                I shared last week about the visit by Samuel the Lamanites to the Nephites to call them to repentance.  He was cast out of the city and was heading home when he was commanded to return and present the message that would come into his heart.  Samuel could not get back into the city so he climbed up on top of the top of the city wall.  As part of his message, he gave some signs of the birth of Jesus Christ as well as some signs of His death. 

                In Helaman 14:3, Samuel said that there would be “great lights in heaven” and “no darkness” on the night before Christ was born.  In Helaman 14:20, Samuel gave a sign for Christ’s death:  “… in that day that he shall suffer death the sun shall be darkened and refuse to give his light unto you; and also the moon and the stars; and there shall be no light upon the face of this land, even from the time that he shall suffer death, for the space of three days, to the time that he shall rise again from the dead.”

                Third Nephi 1:15 tells us that “at the going down of the sun there was no darkness.”  We read in Third Nephi 8 about natural disasters that took place at the time of Christ’s death.  There was a terrible storm with thunder, lightning, tempests, and quaking of the earth.  This storm lasted for three hours and was followed by three days of darkness.  After experiencing a 30-60 second earthquake a couple of weeks ago, I can testify that three hours would be a very long time to experience shaking.  Then there total darkness because “there could be no light, because of the darkness, neither candles, neither torches; neither could there be fire kindled with their fine and exceedingly dry wood, so that there could not be any light at all” (Third Nephi 8:21).

                Jesus Christ is the Light of the world.  All light comes from Him – the sun, the moon, and the stars.  When we see these lights, we actually see the Light of Christ.  (See Doctrine and Covenants 88:6-13).  When Christ returns to earth, the sun will “hide its face,” the “moon shall be bathed in blood,” and the stars “shall cast themselves down.”  (See Doctrine and Covenants 88:87.)  

                The previous information contains insights from last week, and the following information from this week adds to it.  We are now studying about what happened between the birth of Christ and His visit to the Nephites after His resurrection.  President Ezra Taft Benson compared those days to our days:  “The record of the Nephite history just prior to the Savior’s visit reveals many parallels to our own day as we anticipate the Savior’s second coming.”  (See Ensign, May 1987, 4.)

                Even though I look forward to the return of Jesus Christ, I still feel some anxiety about what will happen in the days leading up to His return.  I often wonder if I am properly prepared for this exciting event, and I was comforted by my instructor’s insights.  He explained that there is a way that we can determine our readiness.  We live in a world that has many symbols – Apple has an apple and Nike has a swoosh.

                The First Presidency has told us to focus on the temple and to make the temple a symbol for our lives.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has published several pamphlets to help the youth live righteous lives; the cover of each of these pamphlets has a picture of the Salt Lake Temple.

                President Gordon B. Hinckley explained that “we want to focus youth on the temple as the place we want them to arrive.  Temple service is the end product of all of our teaching and activity.” (See Ensign, Nov. 2005, p 4.)  President Hinckley also said, “Every individual who qualifies for a temple recommend is also qualified as a faithful Latter-day Saint.”

                Temples are dotting the earth at the present time and increasing steadily (150 dedicated temples next month with 173 temples announced and dedicated).  Yet, as my instructor pointed out, John the Revelator wrote, “And I saw no temple therein:  for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it” (Revelation 21:22). 

                This scripture connects the information about light and temples.  Jesus Christ is the Light of the world, and He is also the temple.  Brother M. concluded that we can know how we are living by how close we are connected to the temple.  If we are connected with the temple through regular and frequent temple service, we are considered faithful Latter-day Saints and prepared for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. 

                I love to be in the temple and consider my week incomplete until I complete at least one, and usually two, temple sessions.  This knowledge brings great comfort to my soul as I continue to prove myself worthy to return to the presence of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Confirming a New Justice

                Many people are concerned about when and how the new opening on the Supreme Court will be filled.  Some of those people are not involved in politics and do not understand the process.  Others know the process but wonder what will happen.

                A young woman I know asked me to explain the process because she was confused about what she was hearing.  She wondered how the Senate could prevent the President from nominating a person to fill the opening.  I explained to her that the President had the right to nominate anyone he wants; but the Senate is not obligated to confirm anyone simply because the President nominates them.

                Republicans and Democrats are clashing over how to handle the sudden vacancy on the Supreme Court, but this clash is not new.  In fact, there has been a clash for over a year.  “Since Republicans took control of the Senate in January 2015, the process that would enable Mr. Obama to fill vacancies on the 12 regional federal courts of appeal have essentially been halted.  Mr. Obama has managed only one appointment because Republican senators have refused to sign off ahead of time on nominees for judgeships in their states – a traditional step before a president makes a nomination.
                “In the weeks before Justice Scalia’s death, influential conservative groups and commentators called on Senate Republicans to ensure that Mr. Obama appointed no more appeals court judges.”

                Hans von Spakovsky, an expert on such things at The Heritage Foundation, posted an interesting
article about the Senate’s responsibility in confirming new justice.  He calls it a “wrong-headed argument” for the Senators to defer to the president’s choices and explains why.  The entire article is interesting.

                “The deference rule for executive-branch nominees should not apply, however, to judicial nominees.  The judiciary is an entirely separate branch of the government, part of the system of checks designed to prevent any one branch of the government from becoming too powerful.

                “Unlike executive-branch officials, federal judges do not work for the president; neither do they work for Congress.  If Congress – specifically the Senate – gives undue deference to a president’s judicial nominees, it cedes tremendous power to the president to shape and control the judiciary, the third branch of the government.  After all, federal judges have lifetime appointments.  They serve long after a president’s term ends and long after that president’s views, policies, and priorities have been replaced by the views, policies, and priorities of a new president elected by the American people.

                “Our doctrine of separation of powers demands that both the legislative and executive branches have a voice in who become federal judges with lifetime appointments.  Otherwise, giving undue deference gives the executive branch too much power over what is supposed to be an independent, separate part of our federal government….

                “The Senate has an absolute duty to delve deeply into the judicial philosophy of such nominees.  The Senate must ensure that any nominee’s past history and prior statements demonstrate an uncompromising fidelity to the Constitution as written…. It is up to the Senate to investigate the credibility of such claims based on the nominee’s overall record, a record that provides actual evidence of his or her view of the Constitution and the rule of law.”

                The process of nominating and confirming a new justice is interesting.  I encourage all my readers to study the process and watch what happens.  The person who is confirmed for the position may play an important in protecting and defending the Constitution; the wrong person will simply push our nation further down the slippery slope to socialism.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Antonin Scalia

                Antonin Gregory Scalia, the only child of Salvatore Eugene Scalia (1903-1986) and Catherine Louise Panaro Scalia (1905-1985), was born on March 11, 1936,  in Trenton, New Jersey.  His father was an Italian immigrant from Sicily; he was also a “graduate student at Columbia University and clerk at the time of his son’s birth.”  He later became a professor at Brooklyn College.  His mother was also of Italian descent and was a teacher.

                The Scalia family moved to the Elmhurst section of Queens, New York, when Antonin was six years old.  He attended P.S. 13 until completing the eighth grade.  He earned scholarship to Xavier High School in Manhattan; there he “graduated first in the class of 1953 and served as the valedictorian.”  He considered himself “never cool” because he invested his time in schoolwork.

                A former classmate described Scalia as “conservative” and “brilliant.  Scalia graduated “valedictorian and summa cum laude” from Georgetown University in 1957.  While in school he was “a champion collegiate debater” and “a critically praised thespian.”  He studied abroad at University of Fribourg, Switzerland, as a junior in college.  He “graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law in 1960.”

                Scalia was appointed as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States by President Ronald Reagan in 1986.  He “was described as the intellectual anchor for the originalist and textualist position in the Court’s conservative wing.”  He “served on the Court for nearly thirty years” until he died in his sleep on the night of February 12 or the morning of February 13, 2016, at Cibolo Creek Ranch, a resort near Shafter, Texas.

                Justice Scalia married Maureen McCarthy in 1960, and the couple became parents of nine children.  They were members of the Roman Catholic Church.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Death of Justice

                Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died of apparent natural causes over the weekend.  He has been acclaimed as a “patriot” and “one of the greatest Justices in history.”  He was a solid conservative while serving on the highest court of the land and will be greatly missed.  His death leaves an open position on the Court that Democrats want to fill immediately and Republicans want to put a decision on hold until after January 20, 2017.  If a conservative is elected President, we may get another conservative Justice.
                Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) eloquently explained the greatness of Justice Scalia:  “Today our Nation mourns the loss of one of the greatest Justices in history – Justice Antonin Scalia.  A champion of our liberties and a stalwart defender of the Constitution, he will go down as one of the few Justices who single-handedly changed the course of legal history.
                “As liberals and conservatives alike would agree, through his powerful and persuasive opinions, Justice Scalia fundamentally changed how courts interpret the Constitution and statutes, returning the focus to the original meaning of the text after decades of judicial activism.  And he authored some of the most important decisions ever, including District of Columbia v. Heller, which recognized our fundamental right under the Second Amendment to keep and bear arms.  He was an unrelenting defender of religious liberty, free speech, federalism, the constitutional separation of powers, and private property rights.  All liberty-loving Americans should be in mourning.
                “Justice Scalia’s three decades on the Court was one of President Reagan’s most consequential legacies.  Our prayers are with his beloved wife Maureen, their nine children, and their precious grandchildren.”

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Sabbath Day

                The topic of keeping the Sabbath Day holy has been discussed frequently over the past year by speakers in general conference, stake conference, and sacrament meeting.  We even have a Relief Society conference scheduled for later this month on how to honor the Sabbath.  While our world is crumbling all around us, our leaders are encouraging us to keep the Sabbath Day holy; however, none of them are giving us lists of do and don’t.  In fact, Elder Johnson told us at our last stake conference that how we honor the Sabbath is between us and the Lord.

                I found an excellent article by Greg Trimble on this topic and suggest that you read it.  He titled his article “How To Know if You’re Breaking the Sabbath” and gave us much information to think about.  I am not sure what to think of his claim that Adam and Eve were created on the eighth day because I have never heard this previously and did not get it from my own scripture study; therefore, I will be doing more research on that concept.  The rest of the article was very helpful to me and hopefully to you.

                I liked this idea very much:  “My personal belief is this.  I believe the primary purpose of the Sabbath is to preserve the `religion of our families.’  The word `religion’ comes from the Latin `re-ligare’ which means `to bind.’  The Sabbath has always been thought of as the day in which we `get religion’ … but if we take the true meaning of religion as our guide … the Sabbath is actually a day set apart for us `to bind’ with our families.”

                I know that keeping the Sabbath Day holy is a very important commandment of God, and I know that He will bless us as we keep His day sacred.  I believe that we can know if we are honoring the Sabbath properly by asking God about what we should do.  This is a practice I initiated in my life about six months ago and have known what the Lord requires of me.  I suggest you adopt this practice also.  I know that we can have peace even in these troubled times as we keep the commandments and honor God, His name, and His day as He would have us do.

Valentine Boxes

                Families are strengthened when parents allow their children to take responsibility for their own school duties.  If parents do the assignments, children will never learn to do their own work.

                I am specifically thinking of the assignment to make a valentine box to receive valentines from classmates.  This is a practice that has been around since I was in grade school.  I remember working hard every year to make a beautiful box from construction paper, etc.  Then I would get to school only to see fancy boxes with ruffled crepe paper, doilies, etc.  I wondered how my classmates could make such beautiful boxes.  I did not realize until I had children in elementary school that those valentine boxes were made by adults – or at least older teenagers.  My husband said that he never made a valentine box.  His school provided envelopes for the children to decorate to receive their valentines.

                Today I saw a picture of the valentine box taken to school by one of my granddaughters.  It looked like a Kleenex box with a floral design and a sign saying, “Happy Valentine’s Day.”  My first thought was “My granddaughter is a genius!”  Then I wished beautiful Kleenex boxes were around when I was a kid!

                My point is that children develop talents and self-confidence by doing their own assignments whether that assignment is academic or simply a valentine box.  Parents have the responsibility to step back and allow their children to learn and develop.  

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Economically Free States

                The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday comes from Logan Albright at Freedom Works:  “economically free states are the most successful.”  In his interesting article of the same title, Mr. Albright explains why Texas, Florida, New Hampshire, and South Dakota “finished near the stop of the pack” of a report grading the economic freedom of states.  The states have the freedom to make their own laws and regulations; those with laws and regulations that encourage economic freedom are more successful because “people generally flock to locations where they can get a good job, raise their children as they please, and afford a decent standard of living….”

                Mr. Albright concluded his article:  “Any way you look at it, more economic freedom translates into better communities with more opportunity.  Americans are silently acknowledging this fact by voting with their feet, even if they continue to vote for progressive policies at the ballot box.  The laboratories of democracy are working as our founders intended, showing the country which policies succeed and which fail.  Now we just have to wake people up enough to realize it, and spread the prosperity of Texas, Florida, and North Dakota to the rest of the nation.”

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

What Would You Do?

                What would you do if a prophet appeared in your life and told you that Jesus Christ would return to earth within five years?  Would you believe him or mock him?  Would you take action to change your life or would you stay as you are?   The Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ contains a story about a prophet suddenly appearing among the Nephites and telling the people that Jesus Christ would be born in five years.

                Nephi was a prophet of God who had recently received the sealing power, the same power possessed by the prophet Elijah.  Nephi and his equally righteous brother had been traveling throughout the land of the Nephites preaching, teaching, and calling the people to repentance.  Still the Nephites remained very wicked while the Lamanites had become righteous.  One day Samuel the Lamanite appeared in a Nephite city and began preaching.  He preached for “many days,” but the people did not appreciate his message and cast him out of their city. 

                Samuel was in the act of returning to his people “when the voice of the Lord came unto him, that he should return again, and prophesy unto the people whatsoever things should come into his heart” (Helaman 13:3).  Samuel was obedient and returned, but the people would not allow him to enter their city.  The prophet Samuel was determined to deliver God’s message to the Nephites, and he climbed upon the wall of the city in order to deliver it.     
                Samuel told the Nephites that “an angel of the Lord hath declared it unto me, and he did bring glad tidings to my soul.  And behold, I was sent unto you to declare it unto you also that ye might have glad tidings; but behold ye would not receive me.
                “Therefore, thus saith the Lord:  Because of the hardness of the hearts of the people of the Nephites, except they repent I will take away my word from them, and I will withdraw my Spirit from them, and I will suffer them no longer, and I will turn the hearts of their brethren against them.
                “And four hundred years shall not pass away before I will cause that they shall be smitten; yea, I will visit them with the sword and with famine and with pestilence….
                “But if ye will repent and return unto the Lord your God I will turn away mine anger, saith the Lord; yea, thus saith the Lord, blessed are they who will repent and turn unto me, but wo unto him that repenteth not….” (Helaman 13:7-11).

                The Nephites still did not like Samuel’s message, but he continued to deliver the words of the Lord.  He told the Nephites that the Son of God would be born on earth in five years; he told them that they would know when the Christ was born because there would be no darkness in their land during the night before His birth.  He also told them that a new star would appear in the sky, “such an one as ye never have beheld; and this also shall be a sign unto you” (Helaman 14:1-5)
                Samuel was not finished with his prophecy about the birth of Jesus Christ.  He continued with a prophecy about the death of Christ and gave the signs of His death and the destruction that would take place at that time.  Samuel continued with his warning, and many people believed his words; these people went to the prophet Nephi, confessed their sins and were baptized (Helaman 16:1).

                There were also many people who were angry with Samuel because they did not believe his words.  They began to cast stones at him and to shoot arrows at him as he stood upon the wall.  More people became believers when they saw that the stones and arrows could not touch Samuel.  They too sought Nephi to confess their sins and be baptized (Helaman 16:3).

                Most of the people did not believe the words of Samuel and tried to capture him.  When Samuel was finished delivering his message, he jumped down from the wall and went back to his people.  The Nephites heard no more about him.  (Helaman 16:6-8).

                So, I ask you again:  what would you do if you heard a prophet crying repent and prepare the way of the Lord?  Would you hear his words and be baptized?  Would you change from wickedness to righteousness?

                What would you do if I told you that there is a prophet on earth calling us to repentance in preparation for the return of Jesus Christ to earth?  Would you believe me and seek him out or would you get angry and mock him?

                The Lord’s prophet on the earth in our day is Thomas S. Monson; he is the prophet, seer, and revelator for our day and the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  In his latest message in December 2015, President Monson encouraged all of us to make room in our lives and hearts for the Savior as we celebrated Christmas.  

                President Monson spoke twice in our last General Conference, October 2015.  He counseled the brethren in the priesthood session to keep the commandments.  “God’s commandments are not given to frustrate us or to become obstacles to our happiness.  Just the opposite is true.  He who created us and who loves us perfectly knows just how we need to live our lives in order to obtain the greatest happiness possible.  He has provided us with guidelines which, if we follow them, will see us safely through this often treacherous mortal journey.  We remember the words of the familiar hymn:  `Keep the commandments!  In this there is safety; in this there is peace.’” 

                To the general Church membership, President Monson gave counsel to be a good example to others and let our lights shine.  “Recently, as I have been reading and pondering the scriptures, two passages in particular have stayed with me.  Both are familiar to us.  The first is from the Sermon on the Mount:  `Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.’  The second scripture is one which came to my mind as I pondered the meaning of the first.  It is from the Apostle Paul’s Epistle to Timothy:  `Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.’
                “I believe the second scripture explains, in great part, how we can accomplish the first.  We become examples of the believers by living the gospel of Jesus Christ in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, and in purity.  As we do so, our lights will shine for others to see.”  

                There we have the words of the living prophet of God telling us how we can prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.  President Monson counseled us to make room for Christ in our lives and in our hearts, to keep the commandments, to be good examples, and to let our light shine for others to follow.

                Now, what will you do with this information?  Will you believe it?  Will you accept it?  Will you follow the counsel of the living prophet?  As to myself, I believe it and accept it as though the words came from the mouth of God.  I will make room for the Christ in my life and in my heart.  I will keep His commandments.  I will be a good example and let my light shine that others may also find the Christ.  I will follow President Monson’s counsel because I know he is God’s prophet on earth today.