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, June 30, 2017

My Grandparents

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

            Here is the question for Week 4: What were your grandparents like? I personally knew only one of my four grandparents because three of them passed away before I was born. I knew only my mother’s mother, plus my father’s step-mother known to me as Aunt Mary. I do not wish to sound critical about any of my grandparents as I share what I know about them.

            Dad’s parents had four children – with Dad as the youngest – when Grandpa was called on a mission to Great Britain. Grandma worked really hard to take care of the children and earn the money to keep her husband in the mission field. When he returned from his mission, he brought a young woman named Mary and her brother home with him. He did not treat Grandma well, and they eventually divorced. Grandpa married the young woman, and they had four children together – two boys and two girls.

            Aunt Mary was sort of plump when I knew her with long white hair worn wrapped around her head in a braid. Even though Aunt Mary was not always kind to Dad and his father was sometimes violent, Dad always spoke of them with respect. I remember visiting Aunt Mary as a child/teenager with Dad and Mom after Sunday School. He always treated her honorably. I developed a relationship with her when I was junior high school. My friend and I would walk the short distance from the school to her home occasionally to see her. After I married I did not think so highly of the woman who was instrumental in the divorce of my grandparents.

            Grandma later married again. She encouraged and helped him to be sealed to his first wife. At the time a woman could be sealed to only one man, and Grandma was already sealed to Grandpa. I read somewhere that she said, “I am sealed to a man who does not want me, and I cannot be sealed to the man who loves me” – or something similar. She died on the way to a hospital – maybe from cancer. I was happy to hear that she was sealed to her second husband.

            My mother’s father was a few years older than his wife. He had several occupations, first working for a saw mill and later becoming an Indian agent. The family lived in Oregon and Arizona before settling in Fort Duchesne. I understand that Grandpa helped to build the Vernal Tabernacle, now the Vernal Utah Temple.

            My mother’s mother was tall – about 5 foot 8 inches – and slender. She too had white hair that she wore in a bun at the back of her head. She also had a large – about one-half inch in diameter – brown age mark in the middle of her left cheek. After her husband died she moved to Salt Lake City and found work at the Salt Lake City Library. She worked at the library until she was 80 years old. The local paper printed an article about her when she retired.

            Grandma was always well dressed – like she was going to church - and even wore a hat with a hat pin holding it to her hair. She walked two blocks every morning to catch the bus uptown and two blocks home after work. She had a fun porch swing sitting on her front porch. I remember her being quite upset when someone stole some inserts from the arms of the swing.

            Even though she always seemed happy to see me, I knew that she favored my aunt’s children. They lived with her off and on between my aunt’s marriages, so it was only natural. However, I did feel sad when I learned that she gave my cousin a stuffed animal and did not send me even a birthday card. One day when I was staying with my grandmother, aunt, and her children, we had lunch or dinner. Everyone started to eat but me, and I sat with my arms folded. Someone asked why I was not eating, and I replied that we had not said the blessing. I was asked bless the food. I think that my grandmother drank coffee or tea, but I do not know for sure. I do know that she heated water and made a hot drink that had a strong smell to it.

            I believe that my father’s mother was the most faithful member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She completed a lot of genealogy and made sure that her second husband was sealed to his first wife. Dad always said that if he ever had to choose, he and his family would go with his mother.

            I am grateful for this Mother’s Day gift that encourages me to write the stories of my family. I feel certain that knowing a little bit about my grandparents will strengthen my family and thus strengthen our communities and nation.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Problem of Over-Stays

            The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday concerns the increase in people coming to the United States legally and staying illegally. The United States has an enormous problem with illegal immigration, but a huge part of the problem is people coming to the U.S. legally and overstaying their visa.

            David Inserra and Max Morrison at The Heritage Foundation discuss this problem and possible solutions in a recent article at The Daily Signal. They say that “visa overstays account for an estimated 40 percent of all illegal immigration in the United States.” They use figures from the Department of Homeland Security to show that “628,799 legal immigrants overstayed their visas in fiscal year 2016. Of that number, 544, 676 are still believed to be in the United States, meaning only 84,123 of those who initially overstayed ended up leaving the country.” They say that these numbers show the great need for the United States to implement “cost-effective solutions to curtail visa overstays and restore the integrity of our immigration system.”

            This author agrees with Inserra and Morrison. They quote the Homeland Security report as defining an overstay “as a nonimmigrant who lawfully enters the U.S. but remains beyond their allotted period of admission, and for whom there is no record of departure.” They explain that specific groups tend to overstay their visas more than other groups with the worst offenders being students and exchange visitors.

            The United States must do something and do it fast because the numbers of people overstaying their visas are increasing. Inserra and Morrison explain that the U.S. uses biometric and biographic entry requirements for any visitor that enters the nation by air or sea port. This information is “analyzed across intelligence and law enforcement databases to ensure they are not a threat.” The information collected by Customs and Border Protection officers includes name, country of origin, passport information, fingerprints and or facial and iris scans. The biographic information is used to “confirm an individual’s identity” when they leave.

            This program is expensive and would require “vast changes” to all points of entry in the U.S. The technology is not used, however, for people who overstay their visas. Inserra and Morrison suggest that funding for this program be stopped and the funds be redirected “to hire new Immigration and Customs Enforcement prosecutors and agents.”   
With increased numbers, ICE can locate overstayed visitors within the United States and remove them. Additionally, these extra funds can be used to supply and increase support for the 287(g) program that enlists the help of state and local authorities in enforcing federal immigration statutes.

            Inserra and Morrison assert that visa overstay problem can be tamed if the United States pursues “cost-effective solutions.” Since the Homeland Security report states that the numbers of overstays are increasing, action must be taken now to correct the problem before it grows worse.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Inequality in Religions

            Many people claim that all religions are equally good – or equally bad – according to their beliefs. They are mistaken in their beliefs. This writer believes that all religions have some good in them, but that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the restored gospel of Jesus Christ on the earth. There is no religion that is equal to the true gospel of Jesus Christ.

            A famous atheist and evolutionary biologist named Richard Dawkins dislikes all religions but find Islam to be especially bad. "It’s tempting to say all religions are bad, and I do say all religions are bad, but it’s a worse temptation to say all religions are equally bad, because they’re not."

            Dawkins was promoting a new book while speaking at the Cheltenham Science Festival. He is an advocate for religious education because religion – particularly Christianity – is an “important part” of European culture. He believes that religion should be taught in order for children to learn about different religions rather than just the one in which they are reared. He claims that Islam is the worst.

[Islam is the] most evil religion in the world [because] if you look at the actual impact that different religions have on the world, it’s quite apparent that, at present, the most evil religion in the world has to be Islam.

[Muslims suffer from the effects of Islam more than anyone else.] They suffer from the homophobia, the misogyny, the joylessness, which is preached by extreme Islam, ISIS and the Iranian regime. So it is a major evil in the world. We do have to combat it.

            Even though liberal Dawkins does not like the way President Donald Trump is addressing the issue of Islam, he also does not approve of the way liberals protect Muslims. "There’s this notion Islam and Muslims are this protected species…. That if we talk about them at all, or criticize at all, it’s somehow hurting or humiliating Muslims. It’s a ridiculous idea." Dawkins believes that unjust treatment should be “called out” “regardless of faith, culture, or creed.” Evil should not be condoned simply because it’s “their culture.”

            This author agrees with Dawkins in the belief that Islam is evil and should not be protected. Anyone who kills, rapes, terrorizes, or hurts other people – whether in the name of religion or not – is evil and should be called out. Nevertheless, all people who truly love God will also love and care for His children.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Income Inequality

            There is much talk about “income inequality” in our society, and legislators try all kinds of schemes to transfer income from the wealthy to the poor. Many people understand that wealth and prosperity are controlled by numerous factors, and two of those important factors are marriage and education. Marriage, or the lack thereof, could be the single most important factor. Many people believe that the real divide between the “haves” and “have nots” in this nation is marriage. Rabbi Daniel Lapin is one of them. 

People who are in intact marriages and live in intact families end up doing far, far better financially than people who are isolated and who live alone. Married people make far, far more money than single people do.

            According to Rabbi Lapin, the “haves” are those people who value marriage and education. It is valuable to become educated before having children, but it is essential to be married before beginning a family. People who have children without the benefit of marriage and education are often among the “have nots.”

            Congress and state legislatures would help the “have nots” much more by legislating programs that encourage marriage than they can by creating welfare programs. Marriage between a man and a woman is God’s eternal plan for the happiness and prosperity of His children. Americans – and everyone – can become so much more by following God’s plan.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Jaelene Hinkle

            The name Jaelene Hinkle may not be familiar to many people. She is a soccer player that most likely will not be known for her skills on the pitch. However, she may become famous because her faith means more to her than her fame.

            Hinkle withdrew from the U.S. Soccer team after she learned that the members of both the men’s and women’s teams would be wearing rainbow-colored jerseys next month. The organization decided that the teams would wear the shirts to honor LGBT pride. Her stated reason for leaving the team was “personal reasons.”

            There is no proof that Hinkle’s departure is related to the organization’s decision to celebrate gay pride. However, she made this statement on Instagram the same day.

I believe with every fiber in my body that what was written 2,000 years ago in the Bible is undoubtedly true…. It’s not a fictional book. It’s not a pick and choose what you want to believe. You either believe it, or you don’t. This world may change, but Christ and His Word NEVER will.

My heart is that as Christians we don’t begin to throw a tantrum over what has been brought into law today, but we become that much more loving. That through our love, the lost, rejected, and abandoned find Christ…. The rainbow was a [covenant] made between God and all his creation that never again would the world be flooded as it was when He destroyed the world during Noah’s time.

            This writer applauds Hinkle for staying true to her faith and for showing love while doing so. She stated her beliefs and concerns for other people. She definitely followed the example of the Apostle Paul when he said, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.” May all Christians be as true!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

President Is Top Boss

            There topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday is the power of the President of the United States. The President is the top guy in the executive branch of the federal government. He has the power to fire any of the appointees at any time.

            The media has been tied in knots for several weeks. They called for a special Senate investigation, and the results were a “nothing burger” as Senator Ted Cruz called it in the beginning. Former FBI Director James Comey did not to help his cause and may have put himself in deep trouble.

            The Blaze published an article about an interview done recently by MSNBC anchor Yasmin Vossoughian with Elizabeth Price Foley, a law professor at Florida International University. The interview concerned the charge that President Donald Trump committed obstruction of justice when he fired Comey last month. Democrats charge that Trump fired Comey because of the FBI investigation into possible collusion between the Russians and the Trump campaign. No evidence of collusion has been found, but that fact does not stop liberals.
Foley explained the situation as follows.

The FBI director works for the attorney general and the attorney general works for the president of the United States. All of these individuals have their jobs by the pleasure of the president’s appointment with the advice and consent of the Senate…. They can be fired by him at any time and for any reason….

To the extent that people want [to] try to make this obstruction of justice, there’s a million different layers why this is not technically obstruction of justice, either as a statutory matter or constitutional matter….

You don’t put discretionary limits on plenary constitutional authority and if you do what you do is you invite Article III non-elected politically non-accountable judges to second guess the president’s authority. You never want to have a constitutional regime that sets up that way.

Foley explained that people have two options if they do not like the fact that Trump fired Comey. They can impeach him and remove him from office or they can elect another President in 2020. This writer believes that liberals should back off and let the President do his job, especially if they will not or cannot take either of the above stated actions. 

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Personal Guidance from God

            About 600 years before the birth of Jesus Christ, a prophet named Lehi took his family and departed into the desert wilderness in obedience to the voice of the Lord. One morning Lehi received an unexpected but wonderful gift. His son Nephi writes about the experience.

And it came to pass that as my father arose in the morning, and went forth to the tent door, to his great astonishment he beheld upon the ground a round ball of curious workmanship; and it was of fine brass. And within the ball were two spindles; and the one pointed the way whither we should go into the wilderness” (Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, 1 Nephi 16:10).

            Another Book of Mormon prophet named Alma writes that the ball was called the Liahona and that it was a compass prepared by the Lord. He also says that the Liahona pointed the way that they should go in the wilderness and that it worked for them according to their faith.
(See Alma 37:38-40.) In other words, they had to exercise faith in Jesus Christ in order for the Liahona to tell them the direction they should go in order to find the promised land.

            President Thomas S. Monson, then Second Counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints explains that the Lord provided the Liahona for Lehi and that He also provides direction for us in our day but in a different form.

The same Lord who provided a Liahona for Lehi provides for you and for me today a rare and valuable gift to give direction to our lives, to mark the hazards to our safety, and to chart the way, even safe passage – not to a promised land, but to our heavenly home. The gift to which I refer is known as your patriarchal blessing. Every worthy member of the Church is entitled to receive such a precious and priceless personal treasure.

            Just as Lehi and his family had to exercise faith in Jesus Christ in order to reach their promised land, we must exercise faith in Christ to obtain divine direction for our lives. We must first believe that the patriarch has the authority to give us the blessing, and then we must exercise our faith to obtain the blessing. After receiving the blessing, we must follow the counsel given.

            President Monson continued by quoting instructions from the First Presidency to stake presidents about patriarch blessings in a letter dated June 28, 1958.

Patriarchal blessings contemplate an inspired declaration of the lineage of the recipient and, when so moved upon by the Spirit, an inspired and prophetic statement of the life mission of the recipient, together with such blessings, cautions and admonitions as the patriarch may be prompted to give for the accomplishment of such life’s mission, it being always made clear that the realization of all promised blessings is conditioned upon faithfulness to the gospel of our Lord, whose servant the patriarch is.

            Who is this patriarch that has the power to see the future and the authority to bestow such blessings? The Lord gave the responsibility for calling patriarchs to the Council of the Twelve Apostles. President Monson explains that from his “own experience I testify that patriarchs are called of God by prophecy.”

            The office of patriarch is an ordained office in the Melchizedek Priesthood. It is an office of blessing rather than of administration. Patriarchs carry the responsibility to remain worthy of revelation from God. President Monson describes the men who are called as patriarchs.

Patriarchs are humble men. They are students of the scriptures. They stand before God as the means whereby the blessings of heaven can flow from that eternal source to the recipient on whose head rests the hands of the patriarch. He may not be a man of letters, a possessor of worldly wealth, or a holder of a distinguished office. He, however, must be blessed with priesthood power and personal purity. To reach to heaven for divine guidance and inspiration, a patriarch is to be a man of love, a man of compassion, a man of judgment, a man of God.

            That is a wonderful description of the men I know personally who are patriarchs. Patriarchal blessings are sacred gifts or loving letters from Heavenly Father to His children. Garry H. Boyle,  a man who currently holds the office of patriarch, lists six ways that we can get more from our patriarchal blessings.

1. Read your patriarchal blessing often. [Study it to bring] into remembrance your connection to God as His child and your intersection with His great plan of happiness, with its duties and promised rewards. Reading it often will bring you back to your roots and faith.
Pondering your blessing also demonstrates a respect for sacred things, your interest in planning your future in accordance with God’s will, and your desire to receive further personal revelation, as well as put you in tune … with God. Just like reading a scripture, pondering it becomes a lightning rod for more inspiration.

2. Understand who can interpret your blessing. Discovering the interpretation of your blessing is your responsibility, and an exercise in receiving revelation…. Your blessing may have symbols or hidden layers yet to be discovered….

3. Share and discuss your blessing with your spouse. … God designed marriage in much the same way [as He designed our eyes]. God’s plan of a marriage between a man and a woman provides two distinct perspectives with the overlap being a focus on God. We marry partly based on what we feel this person can bring to our lives, and soon find that neither they nor we are perfect. Studying each other’s blessings together strengthens our bonds and develops common focuses, reminding us of the potential we saw in that person and the potential within ourselves.

4. Remember your gifts and make goals to use them often. Gifts are like muscles; they need to be used before they will grow strong and benefit those God has put in our path (see Doctrine and Covenants 46:8-12, 26, 29). God encompasses all gifts, and we must seek for the gifts we need to become like Him. We may read about our gifts and talents and ask for additional ones, but to make them a part of our very being, we must use these gifts often. Therefore, look for opportunities to use your gifts for the benefit of others and you will become more Christlike.

5. Use your blessing to learn about the Abrahamic covenant. A deeper understanding of God’s covenant promises will increase your understanding of your role as an heir of the covenant he gave Abraham and your motivation to work for His promised blessings….

6. Look for the mission and genealogy ties to your tribe. Knowing the tribe you come through will provide you with a mission. Part of that mission is to seek out the living and the dead that are part of the covenant people. God promised Abraham that his seed would have the opportunity to accept the covenant God made with him. There are many past generations that have not had that promised opportunity and are waiting for you to discover their genealogy and do their temple work. Another part of your mission is to pray and look for the descendants of your tribe that God will place in your path. Preparing a holy people as Abraham did is essential to prepare a people for Christ’s second coming.

            I received my patriarchal blessing many years ago, and I read it often enough that I almost have it memorized. I cherish this loving letter from Heavenly Father that “deals with spiritual gifts, celestial goals, divine promises and rewards, and various temporal blessings and principles intended to support [my] spiritual development” (Boyle). I have relied on the promises given in my blessing during difficult times, and I have marveled at the counsel given many years ago that helps me today. I am immensely grateful to have this great gift from God.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Family Togetherness

            Families grow stronger as they spend time together, and strong families bring strength to their communities and nations. Good family relationships require the investment of time, effort, and open lines of communication. There are lots of useful skills that can strengthen family relationships, but time together is one of the most valuable. There are many ways that families can spend time together in work or play.

            Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that “families unite when they do meaningful things together.”

Families should pray together, kneeling night and morning to offer thanks for blessings and prayers for common concerns.

Families should worship together, participating in church services and family devotionals.

Families should study and learn together.

Families should work together. … Families should also play together, so that happy recreational experiences are associated with the activities of the family.

Families should counsel together, treating all matters of concern to the family and its members.

Families should eat together. Mealtime is a natural time for the family to assemble and communicate. It is a shame for such an opportunity to be lost in family bickering or to be fragmented by family members seizing food and scattering to the four corners as if the family kitchen were a fast food outlet.

            My husband and I are celebrating 50 years as husband and wife. We invited our six children, their spouses, and all seventeen grandchildren to join our celebration on a week-long cruise from Vancouver, British Columbia, to Seward, Alaska. The trip ends at our home in Anchorage where the togetherness continues for another week.

            Nothing makes me happier than to have all my children around me, and this extended period of time together has been wonderful. I am grateful that our children enjoy being with us and with each other. Family togetherness strengthens families, and strong families strengthen communities and nations.        

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Long Term Commitments

            The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is the necessity to make long term commitments. Commitment is a big word that means dedication or willingness to give time and energy to a person, cause, or activity.  It means an obligation that restricts freedom of action. It also means a promise of loyalty to a person or cause.

            Marriage is a commitment. When a person marries, they make a commitment to be loyal to their spouse and to willingly give time and energy to the marriage. Many marriages are made “until death do ye part,” but some are made “for time and eternity.” Either type of marriage is a long-term commitment.

            A marriage for time and eternity must be performed in the right place by a person having the right authority. Such a marriage can last for eternity if the two people involved keep their covenant with each other and God. That is the type of marriage that I entered, and that is the type of marriage I strive to obtain.

            Marriage is not easy for most couples because it takes time, effort, unselfishness, and commitment to bridge the gap between two individuals and make them one. A marriage for time and eternity requires a great and continuing commitment on the part of both husband and wife.

            My husband and I come from long lines of people who made eternal commitments to each other. Both sets of parents were married for time and eternity in the Salt Lake Temple. My mother passed away about five months before the planned celebration of my parents’ golden anniversary. My husband’s parents celebrated their fifty years together and then some additional years. I have six older siblings who have celebrated fifty years together, and a seventh who would have if he had not died at age 65.

            My husband and I are celebrating our fiftieth wedding anniversary this week. All six of our children and their spouses, plus our seventeen grandchildren have joined us in our celebration. I went to my husband about two years ago and asked him for a favor. I told him that I did not want him to just tell me no but to help me find a way to take the family on a cruise for our fiftieth anniversary. I was aware that he was not enthusiastic about my idea, but he did not tell me no.

            The planning for this celebration also took long term commitment. We contacted our children and enlisted them in the idea. Even though it costs each of them lots of time and money as well as a sacrifice of activities that they would rather do, they have supported and helped us to make this celebration a reality. Creating a family that lasts for eternity is a long-term commitment!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Climbing Higher and Higher

            The news in our nation and world gets so heavy at times that I can barely think about it. As my regular readers have probably noticed, I am writing less and less about political subjects and more and more about more pleasant ones. To lighten the mood today, I decided to share a personal story from many years ago.

            My husband is an avid outdoorsman. He is also a private pilot, hunter, and fisherman. I cannot tell whether he flies in order to hunt and fish, or whether he goes hunting and fishing as an excuse to fly. Either way, he enjoys all three activities. I am my husband’s first choice for a companion in his adventures. I do not particularly relish the actual shooting or fishing, but I do enjoy the flying and hiking. Our quests have included numerous hunts. I was the shooter on several occasions because I was the lucky (maybe unlucky) recipient of the permit. My husband never asked me to hunt Dall sheep with him, and I was content to stay home. Then I made a fateful mistake, and I do not know why I did it. I merely mentioned that I was getting in such good condition with my exercise that I could go sheep hunting, and my husband accepted my statement as an agreement to go with him. Several months later he was still expecting me to hunt sheep with him, and I could find no reason why I should not go.

            The hunting season for Dall sheep in Alaska starts on August 10 every year. Several days previous to the opening day of the season, my husband and I began collecting the gear and supplies needed for the trip. We laid everything out on the floor of the family room, and my husband began checking my stuff. As this was my first backpacking trip, I understood that he was much more qualified than I was to decide what should go and what should not. I agreed when he eliminated many of my items, such as the extra pair of socks and a book to read, but I put my foot down when he wanted to eliminate my lip balm. I reasoned, “This does not weigh very much, not even half an ounce.” He replied, “Every half an ounce counts when you are climbing a mountain.” Trusting in his experience, I eliminated numerous other things, but I held tight to my lip balm. We were finally ready for an adventure in the great Alaska wilderness.

            Awaking early on August 9, my husband and I made preparations to leave for the hunt. The sky was clear with beautiful sunshine all around us, and the temperature was a balmy 65 degrees. We were pleased with the perfect conditions. We knew that we could safely fly through the mountain passes and around the high mountain homes of the Dall sheep. After putting our hunting gear and supplies in the truck, we drove to Lake Hood, which is located next to the Anchorage International Airport. There we secured all the items in the blue Cessna 180 on floats and prepared the aircraft for takeoff. We settled into our seats and tightened our seatbelts. We soon lifted off the smooth, brownish-green water of the busiest seaplane base in the world.   
            We left civilization behind a short time after lifting off the lake. We flew over several blue-gray rivers filled with silt from melting glaciers, and we saw numerous sparkling waterfalls tumbling down mountainsides. I was amazed at the lush green Alaska wilderness and the beauty of the mountains and valleys. When we arrived in the area where we should see some sheep, we descended a little to look for the small white spots near the tops of the mountains. When we found the sheep, we dropped a little lower in order to see if they were full-curl rams. We finally found what we were looking for on Black Mountain. We circled a few more times to be sure and then landed on a high mountain lake with beautiful turquoise-blue water. Ironically, the lake is called Sheep Lake. We tied the airplane to some trees and brush along the shore of the lake, changed our hip waders to hiking boots, put on our backpacks, and started up the mountain.

            My backpack did not seem heavy as I began climbing, but it became heavier and heavier as I fought my way through the trees and brush on the lower part of the mountain. I was particularly grateful that I had listened to my husband when he insisted that I keep my load as light as possible. My pack became exceedingly heavy by the time we reached a mountain meadow about four hours after leaving the lake. There we set up our camp for the night, beginning with the tent.

            I could not believe the size of the tent, which was so small that two sleeping bags barely fit inside. We had no choice but to leave our packs outside, covered with black garbage bags to keep them dry from the dew. I was a little concerned about bears, but we had seen no sign of them as we climbed. We cooked our freeze-dried food and ate dinner before preparing our backpacks for the morning. We packed everything needed for a day on a high mountain - but nothing else. Our lunch for the next day consisted of jerky, granola bars, candy bars, nuts, dried fruit, and plenty of water. The evening was pleasant, warm enough to be comfortable and without mosquitoes. We climbed into bed early and were asleep before the sun went down about 10:00 that night.

            My husband shook me awake early the next morning as light was coming into the tent. We dressed, ate a quick breakfast of warm, homemade granola, and hoisted our packs once again. We hoped that the sheep were in the same place that we saw them the previous afternoon. We moved to the back side of the mountain, so the sheep would not see us coming. My husband was carrying the Winchester Model 70 Featherweight rifle and hiking in front of me. I had a fairly easy climb at first because my backpack was nearly empty. The situation changed quickly.

            The mountain became steeper, and the footing was less secure. The numerous patches of shale rock were difficult to cross without losing stability on the steep side of the mountain. I stopped often to rest and to enjoy the beautiful mountain scenery surrounding me. I kept thinking that we were nearing the top of the mountain. However, each time we reached the “peak” I saw another one just ahead. After a couple of hours of steady climbing, we arrived at the top of the mountain and saw the sheep about 80 yards below us. They were grazing on the sparse mountain grass and were totally unaware of us. We were in an ideal position for shooting.

            Hastily getting into position, I took the first shot and missed. I aimed too high. The bullet went over the ram’s head, and all the sheep started running down the mountain. I quickly handed the rifle to my husband, who shot and hit a big ram. The sheep started tumbling head over heels down the mountain. I wondered how far it would roll but soon saw that it stopped behind a boulder. We slowly made our way down to him through the patch of large rocks. We cleaned the animal, skinned it, and boned it out, a job that took several hours. I appreciated the surgeon gloves that allowed us to work and still keep our hands clean from the yucky mess. We divided the weight between our packs. Then we ate lunch on the side of the mountain before heading down to camp, an ordeal that hurt our knees. We traveled slowly, but we eventually arrived back in the meadow about two hours later. We broke camp, loaded our gear, and prepared the airplane. We headed home to Anchorage, having achieved another successful hunt.

            As I reflect on our adventure of hunting Dall sheep, I see a great comparison to the fifty years since our marriage. Just as I trusted my husband to advise me in preparation for the hunt and to take me safely to and from the hunting site, I trusted him in many other areas of our marriage. These areas included providing for our family in order for me to be a stay-at-home mother and making good decisions on our investments in order for us to have enough money for retirement. We worked as a team in order to hunt the sheep, and we work together as marriage partners to make our household and family run smoothly. The difficult climb up Black Mountain resembles marriage and life in general. Just as I thought that I was nearing the top of the mountain and then seeing another “peak” just ahead, we face one challenge after another in real life. Even though our trials changed over the years, they kept coming. We continue to work together as we move onward and upward, even through difficult times.

            My husband and I had a goal to find a Dall sheep and bring it home. We scheduled and organized for the hunt. We climbed higher and higher up a very steep and difficult mountain until we found the sheep. We also planned and prepared for an eternal marriage. We work extremely hard and go through many tough places as we climb higher and higher towards the celestial kingdom and eternal life together. We know that the reward comes only after the climb.


Tuesday, June 20, 2017


            I recently completed my first semester at Brigham Young University-Idaho. My writing class required a self-assessment of skills at the beginning of the course and another one at the end of the course. An additional requirement was an essay explaining the progress made during the class. I felt overwhelmed at the beginning of the course. The course outcomes seemed really powerful, and I wondered at my ability to meet them. I gave myself fairly low grades on the first assessment.

            I worried about all the requirements, but I was particularly concerned about two of them. The first one was doing peer reviews. I had no idea how the reviews would be done, so I worried about doing them right and what technology skills I would need to learn. I had a difficult time learning how to upload and download the first assignment, but I found the peer reviews to be easy, enjoyable, and beneficial. I learned that my writing skills were probably better than several students in the class and that I could be helpful to them. I also learned the importance of having my own work reviewed by others. The second requirement that concerned me was learning the principles of analysis and synthesis. I did not actually know the meaning of the terms. When I began my actual writing, I discovered that analyzing and synthesizing came fairly natural to me.

            I am pleased with my new ability to use technology in my writing and reasoning. In fact, I am delighted with my increased skills. One of the first things I learned was which function on the computer to use in order to have true double-spaced lines. I struggled with learning how to make a moving header, but I eventually mastered it. Another technology skill that I learned was how to make indented quotes and when to use them. I struggled with Acrobat Reader, but I learned how to use it and enjoyed the annotation assignments.

            I am thrilled with the writing skills that I acquired. I learned how to find credible sources for my research and how to frame the quotes. I learned the difference between quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing. I learned to write better thesis statements and the importance of having a single topic sentence in each paragraph. I learned to connect the sentences to each other in each paragraph as well as one paragraph to the next. I learned about the ladder of abstraction, a new concept for me. In short, I gained a new appreciation for writing because I had more knowledge and better skills. 

            I thoroughly enjoyed taking the class and learned many skills. I can use these skills in my daily life as I write essays for my blog, and I will definitely use them in future classes. I am grateful for the new awareness I have of how to write interesting essays. I especially appreciate learning the principles of analysis and synthesis because they can help me in discerning this crazy world we live in. I feel that I mastered the skills listed on the self-assessment sheet. 

Monday, June 19, 2017

Gordon B. Hinckley

            My VIP for this week is Gordon B.Hinckley who served the Lord from the time that he was a young man until his death. He served in many offices in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, serving as Stake President, Assistant to the Twelve Apostles, Apostles, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, counselor to several Presidents, and as President of the Church from March 12, 1995, until his death.

            President Hinckley was born on June 23, 1910, and he passed away on January 27, 2008, at the age of 97. There are many reasons why I honor President Hinckley, and one of those reasons is his faith in God and his enthusiasm for life. No matter the problem that arose, he had the attitude that everything would work out. He prayed as though everything depended on God, and then he worked as though everything depended on him.

            Recognizing the need for members of the Church to have temples within easy traveling distance, he took the problem to the Lord and came away with an idea to build smaller temples in areas where Church membership is smaller. On October 4, 1997, he announced the plan for smaller temples to be built throughout the world, and on October 1, 2000, he dedicated the Boston Massachusetts Temple, the 100th temple in operation. The Anchorage Alaska Temple was one of the first smaller temples built, and it was dedicated on January 9, 1999. I am especially grateful for this temple because it is within a mile of my home, and I can attend it weekly. This has been a great blessing in my life.

            I remember many of the teachings of President Hinckley and appreciate the opportunity to study his life and teachings during 2017. One experience of listening to him speak was in the October 2001 general conference of the Church. Terrorists attacked the United States on September 11, 2001, and killed approximately 3000 people in the attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C. Everyone was concerned about what would happen next. Just prior to President Hinckley’s remarks, he received word that the United States was at war in Afghanistan. He spoke about the nature of terrorism and evils found in the world, and then he told us how we could find peace even in a wicked world. I remember the feeling of peace that swept over me as I listened to his words and again whenever I listen to them. These words from the prophet of God continue to bring solace to my soul and can help others in times of turmoil and war.

Now, brothers and sisters, we must do our duty, whatever that duty might be. Peace may be denied for a season. Some of our liberties may be curtailed. We may be inconvenienced. We may even be called on to suffer in one way or another. But God our Eternal Father will watch over this nation and all of the civilized world who look to Him. He declared, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” (Psalm 33:12). Our safety lies in repentance. Our strength comes of obedience to the commandments of God.

Let us be prayerful. Let us pray for righteousness. Let us pray for the forces of good. Let us reach out to help men and women of goodwill, whatever their religious persuasion and wherever they live. Let us stand firm against evil, both at home and abroad. Let us live worthy of the blessings of heaven, reforming our lives where necessary and looking to Him, the Father of us all. He has said, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

Are these perilous times? They are. But there is no need to fear. We can have peace in our hearts and peace in our homes. We can be an influence for good in this world, every one of us.

            As a prophet of God Gordon B. Hinckley led the Church through difficult times, but he was always full of faith in God and enthusiastic about the future. He is a very important person in the eyes of God and the people who love him.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Voter Fraud

            The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday is voter fraud. Liberals laughed at President Donald Trump when he claimed that voter fraud kept him from winning the popular vote. There may not be the millions of fraudulent votes that he claimed, but there were cases of falsified voter registration.  
            Less than two weeks ago Fox News reported that twelve people were “charged for allegedly submitting fake or fraudulent voter registration applications before the 2016 presidential election.” There were eleven temporary employees and one supervisor working for an Indiana-based group that was working on registering black voters. The group was “tied to former Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and former President Bill Clinton. The group “allegedly submitted an unknown number of falsified applications” that were “known to be `false, fictitious, or fraudulent.’”

            The report covered one group in one state that “allegedly submitted an unknown number” of application to vote. How many other groups were doing the same thing?

            Judicial Watch is a “conservative, non-partisan American educational foundation that promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in government, politics and the law.” For the 2016 election they worked through their Election Integrity Project to bring about fair and honest elections. They printed a booklet titled 8 Things You Can Do Now to Help STOP Voter Fraud. The pamphlet is a guide to help citizens in ensuring that the 2016 and future elections are free and fair. Even though the 2016 election is in the past, there will be future elections that citizens can begin thinking about and working towards. The eight suggestions for becoming involved are as follow.

1. Become a poll worker.
2. Become a poll watcher.
3. Perform voter registration research.
4. Speak out at election board meetings and local precinct sessions.
5. Write “Letters to the Editor” and opinion editorials.
6. Call in to radio talk shows.
7. Create your own blog, or blog on other sites.
8. Be active in social networking.

            You may wonder if you can actually make a difference. The writers of pamphlet respond with a definite yes. “In every county in every state where more people are listed on voter rolls than are counted in the Census, there is a problem, and one that can lead to fraud.” Many states have messy voter registration rolls that “can be greatly improved with the help of volunteers like you…. Your help is needed both to examine voter registration rolls and to act as poll workers and poll watchers for your precinct. Only in this way can we ensure free and fair elections.”

            The pamphlet gives contact information for both Judicial Watch and True the Vote. I encourage you to become involved in one or more of the suggested ways, either as an individual, part of a local group, or by contacting one of the following organizations.
Judicial Watch                                                                                                                   
425 Third Street, SW, Suite 800
Washington, DC 20024
Tel: 1-202-646-5172
Fax: 202-646-5199

True the Vote
P.O. Box 131768
Houston, Texas 77219-1768
Contact: Catherine Engelbrecht, founder and president
Tel: 713-401-3550

Saturday, June 17, 2017


            I know that motherhood is a sacred and important role for women, but I am just learning about the importance of fatherhood. This learning has taken place over several years and has come by way of my sons and sons by marriage.

            These fine young men – now more middle age men – amaze me with the way they interact with their children. I see things in the relationships between these sons and their children that I have never observed previously. I certainly did not see it in my relationship with my father or in the relationships of my husband and children. Because my sons are such good fathers, my grandchildren are greatly blessed in many ways.

            I was recently walking through a Deseret Book Store when I saw a book written by my “favorite” Apostle. Even though I admire and respect all the Apostles and appreciate the counsel given by each of them, I know Elder D. Todd Christofferson personally. He knows who I am and knows my name even though he knows little about me. This little bit of personal knowledge shared with Elder Christofferson makes him seem extra special to me.

            Elder Christofferson’s book is titled The Good That Men Can Do and can be purchased through Deseret Book Store. Elder Christofferson writes about fatherhood and the good that men can do in their roles of husbands and fathers. He shares the following quote from David Blankenhorn, the author of Fatherless America.

Today, American society is fundamentally divided and ambivalent about the fatherhood idea. Some people do not even remember it. Others are offended by it. Others, including more than a few family scholars, neglect it or disdain it. Many other are not especially opposed to it, nor are they especially committed to it. Many people wish we could act on it, but believe that our society simply no longer can or will (2).

            I am grateful that my sons are taking seriously the counsel given by prophets and apostles about their important roles as husbands and fathers. “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” states very clearly that it is “by divine design” [that] fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families.” Of course, fathers and mothers are supposed to support each other in their roles.

            Elder Christofferson gives three keys to the good that can be done “in social terms” by men who are trying to be good fathers. “The key for men is to be fathers. The key for children is to have fathers. The key for society is to create fathers” (13). He also emphasizes that “fatherhood is much more than a social construct or the product of evolution. The role of father is of divine origin, beginning with a Father in Heaven and, in this mortal sphere, with Father Adam” (15). I love the following statement.

The perfect, divine expression of fatherhood is our Heavenly Father. His character and attributes include abundant goodness and perfect love. His work and glory are the development, happiness, and eternal life of His children….
Again, the ultimate model is our Heavenly Father, who so loved us, His spirit children, that He gave us His Only Begotten Son for our salvation and exaltation. Jesus said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Fathers manifest that love as they lay down their lives day by day, laboring in the service and support of their families (17, 22).

            In addition to sacrificing for their children, Christofferson suggests that fathers teach their children about Heavenly Father. They can do this by studying the scriptures with them as well as using informal discussions, working and playing together, and simply listening to their children. He says that fathers are to discipline and correct their children with love and to teach them to work. He states that the most important thing that a father can do is to love the mother of his children and to show that love.

            My sons are much more involved in the lives of their children than my father was, but my father did many good things for his children. I knew even as a small child that my father loved my mother, and I felt great security in my home. My father not only showed his love for my mother, but he insisted that we show respect to her. I knew that I would answer to my father if I did not show respect to his beloved wife. Dad taught me to work and to work hard. He also taught us the importance of play.

            My father worked the graveyard shift at a gas station and still worked his farm during the day. He slept for a few hours at a time, but I do not remember him ever sleeping for an 8-hour period of time. He also took the time to play games with us, particularly card games at holiday time. He loved to tickle us and give us whisker tea (rub our faces with his whiskers).

            I did not appreciate my father so much while I was a child, but I learned of his greatness as an adult. I watched as he continued to learn and to become a better man as he grew older. He is a great example to me, and I look forward to seeing him again and being taught once again by him. Yes, I continue to learn of the importance and value of fathers and fatherhood.

            A wonderful video about fatherhood can be found here.